Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Looking at Leveson

63 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think the point of Leveson is that News International systematically committed criminal offences to obtain news stories, the Metropolitan Police conspired with them in this (motivated both by individual financial gain and to advance a shared authoritarian agenda) and that UK governments of both parties connived in this (from fear of Murdoch and a similar agenda).

    That's about as far from a blogger posting a scurrilous piece as it's possible to get.

    My question for Mr Gould is if there's any way the UK government to break out of this circle of corruption?

    My suggestion for a method would be for a government to keep quiet till elected, then use the Companies Act to declare News International against the public interest* and shutter all the newspapers and Sky TV.

    * basically the same laws used to put South Canterbury under statutory management

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4413 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    A step in the right direction - A few thoughts.

    The damages award for defamation type cases should not be mitigated or reduced if there is to be a low cost litigation panel or tribunal - the thing in whatever jurisdiction will likely start with good intentions and eventually become bogged down and overwhelmed.

    The wider Press/Media becoming aware of the short comings in the operation of a litigation panel or tribunal could become reckless and it could well be a tool to overcome the rights of an individual be it there entitlement to damages and redress.

    Any Litigation Panel would need to have a "code of conduct” to measure behaviour agsint and also be able to act under urgency and actually bond the Press/Media where a tribunal decision that goes substantially against them is challenged.

    The litigation panel should also be able to address situations where low level bloggers issue or promote hate speech or publish material that they can reasonably expect to be untrue - with such people being banned from publishing in any such material in any format electronic or otherwise.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1184 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    My understanding is that Levenson is calling for an extension of the brief of Ofcom, which has generally been a good element in British broadcasting. Press freedom is all well and good but, to date, it has primarily been freedom to distort, to create false alarms and moral panics, to manipulate politicians, to serve the venal interests of bastards like Murdoch. I am all for reigning in such 'freedoms'.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2283 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    At the very least, major Press Council and BSA decisions should be made much more publicly known. They're published on their respective Web sites, but not everyone's got the sort of attention span we do.

    Rich: in NZ's case, the traditional media industry seems to exhibit classic signs of a cartel, and competing voices struggle to air their views. So maybe invoke the Commerce Commission, instead of a Levesonian media regulator?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4141 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Quick and perhaps not entirely coherent comment before I run off to the office and try to do something useful:

    I do think there should be a media code of conduct and a regulatory body in charge of all media - including us lowly bloggers and microbloggers. But I think such a code needs to be very carefully and precisely written - not China-style where there's always some weasel clause to allow the CPC/government to shut down inconvenient voices. And the powers of such a body, including the punishments it can impose, need to be very tightly limited. I'm not comfortable with the idea of banning anybody from making their voice heard, no matter how obnoxious they may be, as DexterX seems to suggest.

    We need to find that sweet balance between maximum freedom of speech, protection of the vulnerable, and holding people responsible for there actions.

    And there remains the problem of jurisdiction. Is what I write on blogtown.co.nz subject to Chinese law because I am in China, New Zealand law because of the .nz in the address, or whichever jurisdiction the server is in because that is where my writing is physically located, or all of the above?

    Right, time to get moving...

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2005 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    The same British papers that are so terrified of evil ‘regulation’ (ooH! ooh! jackboots! slippery slope to evil and no way back!) have been pretty laid back about everyone else’s freedom being regulated with ASBOs and drug laws and surveillance cameras up the wazoo.
    Ignore them. Regulate them, here and in the UK. Let such regulatory bodies be independent, as free of politics as possible, required to give free speech the benefit of any doubt, and assessed every three years for pernicious effects and unintended consequences.
    Who wants to get old waiting for the British Press to embrace being reined in?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1463 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to DeepRed,

    The New Zealand Press Council? Pretty much a toothless, mangy old cat.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2283 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    The New Zealand Press Council? Pretty much a toothless, mangy old cat.

    It was formed during a period when major newspapers were regional and privately held, and before the age of Big Media. So how can the Press Council be given regulatory teeth without weakening free speech? A starting template can be drawn from the Asian Angst affair.

    On the other hand, the privately held paper era had William Randolph Hearst.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4141 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Now at last we can be told!
    I see NBR’s Rod Vaughan has scored a massive scoop, which had otherwise slipped under even Radio NZ’s & Fairfax's radar!

    Which begs the question: why the state broadcaster did not show the same enterprise as Stuff, which thumbed its nose at the draconian demands of the Hollywood mogul?
    Its reporters interviewed a raft of people as they left the theatre after the screening and beat everyone else to the punch, which is what good journalism should be about.
    They even got to talk to Gerry Brownlee and Peter Jackson’s 16-year-old daughter Katie, who was bowled over by the movie.

    (my emphasis)
    Who knew?
    That was a well kept secret!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4629 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard,

    It'a been amusing watching each of the major players of the right wing press respond to Leveson by just reverting to type. That Dacre's actually upped the personalised nature of the attacks has been particularly brazen.

    They're all counting on the fact that the overwhelming tone of British public life these days is one of cynicism. Celebs are acting out of pure self interest, the Guardian reading 'liberal elite' bogeyman wish to silence the popular press,and all politicians are liars.

    They've help create a culture where you're expected to assume the worst of the motivations of anyone in public life, and if they can exploit it to their advantage now they will. The thing I noticed whilst living their was the extent to which it was just accepted, and that expecting anything better was largely pointless.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to DeepRed,

    Although most of the worlds newspapers have public shareholders, they're pretty much under the sway of a few megalomaniacs, who have set up structures that let them exercise control while using the dollars of pensioners and the like as capital.

    Exceptions are Fairfax, where the depredations of a fresh-out-of-Harvard Warwick Fairfax almost destroyed the business and INL/APN where Tony O'Reilly is primarily interested in money, rather than having his views on the breakfast tables of Sligo or Hamilton.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4413 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    I was pretty sure the Leveson proposal was the right way to go, especially after seeing the very sharp Nick Davies generally positive first appraisal of it.

    Then I read Kenan Malik. Damn he is impressive.

    I still think yes to Leveson (like my opinion matters), but now I’m filled with doubt.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 144 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Marking their own homework Nice!

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2283 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Yeah, it's fair to say the toxic UK press culture is a mix of their intoxication with power and rampant disregard for current law. Not helped by collusion tacit and real from elements of the police and politics.
    But the wimpy self-regulation hasn't helped. Independent regulators with some teeth: worth trying.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1463 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Press freedom is all well and good but, to date, it has primarily been freedom to distort, to create false alarms and moral panics, to manipulate politicians, to serve the venal interests of bastards like Murdoch. I am all for reigning in such 'freedoms'.

    So, would you like those 'freedoms' reigned in by the same House of Commons that sued to prevent their expenses being released without heavy redaction? I think there's plenty of ordure to go around Fleet Street, but let's also remember the Daily Telegraph, and its source, could have faced criminal prosecution for publishing that information.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11856 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Aidan,

    I still think yes to Leveson (like my opinion matters), but now I’m filled with doubt.

    Oh, me too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18665 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Aidan,

    Then I read Kenan Malik. Damn he is impressive.

    It's a very strong argument. I've just followed him on Twitter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18665 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I take your point, Craig, but what I would be looking for is a mechanism which makes the media more accountable for its choices and actions, rather than falling back on the flaccid and often-erroneous excuse of 'it's what the people want to see or hear'. Some of those journalists (and commentators) in the mainstream media claim to be speaking on behalf of 'ordinary people', but in their hearts they really have a deep contempt for their readers/viewers.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2283 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Aidan,

    Then I read Kenan Malik. Damn he is impressive.

    I still think yes to Leveson (like my opinion matters), but now I’m filled with doubt.

    Malik's point is basically that the solutions proposed by Leveson will only attack the symptom.

    Case in point: Sir Joh's Queensland. Levesonian regulation could be ignobly misused in that sort of vein, just as much as it could be nobly used to call bullshit on Asian Angst-level concoctions.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4141 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Then I read Kenan Malik. Damn he is impressive.

    It's a very strong argument. I've just followed him on Twitter.

    It is, but there's also something of an irony with accusing Hacked Off of a kind of moral blackmail when there's been plenty of 'Support Leveson = hate freedom' type responses, often from people who wouldn't normally engage in such ott behaviour.

    There's been an interesting conversation between Nick Cohen & Salman Rushdie on Twitter this morning. Interesting as Cohen's been one those most vehement that this is a major threat to free speech, and has written extensively in support of Rushdie. Rushdie's calling on people to join Hackned Off & sign the petition.
    There's plenty of well argued legal opinion that the extent and effect of any statutory underpinning will be a lots less than been claimed.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the Telegraph & it's source have been prosecuted under existing law? This may be an opportunity to ensure there can a proper public interest defence?

    My hunch is this will probably has less of an effect either way, as it's not going to do much for the culture that's at the root of the problems.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    From Malik:
    This is good:

    The real indictment of the press today is not that it is too powerful but that it is too cowardly. It fails to probe deeply enough, it is unable to ask the difficult questions of those in power, it refuses to challenge received wisdom. In that sense the problem with the press is not that it is too strong, but that it is too weak.

    Why the press is so weakened is interesting but not really the point... though a sense of weakness is an interesting explanation for the bully-boy behaviour.
    But I think this is the crux of Malik's argument, and it's unconvincing:

    There is, of course, a big difference between voluntarily offering up intimacies and such intimacies being made public against people’s wishes. Nevertheless, the tabloids have coarsened our culture largely because an increasingly coarse culture has provided new opportunities for the tabloids – and not just for the tabloids. Tackling the issue of press ethics, in other words, restraining gross intrusion into people’s privacy, means far more than simply reining in the newspapers; it means transforming the culture within which they operate.

    Surely restraining gross intrusion into people's privacy by the press does involve 'reining in the newspapers'?
    It seems a weakness of Leveson's report is a failure to deal with internet (and wider) culture at all. Dismissing on-line media is unhelpful. But Leveson was looking specifically at 'gross breaches of privacy' and the journalistic (lack of) ethics involved. Not with changing the UK's current cultural norms.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1463 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    The real indictment of the press today is not that it is too powerful but that it is too cowardly. It fails to probe deeply enough, it is unable to ask the difficult questions of those in power, it refuses to challenge received wisdom. In that sense the problem with the press is not that it is too strong, but that it is too weak.

    Why the press is so weakened is interesting but not really the point… though a sense of weakness is an interesting explanation for the bully-boy behaviour.
    But I think this is the crux of Malik’s argument, and it’s unconvincing:

    I think he's missing the point though, it's not that the 'press' are too weak, but that reporters in relation to their editors and proprietors are.

    The refuse to hold certain quarters to account in and old fashion sense is not due to cowardice, but because in the case of many of then they simply have no interest in doing so. If you take the Mail for instance, what's been obvious for a long while and was confirmed by evidence given to Leveson is that the paper is pretty the vision of one man. That's an extreme example, but it's true to a degree true for most of them.
    I've no doubt many individual journalists still take their role of holding power to account very seriously, but I don't think that's true of those in management.

    As to second point, he's right that it means more than simply reigning in the papers, but if you're going to try and change the poisonous cynical culture starting with people who've probably played the largest role in creating it seems sensible.

    Here's Sundal Hundal on why Leveson was right to ignore the internet, make of it what you will.

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/11/30/lord-leveson-was-right-to-ignore-the-internet-in-his-report/

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan, in reply to Barnard,

    Great discussion. Given me a lot to think about.

    I've no doubt many individual journalists still take their role of holding power to account very seriously, but I don't think that's true of those in management.

    I think, as has been borne out, this is because someone like Murdoch is the power that needs to be held to account. And if not him directly, then it is business associates or like-minded individuals that he has no interest in alienating.

    I don't think it is by chance that the widespread phone hacking / corruption was broken open by The Guardian an independent news organisation.

    I don't know if that strengthens or weakens Malik's case. In some sense it weakens -- he is looking to change the culture, but this is unchangeable with the current media ownership mix.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 144 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard,

    You're right about where the power lies.

    Malik is talking about holding power to account as if the only power is the government/state.

    It's not even just the individual power of someone like Murdoch, it's as much that all the proprietors in a self interest sense, and their editors from a world view sense, are all perfectly happy with those other areas of power not being held to account.

    The media ownership mix is crucial, but I think that genie is out and the Brits have to live with it. But the coarse cynical culture goes beyond just them, the fact for instance that something like the BBCs Today programme is a such he said/ she said bear pit, that ceased doing what it's supposed to long ago, is part of the same problem. Having a starting position where everyone in public life is treated with total contempt just isn't healthy.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Barnard,

    The media ownership mix is crucial...

    tell that to the FCC ...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4629 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.