Going to be a difficult one, this. A long time ago, an old friend (working class) became most offended because she was accused by another friend (middle class) of reading utter trash. The trash in question was not a red top, which I am much afraid I do believe belongs in the trash bin, but the Daily Express.
Bet you didn't see that one coming.
It all depends on your perspective. She's bought the Express most of her life because it's what her parents bought and still do and she knows where to find the different sections, everything is where she expects it to be and apparently the Su Doku is rather good. Well, fine. As far as I am concerned, what you read is your own business, as long as no one dies. Pretty much my attitude to absolutely everything in life, really, which the obvious caveats (in other words don't be an idiot and deliberately take that out of context, or I shall be intensely cross with you).
Except now I find a problem with this attitude, and it is when I discover, thanks to another newspaper, that the News of the World has managed to descend to such appalling level that they have interfered with a criminal investigation.
There are, now, I would imagine, a large number of families in this country who have been deprived of loved ones in the last few years, sitting and wondering. Has it happened to us? Is there a Private Investigator out there somewhere who knows more about our son or daughters death than we do but who has never come forward with the information because to do so would mean a loss of repeat business and probably at the very least a warning which would show on a criminal record check.
All this aside, there is another issue.
You see, as my rather middle class friend identified - your paper does define you rather a lot. Some are quite proud of this, most I'd say, others oblivious. But identify it does, our political leanings and our stance on such things as homosexuality, IVF for the over 40's, on art collections hidden away or revealed, whether the Marbles should go back, whether you know which Marbles I'm talking about etc.
So my problem is this. No one who reads the News of the World will ever know the behaviour of the management of the paper if it is left down to only newspapers to broadcast the extent of the issue. No paper is going to tell their readers they've behaved so atrociously. So unless this information somehow finds it way onto the 6 o clock or 10 o clock TV news, the only people who will ever know what a complete bunch of prats the NOTW lot are will be the people who intentionally do not and would not ever line the pockets of its owners.
And here lies the problem with the media. Its scrutiny process has a fundamental flaw. It monitors itself and in the process of doing so it does nothing but inform the people who already know that there is a problem, that there is definitely a confirmed problem.
So I come to my final question. The Press Complaints Commission is there to investigate complaints. But who is watching over the newspapers if no one knows there is a complaint there to be made in the first place? Who is watching the watchers?