If there is one thing that we Britons are better known for than our tea and Royal family - it's our newspapers.
They are an institution that is reviled across the globe ....but one that I am proud of. Let me explain, and bear with me!
One of our biggest selling Sunday papers is called The News of the World. It is filled with gossip about film stars, sporting heroes and politicians. Not the fun, lovely kind of gossip these people live on ... but the kind that is likely to finish them off.
This paper's sole purpose is to dig the dirt and expose the dirty. It has no moral conscience. It doesn't care how it carries out its muckraking and revels in using the most underhand trickery to get its story.
I'll give you a couple of high profile examples.
The England soccer team is coached by a Swedish man called Sven Goran Eriksson. He's not tremendously popular right now because he got caught in a 'sting' operation discussing a better-paid job, and saying some pretty explosive stuff about members of his squad.
The whole thing was a set-up, with a News of the World reporter dressed up as a wealthy Arab sheikh. And now Sven has been exposed as a greedy self-serving little man with small regard for his team or the country he lives in.
In the same week, the same newspaper reported that one of our senior, married with two children, politicians, has been living a double life, paying male prostitutes for degrading and regular sex. Last week he was standing for the leadership of his party. Now he has resigned.
Why am I proud of this kind of journalism? I'll tell you. Because in both of these cases the men who were caught with their pants down deserved to be exposed as liars and hypocrites.
Because without this kind of dirt-digging, we would not know what is REALLY going on in the shadows of the lives of those people we hold in high regard. Because we should know where corruption lies and we have the right, with ALL the facts before us, to decide who deserves our respect.
I know it is not a perfect system. That some stories are pointless and down-right disgusting but I, for one, am happy to accept that so as not to live in the dark.
Be honest, you're just a teeny weeny bit envious of the newspapers over here - aren't you?
by Petrie Hosken
Copyright 2006 CBS. All rights reserved.