Stephen Glover: Entrapment is a perfectly valid tool

Media Studies: If journalists fret about the consequences of what they write we can say goodbye to revealing journalism

Two Sundays in succession have produced major entrapment stories. Yesterday the News Of The World revealed that the Duchess of York had offered to sell access to her former husband Prince Andrew for a cool £500,000. Seven days earlier, The Mail On Sunday reported that Lord Triesman, the chairman of the Football Association, had accused Spain and Russia of planning to bribe referees in this summer's World Cup.

What interests me is the different responses to these entrapments. The Mail On Sunday sting was almost universally condemned by commentators and footballers. Amid much righteous indignation, Gary Lineker resigned the lucrative column he wrote for the paper.

Some suggested that The Mail On Sunday scraped the barrel by using Melissa Jacobs, with whom Lord Triesman had enjoyed a fling, to extract these views from him. Entrapment was judged seedy, intrusive and wrong.

By contrast, no one seems very aerated about the News Of The World's entrapment of "Fergie". The general view is that she, and probably her former husband, had it coming to them. Why the difference? Many people disliked the Mail On Sunday story because it jeopardised England's 2018 World Cup bid, whereas no one gives a fig for Fergie, or is much surprised, though some may feel sorry for the Queen that she should be even distantly associated with her.

Perhaps it would be more grown-up to work out what we think about entrapment as a journalistic device. In normal life nice people do not try to entrap one another.

It is sneaky and underhand. But journalists for these purposes are not particularly nice people and neither, often, are the people they entrap. You cannot easily encourage a person to say or do something out of character, though one can imagine exceptions where extreme pressure might be put on someone.

The primary test should not be that of consequence. You might feel it is highly regrettable that The Mail On Sunday has jeopardised England's bid. I might feel that the News Of The World's sting indirectly damages the monarchy, and is part of its owner, Rupert Murdoch's, republican agenda. We may both be right, but that is beside the point. If journalists fret about the consequences of what they write – as long as it is true and lawfully obtained – we can say goodbye to revealing journalism.

Significance is the test. It is significant that the (now former) chairman of the FA thinks the Spanish and Russians a bunch of crooks. If he is right, I should like to know more, and if he is wrong I should like to know how he formed his view in the first place.

It wasn't the best story in the world, but it wasn't a terrible one. The Fergie story was stronger, though in view of her known character it was hardly along the lines of "St Francis of Assisi caught stealing from the poor". Neither story makes us feel better about the world, but both were justifiable.

Is Rusbridger softening his stance on paywalls?



Last week's debate on Radio 4's Media Show between John Witherow and Alan Rusbridger was billed as the clash of two irredeemably opposed points of view. The former, editor of The Sunday Times, is in favour of "paywalls", which his newspaper and The Times will introduce soon. The latter, editor of The Guardian, has been philosophically opposed to making online newspaper readers pay, and has crossed swords with Rupert Murdoch, Mr Witherow's boss, on the issue.

Yet the evangelical favour that has characterised Mr Rusbridger's previous eulogies about free access on the internet was largely absent. In his 2010 Cudlipp Lecture delivered four months ago, he declared: "[Paying] removes you from the way people now connect with each other." In other words, online newspapers should be free because that is the nature of the web. Yet last week he admitted "the truth is no one knows" whether or not paywalls are the right answer, and conceded that if Mr Murdoch succeeds The Guardian might follow suit. "You'd have to be crazy to be fundamentalist about this."

Why the more measured tone? In a perfect world, Mr Rusbridger would like guardian.co.uk to remain free, but he realises there is little prospect of online newspapers paying for themselves through advertising. The most lauded (and free) online newspaper in the world, The Huffington Post, still loses money and employs a mere 60 journalists. Given that The Guardian is losing £30m a year, Mr Rusbridger would be silly to rule out the possibility of trying to make some money out of the internet, which is what Mr Murdoch hopes to do.

A couple of journalists worthy of elevation



The coalition Government is supposed to be creating more than 100 life peers, and I hope it will not be thought inappropriate for me to put forward the names of the distinguished columnists Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins. Sir Max, at least, is believed to be keen. However, Messrs Cameron and Clegg should know that it would be most destructive to the relationship of these two old friends were one ennobled without the other.

Throughout their long careers there has been a delightful symmetry. Sir Simon beat Sir Max to an editorial chair, though Sir Max occupied both of his for considerably longer. Both trousered knighthoods from Tony Blair, whom they had generally supported, though here Sir Max was faster off the blocks than his old pal by a couple of years. Sir Max was President of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England for five years, whereas Sir Simon has been Chairman of the National Trust for two years.

Can I make a heartfelt plea that these two gentlemen be advanced to the peerage on the same day, preferably at the same hour, lest this beautiful pas de deux be cruelly disrupted?

s.glover@independent.co.uk

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Business Development and Analytics - TV

competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...

Head of ad sales international - Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...

Business Development Manager Content/Subscriptions

£50k + commission: Savvy Media Ltd: Great opportunity to work for a team that ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?