The Star Opinion: We uphold high moral standards

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THIS week we have witnessed the sullying of the journalism profession by the despicable behaviour of journalists employed by the News of the World.

We have all read with disbelief as events have unfolded about the scale of phone hacking at the News International newspaper this week.

What had been an intolerable abuse involving the employment of private investigators to hack into celebrities’ mobile phone messages, suddenly became a sickening and outrageous dereliction of all moral duty when we learned that the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler had also been interfered with.

In the face of unprecedented outrage from readers, advertisers and the public in general, James Murdoch, News Corporation’s deputy chief operating officer and the chairman of News International, announced to staff that a decision has been taken to close the News of the World.

The decision has taken everybody by surprise - the scale of the damage done to the newspaper and to News International will have had to have been immense for that course of action.

That damage is not limited to News International, however.

The outrageous behaviour, which it now seems was more widespread than merely involving one reporter at the News of the World, will have ramifications for the wider profession.

Which is why it is important that The Star draws a distinction between what has been playing out in the national newspapers and the moral code and behaviour that guides our daily business.

Local newspapers serve their local communities. We campaign on their behalf; we represent those living in our neighbourhoods, with our journalists living in those communities.

We care for what happens to our city, our towns, and the region and we should always look to champion the good and expose the bad.

Our role in that context is to bring people and organisations to account and to expose wrongdoing.

But we do that within the law and within the guidelines set out by the Press Complaints Commission.

The underhand and illegal actions of those journalists employed by the News of the World are an anathema to what we do every day of every year at this newspaper.

We, too, have a long and a proud history.

We cherish and value the privileges we have, the access to people and institutions we are afforded because of our reputation and our high standards, and we will fiercely protect our role in the community.

The closure of the News of the World is a sad day for journalists everywhere and our profession.

But there is no place for sentiment after what we have read this week.

We are confident our readers understand The Star upholds the highest values and will always do so, continuing its role as part of the community.

skills solution

A TRAINING programme with a genuine and useful end result must always be applauded. So we feel that credit is due to such a scheme which was designed in South Yorkshire.

Brinsworth Training set up a course to give young people, who found themselves with no qualifications, a chance to build engineering skills.

Backed by the Prince’s Trust, the programme has already helped a former college dropout land an apprenticeship.

His story is told in today’s Business page and is an example of how good training can inspire and empower.

The teenager in question felt he was getting nowhere and didn’t know what the future held. Now he’s determined to grab his opportunity.

We have never doubted the value of investing in practical skills to give young people a chance, especially in such a key area as engineering.

This region’s success was built on its people’s talents - let’s continue to invest in them.

Deadly hangover

CHEAP alcohol is in danger of swamping the streets of South Yorkshire as gangs move out of the murky world of drugs into the realm of illicit booze.

Fake or smuggled drink is finding its way on to shop shelves, leaving the public at risk of enjoying potentially dangerous tipples.

The temptation to make the most of a bargain is too much for many of us to resist. But remember. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.