On Journalistic Freedom, and Prince Harry

So Drudge decided it was in the public interest to disclose Prince Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan. Oh well done. That really served the public interest, didn’t it?

Apparently this has ignited a big debate about whether the press should agree to embargoes and whether people had a right to know. Please!

I’m all for the freedom of the press to pursue journalism’s role as The Fourth Estate: holding the powers-that-be accountable; shining the light on the dark dealings of the powerful and influential; but I’m also for the responsibility of the press to do those things, too. I’m not for the press throwing around the ‘freedom’ line to justify printing whatever the heck they want, no matter who it will harm and no matter whether or not it serves any possible public interest.

What do we, the public, gain from knowing Prince Harry is in Afghanistan? We gain: the logistics of shipping him home early; the possibility that someone assassinates him and treats us to a nice state funeral; and the reality of a young, fit, expensively-trained soldier sitting behind a desk somewhere in Blighty, gnashing his teeth, going to nightclubs and scowling at the press.

Great. I’m looking forward to reading all those “Harry Slugs Photographer” headlines, again.

I wonder if the press leaked this one because, with Nicole Richie doing the new-mommy bit, and Britney behaving (under the father’s watchful eye) they just need another wild child back on Society’s frontlines to justify their existence.

Pah.

This is just making it harder for me to explain why I want to get back into journalism

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