Tom Watson reveals how the phone hacking scandal affected him – Express and Star
This local newspaper column was being shared across Twitter this morning. MP and ‘scourge of the tabloids’ Tom Watson writes in the Express and Star about the campaign against phone hacking which has played a huge part in exposing the problems at News International. This is Watson playing to his home crowd in the Midlands and setting out his case well. He admits to feeling as if he was ‘cracking up’ under the scrutiny when he stood down as Labour minister, adding that most MPs thought he was ‘mad’ when he began squaring up to Rupert Murdoch’s empire. Many will be thankful that he did. The Express and Star comes in for some credit for not jumping on the bandwagon when the national media (wrongly) reported stories about Watson’s private life. A decent column from someone at the heart of the story of the year, rather than the dry material that sometimes comes from local columnists, is payback for that.
With the News International crisis escalating further this week, it’s been easy to forget that just a few days ago many News of the World journalists who had nothing to do with the phone hacking scandal were caught in the crossfire and lost their jobs as a result.
This video on YouTube of the editor Colin Myler’s final address to staff goes some way to revealing the emotions in Fortress Wapping on that final day. It’s undoubtedly heartfelt – and of much more interest and relevance than some of the filler material purveyed by broadcasters on this subject in the last few days.
Anyone who’s worked in a newsroom will understand the uncomfortable situations journalists sometimes have to address when pursuing a story. A very good example of this – which I have experienced – is the ‘death knock’, where reporters are sent to interview a family who has just suffered a tragedy. Often, the best stories result from such endeavors – and they have shifted many millions of copies of newspapers over the years. But they can also be painful for all concerned.
I once visited the family of Michael Hodder, who was the train driver involved in the Paddington train crash in October 1999, whilst working on a local paper in his home town of Reading. Six months into the job, I got nowhere that day; Sky and the The Sun were already there – and were greeted by a furious and very upset man who chased them down the street. We had been tipped off about Hodder’s Reading connection by someone who worked in the office who knew his family. It often happens that way. But I also remember the police being bemused at how quickly a posse of tabloid reporters had turned up following the same lead (who had given it to them?).