#Leveson: A mixed response to the British Press’s mass indulgence in criminal activity…

Worth waiting for Charlie Beckett to shoot down the idea that reforms in line with the current Irish system would suffice

– Guido has a scathing an op ed in the Sun today (sister paper of the now dead NOTW), noting the paucity of work in the Leveson Report on New Media. And pride of place on his blog this morning is this short paeon to his ‘triumph’:

It seems Mr. Staines color was enough to persuade Lord Justice Brian Leveson that the internet was just too hard to deal with. The whole tone of his report with regard to the internet is one of almost resignation.

While it acknowledges the influence of the internet and the blogosphere, it has little to say about it. Should a newspaper blog (such as this one) be treated any different to Mr. Staines’ blog? Should a tweet be viewed differently in law to a website? There are no recommendations. That will have to wait.

In line with that, here’s some cribbed thoughts from Mickey Kaus back in 2008

But it is worth pointing out to Paul and others who note the smallness of the Internet in Justice Leveson’s report, that the Internet played little or no role in the events that lead up to his inquiry being instigated.

It was, rather [detractors of internet journalism, please note!] a case of dealing with the sins of rich men and their editorial playthings

– Huff Po reports with some glee the kicking one Piers Morgan gets in the report (one up for Guido)…

– David Allen Green’s preview is worth reading, not least for the practical angle:

…the key question for the Leveson Inquiry is not so much the form of any regulation, but whether it can make any positive difference to the culture and practices of the press.

– Also in the New Statesman, Rafael Behr looks at the politics of the Westminster thing:

If Cameron can hold his current line – and a parliamentary vote would be close given that the Lib Dems look ready to side with Labour – the next election will be fought with the Tories as the party that saved the press from an Ofcom-style regulator.

It doesn’t take a great leap to imagine how tricky that campaign could get for Miliband, and how hard newspaper endorsements will be to secure, if he has a manifesto promising to do to editors the horrible things that Cameron wouldn’t.

JK Rowling is not happy though. And neither are some of the victims of the phone phreaking

– The Telegraph, with its utterly sensible head on, has some important observations to make:

Sir Brian insists that the press should not be able to “mark its own homework” by controlling the new body. He is right: the new regulator should largely conform to the format outlined in the report, in terms of its structure, its independence from Fleet Street, and its powers to impose discipline. We also support the idea of members being subject to a simplified, low-cost arbitration process: this will not only stop the rich from using writs to stifle free expression, but ensure that members of the public currently deterred by the swingeing costs of libel suits will be able to get redress when wronged.

Simon Barrow of the religous think tank Ekklesia:

…the Leveson Report is thorough, sensible and cautious. A civic regulatory body and code of conduct that is independent of both government and owners, underpinned by statute and framed within a First Amendment-style law to protect the freedom of the press, is the right way forward.

And there’s a great round up in Press Gazette which works out that after mostly praising Lord Leveson’s report for its great moderation and sense, the British Press mostly parts company with the noble lord over statutory regulation

Max Hastings, an endlessly deep barrel of common sense does not like the medicine either. But he points out that what kicked off this mess was a mass indulgence by the British press in criminal activity:

…journalism, though a generally socially beneficial activity as even Lord Justice Leveson acknowledges, has always also been an ill-disciplined and even disreputable one. Most modern American journalism is impeccably sober and politically correct – but at the price of also becoming monumentally dull. Parliament in its present mood may prove foolish and nasty enough to impose statutorily backed press regulation. But given the relentless industry trend, such action will resemble banning smoking in a terminal cancer ward.[emphasis added]

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