Vatican paper's editor calls for ‘info-ethics’ after News of the World scandal

Gian Maria Vian LOsservatore Romano CNA Vatican Catholic News 7 11 11 Editor-in-chief of L'Osservatore Romano, Gian Maria Vian

The head of the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano says the recent phone hacking scandal involving a British tabloid shows the need for better ethics in the field of journalism.

“What happened has been very unfortunate and News of the World was just the tip of the iceberg,” editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian told CNA July 11.

At least nine journalists and three police officers are facing prison for hacking into the phones of celebrities, royals and families of crime victims to garner stories for News of the World – a British tabloid paper owned by the media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

The latest news reports indicate that even former U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown and other national figures had their phones hacked by News of the World journalists.

According to Scotland Yard, some of the imprisoned 12 have already been questioned and bailed but officials say it's likely that further arrests will be made soon.

Investigators also recently discovered a 2007 internal News International report indicating that hacking practices within the paper was more widespread than previously thought but that evidence was not given to police until this year.

Senior Metropolitan police officer John Yates has vowed that any police found to have been paid cash for stories by the newspaper would be imprisoned.

Up to now, three corrupt Metropolitan police officers – listed under false names in the News of the World's payroll records– were compensated around $200,000 in bribes by journalists.

Vian said that the mounting scandals involving the now defunct British paper show that ethical guidelines must be outlined for the field of journalism, as with any other profession.

The scandal makes it “evident that all information – and the Pope himself said this in his message for the World Day for Social Communication – needs a focus that allows for talk of 'info-ethics,' as bioethics is spoken of.”

The violations of privacy by committed by the News of the World reporters, Vian said, show a fundamental lack of regard for the humanity of the victims.

“Before information come the demands of justice and the demands of respect for the dignity of every human person.”

Vian said that L'Osservatore Romano is planning to address the scandal and the increasing need for “info-ethics” with an editorial by noted columnist Fr. Jose Maria Gil Tamayo.

Ethical criteria, he emphasized, must be respected by those in the field of journalism.

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