These days, it seems that pretty much anyone can become "a journalist". If you're related to someone famous - like Peaches Geldof, daughter of Sir Bob - then you can start blogging and tweeting on all the latest stories of the day. You will very quickly have gotten yourself quite a large audience.
In November 2012, BBC's "Newsnight" broadcast a report making serious allegations against 'a leading Conservative politician from the Thatcher years'. A frenzy of speculation followed on social media sites, with Mrs Bercow tweeting to her 56,400 followers: Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *Innocent face*. Lord McAlpine commenced libel action claiming damages over the Tweet.
Whatever our grievances with the misconduct of a select few in the media, we should be far more wary of the power of the crowd. After all, wasn't it the public that gobbled up these gossip column inches in the first place? If people don't buy it, the press won't print it.
Could we see, one day, the anonymity of Twitter being cold-heartedly exploited in a planned and calculated way by an evil person? Could Twitter be used to incite physical violence and murder?
The root of the problem is that we suddenly have 10 million Twitter users subject to quite complicated publishing law that used to only apply to a small number of trained journalists with legal support.
Lord McAlpine has promised to end "trial by Twitter". He has announced an unprecedented series of libel actions against twits who used the website to ...
When newspapers, decent newspapers, make terrible errors they will print retractions, pay libel damages and move on to the next defamation. But, the BBC, like some religions, thinks of itself as being infallible.
What next for the great British Broadcasting Corporation? I predict that this car crash will play out, more heads will roll and the internal and external torrent of frenzied accusations will inevitably dry to a trickle. But I think it's important to remember that the BBC has produced excellent journalism, and in the scheme of things, a couple of (albeit very) bad decisions on Newsnight don't constitute the abolishment of the programme or of the BBC's entire 90-year-old reputation.