With the publication of the Leveson Report yesterday, Thursday 29th November, and the conclusions and recommendations I think any law even to underpin a new regulatory body is not the way forward unless the law just sets it up. Parliament how every good intentioned must never be allowed to censor the press, see China and the old Soviet Block.
I have had a run in with the Daily Mail a good few years ago at the Lib Dem conference here in Bournemouth. Because of how the reporter reported the fact I got up and asked the leader a question quite a few people now, even after seven years plus hate the paper and do not buy it or read it, personally I do not care, I read it to find out how their reporters are seeing and writing about a story.
One idea i came up with is to as suggested set up a completely independent body to police the press, but at the same time bring in a similar system as used in the medical world. This would give, i think, the public confidence that if a reporter does mess up then he can have his accreditation removed pretty much banning him from working for or writing freelance. A second aspect to this would be a way of giving people holding press conferences the knowledge that everyone attending is accredited and not just there to write wrong or misleading stories.
A lot of reporters write excellent pieces, run very good investigations, we would not know about how the politicians were abusing the expenses system if it is not for the Daily Telegraph; or cash of questions. I do find some of the stories are wrong and are written to sell the papers; take the Daily Mail yesterday on the front page they had a photo of a child of one of the contestants on I’m a Celeb. Why run that piece, it is not news in my eyes. They did it because I’m a Celeb is a popular tele program, which is pretty crap, but people watch it. I would not have a problem if they were doing it to highlight something, but the picture did not. it just showed a crying child with no real indication as to why she was crying. If you looked inside at Page 3, there you got told why the child was crying.
I look at most of the front pages and with the red tops about 70% of their head lines show the famous in difficult to just situations, having affairs or being stupid.
The new regulatory body should be allowed to fine, award damages to the people affected and unable to afford the costs of libel.