Press regulation: the winds of change
The Guardian – Editorial Friday 23 December 2011 [extracts]
The Leveson inquiry into press standards is taking a well-earned break. The past three months have been notable for the powerful, sometimes searing, testimony of people whose voice is seldom, if ever, heard – the victims of press intrusion.
For any journalist it has been deeply uncomfortable to watch witnesses such as the McCanns, the Dowlers, Christopher Jefferies, Anne Diamond and Sienna Miller tell how their lives had been touched – even nearly wrecked – by a cynical disregard for suffering, privacy or the truth.
This was testimony which should be shown as part of every student journalism ethics course.
….. and Lord Justice Leveson himself has made it plain that he has heard ample evidence to justify widespread concerns about the destructive behaviour of a number of journalists who were, for a while, literally out of control.
The great majority of newspaper editors and managements can see the need for urgent change and are, indeed, already at work with Lord Hunt, the new chair of the Press Complaints Commission, to propose long overdue reforms to the structure, nature and effectiveness of press regulation.
What emerges may well be more independent of the paymasters and should have the sort of investigatory powers and sanctions that the old PCC so fatally lacked. Whether this new template will satisfy Lord Justice Leveson’s team remains to be seen, but it is a sign that the overwhelming majority of the industry can see the need for change.
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Maybe we won’t need to protest, maybe the UK Press will behave honourably?