In fairness, no doubt all broadsheets work this way, but here’s Rusbridger at Leveson yesterday:
I think there’s a big difference between setting in train the inquiries or activities that would bring something to the public domain — I think we very rarely do that. I think that’s different from reporting the world as it is. Let me give an example. If Tiger Woods, a very famous person, engages in behaviour which becomes the subject of worldwide coverage, at some point you have to say, ‘We can’t ignore this, even though we would never have done it ourselves’. So in the real world, you’re confronted endlessly with stories that are brought into the public domain by other people and on which they may comment on themselves and at some point you cover them. I don’t think that makes you a hypocrite.
Well, no, it doesn’t. Insofar as it still holds true that, were it the case that NOTW and co. didn’t uncover private dirt, you wouldn’t be publishing anything, so there’s a definite and salient sense in which they’re initiating the causal story and you’re only tweaking it. But one still wonders, why can they not ignore such stories? Presumably the reason they wouldn’t pursue such leads themselves is that they object to the idea that sex scandals of sports stars are newsworthy and indeed maybe even inappropriate for the public domain. If so, why isn’t that just as much a reason against furthering the stories as it is against founding them? You can forgive my cynicism when a ‘difference’ is so casually asserted.