November 2012 Archives
Politicians won't decide what our newspapers are allowed to print if Lord Levenson's proposals ever are put into effect.
In fact, we have no idea who will actually decide. Nor do we know the criteria they will use to determine whether newspapers have misbehaved or not.
Some opponents of Leveson's ideas exaggerate the extent to which "politicians" will be empowered to influence the content of newspapers.
But I suspect supporters of his proposals are guilty of a little wishful thinking, as they assume that a new body will stamp out the behaviour they consider to be unethical. In fact, we have no way of knowing what it will do.
Let me explain why I say all this.
Why should newspapers be regulated and not news websites or blogs? Lord Leveson's answer is partly that while some bloggers can and do carry out "valuable and professional" work, readers don't particularly expect them to - they expect the internet to be an "ethical vacumn", so that "People will not assume that what they read on the internet is trustworthy or that it carries any particular assurance or accuracy".
He also argues that people discuss things they see in newspapers, while apparently they don't discuss things they see online.
I don't agree with these conclusions. People may regard a personal blog differently to something that looks like a professional news website, but I do think there are many websites which readers take seriously. Readers also do discuss things they see on the internet.
It seems to me that there is a case for greater regulation of the news media but I can't see any reason why some websites (eg those associated with newspapers) should be regulated differently to others (eg those which are online-only news services) if both are presenting themselves as professional, reliable news sources.
See page 736 of his report. I reprint his comments below:
Edit - wait a moment. Paul Bradshaw (here's his blog) has pointed out that Leveson does seem to state that websites should be included later on in his report. Apologies if I got it wrong, but he does seem to contradict himself a little. Anyway, here's the text from p 736:
REVIEW Kabaddi Kabaddi Kabaddi, by Satinder Chohan
The title of Satinder Chohan's new two-act play is 'the ancient sport of our forefathers' played primarily in the Indian subcontinent.
I am not a great fan of history; I had an uninspiring secondary school teacher! However, as an environmental and spatial planner I am increasingly drawn into historical nooks and crannies in order to better understand contemporary planning dilemmas. Thus, through looking back we can move forward more confidently having "learnt the lessons". Given the current state of 'omni-shambles' in the economic growth debate and policy response, as highlighted in my previous blogs here, this blog draws inspiration from a recent lecture I gave to my postgraduate students on rural history which bears uncanny parallels with today's debates.
On Monday November 5th 2012 some parliamentary fireworks were in evidence in the second reading of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill. Following my recent blog arguing that the Bill is in urgent need of replanting, I offer the following reflections on the debate and its wider implications for the current government agenda on planning and growth.
On the 18th October 2012 a new Bill was launched to help put growth firmly back on the agenda. This Bill represents a missed opportunity to help develop planning as a core component of the growth agenda ensuring a focus towards sustainable development. Instead we see a well-rehearsed fix set within more top down control of development matters which raises more questions than it answers. Today there are likely to be some fireworks as the Bill receives its second reading in Parliament.
As a planner I am very concerned at how political short termism is hijacking the planning system and ignoring the excellent examples out there in the real world of growth and development. Such interventions are dangerous distractions and have the ability to derail some real progress that is being made.