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One Rogue Reporter

A film by Richard Pepiatt and Tom Jenkinson

What happens when a reporter for a trashy tabloid newspaper sees the error of his ways and decides to dedicate his life to "speaking truth to power"?

Richard Pepiatt used to write for the Daily Star, but became disillusioned with the job when the paper started allying itself with racist far-right group the EDL. During Lord Leveson's enquiry into how the British press went about its business, Richard was called upon to give evidence, and delivered a scathing condemnation of his former profession's lack of ethics.

One Rogue Reporter started life as a one-man show at the Edinburgh Festival fringe. It's now an hour-long documentary that combines comedy with social critique, in a similar vein to Michael Moore, Mark Thomas and The Daily Show and The Colbert Report on American television.

In the film, Richrd identifies five of the British press' worst offenders  and subjects them to a series of practical jokes. Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, John Prescott, AC Grayling and John Bishop chip in with their views on the press, alongside journalists such as Roy Greenslade and Owen Jones.

Some of Richard’s pranks can hardly be called tasteful (projecting porn films onto the wall of the Daily Mail’s offices was a particularly low point). On the other hand, when Kelvin Mackenzie gets stung, part of you just wants to shout (in true Sun headline style) “Gotcha!”

On the surface, One Rogue Reporter is an irreverent but harsh critique of how low some newspapers are prepared to go to make a profit (it doesn't ask who's buying this stuff; that's a subject for another film, I guess). But there's more to it than that – and one of the talking heads sums it up nicely in a comment towards the end: “Richard just realised that there was more to life than this.”

Richard may not have had a religious conversion, but he did come to see that he was in danger of gaining the world and losing his soul. There's a lesson here for anyone who feels uncomfortable with with the ethics (or lack thereof) in their profession – whatever that happens to be.

George Luke

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