British historians: Public "fickle" when it comes to tabloids
Britain has been transfixed by the phone hacking scandal that has shaken its media world. But will it really change the nation's press?
Much depends on the shelf life of the outcry over alleged skullduggery by journalists working for British papers owned by Rupert Murdoch, who closed a newspaper, dropped a major business deal and agreed to testify before parliament in an attempt to defuse the uproar....
"The public's interest in these matters is fickle to say the least," said Steven Fielding, professor of political history at the University of Nottingham. "Murdoch is probably thinking, 'Well, if I can last for about six months, then everything will return back to normal.'"
Fielding said Britons were more concerned about the economy, jobs, services and quality of life, especially at a time when the government is implementing painful austerity measures aimed at getting the country's finances in order....
Jeremy Black, a professor of history at the University of Exeter, said the scandal was a welcome distraction for political parties that are struggling for answers to economic challenges at home and across Europe, and that broader concerns about a "coarsening of public life" and the salacious nature of large segments of British media coverage are not being addressed.
He cited some of the reporting on Madeleine McCann, a British girl whose disappearance in Portugal in 2007 drew global attention. Her father, Gerry McCann, complained of sensational journalism in the case, and the parents won libel damages from some British newspapers over suggestions that they were responsible for their daughter's death....
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