This sort of tone, so teary-eyed that it can barely focus, did little service to Pilger's central argument - the incontrovertible truth that popular journalism has been debased since Murdoch entered the scene. He is right to deplore the fact that sentimental opportunism has replaced durable principles, and right to be uneasy about a press that values celebrity and sensation far above information. But he constantly edged away from the uncomfortable truth at the heart of his story. Pilger often refers to "ordinary people", a holy tribe usually invoked in accounts of their betrayal or abandonment by the new media barons. But what sort of people have fuelled Mr Murdoch's satellite television profits, the money from which pays for his predatory attack on rival papers? And what sort of people exactly buy the Mirror and The Sun today, somehow overcoming their natural distaste for the salacious trivia they find inside? It's possible to believe, as Pilger probably does, that "ordinary people" would welcome better papers but you can't simply ignore their daily implication in the current state of affairs. It was, incidentally, something of an irony that this denunciation of lowest common denominator media should come from Carlton, a company currently doing to terrestrial television just what Murdoch has already done to the British press.
Inside Story (BBC1) has not been in the best shape since the beginning of the new series. It started with a messy film about sex spies and followed up with that most flabby of documentary subjects, the arduous training course. But last week's film, about a campaign to identify the whereabouts of paedophiles, was stronger and "Love on the Needle" continued the upward curve. The subject, a man trying to kick a heroin habit, wasn't exactly novel but James Cohen's film was distinguished both by its casting and its allusive imagery. Watching James Hall flying a kite before he went into detox you realised you were looking at an odd sort of metaphor for his addiction - an exalted freedom that depends on captivity. Similarly the recurring shots of tube tunnels offered a hallucinatory vision of the urban veins along which drugs travel, on their way to their needy receptors.
But it wouldn't have had half the emotional impact it did without the presence of James's wife Natalie, whose beauty and loyalty amplified the awful sense of waste. His addiction you could understand - a conventional tale of paternal hurt (which he was effectively replicating) and escalating drug use. But her addiction to him was far more mysterious.Reuse content