The tragic death of Marie Colvin has stirred a thousand pens into action, and rightly so. David Cameron and Ed Miliband praised her in the Commons. After months during which newspapers and journalists have been portrayed in unflattering terms, here was a brave and resourceful reporter who had devoted her life to writing about the horrors of war. Despite the awfulness of what had happened, many journalists felt a little better about their trade.
There was, however, little reflection on one interesting fact. Throughout her entire newspaper career in Britain lasting more than 25 years, Marie Colvin worked for one title, The Sunday Times, which is owned by the much hated Rupert Murdoch. The woman who has been compared to the legendary Martha Gellhorn, and described as the best war correspondent of her generation, was a Murdoch journalist. In the course of an article last week attacking the press tycoon, The Guardian's Polly Toynbee lavished praise on the dead journalist without registering the irony that Ms Colvin's employer was the butt of her piece.
Inveterate Murdoch-haters cannot have it both ways. They cannot depict him as an unremitting force for evil while lauding a reporter who worked for him for a quarter of a century, succoured, encouraged and published by one of his newspapers.
Sorrell highlights a worrying truth
WPP is by far the most powerful player in British advertising, and its chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell, is hailed as a business genius. So I was fascinated to receive a video clip of an interview given by Sir Martin at a recent conference at Miami Beach organised by the National Association of Television Program Executives (Natpe).
Having stressed that WPP has "a responsibility to our clients" in a "fragmented" media, he says "it is very important that we [WPP] walk with the media owners at places like Natpe to get them to understand what our clients' needs are ... and they develop content with us to match those needs".
What Sir Martin seems to be saying is that advertisers should have a significant say in the content of the media in which they operate. In the case of newspapers, this would mean advertisers could influence articles, presumably without readers being aware. Is this nightmare far-fetched? I don't think so. The terrible truth is that it is already happening.Reuse content