Ex-Daily Star ed Hitchen: 'I feel sorry for journalists today'

  • Ex-Daily Star editor: many journalists ‘are the product of half-baked courses’
  • A lot of journalists ‘haven’t a clue what a good story is’
  • PCC should not be scrapped

Former Daily Star editor Brian Hitchen has given a withering assessment on the state of modern journalism – likening journalists to ‘battery hens sipping Evian water and eating half-frozen sandwiches from the vending machine”.

Hitchen, who was editor of the Daily Star from 1987-1994, said he felt ‘sorry for journalists today”, claiming that ‘many are the product of half-baked courses of journalism and have no news sense and the same goes for their news editors”.

‘British newspapers fed the monster and now most newspapers live off the droppings of this monster,’he said in an interview with Press Gazette – published in the May edition of the magazine.

‘Everything is about celebrities, when who cares? Some newspapers don’t. I am delighted every morning when I read the ‘i’ – it is superb.

‘Everything you want to read is in there and you see so many of the more intelligent young people reading it.”

Hitchen, who edited the Sunday Express for a year after leaving the Star, said he feared for the future of newspapers in the UK because so many were ‘mediocre”.

A lot of journalists ‘haven’t a clue what a good story is’and ‘don’t work hard any more”, he added.

Hitchen claimed that of the current crop of national newspaper editors, the Daily Mail’s Paul Dacre ‘stands out way ahead of the rest”.

‘He knows instinctively what his readers want. It doesn’t matter what his executives say, if he thinks, ‘It would interest me or my family’, it will go in,’he said.

Commenting on the phone-hacking scandal, Hitchen said he was ‘appalled, angry and disgusted’by the affair, which he said was ‘another example of poor journalism today”.

He said: ‘The people who did it were prompted by ambition, greed and lack of experience and they have jeopardised the freedom of the press.

‘Their crass stupidity has handed the keys to those wanting to shackle the press. I think Cameron is guilty of another lack of judgement by launching the Leveson Inquiry while a criminal investigation is going on.’

But Hitchen, a founding member of the Press Complaints Commission, did not think the press watchdog ‘should be scrapped entirely”.

‘What those cowboys at the News of the World did is well covered by criminal law and therefore you don’t need any more legislation,’he said.

‘I wouldn’t throw out the whole system, and I would keep the PCC secretariat – they do a terrific job.”

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