Scoops are loosely defined as items of news which are investigated and reported by one reporter before any other journalist or media organisation has a clue what is going on.
Scoops are loosely defined as items of news which are investigated and reported by one reporter before any other journalist or media organisation has a clue what is going on. For this reason, a scoop is an important aspect of journalism due to any number of factors whether it’s due to heightened public interest, the importance of the story, concerns it raises, or the secrecy behind it.
Scoops often come from an exclusive source, and are unexpected and surprising revelations. Below we look at five of the biggest newspaper scoops to have rocked the UK in the past fifteen years:
The MP’s Expenses Scandal – 2009
When the Daily Telegraph revealed that hundreds of MP’s had lied or embellished their expenses claims, it brought with it a tidal wave of public disgust and outrage made all the more worse when it was revealed that MPs had tried to block Freedom of Information access to the information.
The Daily Telegraph’s disclosure, leaked over the course of several weeks, dominated the media as more and more examples of gross misuse of the expenses system for personal gain was revealed across all major political parties in the UK.
Off the back of this expose, there was a swathe of resignations and disciplinary action against MP’s and peers and a full independent audit was conducted into MP’s expenses. As a result, huge reforms were made to the process.
Edward Snowden Blows The Whistle On Mass Surveillance – 2013
As the man responsible for the biggest intelligence breach in US history, Snowden handpicked Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian as the man to break the story.
Conducting interviews in Snowden’s hotel room in Hong Kong, coupled with documents that Snowden had leaked to Greenwald in the build up to the meeting, The Guardian were given four major scoops in quick succession with the most jaw dropping being the exposure of the Prism programme, which allowed direct access to Americans’ Google and Yahoo accounts, a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand the NSA millions of Americans’ phone records daily, and XKeyscore which is an analytical tool allowing the collection of almost anything done on the internet.
Off the back of these revelations, politicians and the public asked whether he was a whistle-blower or a traitor, but it appeared Snowden was only leaking information that he felt it was in the public’s best interest to know. At the end of his revelations, Snowden quoted Benjamin Franklin to Greenwald: “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
Guantanamo Bay Operating Procedures – 2007
Guantanamo Bay was America’s dirty little secret during the years of their ‘War On Terror’ – a high security detention centre which the US insisted existed in a political black hole where detainees could be considered outside U.S. legal jurisdiction and were not entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions.
Off the back of this, current and former detainees have reported abuse and torture but often the claims weren’t being given much credence due to the status of the detainees.
With Wikileaks release of the Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures in 2007, official details on the practices and guidelines for soldiers stationed there were finally brought to light. The PDF document revealed startling information such as prisoners being denied access to Red Cross for up to one month and arguably led to President Obama’s demand for the base to be scaled back and shut down when he took power.
The Horse Meat Scandal – 2013
Affecting the UK and Ireland, the horse meat scandal horrified consumers throughout the two countries when it was revealed by a House of Commons Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that foods advertised as containing beef had been found to also contain undeclared horse meat.
The shocking revelations affected a large number of corporations such as Findus, whose frozen lasagne products were found to contain between 60-100 per cent horse meat, Sodexo – one of the largest private catering businesses in Britain, and Silvercrest who had supplied Burger King and Tesco with tainted meat.
The news led to a variety of arrests and investigations throughout the European Union as to the source and labelling of the meat. Regarding the matter, MP Barry Gardiner was quoted as saying: “The extraordinary thing is that because of its clout, industry has been able to commit what appears to be a criminal offence – selling the public horsemeat falsely labelled as beef – and just say they are sorry and didn’t know.”
Scandals such as this, the BP oil spill, and recent revelations about VW raise serious questions about how to ensure companies operate above the law and in the public’s best interest.