Dear Mr Churchill,
I have always been a great admirer of your people's culture and wit - otherwise, why should I have ventured to endure the various economic uncertainties of becoming a British press proprietor?
Forgive me please for now breaking my self-imposed rule of non-interference in British affairs, albeit for a good reason - and allow me to remind you of a banal truth which to ignore can have deadly ( think Nietzsche).
The justified public outcry against phone-tapping by journalists has possibly reached its peak. Those who used to seek Rupert Murdoch's friendship are now calling for his scalp. Thankfully the rule of law prevails, and so morals and ethics gain the upper hand. That much is almost universally agreed.
And now a newspaper hated by the rich and powerful with a 3.5 million circulation has ceased to exist. Personally I did not like the paper, it was all too sensationalist and tawdry for my taste . What is clear is that its senior executives and some junior employees did or sanctioned deplorable things. But had they worked their tactics not against a 13-year-old dead girl or broken-hearted families of soldiers killed in action, but against corrupt and powerful bad guys, whose stories, alas, are not so entertaining to sell in the paper?
What if they were they to have acted in an unpalatable public interest, instead of exploiting human tragedy? Supposen it has exposed huge banks like Barclays, which claims a 700 million USD loss in Russia? But is it a loss? Or Madoff's, Ablyazov's, Pugachev's, Baturina's, Borodin's and Gaddafi's dirty money - billions of corrupt dollars - stored a laundered in Britain? Alas, no one is after those, who robbed their fellow citizens of hundreds of billions. Investigatibe journalims as a profession is becoming a dying breed. The powerful and rich are always protected by countless lawyers, privacy laws, etc.
I have once closed a paper called "Moscow Correspondent" because of not only finance, but also unethical & wrong information. The winner was corrupt mayor Lujkov, who since defrauded Moscow of extra blns of USD. Now he & his wife, with the banker Borodin, are hiding their money in Britain. Sunday Times has shyded away from further investigation. News of the Word has parished. Global corruption thriumphs. After these fair lessons about illegal and murky journalism which we have witnessed in recent days who is going to risk practicing proper investigative journalism? Shall we now only allow the markets / online social media eradicate real freedom of press / speech, and let Britain become like Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine, Burma, Papua New Guinea?
Let's not forget the other side of the coin. And instead of blaming it all on Mr Murdoch, let's pray we have dozens of competing Murdochs shining lights in dark corners (quote).
Can I offer here R.Murdochs et.al. to join Lebedevs in establishing a World Independent Foundation for Free investigative journalism?
How do you like these words:
Self-serving states are making themselves ever larger, sucking the air of opportunity out of the room.
We all have a role in fashioning a society that is driven by aspiration and not crippled by calcification.
Let's admit that many of us in this hall are privileged. As the privileged, we should be relentless in our criticism of those who think - for reasons of birth, or wealth, or fame - that they are better than others.
Our new world is one of modern mass communication, phone and text, without limit. Democracy will be from the bottom up, not from the top down.
Even so, a free society requires an independent press: turbulent ...enquiring...bustling...and free.
That's why our journalism is hard-driving and questioning of authority. And so are our journalists. Often, I have cause to celebrate editorial endeavour. Occasionally, I have had cause for regret.
Let me be clear: We will vigorously pursue the truth - and we will nottolerate wrongdoing.
Inaugural Margaret Thatcher Lecture
Center for Policy Studies, 21 October 2010