Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Press Charter – watch who takes flight

So the Government has further watered down its proposals for a Press Royal Charter to try to get the press barons on board. Why?

The likes of Murdoch and Dacre have no intention of giving up their “freedom” to publish distortions and untruths that promote their agenda or those of their proprietors. So why pander to them?

They want a “free press” but we have to ask:

  • Exactly what do they want to be free to do
  • How do Parliament’s proposals, based on Leveson, restrict those freedoms?

The Press claim that a free press protects us from Tyranny.  I fail to see that this is constrained by the Leveson proposals, but I do see individuals suffering the “tyranny of the press”. (see previous post) I do not see how the current proposals will for instance prevent the press from reporting the Snowden revelations. Unfortunately also I do not see how the present proposals prevent the press from publishing the likes of a hatchet job on a dead man together with a misleading headline.

Journalists, particularly national press journalists, seem to have an inflated view of their role in society. It is true that a few journalists (a very small minority) break major stories  – for instance the Watergate journalists. Sometimes a story “has to be broken” by slightly nefarious means – many might say the Telegraph breaking of the MPs’ expenses story justifies their view of themselves and the breaking of the law. MPs’ expenses filled a lot of column inches but in the wide scale of things is a minor compared to the Hacking Scandal (or Watergate). To put these people (print journalists) on a pedestal and grant them the sort of special treatment that the newspaper barons seem to be demanding is not just unreasonable, but given the way they have played fast and loose with our liberties, but also totally unjustifiable.

So we may end up with two regulation systems: the Parliament backed Royal Charter and the Press Baron backed “New Press Complaints Council”. Will we, the readership of the press, vote with our wallets and buy papers that have signed up to the Royal Charter and shun those who don’t, or will we continue to buy papers that feed our rather nasty appetites for salacious stories and embarrassing pictures of “celebrities”? That will say as much about us as it does about the Press.

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One thought on “Press Charter – watch who takes flight

  1. Pingback: Unwitted Consequences | Outside the marginals

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