July 23, 2011

MEGAN MCARDLE: Theories Of The British Press:

I have been somewhat skeptical of the claims that the Murdoch scandals are going to jump the Atlantic, because my sense has always been that the British press really is different–far more aggressive and edgy than their American cousins. This sort of phone hacking has been widespread there for a long time. Scotland Yard has now expanded its investigation to 31 publications and hundreds of journalists, a fact that has gone largely unremarked by those who were extremely interested in the case right up to the point where the evidence started suggesting that this was a British problem, not a Murdoch problem.

If it is indeed a British problem, however, the question is: why? Some of the suggestions that have suggested themselves are obvious, others deliciously counterintuitive. British libel law, for example, is actually much stricter than US libel law. But a twitter correspondent suggests that this may, paradoxically, have encouraged hacking: you can’t take the risk of reporting something that’s false, so instead you go to illegal lengths to report things that are true.

Very interesting.

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