Journalism

Newspapers decide they’re not the news

An important national story about workplace bullying fails to make it into Britain’s newspapers

Never one to shy away from a niche subject I thought I’d mention a story so little known only one national newspaper deemed it newsworthy.

So what’s the story? Well, within the last week compensation has been awarded following a ruling by an employment tribunal in December 2008 that an employee was so badly bullied by his boss he ended up with stress-related depression. In fact, so severe was the bullying that compensation amounted to nearly £800,000 — thought to be the largest payment of its kind.

You might wonder why that only made it into one national newspaper. Surely it has the hallmarks of a good story? The evil bully got his comeuppance, the downtrodden hero finally beats The Man, and so on. The tabloids could even affect outrage if they so choose, given that the payment was eight times greater than that accepted by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes.

So why has it been so spectacularly ignored by the national media? Call me cynical, but perhaps it has something to do with the employer being the News of the World. Perhaps it has something to do with the bully being Andy Coulson, then editor of the News of the World and now communications director for David Cameron.

‘Tory leader employs our own bully’ is presumably not a headline the News of the World wanted to print. Nor, I assume, did its owner Rupert Murdoch. Nor The Sun, The Times, or The Sunday Times, some of Murdoch’s other papers.

If anyone still thought the slow decline of newspapers was something to worry about, this should help them relax. The loss of these self-serving rags owned by so few men, with their gentlemen’s agreements keeping their dirty secrets hidden, is nothing to lose sleep over.

While the future of newspapers is doubtful, the future of journalism seems strong. If that means less control by a cabal of newspaper owners, all the better.