The Herald literary editor and columnist, Rosemary Goring, has made an impassioned plea for journalists in Scotland to regain their pride in the job and to continue holding those in power to account.
Goring contrasted the bravery of Russian journalist, Khadzhimurad Kalamov – murdered last week for speaking out against local official corruption in an investigative newspaper which he founded in Dagestan – with details emerging from the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.
Said Goring: “Contrast such figures [Kalamov] with those wheeled out lately before the Leveson Inquiry, an unedifying parade of the pompous and the penitent that’s costing a small fortune as it investigates press ethics in Britain.
“The tawdry culture of phone hacking and the hounding of celebrities that’s been exposed at certain papers have made the occupation of journalists almost as noxious to the public as that of slave trafficker.”
She continues: “It's time now to redress the balance, to champion journalists and put pride rather than shame back into the word, hack.
“The Leveson Inquiry has illuminated a venal but small sector of the media. Meanwhile, Mr Kalamov and his formidable peers represent the sort of journalism that can change lives – the sort, in fact, that makes people want to become journalists in the first place.
“Naturally, not all reporters can uncover scandal in high office, or put themselves on the front line of wars.
“But even in the thin soil of Scottish affairs, journalists have a vital role to play, one to which many dedicate themselves.
“Their purpose, whether covering news or politics, sport or arts, is to break stories and hold the powerful to account.”
Goring said that Scotland may be one of the more civilised countries in the world, but that those in authority must still be scrutinised.
“Who will do this if journalists don't? “It doesn't make for popularity, and it can be uncomfortable, though rarely life-threatening.
“Today, indeed, Scotland's journalists are especially important. This country is effectively a one-party state, with an opposition that needs an injection of steroids before it has any chance of getting to its feet.
“I'm not saying our Government is corrupt. But if it weren't for the ever-curious, fact-finding reporters one finds on tabloids, broadsheets, radio and TV, who can say what those in power might try to get away with.”