Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Why I want to be a Journalist

I don't know why the word rolled off my tongue, but I do remember saying I want to be a journalist at the age of ten. In fact, I had never stood back to consider what the job of a journalist might involve. All I knew is I had an overwhelming passion to write, so journalism became a prominent ambition.

In the beginning I only saw the glamorous side of the vocation. Watching journalists such as Christine Amanpour, Rosemary Church and Tom Clancy on CNN held me spellbound. I thought their job was terrific. Then the big dream became to work for CNN as a broadcaster.

It was a dream I held on to even after secondary school. But it wasn't until my undergraduate years that I began to think more deeply about why I wanted to become a journalist.
I thought more deeply about it because I went for an interview with a national daily. There were about ten of us battling for a two-week placement. And it was at that moment, round the conference table, that I began to think more deeply.
Everyone else had a clear, crisp idea of why they wanted to be a journalist. My reason was more of an instinctual desire. It wasn't so clear-cut in my head.

The instinctual desire remains. But now I have a greater awareness of the clout journalists possess. Journalists are a conduit for information and entertainment. They have the ability and opportunity to shape people's opinions and even lives. They can effect changes for the greater good of society.

Having listened to former journalists in my class, I know there are a lot of factors involved. Many times journalists are obliged to patronise the viewpoint of their organisation. It's not easy for journalists to cut themselves free from their organisations reins and act independently.

In addition economics plays a huge part these days. The key to survival for many media organisations is to stay in the competition. And this may have an adverse effect on their news values because they need to think about what will sell. There's more to it than promoting moral values.

Still I believe journalists do have a chance, even if slender, to make a difference. Not many professions have the indulgence of an audience directly and consciously patronising their products daily. I guess that's why I'm in it. I want to help people broaden their horizons - let the West see good things happening in the East and vice versa. Let's find practical solutions to problems such as binge-drinking. Let's talk change.

Probably I'm still viewing journalism through rose tinted glasses. As they say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. Maybe a few years from now I wouldn't be sounding as idealistic.
I know there will be challenges every step of the way. A man reminded me of that when I was out on my patch news hunting. I tried to engage him in some small talk, but the moment he found out I was a student journalist he switched off. 'There are no seedy stories here', he insisted. The truth is, I felt very disappointed he should view me in such a light. Not every journalist chases after yellow stories.

All the same, I still believe journalism is a unique vocation (some people argue it is not a profession). Only time will tell what tune I'll be singing years down the line, and if this childhood dream of mine will live up to expectations...


A big thank you to everyone who has read this blog. Thank you so much for your contributions and comments, you've made my efforts worthwhile.

How we can act against the corruption of children's lives

I love Guardian's Jackie Ashley. Her commentaries are incisive, thought-provoking and poignant. When she delves into issues, her analysis is balanced and refreshingly optimistic. It is reassuring to know not all columnists are itching to bang the gavel judgmentally, condemning and acquitting 'culprits' in their articles.

In Monday's editorial Ashley tackled matters such as binge-drinking, the sexualisation of children and a sag in the reading culture. Her commentary was titled 'Yes, we can act against the corruption of our children's lives'. And she wrote, 'It is possible to turn back the booze culture, bring back some respect for women, ensure that children read well...'

Her piece was brilliant but it fell short of its objectives. The key remedy Ashley offered was government legislation is needed to combat the unremitting problem.

I will argue that the rise in negative social change is connected to the decline in religion. I believe at the root of the issue is a missing link which can be found in Freud's model of the self.

In Freud's model, the self is made up of the super-ego, ego and id. The id are desires we are born with. They are instinctual. The unconscious desires/drives to eat, sleep, enjoy sexual pleasure are inborn. But I also believe one of these inborn desires is the the desire to experience a transcendental connection.

People want to experience something extraordinary, something beyond themselves. And it is this desire for ultimate pleasure that drives them to explore avenues that might not necessarily be beneficial in the long run.
Unfortunately religion these days is brushed aside as 'the opium of the people' in Karl Marx's famous words. In its place is alcohol, romance, sex, shopping, video games etc.
And as long as that is the case, recycled news reports of a 'buy now pay later culture', binge-drinking, sexualisation of children and so on will carry on blighting the news agenda.

Various studies have explored ways people forge transcendental connections following the decline of religion after the Enlightenment. Daniel Miller (1998) argued shopping was not a mere act, it had cosmological foundations. I will not go into laborious detail about Miller's work. But it illustrates ways people reconfigure the transcendental and set up new forms of religion.

In order to stop the dip in morality I believe religion should not be brushed aside but actively encouraged. The government, media, organisations must no longer mute voices of morality. In the old days the society was much healthier, and religion had a place. Today the reverse is the case.

The big problem is, if we want our youths to behave properly we need to give them a model to follow. And that's the gap religion fills in.
Not that the government should coerce every member of the population into a religion. But it is about time to recognise talk alone will not suffice. If you want to curb social damage then people need a benchmark of morality. People need something to believe in. So fill in the moral vacuum and see if it makes a change.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

'Us' versus 'Them'

As the bus bumped up the hill leading home I wished the passenger on the lower deck would stop barking down his mobile - we were in Britain for goodness sake. Typically newspapers were raised over faces, ear phones plugged in, and a few passengers chatted softly. But the man downstairs hollered non-stop ‘It’s a lie! It’s a lie!’ between spurts of Pidgin English. I could tell he was Nigerian.

I wondered how the passengers felt about a guy belting out Pidgin English on a bus in England surrounded by English people speaking in measured tones. If I wasn’t fatigued I probably wouldn’t have minded, after all I’m Nigerian too. but the man also rekindled thoughts about the undying issue of immigration.

This week in Ireland, important personalities conferred to thrash out a resolution to an immigration crisis. Following an economic boom, Ireland opened its doors to immigrants. Suddenly they had to face up to the reality immigrants were not just units of labour. They also needed education, housing and health facilities.

According to the BBC:
‘The most thorough European survey of attitudes to immigration showed that Irish people were averagely well-disposed to foreign workers, neither unusually welcoming nor unusually hostile compared to other EU countries.
‘But ask opinion on a Dublin street corner, and you will hear plenty of individuals whose attitude is decidedly resentful.’

And that’s why immigration is such a thorny issue. Foreigners coming on to your buses and shouting at the top of their voices – disrupting your conservative lifestyle; foreigners forgetting to say please or thank you; invading your personal space; depleting the number of jobs available to the indigenous population; siphoning your resources: claiming benefits, enjoying free access to healthcare, and in some cases, flaming terrorism.
Though it’s not as simple as that, social structures tend to exclude immigrants. That’s why there have been repeated immigrant riots in Paris and elsewhere. Immigrants are not given an equal standing in society.

But people like Margaret Thatcher felt the British way of life was being ‘swamped’ by immigrants. Enoch Powell too in his infamous ‘Rivers of blood’ speech pursued the same line.
Clearly immigration is often worrying to the host country. Host countries are constantly trying to protect their 'culture’. In Japan, for instance, due to labour shortage the government decided to let in second and third generation Japanese Brazilians. The argument was, because they had Japanese blood they would speak the language, understand the culture and integrate more easily. But the experiment doesn’t seem to be going to plan. The immigrants are not taking to their culture like duck to water unfortunately.

Personally I think the hullabaloo over immigration all boils down to identity. People are afraid of losing their identity. Everyone, I believe, has an identity - a sense of location and position - that gives them a sense of belonging. I’m yet to hear someone say I come from nowhere.
When I say I’m Nigerian it means I belong to certain geographical boundaries. It means I belong to the Igbo tribe; I come from Enugu state, and can trace my roots to Nigeria.

And that’s what makes immigration such an explosive issue. People feel territorial because their land gives them an idea of who they are and how they relate to others in the world around them. It gives them a sense of location in the world and provides a link between them and the society they live in. If they lose their land to immigrants, then what becomes of their identity?

Crucially national Identity pinpoints what we have in common and the ways we are different from others who do not share our way of life.

Kathryn Woodard in her book ‘Identity and difference’(2002) argues 'Laying claim to an identity involves the naming of an ''us'' against a ''them'': identity is always an exclusionary practice'

In a nutshell, she contends:

1. We build identity through difference e.g. flags, uniforms etc represent our difference.

2. We maintain identity through social and material conditions. So if a group is marked as the enemy, that will have real effects because the group will be socially excluded and materially disadvantaged.

3. Identity as a concept uses systems of classification by dividing people into two opposing groups ‘us’ and ‘them’.

There are counter-arguments that identity is not fixed, it is always fluid. Think about the various influences on present-day Britain – the Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Romans, Normans…Identity is by no means static. But in an increasingly globalised world where our lives becomes enmeshed, people feel greater urgency to hold on to what they believe is theirs.
My belief is that we can’t help feeling territorial. We can’t help feeling threatened. We will always want to guard what we believe is ours. Who doesn’t feel strongly about their culture and country?

But however hard we fight to cling on, an aphorism still holds true: the only guarantee in life is change and not permanence.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

'World Aids Day' Rant

Attention! About 22.5 million people living with HIV are in Sub-Sahara Africa


Yes, and Indonesia has the fastest growing rate of HIV epidemic

Oh my goodness! What are we going to do?

Take the figures with a pinch of salt of course. Though the said statistics come from a very reputable body – the Almighty UN – it still leaves behind a trail of unanswered questions. First of all how do they collate the statistics? Hands up, I admit many African countries will not win a gong for organisation. If anything, we might be the antithesis of organisation. So where do they harvest their statistics about Aids in Africa/Asia from? They drop into every hospital I suppose counting HIV patients. That’s if the hospital even keeps proper records.

So if you talk about record keeping, it’s a big no- no, then how do they get their statistics?

I am a bit wary of people who present you with convenient sounding figures without verifying their sources. Or maybe its mystery is wrapped in its surreptitiousness.

Happy commemoration!

What is there to commemorate?

Don’t tell me you’re so ignorant. Never heard of World Aids Day?

Oh, that. Well I’m having second thoughts about the whole thing.


Because when they say ‘World’ Aids Day I honestly can’t tell which world they’re referring to. At least that’s the impression I get reading through the various articles on offer from media organisations. In their books the ‘World’ falls into two categories. The first category is the world which is the epicentre of devastation, suffering and dysfunctional systems (South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia appeared in most news reports – since when did the world shrink to these regions?)
In the second category you have organisations mainly from North America and Western Europe taking the recalcitrant HIV bull by the horns. They are the ones fighting to raise awareness and pushing for the availability of drugs. So honestly, I think December 1st should be renamed. World Aids Day is surely not a befitting appellation.

What are your suggestions?

Since it is a case of the developing world being the 'suffering one' and the developed world the 'saviour' churning out initiatives to save the dying world. Maybe we could try America/Europe come to the Aid of HIV-stricken Africa/Asia Day.

That sound’s too long and clumsy. Something more sensational might be fitting


Come on! Keep the sarcasm out of it

Okay okay let’s have an African Malaria Day instead


Food for thought. I won’t elaborate on it.

Isn’t it funny how people can pull out a few statistics and conveniently tuck away the rest?

What do you mean?

You know I was telling you earlier how the World Aids Day focuses on developing regions.


A little mole told me that the developed world have their share of woes

I like a bit of gossip, indulge me.

Hum, it’s ironic but I heard The rate of new cases of HIV/Aids in the UK is one of the highest in the European Union


Yes and the UK has the third highest rate of new infections behind Estonia and Portugal. Sadly though they can still come out self righteous by blaming it on the black African community and gay men

Why am I not surprised? I noticed feature articles commemorating World Aids Day were mainly centred on black faces

True, but I won’t let them off lightly. The little mole also tells me UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Western Europe. Do you know there have even been proposals for school girls aged between 12 and 13 to get vaccinated against cervical cancer


Really. Simply put, no one bags the blame for HIV. We are all accomplices. So let's have more equitable reports.

Well spoken, friend, well spoken.

So I’ll end on this note

World Aids Day is a reminder once again of media imperialism. Those who have the means dictate the news agenda

World Aids Day is a reminder once again of McDonaldisation. A country says from December 1st 1988 we will commemorate Aids, not malaria or any other killer diseases, and the ‘world’ follows suit

World Aids Day flags up globalisation. The ever shrinking world growing more and more homogeneous. But concomitantly the chasm between the have’s and have not’s widens.

But I know there’s more to this issue than my simplistic rant explores. All the same, it’s World Aids Day, let’s commemorate!

Friday, 23 November 2007

MacDonalds and Democracy

Things came to a head this week when Pakistan was kicked out of the Commonwealth for failing to call off an emergency rule. I found it amusing listening to BBC’s radio Four early Friday morning. The presenter, speaking with Pakistan’s ambassador to the States, asked: ‘Does he [Pervez Musharraf] want to convince the world he wants to move to a democratic path as soon as possible?’
Convince the world? What a sweeping statement I thought. That’s assuming every State and individual in the world has bought into democracy hook line and sinker.

Thinking about it, there are striking similarities between the ideology of democracy and McDonalds as a fast-food chain. Right from my high school days democracy was extolled as the ideal path every government should take.
An elected government by the people for the people – I heard it too many times from too many teachers. Likewise McDonalds fast-food conjured delectable images in my mind. Long before I tasted a big mac I was already ‘Loving it’.

In my opinion democracy and Macdonaldization could easily pass for siblings. Macdonalization was a term coined by George Ritzer, a Professor of Sociology. He used it to refer to the process by which the principles behind fast-food came to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world.
Mcdonald’s success in the States was so phenomenal that it quickly became the American way of eating. And everyone wanted a share of the cake. Soon countries were replicating the fast-food chain. Countries like China and Japan have reproduced their own version of American fast-food. The recipe for success is simply adopting the principles underpinning macdonaldization. Ritz identified them as efficiency, Calculability, Predictability and Control.

The same can be said of democracy. It is a model that has proved successful. It has worked in the West and is being adopted worldwide. And similar principles underpin democracy – it has to be predictable, calculable, efficient and controllable. Common principles such as Freedom of speech and equality before the law ensure predictability and control.

However Ritzer also believed so many countries imitating the American way of eating leads to standardization of cultural products. Which means the market standard is set by the most popular cultural products which reflect public taste. He links it to cultural imperialism, where a handful of countries influence and undermine the culture of the others.

And that’s probably the downside of democracy. Democracy is an exclusive club. It’s either you’re for ‘us’ or against ‘us’. Democracy assumes no other system of government is legitimate. Any government that is not a democratic is branded (even if not directly) a deviant.
Democracy has been macdonaldized. That’s why the Commonwealth booted out Pakistan. After all it states in its ethos it is ‘committed to a set of fundamental values…at the core of which is belief in and adherence to democratic principles.’ Therefore member States that do not conform face the boot.

Like Ritzer mentioned, mcdonaldization is two-sided. It has its merits, but also has its downsides. On the one hand it enhances efficiency, on other it leads to homogenization of cultures.
But is homogenization necessarily a bad thing? If the world is increasingly becoming similar and our ways of life converging it may not be such a bad idea. Maybe it simply means there will always be tension between the global homogenized culture and local heterogeneous cultures as countries struggle to figure out which way is best for them.

Who calls the shots - the Courts or the Media?

It has been sad reading about Meredith Kercher’s death. She was a British exchange student in Italy who was killed in her bedroom after (it is suspected) being sexually assaulted. As with most murder cases, the police are still trying to piece together the jigsaw. Who killed Meredith Kercher? What actually happened the night she died?

The story of Meredith Kercher is one that draws pathos. Anyone with a heart will be moved by the tragedy that befell a bright, pretty 21-year-old who had her life ahead of her. And I guess that’s why the British media has snapped it up and run the story for weeks. We’ve heard/read statements from her family in which they described Meredith as a person who touched the lives of everyone she met with her infectious, upbeat personality, smile and sense of humour.
Eulogies also poured in from Leeds University, where Meredith was studying. In the following weeks we saw/watched a smiling, bubbly Meredith on the pages of our newspapers/TV screens.

At the heart of it all a young student has been killed and her killer(s) might still be walking free. It is upsetting. Therefore the police are working hard to unearth events and perpetrator(s) that led to her death. The media too, through active coverage, nurture public awareness. This in turn makes it hard for the police to relent in their efforts. Active coverage keeps them on their toes.

But the media also helps fill in the gaps for their audience. Nibbling questions like what happened? Who did it? How did it happen? Will be tackled by the media.
A bare story without accompanying details is like an incomplete painting. No one would want to buy a painting half completed. That’s why journalists need to paint a vivid picture which will tempt the reader to buy the paper/watch the news etc. For a story to be newsworthy it has to be out-of-the-ordinary. And it is the media’s job to show the story has a striking edge, or in more colloquial terms, the X-factor. And if audiences are to patronise a certain medium, the medium must bring the story to life. It must go beyond the ordinary. But do the media overstep the boundary in trying to create a palatial story? Does coverage sometimes border on the fictitious?

The coverage of Meredith Kercher’s death started off on a very skeletal, rudimentary basis. We were told a British student was murdered in Italy. We knew suspects were being questioned. But gradually the stark picture was filled out with tints of colour. Headlines mutated from: Did two men kill Meredith? to Meredith ‘killed by two men’ after sex, and then Meredith killed after refusing orgy. The Daily Telegraph even recreated Meredith’s bedroom by copying a police crime photograph.

And details kept dribbling. A 20 year-old American, her 24-year-old boyfriend and a 37-year-old Congolese ‘legal immigrant’ were being held as key suspects. It emerges Meredith refused to participate in a sex game so one of the men raped her and the other slit her throat. The American confesses to having a hand in her death. A gruesome portrayal . However it is worth pointing out, there are reporting restrictions the media ought to follow.

Under the law if an organisation publishes material which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice to active proceedings it holds the court in contempt and this is punishable (Contempt of Court Act, 1981). Put differently suspects must not be exposed to the glare of publicity. Once an arrest warrant has been issued; an arrest made; a suspect is summoned or charged verbally, organisations must not publish anything that will prejudice their case in court. The suspect should not be linked to the alleged crime. Suggestions should not be made he/she is guilty. Neither should any background information be given, descriptions or photographs published. Regardless of their crimes suspects are entitled to a fair trial.

Sometimes, as in this case, the media sidestep the law. On occasion people refer to it as trial by media. Before standing being tried by the courts, the suspect is tried by the media. Details of his/her private life are excavated. Prejudicial reporting becomes inevitable. That seems to be the case with Peter Tobin, who is accused of murdering two school girls. Under the law his previous convictions are not supposed to be reported because they will create a substantial risk of prejudice. But this doesn’t seem to matter to the papers. Reading the papers you get the feeling it has to be him.

But recently we’ve seen cases where previous evidence in a trial is quashed and retrial ordered. For instance, Barry George who is to be tried a second time for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando after the Court of Appeal ruled key evidence was doubtful.

On the whole I believe the media are indispensable to every society. They inform us, educate us, entertain us and are a window to the world we cannot see. But I guess it boils down to ethical decisions made by individual media organisations. If ethical considerations play strongly in their coverage, the story will be more balanced. The BBC for instance, has a reputation for being impartial. The Guardian too tries to avoid bias.

The audience have a right to know, but the media need to be careful they are not giving the dog a bad name so they can hang it.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Tale of Two Countries

Thursday 5th July 2007

The three-year-old daughter of a British expatriate worker is kidnapped by gunmen in the Niger Delta. The UK's Foreign Office call for her "immediate safe release". British newspapers rally around, flash the torchlight on the region. Nigeria’s president, Umar Yar'Adua, throws in his weight. He appeals for her immediate release, involves security forces. He says he wants to ensure that Margaret Hill is returned unharmed to her family.

Monday 9th July 2007

The three-year-old British girl is reunited with her family after being freed by her kidnappers. UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband says he is "delighted" at the release.

Saturday 10th November 2007

The Nigerian Tribune reports thirteen Nigerians face execution in Saudi Arabia after completing seven years in jail. The men said they were arrested because of a fight which broke out on their street but which they knew nothing about.
Without proper representation in court, the verdict goes against them.
Ten months after completing a seven year jail term, their files are yet to be released from the court.
So far the Saudi authorities have ignored efforts by the Nigerian Embassy in Jedda to secure their release.

Sunday 11th November 2007

I search the Nigerian news wires for a government response, there’s none.

12th, 13th, 14th November 2007

No response

I get a clearer picture when I visit Amnesty International’s web page. The Nigerians were among hundreds detained in Jeddah on 29th September 2002, after a policeman was killed following an alleged dispute between local men and African nationals who were working as car cleaners.

The 13 Nigerians were brought before three judges in a closed court session on 22nd November. They could not fully understand the proceedings, which were conducted in Arabic with no translation. They had no lawyers or consular representation, and that is still the case.

Earlier in January a twenty-one-year-old Nigerian was hung in Singapore. Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi was condemned to death for smuggling drugs into Singapore at the age of eighteen.

After Amnesty International publicized the case our then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, took notice and pleaded for clemency. His plea fell on deaf ears. The Singaporean authorities executed Tochi anyway.

The Nigerian Federal Government responded five days later. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Joy Ogwu, speaking to The Guardian (Nigeria) said: "It's unfortunate that we lost a citizen this way. But a nation's law protects its territory, [Nigerians ought to] respect the law of the land whenever they find themselves outside our shores."

Defending the Government's meagre efforts, she said:"It's not often that a president of a nation writes a letter on behalf of a citizen. But the President wrote a letter to the Singaporean government appealing for clemency."

The Nigerian government refused to condemn Singapore’s act. Instead Prof Ogwu said Tochi’s execution would not threaten the diplomatic relations between the two countries. After all the issue was at an individual level so the bilateral relations of the two countries was not at stake.
In fact, she went on to say:"We had written a letter of clemency, which was signed by the President. But the Singaporean government said they would not bend the law. The reaction is not a row, it is not a contention between the two countries. What we sent was a plea.

It says a lot about the attitude of the Nigerian government. The message implicit in its attitude is: you can treat our citizens as badly as you want and get away with it. If the Government simply waves off the ill treatment of its citizens, why wouldn't so many Nigerians be languishing in foreign jails/fall to the hangman's noose?

The British government, on the other hand, proactively supports its citizens living outside Britain. Referring back to the story of three-year-old Margaret, it didn't count Mr Hills had been living in Nigeria for ten years. Neither did it count Margaret Hills was half Nigerian. What mattered to the Government was the life of its citizen was at stake. It was their duty to protect her.

Granted, in Tochi's case he had broken the law. And the Singaporean government is renown for its ruthlessness in convicting criminals regardless of the persons nationality. Neither am I trying to imply the British Government is faultless and none of its citizens are suffering in foreign countries. My point is the Nigerian Government needs to be more proactive in supporting its citizens abroad. The Government should stand up for its citizens when needed. Adopting a blase attitude will only encourage other countries to treat Nigerians with less respect and dignity. Such level of negligence on the part of the Government is atrocious to say the least.

I also believe Nigerians abroad need to think of other ways to help those in distress. Since the Nigerian Government is hard of hearing, and persistently ignores pleas from helpless Nigerians, lateral thinking is needed. Maybe more pressure groups, forums, community networks could help reduce the suffering of neglected citizens. I believe Nigerians abroad can make giant strides if they rely less on the Government and see what they can do for themselves.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Media Excesses

This week the media had a field day when Heather Mills openly criticised it on GMTV’s breakfast show. Paul McCartney’s estranged wife complained about abusive press coverage. She compared her treatment at the hands of the media to that of Kate McCann, the mother of missing Madeleine, and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Unfortunately the media responded with further criticism and derision. If Heather Mills was expecting sympathy she’ll be largely disappointed at their response. There were a few considerate responses, but most hit back with scathing comments.

But Ms Mills doesn’t seem to be beaten back by the antagonism. The anti-fur campaigner said she had launched a petition at the European Parliament to strengthen the law against "a specific portion of the media" which pursued her relentlessly. She even returned to GMTV’s sofa to say how cathartic her outburst proved.

Till I began studying print journalism, I tried to avoid the red tops. And that’s because their level of intrusion into the lives of public figures is deeply worrying. I can’t understand the fervid interest in the trivial details of a celebrity’s life. Why must we get a minute by minute update of Britney Spear’s breakdown? Why must we follow the McCann’s voyeuristically?

Princess Diana is another salient example. It’s been over ten years since she died yet the media will not relinquish their salacious coverage of the night she died. Now it’s not only about who killed her, the interest seems to have shifted to how she died. Details about what happened moments before her death, how she locked fingers with Mohammed Al Fayed and so on keep surfacing.

What’s worse, people are no longer encouraged to be sympathetic or considerate. Rather we should poke fun at helpless individuals because they are celebrities. What type of morals are we trying to promote in our society?
I fully support Heather Mills when she said: "What are we doing as a nation buying these newspapers? We need to force a change as a responsible nation.''
What exactly has happened to the media in Britain? What is the purpose of the media?

Judith Lichtenberg, co-author of ‘Democracy and the Mass Media’ regards objectivity as the cornerstone of the professional ideology of journalists in liberal democracies. She says, “As a journalistic virtue, objectivity requires that reporters do not let their preconceptions cloud their vision,” (Lichtenberg in Curran and Gurevitch, 2000, p.252). This does not mean that they have no pre-assumptions but it is important that they do not draw upon this within their writing, but base their articles upon facts.

Lichtenberg suggests Journalists strive to present all sides of a debate with equal credibility.
And that’s what the Press Complaints Commission strives to do through its regulation of the Press. But it is only voluntary. If Papers break its code it has no power to punish them.

Under its privacy code:
Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications. Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent

Exceptions to this code are on grounds of ‘public interest’. The PCC states:
There may be exceptions to the clauses where they can be demonstrated to be in the public interest.
1. The public interest includes, but is not confined to: i) Detecting or exposing crime or serious impropriety. ii) Protecting public health and safety. iii) Preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation.

But I’d like to know how telling us, for instance, Diana’s dying words works in the public interest. Personally, I would like to see the media’s excesses curbed. The PCC should be given more powers to prosecute offending papers. If this doesn’t happen I fear what will become of the media in this country. Someone has to draw the line.