“But the truth, as all honest journalists know, is that newspapers are full of errors. Not just errors, but crude over-simplifications, mistakes of emphasis, contestable interpretations and things which should simply have been phrased differently. It seems silly to pretend otherwise. Journalism is an imperfect art – what Carl Bernstein likes to call the “best obtainable version of the truth”. And yet many newspapers do persist in pretending they are largely infallible.”
“And then there was Nick Davies. There were several people in the summer who compared what he did with the phone-hacking story to what is still the text book case of how a newspaper can unearth and defend a story of overwhelming public interest – Watergate. Indeed the comparison was made by Woodward and Bernstein themselves.
Nick Davies was threatened, lied to and ignored, but he did what good journalists do: tracked people down; won their confidence; verified what they told him; checked it with others; and, over time, painstakingly built up irrefutable evidence of what had gone on inside the News of the World.
The eventual truth was revealed to the public, not by the police or parliament or the courts or any regulator. It was revealed by a reporter.
So, as we enter this period of reflection and investigation of the worst of what journalism can do, let’s also keep in mind the best of what journalism can do.”