One constant in the ever-changing media landscape is the Press Association - and its reporting. The PA reports everything straight down the line, free of agenda, and it is trusted as a result. Some newspaper websites write up stories off the PA wire as a matter of routine. But, it seems, not every story off the PA wire gets past that filter that some in our free and fearless press impose in order to keep inconvenient reality from their readers.
So it was yesterday, when small business owner Danielle Hindley arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, to see her action against Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Mail on Sunday, concluded. The MoS did not bother to turn up, but the PA reporter did. He took away a copy of the statement read out in court on Ms Hindley’s behalf. So how many papers have reported the court appearance so far?
As if you need to ask: the number, as I suggested yesterday, is a big round Zero. None of them. Not even Media Guardian. Nothing from the paper that broke open the phone hacking scandal. But then, since the days of Nick Davies and editor Alan Rusbridger, the folks at Kings Place have “moved on”. They want to be, if not loved by journalists at other titles, at least tolerated. They don’t want to be spat on at awards ceremonies.
So even the Guardian has said nothing, joining in the self-enforced press Omertà, despite knowing that the MoS premeditatedly, deliberately, and callously trashed Ms Hindley’s business by running a story that was not true, and which, by the time of publication, they knew was not true. Thus they joined in the keeping of another dirty little press secret.
Even when the case has been publicised, the exposure granted by the press establishment has been strictly limited. Press Gazette told last August that “A beautician has won a complaint against the Mail on Sunday over an article investigating the rise of treatments being carried out by unqualified practitioners … The Mail on Sunday has now published a fuller correction, which also appears at the top of the amended article online”.
It looked for all the world as if IPSO had forced the MoS to make amends. What the PG article did not tell, however, is that two months before their article, Ms Hindley had begun her legal action against the paper. As with the papers themselves, it’s not always about what they publish. It’s also about what they choose not to publish.
And today, none of them have published anything. Except for Leeds Live, which has carried Ms Hindley’s own harrowing testimony: “What the Mail on Sunday did to me was too cruel. I felt trapped and unsafe and I attempted suicide as a result. Today in court the Mail on Sunday and its owners, Associated Newspapers, have admitted that what they published about me was false”. We nearly lost her. But the press doesn’t care.
She added “I’m not alone in suffering harassment, bullying and inaccuracy at the hands of the press … Look at what they have done to people such as Gareth Thomas and Ben Stokes, and look at what they did to poor Caroline Flack. Meghan and our beloved Prince Harry had to flee from them to protect their sanity and safety”.
But our free and fearless press has closed ranks to keep its readers from discovering just what it is prepared to do to ordinary people in order to drive sales and clicks. What the MoS did was despicable. What the rest of the press has not done is arguably worse.APPEAL The Legalballs Fund: I made a mistake. Now I need to raise £16,500 to cover a legal bill. You can chip in to help me HERE - all help is gratefully received. Thanks for reading this far!