by Atul Hatwal
On Monday night a big news story broke. Yet it received scant coverage in the print media.
The first claims were filed at the High Court against Mirror Group for hacking. While this story was running number two on the BBC website through Monday night into Tuesday morning, it was accorded considerably less prominence on the websites of the newspapers and received extremely modest coverage in their later print editions.
The last thing most of the print media want are the gruesome details of new hacking revelations thrust before the public, just as the newspapers prepare to decry the Leveson report as the greatest assault on freedom since the doodlebug.
But this is important.
This is the first time a news organisation other than News International has been in the legal firing line. The “one rogue organisation” defence has never looked so shaky.
This post-Leveson update of the “one rogue reporter” line will be mounted by the non-News International newspapers in the days and weeks following the publication of the judge’s recommendations.
After the initial shock and awe of wall to wall headlines proclaiming the death of liberty, the majority of the non-Murdoch press will fall back to their second, and ultimately more robust, line of defence.
They will say that the evidence presented before the Inquiry proves only one thing: that News International was rotten. Not the press as a whole, just Murdoch.
Yes there might be lessons to be learned for all of the print media, but on the basis of the facts as presented, the case for statutory action only applies to New International. One rogue organisation. To sacrifice the freedom of the press for the actions of Rupert Murdoch would be disproportionate, illogical and excessive.