Newspapers. Photo: DaveCrosby

As British media is rocked by the News of the World hacking scandal and – to a lesser extent – by accusations against Johann Hari of plagiarism and sockpuppetry, George Monbiot asks whether there should be a journalistic version of the Hippocratic Oath.

In his latest blog post, British journalist George Monbiot floats the idea that journalists should sign a kind of Hippocratic Oath, the idea being that it might “mobilise readers to demand that journalists answer to them, not just their proprietors.”

He argues that:

Journalism’s primary purpose is to hold power to account. This purpose has been perfectly inverted. Columnists and bloggers are employed as the enforcers of corporate power, denouncing people who criticise its interests, bullying the powerless.

And includes a damning quote from Janet Daley, a columnist writing in the Sunday Telegraph:

British political journalism is basically a club to which politicians and journalists both belong,” she wrote. “It is this familiarity, this intimacy, this set of shared assumptions … which is the real corruptor of political life. The self-limiting spectrum of what can and cannot be said … the self-reinforcing cowardice which takes for granted that certain vested interests are too powerful to be worth confronting. All of these things are constant dangers in the political life of any democracy.

Here’s the beginning of his suggested Hippocratic Oath:

Our primary task is to hold power to account. We will prioritise those stories and issues which expose the interests of power. We will be wary of the relationships we form with the rich and powerful, and ensure that we don’t become embedded in their society.

For the rest of it, go check out the full post.

What do you think?