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Exclusive: Inside the News of the World with Neville Thurlbeck

TALKING TO TEESSIDE: Neville Thurlbeck shares his journalistic wisdom with the university

TALKING TO TEESSIDE: Neville Thurlbeck shares his journalistic wisdom with the university

FLEET Street veteran Neville Thurlbeck shared his tabloid triumphs and darkest days in the newsroom with Teesside University students.

The former News Editor and Chief Reporter,  described himself as at the ‘centre of a vortex’  after, earlier this month, pleading guilty to phone hacking while at the  News of the World.

Speaking in public for the first time since the guilty plea, he described his rise from his humble North East roots to tabloid star and how it feels to be at the centre of the biggest legal crisis to beset British journalism.

Mr Thurlbeck said: “For the first time in 300 years, the Leveson Inquiry is scrutinising our industry in real depth.

“Phone hacking has meant that we now need to re-establish trust with our readers and reform the identities of our papers.”

When asked by an audience member whether he felt any personal responsibility for the Royal Charter and changes to press freedom, Mr Thurlbeck added: “We now know phone hacking was illegal.

“Tabloid newspapers needed to change, but that had already happened before the latest investigation.

“My fear is that once this is made law there will be more and more restrictions placed on the press.”

Mr Thurlbeck also described the skills and attributes needed to be a Fleet Street reporter.

“Being a rebel is an important part of being a journalist. You must question authority and not take the official line.

“But the best journalists, as well as being confident, are also approachable and caring. You have to be able to support people often at the most difficult of times.”

The News of the World and Thurlbeck were famous – and infamous – for exposing some of the biggest celebrity scandals.

During his 21 years at the paper he was the journalist responsible for the story which saw Tory Peer Jeffrey Archer jailed for perjury, exposed Max Mosley for orgies with prostitutes which led to the famous privacy case and David Beckham’s alleged affair with Rebecca Loos.

But when asked whether he knew about Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson’s seven-year affair, Mr Thurlbeck openly admitted being a hypocrite.

“I did not know. I know this makes me a terrible hypocrite but I feel for them that this is now public knowledge. They were close colleagues for a long period of time and I feel for them and their families.”

In the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, Mr Thurlbeck discussed how news is becoming softer and organisations are showing a significant amount of restraint in relation to celebrity expose.

He said: “If tabloids continued to walk the same path, they would have entered sure oblivion.

The final edition of News of the World, publis...

GOODBYE: The final edition of News of the World, published on 10 July 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“There was no appetite from the public for the salacious stories.

“Tabloid newspapers had to become softer. But that had already started. The Mosley privacy action and the first investigation into phone hacking had changed newspaper content and approaches.”

He added: “After all, has no one noticed that no politicans have had affairs since the News of the World closed?”

For a further feature on Neville Thurlbeck’s visit and the future of tabloid journalism, be sure to read the next edition of Tside out on Monday, December 16.

Publications are free to use this story, but must give a by-line to student journalist Megan Fallows.

 

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