The Leveson Inquiry has teased out less than appetising tales from the diverse cast of characters who have already given evidence & it's difficult to dispute the view articulated by Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist whose investigation into tabloid culture was crucial (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/29/nick-davies-leveson-inquiry-newspapers ).
Those who are media-savvy won't be surprised by how low most of the national press can & will go. Alas, their regional counterparts, whilst distancing themselves from the nationals' tactics & tales, as the Oldham Echo strove to do earlier this month (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2011/11/18/the-liverpool-echo-is-here-to-serve-its-readers-100252-29797226/ ), protest just a little too much on the issue. The Oldham Echo declared boldly in its editorial which accompanied its, ahem, "Corrections and Clarifications" column:
"Our readers can trust us to source our stories and content in the correct and proper manner. The ECHO doesn't hack people's telephones -- regional newspapers don't hack people's telephones."
Far be it for me to question the second sentence in that quote. As for the first, well, let's just say it warrants greater scrutiny.
Indeed, the much-vaunted veracity of the regional press is set against the illegality of the national tabloids. Compare & contrast, as they say. However, the trouble with championing your own record is that it can attract some unlikely (& unwelcome) allies. Like David Cameron. Before Leveson was called to chair his inquiry & ex-News of the World hack Paul McMullan revealed his truly venal set of values (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/29/paul-mcmullan-leveson-inquiry-phone-hacking ), "Professor" Phil Redmond's mate was effusive about the regionals' merits (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/sep/13/phone-hacking-local-newspapers ):
"David Cameron thinks that regional newspapers exhibit 'a sort of calm and reasonableness' that is rarely found in national papers."
When Oldham Hall Street has Cameron as an ally who praises its calm & reasonable quality, it makes you wonder what sort of surrealistic milieu you've entered.