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Mayor Of London Says Internet To Blame For British Press Sins

from the piffle-and-tosh dept

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is something of an institution in the UK, famous for his blond mop of hair and outrageous opinions. He's also been a journalist on and off for two decades, and is close to Rupert Murdoch, so it should perhaps come as no surprise that he's penned a characteristically witty defense of British newspapers. They're currently under threat of having governmental regulation imposed upon them in the wake of the UK's Leveson Inquiry, written in response to years of journalists breaking the law in search of hot stories, as Johnson acknowledges:

They have shoved their slavering snouts into the parlours of weeping widows, and by their outrageous lies they have driven the relatives of their victims to suicide. When you read Leveson in full, you are left to ponder the mystery of how people can behave like this. Are these journalists that much nastier and more cynical than the rest of the human race? Why do they seem to have got out of control? The answer is simple. The press are no nastier than anyone else; quite the reverse. On the whole, journalists are highly intelligent, amusing and frequently idealistic.
But if that is the case, how is it possible they have been shoving their slavering snouts all over the place? Johnson has a simple explanation:
for some papers the costs are becoming prohibitive. Every year, every month, they are losing ground to blogs and Twitter and Google News; every year the internet eats more destructively into the business case for old-fashioned journalism. That is at least one of the reasons why some journalists have been driven to behave so disgracefully, squawking ever louder, no matter how erroneously, in the hope of being noticed.
Yes, it's all the Internet's fault. Those poor journalists lost their otherwise robust moral compass because Big Bad Google and friends have been progressively stealing their daily bread. Of course, we've heard this narrative about Google destroying newspapers many times before. It's what publishers around the world are saying, while asking for a cut of Google's revenues. It's what Rupert Murdoch has been saying, although he still wants to be included in Google's search results.

But this whole idea is "an inverted pyramid of piffle", to use a famous phrase of Johnson's. It wasn't Google and the Internet that destroyed traditional journalism, it was the newspapers themselves by refusing to evolve as new technologies have come along that changed the relationship with the reader in significant ways. Johnson's attempt to deflect blame away from the guilty parties onto the agents of technological change is simply shabby.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:42am

    Boris Johnson

    The ultimate bumbling Englishman. I find it so difficult to take him seriously.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:45am

    It's true, it's google's fault that Newscorp hacked into the phones of dead 13 year old girls. They had to compete with google somehow!

    And it's not my fault that I cheated on my wife with 5 other women, it's... the Internet's fault, specifically google's fault! If I hadn't seen other people cheating on their wife I would have never cheated on mine... honest!

     

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  3.  
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    Richard (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:45am

    Refutation

    How does this explain press excesses in the 70's and 80's?

    For example the Sun's disgraceful treatment of the Hillsborough Tragedy?

     

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  4.  
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    gorehound (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:47am

    Re: Boris Johnson

    He really is an Ass !

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:49am

    Makes sense

    Those poor journalists probably learned how to hack a mobile on the internet.

     

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  6.  
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    sehlat (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:50am

    He's obviously channeling Anna Russell

    "But I am happy; now I've learned
    The lesson this has taught;
    That everything I do that's wrong -
    Is someone else's fault."

    -- Jolly Old Sigmund Freud

     

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  7.  
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    Richard (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:52am

    Murdoch

    the mystery of how people can behave like this. Are these journalists that much nastier and more cynical than the rest of the human race? Why do they seem to have got out of control?

    Is simply explained by one fact - the dominance of the British press by Rupert Murdoch.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:03am

    If you've got bad journalism its your own fault regardless of internet or not. Their real complaint is they can't keep shoveling you junk because you don't have options anymore.

     

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  9.  
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    Lord Binky, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:03am

    Print journalists children at heart and mind.....

    So... Because there are more people (competition), and the journalists want to be noticed still, they justify crying wolf and causing problems to continue to get attention.

    Sure, that totally sounds like "highly intelligent, amusing and frequently idealistic" people to me.

     

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  10.  
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    PT (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:05am

    Oh puh-leeez...

    every year the internet eats more destructively into the business case for old-fashioned journalism. That is at least one of the reasons why some journalists have been driven to behave so disgracefully

    What a load of bollocks. Tabloid journalists behave disgracefully because they are unprincipled shits and know no other way to behave. It's not like this behavior is anything recent. I worked for a company in England, in the early 1990s. One of my colleagues kept on his desk a radio scanner and a cassette recorder. When I asked him why, he told me that we were within range of a cell tower that was, in turn, within range of a Royal residence, and back in those days, cell tower relays were analog and unencrypted. Occasionally, if you paid attention, you could catch one side of a conversation between a princess and her lover, for which Rupert Murdoch's Sun tabloid would pay handsomely. He had already sold them several.

    As for the internet, back in those days I'd be surprised if any journalist had ever heard of it. I myself had only read stories about it in Phrack.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:08am

    Boris is rulling class. Rulling class wants Censor and Control

    journalists....... who delve deep into shit that no one should care about.

    journalists....... who just print press releases on stuff that really matters.



    Journalists my arse

    Bunch of bullshitters, spamming bullshit everywhere, more-like.

    Just don't offend the powerful masters, while out bullshitting up the place... k ? journalist ?



    Thank fuck for the internet, I say.
    A place where real journalism lives, away from corporate stooges and government censorship.

     

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  12.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:13am

    Did anyone else visualize Brois raising his cane to emphasize certain words while he was dictating his thoughts?

     

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  13.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:14am

    The Mayor of London

    Great. Now I have werewolves of London stuck in my head.


    Aaahoo! Werewolves of London. Aaahoo!

     

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  14.  
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    Jeffry Houser (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:16am

    Is this quote really in support of the actions?

    Nothing in the quoted text actually supports the illegal actions of the journalists. It basically, says increased competition put them under pressure; which I think is fairly astute.

    Too bad they acted badly when put under pressure.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:24am

    Yes I should buy a newspaper a big ole thing, for $2.50 so I can read a handful of articles. Sounds like a great deal, way better then the internet of course.

     

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  16. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:25am

    IF you do kill journalism, where's the replacement?

    Mike's re-writes have to come from somewhere. That's one point.

    2nd point; of course you're blowing smoke as usual without any reference to specific numbers:
    "Little change in newspaper circulation numbers"
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2012/10/30/largest-us-newspapers/1669117/

    3rd, aren't you re-writing here, about whatever comes up in the dinosaur journalism outlets -- for free -- "in the hope of being noticed"? -- Where exactly are YOUR original contributions to journalism, Glyn Moody? Quit stealing from BBC and The Telegraph!

     

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  17.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:27am

    Bad journalism is bad journalism whether it is in print media or on the Internet. The medium is neutral and it is the activities of people that makes it good or bad.

     

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  18.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:28am

    Re: IF you do kill journalism, where's the replacement?

    You should direct your question to Murdoch and his ilk because he is doing more to kill PROPER journalism than the Internet could ever do.

    Now, fuck off.

     

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  19.  
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    Call me Al, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Re: Murdoch

    That is frankly rubbish. The Daily Fail isn't a Murdoch paper and that is the worst of the lot.

    To oversimplify and say it is Murdoch's fault is every bit as bad as saying it is the internets.

     

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  20.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: IF you do kill journalism, where's the replacement?

    "Now, fuck off."

    OOTB doesn't have time for that!

    Do you have any idea how long it takes for him to gather strands of Masnick's hair for his doll?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Call me Al, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:56am

    Re: Boris is rulling class. Rulling class wants Censor and Control

    I take it you didn't actually read the article?

    He is against press regulation by the state. Therefore he is against (in this case) censorship and control.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Another AC, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:04am

    Re: IF you do kill journalism, where's the replacement?

    That link seems to disprove your point. Beyond the incorrect conclusion you drew that because circulation didn't change in the last 6 months therefore newspapers are A-OK (it doesn't jive with the fact that newspapers have been shrinking in circulation for decades now).

    The article mentions that there were 613 newspapers in the previous 6 months they checked, then 528 in the latest 6 months. Of course each newspaper grew circulation as a percentage, because there were 85 fewer newspapers.

     

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  23.  
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    Mike (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:29am

    Re: Is this quote really in support of the actions?

    Thank you, that's what I was about to say. I read the quotes above and nothing suggests that Boris is excusing the actions of the journalists, he is merely pointing out one potential explanation. At no point does he say that because the internet is eating into the traditional business that justifies the actions of the journalists, in fact he still refers to that behavior as "disgraceful".

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    Re: Print journalists children at heart and mind.....

    Boris is conservative. All conservative parties across Europe are clamouring for the blood of Google and "a fair compensation" for the "lifeblood of our democracy" which in their mind is the newspapers.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:35am

    he normally speaks a lot of sense but in this instance, he is talking like a complete twat!! not that Murdoch's friendship would have anything to do with his opinion, of course!

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:39am

    competition = piracy?

     

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  27.  
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    Old Fool (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:41am

    Boris Johnson (our likely next Prime Minister), David Cameron and their ilk live in a different universe to us. I would suggest ignoring the occasional brain fart.

    It's not what you know, it's who you know - and they went to Eaton, prep school of the rich and titled.

     

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  28.  
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    dataGuy (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    Many forces at work

    While disruption by the internet is a significant force on journalism, I think the biggest negative driver is themselves. Once reporters stop offering even the pretense of reporting just the facts of a story and openly promoted only editorial spin, their days were numbered.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: Boris Johnson

    He's also surprisingly witty and generally understanding of issues.

    Yes, he has his moments. That's what makes him so amusing.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    That is at least one of the reasons why some journalists have been driven to behave so disgracefully
    If you abandon your principles during a crisis, you were never principled in the first place.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Boris is rulling class. Rulling class wants Censor and Control

    That's not at all what's actually being proposed by Leveson. What's being proposed is the equivalent of the Press Complaints Commission, but backed with the legal power to pass information on to the Prosecution Service. the PCC, at the moment, cannot do that without consent from both the plaintiff and the defendant.

    Pretty much the main recommendation from Leveson is that the PCC can pass that information on without the consent of the defendant, be it a newspaper or a particular journalist. Which isn't really that much.

     

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  32.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Re: IF you do kill journalism, where's the replacement?

    Have you ever read a newspaper?

    Notice how all the papers have AP by their article titles?

    That means they just "stole" from the Associated Press.

    So, where's the original contribution to journalism, eh?

    Oh, right, there IS NONE!

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 1:09pm

    Re: IF you do kill journalism, where's the replacement?

    what are you saying? the bbc and telegraph should stop stealing the stories they report on?

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re: Boris is rulling class. Rulling class wants Censor and Control

    Ask Boris then, what he thinks of Wikileaks journalism.

    OR the people who investigate and report facts on the 6,000 Londoners aged 18-24, that will be made to do 13 weeks' unpaid work as a condition of claiming their 56-a-week benefit.

    Somehow I think he wants that* type of real journalism regulated.
    He does want press releases to be regurgitated ad nauseum to spin the slave labor.
    After his last slave labor scheme that had people working at Tesco for nothing, it's obvious he wants it.



    Boris Johnson's former right hand man takes PR job with News International
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/28/boris-johnson-unpaid-work-young-people
    No current conflict of interests either.





    ""He is against press regulation by the state."" bullshit.

    Against regulation....... bullshit. (regulating benefit for poor people, making slaves of them)

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    anonymouse, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Boris Johnson

    He uses the bumbling fool persona very well and in fact is extremely clever, just see some of the things he has managed to do for London and you realise the bumbling fool is not all that bumbling when it comes to policy, well mostly when he is well informed.

     

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  36.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    Re:

    Yes, this. For my part, I stopped reading US papers before the internet was a viable news tool. I did this because it was readily apparent that the news outlets in the US had become, by and large, pure garbage and overt lies.

    The internet didn't cost the newspapers my business. Their own lack of doing real journalism did.

     

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  37.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:17pm

    Re: Refutation

    ummm.. I'll take "Cocaine and Fidonet" for the 1980's and "CB Radios & Rock & Roll" for the 70's.


    oooh... What do I win??? What do I win?

    hmmm A date with a page 3 girl.. woohoo!!

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:51pm

    Re: IF you do kill journalism, where's the replacement?

    Ah, there's our burst of blubbering blather. I was wondering when you'd jump in to shit all over the comments, again. Actually, I must say I'm amazed. There was a clear opening for you to take a shot at Google, and you skipped it. I'd congratulate you if the resultant spew wasn't so atrociously unbalanced and, to put it simply, just plain stupid.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Pete Austin, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:13pm

    Please Read Boris Johnson's Article

    It's an excellent, short, opinion piece which has been misrepresented here in Techdirt. Basically he suggests the Leveson Inquiry has made a serious mistake by seeking to regulate the tail while forgetting the dog.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9718041/It-is-the-web-not-the-press-that-must-be-brou ght-under-control.html#

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Pete Austin, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:13pm

    Please Read Boris Johnson's Article

    It's an excellent, short, opinion piece which has been misrepresented here in Techdirt. Basically he suggests the Leveson Inquiry has made a serious mistake by seeking to regulate the tail while forgetting the dog.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9718041/It-is-the-web-not-the-press-that-must-be-brou ght-under-control.html#

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Matthew Cline (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 12:59am

    Re: Refutation

    The Internet is so potent that it destroys cause and effect, letting making it responsible for things that happened before it became popular.

     

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  42.  
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    PT (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    Re: Please Read Boris Johnson's Article

    I went and read the linked article, and was intrigued by the picture of this Boris Johnson person at the top. The resemblance to Donald Trump is quite remarkable! I wonder if they may be related?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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