Sensationalism sells. We’ve just got ourselves into an absurd situation. Part of my dream is that there is an alternative world being built around technology that allows things to change without going through existing systems and governments. For example, On Line Petitioning has over ten million members. And just now we had a petition of over 157,000 delivered to Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron about the BSkyB take over. We’d basically gotten ourselves into an impasse where our existing systems could not deal with these issues. The heads of all the major political parties believed they could not get elected without the support of the Murdoch newspapers. The PCC is a toothless poodle, without any real powers that never does anything effective against press intrusion. The police relationship to these newspapers seems totally corrupt. Intrusiveness was taken for granted, regardless whether you think celebrities should be in the media or not. There were absolutely no moral qualms from anywhere. Information was to be gathered by whatever means. And this had to come to an end. To me journalism encompasses the highest attributes of human behaviour. There are people going out all over the world, even though they know their lives are at risk every day to investigate the truth on a daily basis and also the lowest forms of human behaviour such as we’ve seen here on the Murdoch papers.
They don’t give a shit about any suffering that other people are going through, as long as they get paid for that information, they will do it. But basically there needs to be a platform of privacy that can be protected by an independent ombudsman of some kind. They could, of course, work in the opposite direction and free up information when it was in the public interest. This phrase, as has been said before, does not mean what the public are interested in. These things are totally different. And if you let the press loose on that, there will be no morality and no privacy. The big picture is that in some ways privacy belongs to the last century and we’d better get used to it. But when there’s no right to justice or no right to the truth and no means of exposing injustice, or when injustice is uncovered but there is no one to publish the story, then we have real problems. And until we come up with some alternative political system, we have to rely on brave individuals – it was someone from the Guardian this time – or accidental exposure to protect us. And that’s not good enough.
Peter Gabriel in conversation with The Quietus