• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

nothing but the truth

By the time you read this Lord Leveson's proposals on press behaviour may have been made public, with interesting consequences for journalists who hack phones, harass parents of murdered children, and bribe police officers.

These are serious matters which will be addressed elsewhere by serious commentators. I just hope Leveson found space in his report for some minor but important details concerning the racier elements of the newspaper trade. Such as a ban on reporters dressing up as an Arab sheik unless a) he is an Arab sheik, or b) it is Halloween.

There should be rulings on terminology. "Love rat" may only be used to describe a person indulging in a spot of infidelity if there is supporting testimony from an expert in animal psychology and sociology that said person exhibited behavioural characteristics similar to large muroid rodents.

Tabloid reporters should bear in mind that controlled experiments found rats to be actively pro-social and to demonstrate altruistic behaviour to other rats. A more accurate alternative may be to describe footballers or minor celebrities engaging in a bit of how's-your-father as "love rabbits".

Allegations of a "sex romp" must be supported by evidence of gymnastic activity. A "love nest" will require the presence of feathers or at least a highly tog-rated duvet. Reference to a "sordid sex act" should include such detail as in whose opinion it is so deemed.

It's not all about sex, of course. There is the obsession some newspapers have with money and property. Daily Mail reporters should furnish a full home survey along with their reference to some soap star's £2m townhouse or, worse, some poor unfortunate whose plight did not require the revelation he or she lived in a £600,000 bungalow.

There must be tighter regulation of the use of the word "source". In many cases the provider of confidential information in a story may be the journalist at the next desk being helpful in a speculative manner. Or a news editor advising that the deadline is drawing near so please cobble something together quickly.

Such ethical standards are unacceptable. A source should at least be a friend of the reporter's auntie on his mother's side whose next door neighbour overheard the story on a bus. Or a bloke in the pub whose girlfriend works on the till at Homebase.

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

128071