July 27, 2008

That's Entertainment

In a recent Grauniad blog posting on the Murat affair Roy Greenslade asks:
How come newspapers with highly-paid legal teams were so blatantly allowed to libel these people? Did every lawyer in every paper fail to note that the stories were libellous? If they did notice, did editors ignore their legal eagles' advice?

That is one of the enduring mysteries about this sad episode, the failure of so many experienced journalists and in-house lawyers to stop and ask themselves what they were doing. Can anyone tell us why?
I can't tell if he's being disingenuous or naive (or both), but surely the reason they keep on doing this is because it works: it pays. The (at most) £100,000 each paper will pay is surely considered just a reasonable cost of doing business, a small price to pay over time for giving readers and potential readers a good dose of self-righteousness and voyeurism. How better to attract readers and advertisers? That's entertainment (which is after all the business most newspapers are in).

(Note: I know little about the justice or otherwise of the Murat case itself, given my fairly low level of interest in the whole McCann Thing).

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