Stars have harsh words for Brit tabloid journalism

The recent phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s embattled News Intl., the U.K. newspaper division of News Corp., has repositioned the reputations and statuses of a number of media and political figures who were once punching bags of the tabloids.

Thesps that have been victims of relentless paparazzi coverage from red top newspapers, including News of the World and the Sun, have felt emboldened to files suit and speak out against the journalistic practices allegedly used by some tabs.

Last month, Sienna Miller was one of the first celebrities to settle a claim with the News of the World after it admitted to hacking her phone. She received £100,000 ($162,000) in damages.

But it’s Hugh Grant who has emerged as the lead crusader against hacking.

The thesp has been speaking out against hacking for months. Grant appeared on BBC One’s political debate program “Question Time,” where he joined members of Parliament debating the issue.

Comic Steve Coogan also jumped on the bandwagon.

Coogan’s verbal lashing of former News of the World deputy features editor Paul McMullan on BBC Two’s “Newsnight” became a YouTube sensation.

Behavior in the U.K. over the past few weeks has very much been akin to a country that has seen itself freed from a dictator, and in the uprising, these actors seem to have positioned themselves as voices for the people, roles typically played by politicians.

But the real question is whether or not the scandal has changed the relationship between the entertainment industry and the popular press.

“It’s a bit early to say that people feel safer,” says one U.K. publicist. “I do think that they may feel a little safer with the whole phone-hacking situation, but I don’t think the red tops are going to change their spots overnight.”

Another London-based publicist claims the effects are not going to be seen long-term.

“It’s not all of the media that have been involved in all of this, and there is still a job that has to be done,” she says.

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