Grazia and News of the World – they’re as bad as each other

Once again, the media has been caught hacking into our Royals’ most intimate details. In this case, it’s Grazia, the fashion magazine, that has been forced into a red-faced confession.

The hacking was performed on Her Most Gracious Highness the Duchess of Cambridge’s vital statistics. The magazine’s publisher, Bauer Media, have fessed up to wilfully carving at least an inch or two from their cover girl’s waist in a blatant attempt to boost circulation.

Unlike the revelations surrounding News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman’s attempts to hack into the voicemails of Harry and Wills’ aides for salacious tittle-tattle, this particular exposé is unlikely to rock the nation to its marrow.

That said, it’s worth asking why these two incidents merit a different scale of reaction. To be sure, one is deemed illegal while the other is not. On the other hand, both activities imply a similar, depleted, set of moral values. Both use cynical deception and dishonesty to achieve their ends. Both parasitically exploit the lives of celebrities, one by attempting to degrade them, the other by fawning and flattering their figures. Both deploy lame and implausible excuses when caught in the glare of exposure – betraying a smug belief in the public’s infinite gullibility.

Grazia, whose May 9 issue was in the dock at the Press Complaints Commission (soon to be decommissioned after doing such a sterling job in tackling the phone-hacking scandal), is not of course alone in perpetrating this kind of thing. Doctoring of images is a widely condoned practice, in advertising as well as editorial.

From time immemorial the Advertising Standards Authority has inveighed against advertisers, usually in the health and beauty sector, who impossibly idealise their models, sometimes to the extent of manipulating their skin tint. With little effect it would seem.

L’Oréal, a recidivist with multiple offences on its ASA charge sheet, has recently been caught at it again. This time for digitally touching up images of actress Julia Roberts and supermodel Christy Turlington.

The ads were withdrawn, but the offence had already been committed. And it will be committed again, albeit in a different guise.

What we are talking about here, to highjack a buzz phrase used to explain the recent riots, is a culture of impunity.


2 Responses to Grazia and News of the World – they’re as bad as each other

  1. Hugh Alford says:

    A Culture of Impunity is the supposed exemption from punishment, penalty, or harm . It is so often focused towards the advertiser, the politician, the publisher at the moment yet surely we are all our brother’s keeper?

    Should the consumer, distributor, reseller, the magazine subscriber or even the model (in the case of L’Oreal) be exempted?

    I guess we should all be painted in Cromwellian honesty “warts and all”. That would not be good news for L’Oreal’s wart cream solutions though!

    Sometimes the public has the best discernment.

    I noticed a homemade sign paraded yesterday at the Brighton Gay Pride Festival scribbled on a piece of cardboard – it read “ Let’s rave not riot”.

  2. Hi Stuart,

    As mentioned on email the Press Complaints Commission is certainly not “soon to be decommissioned”. As the case above shows we are very much still active and helping the public with their concerns relating to newspapers and magazines.

    The PCC has publicly committed to reform and will work closely with the Leveson inquiry. We are confident that the result will be an improved and strengthened PCC; building on the valuable work we currently do but also acknowledging the need for change and evolution.

    Thanks for flagging up this recent PCC activity.

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