What applies to the bust banks applies to the media. Press Gazette, the newspaper business's trade journal, invited the News of the World's former managing editor Stuart Kuttner to damn Newsnight. "The media should not be in the business of self-censorship," he said. Nor should they. But Kuttner's criticisms would have had more bite if Press Gazette had not felt obliged to inform its readers that he was currently awaiting trial on charges of conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority. I am not compromising the sub judice laws when I say that nothing has emerged in the phone hacking scandal that suggests that reporters were free to complain to their managers about allegedly illegal practices. In what we used to call Fleet Street the notion that tabloid reporters should criticise their managers in public remains unthinkable. But it would have been better for the tabloids if staff could have put the interest of their papers before the interest of their managers, just as it would have been better for the BBC if it had broken news of a scandal rather than leaving it to others.
After it had all come out, the director general told Today, "With the benefit of hindsight I think we could all wish that Newsnight had been able to go as far as ITV went." Put yourself in Rippon's place at that awkward moment. Where once he might have been damned if he did, now he was damned because he didn't. You should not even think about a career in journalism if you don't instinctively know without needing to wait on events that, if you are going to be damned, you should damn well publish and be damned.