Saturday, October 08, 2011

News of the World hacking: Bullies in the newsroom?

Royal Courts of Justice
In July UK PM David Cameron appointed Lord Justice Leveson, from the Court of Appeal, as Chairman of an Inquiry known as the Leveson Inquiry, into claims of phone hacking at the News of the World, and into the culture and ethics of the British media.

The Court of Appeal is housed in the magnificent Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand (the architect, frustrated at not having received commissions to design cathedrals, seized upon the opportunity to turn the Justice building into one, and succeeded).

One reporter who appeared before the Leveson Inquiry is the rather colourful Richard Peppiatt. Peppiatt recently resigned from the Daily Star, and has released his resignation letter.

In it, Peppiatt wrote about the pressures to write stories:

"If you won't write it, we'll get someone who will," was the sneer du jour, my eyes directed toward a teetering pile of CVs. I won't claim I've simply been coshed into submission; I've necked the celeb party champagne and pocketed all the freebies, relying on hangovers to block out the rest.

And Peppiatt also wrote in the letter about his role in 'inventing' a story:
Richard Peppiatt
I suspect you see a perfect circle. I see a downward spiral. I see a cascade of shit pirouetting from your penthouse office, caking each layer of management, splattering all in between.

Daily Star favourite Kelly Brook recently said in an interview: "I do Google myself. Not that often, though, and the stories are always rubbish. "There was a story that I'd seen a hypnotherapist to help me cut down on the time I take to get ready to go out. Where do they get it from?"

Maybe I should answer that one. I made it up. Not that it was my choice; I was told to. At 6pm and staring at a blank page I simply plucked it from my arse. Not that it was all bad. I pocketed a £150 bonus. You may have read some of my other earth-shattering exclusives.

Peppiatt told the Leveson Inquiry that there was an atmospher of bullying in the newsrooms of British tabloids:

Richard Peppiatt, a reporter who resigned from the Daily Star earlier this year after working at the paper on a casual basis, said tabloid newsrooms were "bullying and aggressive environments in which dissent is often not tolerated".

He claimed stories were often pre-planned, with reporters expected to get facts to fit in with the story.

"The question is not, 'do you have a story on X', the question is 'today we are saying this about X, make it appear so'," he said.

But some editors questioned Mr Peppiatt's claims in a discussion which followed the seminar, with Richard Wallace, editor of the Daily Mirror, saying he did not recognise the description of national newspaper newsrooms.

Bullies? In newsrooms? In the Fifth Estate? Please say it is not so!

Of course, we would never find bullying in Canadian newspapers, would we?


  1. I remember when this story was published first time. I was quite surprised.

  2. Most surprising "I quit!" letter I have read for eons!

    I wonder how it will affect his next job interview?


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