PRIVATE EYE is an essential part of British journalism.
For nearly half a century its “Street of Shame” column has been a scourge of the worst practices of the British press.
But Press Gang has begun to examine the editorial standards of the Eye itself.
Some Eye reporting of the battle to regulate the press is deliberately misleading.
It’s the kind of rogue journalism Press Gang exposes.
It misrepresents Section 40 of the Police and Courts Act 2013 in exactly the way as the Lord Rothermere and Rupert Murdoch, billionaire owners of the Daily Mail and the Times and the Sun.
This type of reporting has been condemned by Parliament’s cross-party Culture Media & Sports select committee.
See the article Shameless for the Press Gang analysis.
And press regulation is not the only area where the editorial stance of Private Eye is troubling.
Both the Eye and Press Gang are seasoned watchers of the scandal surrounding the 1987 unsolved murder of private detective Daniel Morgan.
There are a group of prime suspects who’ve always insisted they are innocent.
Press Gang has always supported the Morgan’s family’s campaign which believe these men were involved.
But our reports — which go under the title The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency — always include, when available, the suspects’ views.
Four recent articles in the Eye’s investigative section “In The Back”, effectively support the suspects — leaving out information which blackens their reputations.
Press Gang has tried to persuade the Eye to produce more balanced reports.
The Eye didn’t reply — a move which suggests the magazine doesn’t even take self-regulation seriously.
Press Gang will publish a long article about this shortly.
It’s called A Stab In The Back.
THERE’S ANOTHER area where Press Gang think Private Eye needs reform.
Alone of all serious publications, it has no publicly available, searchable archive of its articles.
The Eye’s website does give subscribers access to some of its more famous investigations — such as the Lockerbie disaster and the offshore tax havens scandal.
But there’s no comprehensive database.
And it does not make its articles available to electronic newspaper databases like Newsbank.
Newsbank as an essential tool for investigative journalism — it forms a bedrock of Press Gang investigations.
What this means is that, once readers throw their Private Eye in the bin, the articles virtually cease to exist.
Only those readers who keep their back copies have access to them — and even they are hampered by the lack of an index.
An example of what this means is demonstrated by the case of former police superintendent Gordon Anglesea.
The Eye and other media organisations named Anglesea as a child abuser in the 1990s.
He successfully sued — and walked away with £375,000 in damages.
Last October, he was finally convicted of historic child abuse and later gaoled for 12 years.
Private Eye and Press Gang sister website Rebecca were the only media outlets who had a reporter in court throughout the two month trial.
Both produced comprehensive reports.
The Private Eye version was available to the 250,000 people who bought the edition it appeared in.
The Rebecca piece, in contrast, was read by a few thousand readers.
But today you can’t read the Private Eye article anywhere on the internet — while the Rebecca article is still available (see here).
Private Eye has, for many years, produced the magazine using an electronic publishing system.
It has its own internal database.
There’s no reason why it can’t make this available, at least to its own subscribers.