Former Telegraph journalist: Hacking scandal shows that we failed as an industry

Former Telegraph journalist Emma Hartley has suggested that fierce competition for jobs and outdated management techniques are partly to blame for the press excesses exposed by the hacking scandal.

Writing on her blog, she says:

Journalism may be the fourth estate and have a function in a proper democratic society but I don’t think I’m sharing any secrets when I say that there is nothing democratic about the way a newsroom, or a newspaper, works. The editor is always right, even when you suspect he’s actually wrong. This is because he can fire you – and may well if you whinge in such a way that it gets back to him. It’s like most other jobs, but more so.

She adds that “overweening fear of losing one’s job could be partly responsible for the industry’s lack of self-examination”. And writes:

It’s a small industry at a national level and bullying managerial behaviour and top-down-ism are – whisper it – deeply ingrained.

She concludes:

An outbreak of journalistic self-loathing over events at News International is to be hoped for. It is the beginning of a correct response to what’s happened because only if newspapers are capable of thoughtful self-analysis do they have a hope in hell of being able to regulate themselves. We failed, as an industry, in our most basic task, which was to take a realistic look at ourselves.

Hartley was associate editor of the Telegraph weekly world edition and expat website, and also worked as editor of the Telegraph’s style guide. She previously worked as a freelance diary contributor for various newspapers.

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