Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Saturday 9 July 2011

Letters to Lillys.

WELL, where the hell to start?

What a week in news it's been. Let's take it chronologically. Our mailbag begins with a totally gratuitous picture of male totty of the kind that really ought to be in newspapers more often.

Whoopsy, done it again. (This may be the moment to remind you all of the international rules of bagsy, and that I've already called it.)

Lucy said: "That's what I'm talking about..." Lesley added: "Oh my *swoons*" and Silver said: "Rawr!" Colin wisely decided to capitalise by saying: "I bet he smells of spitfire fuel and punching. I'm going to email that picture to the missus an hour before I go home."

Brian said:
"I don't see why a chap would be upset by your blog post. Blokes know that women want ...a man that smells like a James Hetfield chord progression, while giving them a fantastic, never ending seeing too, having just stomped the snot out of an aggressor, before making breakfast while discussing Camus' experience prior to writing The Rebel. Shortly before fixing any broken machinery in the house and then sorting out another vigorous seeing to. It is, after all, 2011, and I'd like to think that with that model of behaviour I was somehow getting something right."
Ed: Sorry, still thinking about the soldier. Spitfire fuel, you say? Mmm.

Then journalism had an embolism and we found out the News of the World's freelance private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had hacked into, and deleted messages from, missing schoolgirl Missy Dowler's voicemail. This defence of a reporter's rights - and responsibilities - in using the dark arts was fiercely debated.

Andrew said: "It's very complex maybe to complex for me. I can see it both ways, I want it to be done in some circumstances but not in others so who watches the watchers???" Liz said: "Just for once I don't agree with Foxy's blog." Nosk added: "Don't really have a problem with hacks and techniques, do have a problem with editors with no judgement or moral compass." Louise said: "I think the public concern is in trusting journos to make moral judgements on their behalf." And John added: "A news sub here. You're doing a good job; doing the right thing. I feel certain that many people feel this way."

But Ian said: "Journalists are not a state-sponsored federal agency, you bloody reporters are not above the law. Would you break into their house to get their answering machine?" Lucy said: "Your moral compass is very skewed, I would not hack the phone, I would try to get the evidence another way, a legal way." Emma added: "I usually agree with you...this time I'm afraid I don't...well you can't get on all the time!" And Louise pointed out: "No other profession is allowed to make moral judgements outside of law."

John said:
"Your stance on the NOTW story has massively disappointed me and in many ways angered me... Tobacco companies kill people and include a non-essential addictive ingredient. I would therefore never work for a tobacco company. If they tried to clean up their act I still could not work for a company that is effectively a mass murderer in the same way I could never join a newer, cuddlier version of the Nazi party. Some things are beyond contempt... The tabloids are so powerful that politicians were afraid to stop the illegal practices because of the threat of retribution - against them, their wives, their kids, or anyone close... Your one-eyed, self-serving, well-written articulate defence of people working in this field lessen you."
Sharon differed:
"What is really sad about all this is how it's very fast become an excuse for politicians (many of them still wearing red-faces from their last press/PR disaster) to spout hysterical outrage and call for the tabloid press to burned at the stake. A fuck up is a fuck up and, yes, it's a bad one. But the gutter press has its place - and it's down in the gutters looking for the things people have tried to flush away."
Ed: As the story moves more things will come to light which will, I'm sure, help us all to form views which at the moment can only be reactive. But I would say that, no matter how appalling the actions of a few may prove to be, they've not yet been linked to any deaths.

A few noticed an important date passed this week, marking the sixth anniversary of the 7/7 bomb attacks on London.

Tallulah said: "This is why I follow you. Don't always agree with you but every now & then you produce a GEM! Thnks."

Nerina said: "Damn, you've made me cry again." Josh added: "Anything with the tags 'fuck you, terror' is worth a read. Amazing article." Grumpy Old Woman said: "Neither is it cool to cry while at work but anyone I show your piece to will do the same if they've an ounce of that spirit."

Kyle had a bone to pick:
"Not even a mention of inaccuracies in the official report, or the families and victims' pleas for an independent inquest."
Ed: Can't please everyone, but I was gratified to see as many people read the 7/7 post as they did the one on the phone-hacking scandal. The world's not always shit.

And so we come to Saturday July 9, 2011, and today a 168-year-old newspaper is publishing its last-ever edition.

I think we can all agree that its final chapter has been one which tarnishes Fleet Street and its reputation. Whatever your opinion of the News of the World, the tabloids or Press in general, it was the English-speaking world's most successful newspaper and was read by millions who had a healthy human appetite for the stories it produced.

Had it not been so successful at entertaining us it could not have afforded the resources to throw into investigations and campaigns, from John Profumo in the 1960s to the Pakistan cricket scandal this summer, all of which have in some way been undeniably for the public good.

Maybe it could never have recovered; and then again, perhaps its owners should have tried.

Legendary newspaper editor Harold Evans used to tell his staff: "Don’t do anything to get a story you would be ashamed to tell your readers about afterwards."

In the midst of all the argument about who and how to regulate the Press, that rule seems to me to be the best we could possibly follow.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Foxy out.