Former News of the World reporter Graham Johnson (2012, p. 293), says a chance encounter with philosophy saved his life. Johnson spent years as a tabloid journalist willing to do anything for a story; surviving by suppressing his own moral compass. Johnson’s tale of ‘sex, drugs and scandal from inside the tabloid jungle’ reminds us that ethical dilemmas do not just happen in single remarkable moments. As Johnson’s confessions demonstrate, some ethical fault lines can take years, or even decades to develop. We now know that the phone-tapping and bribery that came to characterise the NoW newsroom had been encouraged and sanctioned by a succession of editors and senior staff over many years, including those in charge when Graham Johnson was a loyal tabloid hack. Johnson’s recovery is a timely reminder that journalists would be better if they discovered philosophy at the beginning of their career, not at the end. It is not just in moments of quiet desperation, or Johnson’s existential angst, that

journalists come into contact with philosophy. Journalists are actually everyday philosophers themselves. Journalism is a key social force for the popularisation and dissemination of ideas and, broadly speaking, journalists can be described as the everyday intellectuals who provide the public with a means of understanding the world around them. So there is a strong link between philosophy and journalism, even if the deeply ingrained pragmatism of most journalists leads them to deny it. As J. Herbert Altschull notes, in a history of the ideas behind American journalism, most reporters ‘are reluctant to confess to holding a philosophy’. Altschull sums it up very well: journalists and editors do have a philosophy – even if it is only a belief in the shop-worn ideal of objectivity. Newsworkers arrive at their philosophical understanding of the world, ‘through the assimilation, usually unnoticed, of intellectual concepts that form the basis of Western civilization’ (Altschull 1990, p. 2). We will explore some of these foundation concepts in this and subsequent chapters as no journalist or editor can today ignore their profound and ongoing influence. It is commonly accepted that journalists and the news media play a gate-keeping role;

perhaps not telling us what to think, but certainly providing strong indicators of what to think about and how to go about thinking about these things. So, it is obvious that journalists themselves must think about things, in fact they are engaged in a form of mental

labour (Hirst 2012a; Poulantzas 1978; Sparks 2006) that marks out their work as being intellectual in some sense. The thinking work of journalists is then presented as a series of factual accounts and opinion-inflected analyses of the world around us and, because the power of journalism is legitimised by its supposed public interest and professional motivations, it becomes a guide to social action. While not perhaps on the same publiclyrecognised level of intellectuals such as scientists, theologians, eminent scholars and literary figures, journalists deserve to be considered among the ranks of public intellectuals and, in many accounts that describe the history of public life, they are accorded that position. Journalists provide a ‘bridge’ between science, technology and specialist knowledge and the news consuming public (Simmons 2007, p. 10). There was also a time – though we would not call it a ‘Golden Age’ – when journalists and editors were much closer to contemporary philosophers, particularly during the period of the American and French revolutions of the eighteenth century (Burns 2006; Daniel 2009; Stephens 2007). Today, the division of mental labour is much greater than it was even 20 years ago and the gap between journalism and philosophy seems much wider than it actually is. Nevertheless, it is possible to point to many journalists who have also become significant public intellectuals (thinkers and philosophers of the everyday) in their own right. The ‘father of electricity’, Benjamin Franklin is one; not only was he an inventor and a dabbler in science, he was a newspaper editor and writer, a diplomat and a participant in one of the most significant political revolutions of the modern age – the American war of independence against British colonialism. We could also add more modern figures like George Orwell to this list; his vast body of work collected in over 40 volumes encompasses fiction (Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Burmese Days), science fiction/futurism (Nineteen Eighty-four, Animal Farm), numerous essays on imperialism (Shooting an Elephant, A Hanging), pamphlets on socialism, nationalism and war (Homage to Catalonia, The Lion and the Unicorn, Down and Out in Paris and London, and The Road to Wigan Pier) and hundreds of articles on literary criticism (Politics and the English Language). Orwell’s work not only gives us an insight into the period in which he was an active journalist and author (roughly 1930 to 1950), it continues to provide insights and reflections that are relevant today. George Orwell was one journalist who was not afraid to admit he had a philosophy of

life, or world-view, which informed his writing. The twentieth century has given us a range of journalist-intellectuals who sit right across the political spectrum. Some are heroes, some are villains and in the end it perhaps depends on your own political, cultural and philosophical outlook how you would describe them. A brief list of some of our favourites would include Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn; John Reed, Louisa Bryant, Hunter S. Thompson; PJ O’Rourke, Ida Tarbell, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Fiske, Michael Moore, Susan Faludi, Naomi Klein and John Pilger. Whomever you might regard as a leading light on this list or your own version, the key point is that for more than 400 years, since the beginning of the Enlightenment in the sixteenth century, there has been a strong link between journalism, newsgathering, news-writing, opinion-forming, philosophy and the growth of democratic public discourse. A discussion of ethics must canvass all of these areas.