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The poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia at an Italian restaurant in Salisbury has driven an important story off the front pages of the British press. Earlier this month, the former actor and comedian John Ford revealed that for 15 years, from 1995 to 2010, he was employed by Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times newspaper to hack and blag his way into the private affairs of dozens of prominent people, including then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown.Actual scandals are not necessary for the press to do its job.Eight companies own Britain's 12 national newspapers, and four proprietors account for more than 80 percent of all copies sold. In 2013, two men, Murdoch and Lord Rothermere, owned 52 percent of online and print news publications in the United Kingdom. Were it not for the success of the press in rendering its own power invisible, we would never rely on self-regulation alone to keep the press honest.Efforts to bind the British press to a standard of "decent" journalism have been tried – and failed – repeatedly.
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