Guarding the guardians

Judge Leveson

Judge Leveson

The Leveson rocket has landed and delivered a nearly 2,000 pages and over a million words long report on the ethics of the press. With his inquiry and report done, judge Leveson boards a plane for Australia. But will his work over the last months lead to lasting change, or is i just another fart in the wind?

In the run-up to the report’s release, miles of column space in the newspapers was filled with arguments against by implementing regulation by law. Members of the pointed to previous triumphs of investigative journalism

The press has shown a spectacular lack of ability to regulate it self properly. Dirty tricks, criminal methods and check book journalism has been deployed to feed the public with the stories it craves. And here we arrive at a fundamental conflict that has always been at the heart of the press industry.

Th public has always been interested in the lives of the rich, famous and powerful. From the earliest days of the popular press, reporters has bent the rules, often breaking them, to get the juicy stories. The balance between the press and the public has always been on a knifes edge. People loath the journalists for poking their noses in other peoples business, but love to read the revealing stories about said peoples business.

Prime minister David Cameron chocked the victims and their supporters with his rejection of several suggestions from the support. Ed Milliband has seen opportunity and campaigns on behalf of the victims, saying that government should follow Levesons proposals. Nick Clegg has also seen the importance of the issue, insisting on addressing parliament as leader of the Liberal Democrats, and not as deputy PM.

Recent news from Westminster says the coalition will draft a new bill based on Leveson’s suggestions. It is of the essence that a new system of press regulation is rendered useless by ‘amendments and additions’. Cross-party support is needed, but will the politicians be able to find common ground?

A weakness in judge Leverson’s report is that the internet is mostly overlooked. Printed newspapers find themselves in a rapid decline, but the readers flock to their websites. Social media is now a prime source of gossip, and it is no longer only members of the press that can throw allegations around with anybody to see.

There are already plenty of laws regulating what the press can and con not report, the problem has been to enforce this laws. The United Kingdom has some of the most draconian libel laws in the world, true irony that these laws are broken so often.

The previous Press Complaints Commission was a scam. It appeared to be more like a social club for editors to do some back-scratching. The press needs to be governed by a group consisting members from both the press(editors and journalists) and the public.

Leverson’s report is the seventh inquiry into the ethics of the press in as many decades. It is indeed a great opportunity for the press build trust among the public, without it’s investigative journalism limited. The press must get together, a radical new concept in it self, and unite behind a common model. Don’t let that chance go!


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