Leveson report: the self-regulation carrot with the legislative stick

It may be some time before Slugger posters finish reading the 1988 pages of Lord Justice Leveson’s report into his Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press. So here’s a short post in the meantime! [48 page Executive Summary; four volume full report]

He said that the press had “wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people” for many decades and called their behaviour (at times) “outrageous”. The report’s executive summary comments:

Phone hacking is most decidedly not all that is amiss with the way in which some parts of the press have operated some of the time.

If the News of the World hadn’t closed in July 2011, it surely would have had to after today’s report which included the statement:

… at the News of the World, quite apart from phone hacking, there was a failure of systems of management and compliance. None of the witnesses were able to identify who was responsible for ensuring compliance with an ethical approach to journalism and there was a general lack of respect for individual privacy and dignity.

It’s no surprise that Leveson called for the establishment of a new independent regulatory body for the press (continuing self-regulation to an extent) backed up with legislation to ensure it was acting effectively. Independence should be demonstrated by serving editors (and MPs) not sitting on the PCC’s replacement body.

While some politicians had “too close a relationship with the press”, the bond between the police and journalists was not on the whole a cause for worry, though the report points to some areas for improvement.

The spotlight now falls to politicians to agree (or for a majority to agree) how to implement the judge’s recommendations in a way that combines the self-regulation carrot with the legislative stick without introducing a risk of political interference in the press (now or at a later date).

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