Sunday 2 December 2012

Leveson Inquiry: Can the Press be trusted to regulate themselves?

Following this week's Leveson Inquiry report, I've decided I'm one of those people that doesn't believe legislation should be passed to ensure effective independent regulation of the Press.

Despite some appalling behaviour, we can't have government interfering in the practices of the Press no matter how small it might seem.

Clearly this form of 'statutory underpinning' doesn't mean the end of Press freedom in the UK - far from it. But it's the planting of a tiny seed of government interference, which in theory could grow into something far more sinister and dangerous in the not too distant future.

That may sound dramatic to some but this is how these things begin.

Like most people I've been shocked by some of the actions and behaviour of the Tabloid press revealed in the Leveson Inquiry.

I haven't heard anyone say the present form of regulation by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has worked. It's failed miserably! The question is: Can the Press be trusted to get it right independently?

When I think about the Press I'm reminded of the famous quote that many of you might know from the Spider Man movies:

"With great power comes great responsibility"

This sums up the British Press. It does have great power and influence and being a free press allows it to have this; but there has to be responsibility as well, which unfortunately we haven't always seen.

This is where the Press needs to get its act together to restore public confidence and prevent any future press law.

Do I think they can do it? I don't think they have a choice.

It's funny that in theory the PCC should have been an effective regulator. As part of my journalism studies, I had to learn all about its role. Even at that time I thought it was a weak and toothless organisation.

Despite everything, the British Press is something I'm actually quite proud of. It's lively, irreverent, edgy, controversial, innovative, brilliant, and terrible, all at different times.

It's the freedom and history of this country that's allowed it to be all these things. But to remain so, the Press has to acknowledge its own responsibilities and get its house in order.

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic but I think they'll do it.

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