Has Goodman spiked investigative journalism?

Phil Simms

Ex-News of the World Royal editor Clive Goodman was caught doing something illegal and he should be punished for it. But, I ask, if the journalist had unearthed a world-beating scoop would he have faced the same unfortunate consequence?

A great deal of investigative reporting works on the basis of tip-offs, or indeed, stumbling over some information that somebody had carelessly mislaid. With Goodman he was not looking for anything in particular - he wasn't trying to stand up any particular story.

This was when Goodman started to go wrong - he was merely hoping something interesting would turn up. Therefore, if we leave aside one's opinions of whether it was right to send him to jail, his punishment was, indeed, the correct one.

Moreover, I can also agree with Andy Coulson's decision to resign - you cannot operate without noticing that one of your department editor's expense account had just exceeded the six figure mark. I just think it is quite refreshing seeing somebody in a position of power taking collective responsibility - and is perhaps something the present Government should take note of. But the interesting point to discuss is the following.

If Goodman had actually unearthed a decent story lets say along the lines that he had evidence that Prince Harry was a racist or the political machinations of the Royal Family then would we see Goodman's behavior in a different light?

The bitter truth is that most of the well-known hard-hitting news stories and investigations have been secured due to Journalists cutting corners and taking unpalatable decisions. As the great Mirror Editor Hugh Cudlipp once said "news is something that somebody somewhere doesn't want you to know about."

I am not saying that there should be no privacy laws in this country but there is a danger that everything that we see, watch or listen to could be the subject of top-down filtering - it will mean the death of investigative reporting and the media's role of the fourth estate - keeping those in power in check.