Two days, two controversies from very different newspapers. Yesterday *The Guardian* felt compelled to apologise for an awful leader column which claimed David Cameron had only felt “privileged pain” over the death of his son. It was a shocking lack of judgement that must have gone through several pairs of eyes before it was published.
Today The Sun splashed the news that Ben Stokes’s half-brother and sister were shot dead 31 years ago by his mother’s former partner.
Stokes was not impressed, tweeting that this was “low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism”. He added: “To use my name as an excuse to shatter the privacy and private lives of – in particular – my parents, is utterly disgusting.”
I think this sort of issue divides hacks, flaks and the rest of the nation, with us hacks on our own.
Most people probably agree with Stokes, that this historic matter is none of our business and that dragging it up is “totally out of order”.
I think it is what we call news; a great, if painful, scoop about a cricket hero. I think any newspaper would have run it and it will be interesting to see which ones follow it up (The Daily Mail already has)
Would the same story have run if it involved a senior business person? I’m not sure. Business types tend to get a pass on this sort of stuff, because they aren’t quite famous, aren’t quite public figures. I still think that such a story would be legitimate though.
Once you put barriers up about what we are and are not allowed to know, those barriers start appearing in all sorts of places. The only way you can be sure that The Guardian is free to print what it wishes, is that The Sun is too.