Ruth Gledhill on cleaning the Augean Stables

Ruth GledhillRuth Gledhill, Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Times, used to be one of my favourite bloggers. That is, until her blog, along with most other content at The Times, was put behind a paywall. That was reportedly at the insistence of the newspaper’s owners, News International, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. As the BBC reported last year, before the change,

NI chief executive Rebekah Brooks said it was “a crucial step towards making the business of news an economically exciting proposition”. …

Mrs Brooks said the decision to charge came “at a defining moment for journalism… We are proud of our journalism and unashamed to say that we believe it has value”.

Rebekah Brooks? We have heard that name again recently. Is she still proud of “our journalism”?

But back to Ruth Gledhill: she has now started her own personal blog, with an interesting name for someone who I think calls herself a Christian, Goddess of Small Things. She writes that this blog

will be a place for reflections on life as a working mum, as a parent of a chorister, as a breeder of Ragdoll cats, as an Anglican churchgoer, as a photographer of flowers, as a singer and classical guitar player.

But her latest post goes well beyond these subjects to reflect on her life as a journalist at a Murdoch newspaper, as she writes about Milly Dowler? Soham? Dead Soldiers? She reflects movingly on her personal dilemmas as an innocent employee of a company that has been accused of some shocking criminal activities. But I can’t help wondering whether she will get in trouble with her employers for other parts of what she has written:

How could they?

No.

How could WE.

I am a journalist. I work for News International. I am on Twitter. I read The Guardian. I know what is being said. …

The shame. The terrible shame.

She goes on to suggest that the News of the World should print on its front page the Church of England’s General Confession, including

We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable.

And she concludes:

I can’t forget about Milly Dowler. Soham. The dead soldiers.

I don’t want to forget. I will never forget.

The Augean stables are being cleaned at last. Bring on the tsunami.

Indeed. And it seems that the cleansing tsunami will sweep away the News of the World. Breaking news from the BBC:

Breaking newsNews of the World to close amid hacking scandal

This Sunday’s issue of the News of the World will be the last edition of the paper, News International chairman James Murdoch has said.

I look forward to seeing what kind of confession they will put on their final front page.

UPDATE a few minutes later: I posted this quickly to get the breaking news out. But there is a bit more I want to say. First, the BBC breaking news report has already, within 15 minutes, been updated to include a statement from James Murdoch, in which he says that “the good things the News of the World does”

have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong – indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company. …

the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose. …

The company paid out-of-court settlements approved by me. I now know that I did not have a complete picture when I did so. This was wrong and is a matter of serious regret.

Not yet quite “The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable”, but a major step in that direction.

But I note a tweet from @subedit that

Sun staff have been told they are moving to a 7-day operation.

So perhaps what will really happen is that the News of the World will be rebranded as the Sunday Sun, as @subedit and Lord Prescott have already suggested.

I was also going to link to the campaign by Avaaz and 38 Degrees to stop News International from taking over BSkyB. Apparently the decision is to be delayed, until September according to @subedit. So it looks as if the campaign is having its effect, but we await further details.

One thought on “Ruth Gledhill on cleaning the Augean Stables

  1. Pingback: Politics in the Bible, Wayne Grudem, and NIV 2011 - Gentle Wisdom

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