“The job is about making the facts fit the story, because the story is almost pre-defined,” Said Richard ‘Rich’ Peppiatt, former daily-star reporter and producer, director and hilarious star of the satirical documentary called One Rogue Reporter about the modern ways of tabloid reporters. Peppiatt and partner in crime Tom Jenkinson form Naughty Step Productions, a new production company with the documentary about the mischievous tabloid reporters as their biggest project. The film had its premiere at both the Sheffield Documentary Festival and the East End Film Festival in London.
‘Holding power to account, one tabloid editor at a time’, that is what the documentary is supposed to do. The slapstick-like, very humorous documentary seems to send a more light-hearted message, but in reality it does very accurately bring attention to the corrupt and morally wrong ethics at fleetstreet. By directly confronting newspaper magnates like Kelvin Mackenzie, Neville Thurlbeck and Paul Dacre in different and very comical ways, Peppiatt attacks the defects in the industry.
“There’s nothing wrong with tabloid journalism in itself, tabloid journalism is excellent. It’s just popular journalism. But, unfortunately, what has occurred to my mind is that tabloid journalism has lost its roots.” In the Q&A after the screening of the seemingly very popular documentary at Rio Cinema in Dalston, for the East End film festival. The documentary, which did not only feature Peppiatt leaving a dildo on Paul Dacre’s doorstep, but also him dressing up as Santa, a transvestite and a Muslim woman in Burqa, in memory of his activities while writing for the Daily Star.
Self-proclaimed recovering tabloid hack Peppiatt very publicly resigned from renowned tabloid the Daily Star in March 2011 with an open letter to Richard Desmond, owner of the newspaper, which was published in the Guardian. Accusing the Star of being anti-Muslim, ignoring foreign affairs and generally lacking a sense of objectivity. After his resignation, Peppiatt realised how the modern popular newspaper industry can be very damaging to society. In order to see if the editors practice what they preach, the comedian and ex-reporter invades their privacy in many ways.
Peppiatt definitely hits the nail on the head by putting the bald or grey white men who always ‘fight’ for freedom of speech on the spot, and showing that they are not as fond of that freedom when it comes to their own private life. What missed out from the documentary was that it only attacked the issue of privacy, not the fact that major tabloids often ignore important issues going on in the world while consistently publishing ‘celebrity scandals’ and personally attacking politicians.
While mercilessly slaying tabloid executives, the film also brings attention to major issues going on in the newspaper business. The documentary deals with the tabloids’ sexism, their rude ways with celebrities and sensationalising topics like Maddie McCann’s disappearance. Peppiatt explains a worrying loophole in the PCC, joking about the commission being run by editors and executives of newspapers, while it was founded to control those exact people.
The documentary, which turned out to be a lot like an hour-long Punked-style sketch, was very enjoyable to watch, and attacked the most important issues in the world of tabloid journalism. With pranks, footage from the leveson enquiry and interviewees like ‘tabloid victim’ Hugh Grant, Peppiatt and Jenkinson set out a great film that deserves all the credit. The jokes, references and scoops are probably funnier and more interesting for those who know something about Fleetstreet, but the documentary is informative and entertaining for everybody, with the important exception of Kelvin Mackenzie.
BY: Bauke Danielle Schram