I could hardly detain my excitement in the past two weeks; the spotlight is back on the papers – and namely some journalists – to start changing it’s act!
Firstly, Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, shrunk to a not-so boastful corner when she backtracked on her 2003 comments exclaiming she had “specific knowledge” that journalists “had paid police for information in the past.” Like a teenage school girl declaring she personally knows the hottest new rapper Rebekah, who was back then editor of The Sun newspaper, sheepishly replied she was just “comment[ing] generally.”
At an attempt to apologise, you can almost picture the disapproving shaking head from Papa Murdoch when Rebekah explains; “If, in doing so, I gave the impression that I had knowledge of any specific cases, I can assure you that this was not my intention.” Oh dear Rebekah, I wonder if you’ll be grounded for that comment.
Which brings me to the next media extravaganza of the News of the World phone hacking incident. When this story was exposed last year the British public paid little attention to sympathise with the hurt and anger of celebrities having their private life invaded by tabloid mutts. (Charlie Brooker wrote a brilliant article in the Guardian this week about this particular breed of journalists – if you haven’t read it you really should – click here!)
But what really made my lunch break last week was how Ian Edmondson (NoW’s former assistant editor) and Neville Thurlbeck (chief reporter) voluntarily, (yes voluntarily!), presented themselves to the police for arrest. Although later released on bail (until September) another two of Murdoch’s star pupils had to attend detention. Outstanding!
This all leads to Labour’s new kid on the block, Ed Miliband, to comment on the “very bad” behavior of NoW’s journalists as he called for an inquiry into the press this week. To what some might believe could be the start of “Ed-mania” (this time last year Cleggmania was rife!); Mr Miliband quite bravely put it out there; “I think it is in the interests of protecting the reputation of the British press that these matters should not simply be left to rest, and lessons have to be learned.”
Three cheers for Eddy!
No sarcasm intended. Ed strummed the strings of my own heart when he went on to criticise the current self-regulatory body of the press “My strong instincts are that we do not want governmental regulation of these issues, but I don’t think the Press Complaints Commission has covered itself in glory.”
Ed explains; “It is not about government imposing this on the press, but I think the review needs to have some independence, both from government and from those involved in the day-to-day running of newspapers. I think that would help the industry. There has to be a sense that the future is not going to be like the past. Wider lessons have to be learned.”
And who knows, one day soon it could be a whole new ball game in the playground of the British newspaper industry. You really couldn’t make this stuff up!
This morning I travelled into central London, Chancery Lane to be precise, for an interview with Will Gore – who works at the Press Complaints Commission!
This is largely because I need some “professional” input for my dissertation, and some just out of curiosity! Studying Journalism I’ve always received mixed views of the PCC (abbreviation–keep up!) and found it difficult to come to a sort of conclusion!
Before entering the immaculate polished and flawless third floor of Halton House, I was armed with some questions, not all, that were angled with a negative impression of the PCC!
Cue my worry, will he answer these questions truthfully, defensively or maybe not at all! Because of course, my dissertation topic – Freedom of the British Press – can be VERY debateable! Plus, I guess so is the reputation of the PCC too.
But thank you Will Gore, thank you! Answered my questions fully with plenty of detail, we had a great discussion going about, indeed the freedom of the press, and the future of journalism and the PCC itself!
Who doesn’t love these kinds of days?
So fantastic, completely interested in his points on the future of the PCC. Especially as I read a report yesterday I believe revealing the public’s urge to reform the press’s regulation! (See me!) Over half of us, the great British public, believe we need a change in how we monitor the press. Will Gore explained that yes, he believes the system will probably change in the future, due to the changing environment in journalism, and due to the just the changes in our society – how we communicate and how we consume!
Of course the PCC work as a complaints system, and does not necessarily investigate stories that appear inaccurate or untruthful, but then again we must think of our basic human rights – we can’t force anyone to make a stand when they simply don’t want to!
So yes, my view of the PCC has changed greatly today! However, there’s not much to protect a journalist’s integrity, on the tube back I was thinking of solutions, such as setting up another body, similar to the PCC but maybe just for journalists and editors who feel they are not truly free to publish! As journalists cannot mediate to the PCC about different pressures or constrictions. A separate body to ensure press freedom in hope to defeat organisational pressures!
So maybe not changed my view of the freedom of the press (specifically journalist’s freedom) just yet!