Leveson report and press freedom - have your say, if you care: Editor's Eye comment

Don’t blame regional newspapers such as News Shopper for the bad behaviour of some of the national press

Don’t blame regional newspapers such as News Shopper for the bad behaviour of some of the national press

First published in Dartford & Swanley news by

PRESS freedom, does Joe Public even care? Surely it won’t be the number one subject down at the Bull and Badger tonight.

In a way I hate myself for bringing it up as, to date, I’ve avoided the whole subject like the plague.

It has, of course, been a hot topic in the newsroom, discussed almost as vehemently as it has in Parliament, but outside this precious bubble I think people have switched off, unless they’ve had their phone hacked or had a family member mercilessly hounded day and night.

So, here’s what I plan to do. I will give you my brief view about press freedom and then see if you care enough to comment about it yourself.

In past weeks stacks of you contacted me about lollipop people, firefighters and universities. Heaven only knows what reaction I’d get if I dared to comment about foxes, Doreen Lawrence or abortion?

Firstly, people love to hate the press, of course they do, it’s fair enough.

Secondly, it’s easier to lump all newspapers and reporters together – although national tabloids are a million miles from regional papers.

Self regulation has always worked for local newspapers, nationals have never cared an iota about being fair.

Phone hacking is a criminal offence and law already exists to deal with it. Likewise some of the other despicable actions which have taken place. New law is not required, isn’t warranted and could be hugely damaging to our democracy in the future. Fines should be introduced which are proportionate to the misdeeds committed.

So, surprise me, write and let me know what you think about the report produced by Lord Justice Leveson.

Comments (1)

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7:07am Fri 7 Dec 12

Mr JH says...

A free press is essential to democracy, it’s a simple as that. No ifs, no buts, no maybes........... and no matter what celebrity hooker-shaggers like Hugh Grant may claim.

A free press is vital exposing abuses of power, fighting corruption, challenging assumptions and providing constructive outlets for new ideas and dissent.

However, as the clamour for government controlled press regulation gathers speed amongst those who are too self-obsessed or daft to see the truth of the matter, the corporate wrong-doers, the swindlers and the celebrity shaggers, liars and cheats are all rubbing their hands in anticipation. Those who seek to abuse power and spread corruption, and those who have sorded little secrets to hide, naturally view media freedom as a threat. Instead of supporting an open press, they attempt to control or silence the press. The methods they use against news organizations and journalists range from restrictive laws and regulations to outright censorship.

The fact that some so-called liberals favour government controlled press regulation defies belief. Let us not forget that censorship ensured that Germans could only see what the Nazi hierarchy wanted people to see, hear what they wanted them to hear and read only what the Nazis deemed acceptable. That’s right, the reviled Nazis. Irony doesn’t even begin to sum it up.

To put things in context, much of what offended and upset the public – the phone hacking – happened a long time ago and is covered by laws that are already in place. The government and powers that be already have too much legislative and legal power with which to cow the press with, such as the D Notice System overseen by the Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee, which suppresses stories from publication or broadcast if it perceives that national security is at risk and the quite ridiculous ‘Super-Injunctions
’, which those with sorded secrets can hide behind . There is absolutely no need for any additional regulation of the media, and certainly not the type of draconian regulations on the media as proposed by Hugh Grant – who incidentally wishes for such regulation to cover the entire EU, not just the UK.

The ever-ridiculous Ed Milliband of course supports government controlled regulation of the press – nothing surprising there, considering his party introduced legislation which created more than three thousand new criminal offences and introduced forty-five Criminal Justice laws during its time in office - more than the total passed in the previous century.

The fact is that the argument for government controlled regulation of the press is being driven not by those caused genuine distress by unwarranted press intrusion, but by those nauseating and hypocritical so called celebrities who have great axes to grind after being unveiled as love cheats, perverts, drug users or fraudsters.

Let us not forget that Hugh Grant courted the press attention whilst a struggling unknown but then developed an obsessive hatred of the press after he was caught on the streets of LA with a hooker, whilst passing off that he was in a supposedly committed relationship with Liz Hurley. These are not the type of people, I would suggest, that should be lecturing us all on morality or ethics.

The public better quickly wake up to the fact that our free press should not be tampered with or we’ll soon sleepwalk our way into one of the most regulated countries in the world.

And the thought of corrupt politicians and rich folk ruling the country with Gestapo-like gusto, totally unaccountable to anyone, just as they did in the Middle Ages, sends a real shiver down the spine. The cover-ups around Jimmy Saville, Cyril Smith et al should be enough to kill the talk of government legislated press regulation stone dead.
A free press is essential to democracy, it’s a simple as that. No ifs, no buts, no maybes........... and no matter what celebrity hooker-shaggers like Hugh Grant may claim. A free press is vital exposing abuses of power, fighting corruption, challenging assumptions and providing constructive outlets for new ideas and dissent. However, as the clamour for government controlled press regulation gathers speed amongst those who are too self-obsessed or daft to see the truth of the matter, the corporate wrong-doers, the swindlers and the celebrity shaggers, liars and cheats are all rubbing their hands in anticipation. Those who seek to abuse power and spread corruption, and those who have sorded little secrets to hide, naturally view media freedom as a threat. Instead of supporting an open press, they attempt to control or silence the press. The methods they use against news organizations and journalists range from restrictive laws and regulations to outright censorship. The fact that some so-called liberals favour government controlled press regulation defies belief. Let us not forget that censorship ensured that Germans could only see what the Nazi hierarchy wanted people to see, hear what they wanted them to hear and read only what the Nazis deemed acceptable. That’s right, the reviled Nazis. Irony doesn’t even begin to sum it up. To put things in context, much of what offended and upset the public – the phone hacking – happened a long time ago and is covered by laws that are already in place. The government and powers that be already have too much legislative and legal power with which to cow the press with, such as the D Notice System overseen by the Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee, which suppresses stories from publication or broadcast if it perceives that national security is at risk and the quite ridiculous ‘Super-Injunctions ’, which those with sorded secrets can hide behind . There is absolutely no need for any additional regulation of the media, and certainly not the type of draconian regulations on the media as proposed by Hugh Grant – who incidentally wishes for such regulation to cover the entire EU, not just the UK. The ever-ridiculous Ed Milliband of course supports government controlled regulation of the press – nothing surprising there, considering his party introduced legislation which created more than three thousand new criminal offences and introduced forty-five Criminal Justice laws during its time in office - more than the total passed in the previous century. The fact is that the argument for government controlled regulation of the press is being driven not by those caused genuine distress by unwarranted press intrusion, but by those nauseating and hypocritical so called celebrities who have great axes to grind after being unveiled as love cheats, perverts, drug users or fraudsters. Let us not forget that Hugh Grant courted the press attention whilst a struggling unknown but then developed an obsessive hatred of the press after he was caught on the streets of LA with a hooker, whilst passing off that he was in a supposedly committed relationship with Liz Hurley. These are not the type of people, I would suggest, that should be lecturing us all on morality or ethics. The public better quickly wake up to the fact that our free press should not be tampered with or we’ll soon sleepwalk our way into one of the most regulated countries in the world. And the thought of corrupt politicians and rich folk ruling the country with Gestapo-like gusto, totally unaccountable to anyone, just as they did in the Middle Ages, sends a real shiver down the spine. The cover-ups around Jimmy Saville, Cyril Smith et al should be enough to kill the talk of government legislated press regulation stone dead. Mr JH
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