A very odd story has appeared over the last couple of days. The Drum reports on a Times editorial on the death of Gary Speed – an editorial which has since been supported by the Daily Mail. The Times laments the lack of investigation into Gary Speed’s death, saying,
“If this awful event had taken place, say, a year ago, it is quite likely that we would know a good deal more about it. More of Mr Speed’s story would have emerged, and with it, perhaps, an enhanced understanding of his motives.But, as it is, we – including this newspaper – know very little, possibly a great deal less than there is to know.”
It adds that there have been rumours and theories circulating on the internet since Gary Speed’s death, and regrets that the mainstream press has held back from investigating – because, says The Times, of fears caused by the Leveson Inquiry that any investigation would be criticised.
The full piece is well worth a read, as one of the finest examples of hypocrisy and self-righteousness that I have seen in quite some time. The gist of their argument is that the press is scared to investigate so scurrilous bloggers are just making stuff up instead. And the Daily Mail has dug up support for this position from Tory MP Philip Davies, who says,
“The problem is that we are seeing a chilling effect on the Press and the rest of the respectable media, leaving a large field clear to the unregulated internet and social media so people can peddle lots of things that are not true. These things are best covered in the respectable media so you get the truth, rather than unpleasant smears and lies.”
This would be that same respectable media that hacked into phones to get stories, camps outside the houses of its victims, chases them down the street and approaches their children in an attempt to get a story.
It is bad enough that the print media has allowed itself to descend into the sickening cesspit of amorality that Leveson is revealing. But it is utterly contemptible that, instead of accepting responsibility, expressing genuine remorse and striving for far higher standards of reporting, The Times and its new pal the Daily Mail is claiming that only they can be trusted to find out the truth and blaming bloggers, Leveson and generally everyone but themselves for the fact that their editors won’t let them go and rake through Gary Speed’s bin.
Gary Speed was 42 when he died. Men aged 35-44 are, by quite some margin, the people who are most likely to die by suicide. Instead of whinging about not being allowed to dismantle Gary Speed’s private life, the press could perform a genuine public service by writing honestly and constructively about the reasons for the high suicide rate amongst this group, and the actions that we can all take to help people who are suicidal.
I do not know what the Murdoch-owned Times knows, or thinks it ought to know, about Gary Speed’s death. I do know that the press has no-one to blame but itself for the contempt in which much of the public now holds it.