I attended the London premiere of One Rogue Reporter at the East End Film Festival over the weekend.
It’s a documentary film by Rich Peppiatt, who describes himself as a “recovering tabloid hack” since publicly resigning from the Daily Star in 2011.
The film turns the tables on the tabloid newspaper editors, using their own techniques and arguments against them, in a series of deftly aimed pranks highlighting their hypocrisy.
As Steve Coogan says in the documentary, “There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing a bully being bullied”.
It’s a very entertaining introduction to the Leveson Inquiry, delivering belly-laughs. I won’t spoil the substance of the stunts and revelations - because they are worth experiencing in full.
In the post-screening Q&A, Peppiatt said that when he’d worked at the Daily Star, he mixed with lots of hacks from various papers who were frustrated and disillusioned by aspects of their work. He thought that the Leveson Inquiry was a great opportunity for them to share their horror stories and shine a light on the injustices of their own trade. Instead they largely stayed silent, closed ranks and defended their industry, howling against Leveson intruding on press freedom. For an industry that prides itself on ‘speaking truth to power’, and encouraging whistle-blowers, it was pretty abysmal at applying those principles to itself. Peppiatt said he was disappointed by this “mass cowardice”.
By contrast, Peppiatt should be saluted for his gutsiness in publicly taking on powerful editors. Let’s hope courage is contagious. Will the BBC give it a screening?