How the phone hacking scandal silenced me

The last ten days have been some of the worst to be called a journalist.

The thickness of my skin has been tested before, but the phone-hacking scandal has changed everything.

I had previously gotten by believing it was only what I thought of me in this industry that mattered. In fact, a few months ago I ended an article with this line, which in the current context is a little too light-hearted: “For all you journo-generalisers out there, rest assured, the only thing I’ll be tapping into is my own potential.”

I thought that if I knew I would never be the reason why journalists had a bad reputation, that that would be enough. But I’m not sure if it is anymore – it could be my fatal flaw in this industry that I have always worried that I’ll be seen not for who or what I am, but as just another hack. I may know I’m not like that, you probably know I’m not like that, but aren’t we all guilty of generalising?

Media ethics have faced constant scrutiny, but the downfall of the News of The World was a question of morals. It’s not the journalist’s head and ruthless competitive spirit under attack this time, it is quite seriously his heart and soul – or some people would argue, his lack of.

I can’t explain fully why this bothers me more, when I know – just  as I did before – that I’m not one who should be tarnished by the same unforgiving brush. But as the last ten days have thrust every insecurity of mine about the industry into the spotlight, like a lot of the public, I have become increasingly disillusioned.

So whilst its biggest critics have cursed the media on the World Stage, an equally damaging effect has occurred silently in the consciences of people like me, as they wonder how they can continue on a path to a world in which we are struggling to see any good.

And with all that on my mind I have become a little lost for words lately. I can’t, and I won’t, defend the actions of the people who have always put me off the idea of entering the world of journalism. And yet I don’t want to have go around shouting that the majority of us do not aspire to turn out that way. I just want to find a way to drown out the voice in my head which says people will doubt you regardless.

I’ve had to bite my tongue regarding my own insecurities about how the rest of us will be judged in the context of the phone hacking scandal. I know that by holding on to personal integrity I can remain afloat in the industry’s stormy waters. But with sharks under the surface and hunters on land, at what cost, and to what end?

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