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Politics no image

Published on December 10th, 2012 | by Zaynab Lulat
Image © [caption id="attachment_11491" align="alignnone" width="566"] © Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Press Association Images[/caption] The phone hacking scandal which broke out in 2011 shook the world of journalism. It was both a moment of shock and caused disrepute to the trade that prides itself in being a moral compass. Not only had this but it put senior figures of media and politics in an uncomfortable position. It affected a range of people from the family of Milly Dowler, to celebrities. Over the last week the report has been published, and has been carefully dissected by the mainstream media and policy makers. On 13th January 2011 the Prime Minster ordered the Leveson Inquiry to look into firstly the ethics of the media, and secondly to make recommendations for the future of press regulation. The report was finally published last week. The key areas have focused on suggestions for an independent regulatory board who would keep check on the media. He was vocal in criticisms of both the press and the politicians who had become ‘too close’ to the media. The report has caused a coalition political split in how it should be implemented into actuality. The report highlights the need for a regulator, but one that is not completely independent of the law. David Cameron has disagreed with this, arguing that a legally backed press regulator will have a negative impact on the free press that has over the years come to be highly regarded. Nick Clegg is taken the opposing stance and is in full support of a legally backed regulator, and Ed Milliband is following a similar line of support. The question now stands, how far can the regulations go? Is government intervention a positive lead for ensuring regulation, after such gross misconduct of the media or is this a dangerous road to political manipulation of the press.  According to Liberty’s Shami Chakrabari, who was one of the six assessors on the report, argued that the proposal to have an independent regulatory body backed by legislation would be against the human rights act, as it is an infringement of free press. The idea of the legally back regulatory system came after concerns over what would be done about publications who would not sign onto proposals made for better regulation. Harriet Harman who was also discussing the issue said it would not be a violation, and that the Labour Party believes that there can be a combined approach allowing some legal input without infringing on the free press. The Labour Party have been the first to  draw up their own draft bill to put to the House of Commons- however this has already been rejected. National Newspaper Editors have overall agreed with the set of terms proposed by the Leveson report, however have followed Shami Chakrabari’s concerns over having any legal input. All parties involved- politicians, editors and campaign groups feel changes should be implanted as soon as possible. However, ‘Hacked Off’ who represents those that were affected by the phone hacking scandal are unsatisfied with the government’s current stance on a legally backed regulator, and believe that the Leveson report should be implemented fully. They argue that the government is waning to the influence of the media, and that a true regulator will be one that runs according to public standards, not one that is heavily influenced by the media itself- because they wanted ‘more than good intentions’ from editors. What happens now? It is agreed that there will be changes, however till the government can decide how best to proceed with the report, decisions have been left open. The need for a regulator is accepted, however right now with a political split, and the arguments put forth by the ‘Hacked Odd’ campaign leave the government in a difficult position. What has now been proposed is the use of the Royal Charter- which would allow a watchdog to exist, however would freeze out interference from ministers. However, this is just another proposal; right now it is difficult to see what the structure of accountability will lay, which disagreements on the legality of any review body are debated. Whatever the case it is an interesting time for the media, the way reporting is done may change, and the public’s relationship with the media has been affected and will take tim to repaid- interestingly the disagreement on how to move forward looks set to split the coalition. In November 2011 when Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearing, he said : “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?” Despite the report being published last week, and the intensity that it has been scrutinised and analysed- the question he proposed still remains unanswered making it difficult to know who will be the bastions of truth and rights.

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Leveson inquiry: Where does it stand?

© Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Press Association Images

The phone hacking scandal which broke out in 2011 shook the world of journalism. It was both a moment of shock and caused disrepute to the trade that prides itself in being a moral compass. Not only had this but it put senior figures of media and politics in an uncomfortable position. It affected a range of people from the family of Milly Dowler, to celebrities. Over the last week the report has been published, and has been carefully dissected by the mainstream media and policy makers.

On 13th January 2011 the Prime Minster ordered the Leveson Inquiry to look into firstly the ethics of the media, and secondly to make recommendations for the future of press regulation. The report was finally published last week. The key areas have focused on suggestions for an independent regulatory board who would keep check on the media. He was vocal in criticisms of both the press and the politicians who had become ‘too close’ to the media.

The report has caused a coalition political split in how it should be implemented into actuality. The report highlights the need for a regulator, but one that is not completely independent of the law. David Cameron has disagreed with this, arguing that a legally backed press regulator will have a negative impact on the free press that has over the years come to be highly regarded. Nick Clegg is taken the opposing stance and is in full support of a legally backed regulator, and Ed Milliband is following a similar line of support.

The question now stands, how far can the regulations go? Is government intervention a positive lead for ensuring regulation, after such gross misconduct of the media or is this a dangerous road to political manipulation of the press.  According to Liberty’s Shami Chakrabari, who was one of the six assessors on the report, argued that the proposal to have an independent regulatory body backed by legislation would be against the human rights act, as it is an infringement of free press. The idea of the legally back regulatory system came after concerns over what would be done about publications who would not sign onto proposals made for better regulation. Harriet Harman who was also discussing the issue said it would not be a violation, and that the Labour Party believes that there can be a combined approach allowing some legal input without infringing on the free press. The Labour Party have been the first to  draw up their own draft bill to put to the House of Commons- however this has already been rejected.

National Newspaper Editors have overall agreed with the set of terms proposed by the Leveson report, however have followed Shami Chakrabari’s concerns over having any legal input. All parties involved- politicians, editors and campaign groups feel changes should be implanted as soon as possible. However, ‘Hacked Off’ who represents those that were affected by the phone hacking scandal are unsatisfied with the government’s current stance on a legally backed regulator, and believe that the Leveson report should be implemented fully. They argue that the government is waning to the influence of the media, and that a true regulator will be one that runs according to public standards, not one that is heavily influenced by the media itself- because they wanted ‘more than good intentions’ from editors.

What happens now? It is agreed that there will be changes, however till the government can decide how best to proceed with the report, decisions have been left open. The need for a regulator is accepted, however right now with a political split, and the arguments put forth by the ‘Hacked Odd’ campaign leave the government in a difficult position. What has now been proposed is the use of the Royal Charter- which would allow a watchdog to exist, however would freeze out interference from ministers. However, this is just another proposal; right now it is difficult to see what the structure of accountability will lay, which disagreements on the legality of any review body are debated. Whatever the case it is an interesting time for the media, the way reporting is done may change, and the public’s relationship with the media has been affected and will take tim to repaid- interestingly the disagreement on how to move forward looks set to split the coalition.

In November 2011 when Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearing, he said : “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?” Despite the report being published last week, and the intensity that it has been scrutinised and analysed- the question he proposed still remains unanswered making it difficult to know who will be the bastions of truth and rights.

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About the Author

Zaynab Lulat

Zaynab graduated in 2010 with a BA Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her degree focused on international politics with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. Her final year projects were based on identity politics and terrorism. Since graduating she has taken an interest in UK Politics, her writing varies from national to international politics and culture. She is a keen traveller, having backpacked solo around Asia and Central America. She also volunteered with an NGO working on disaster relief in India. She believes that social media gives young people a better platform for expressing opinions and understanding new ideas, and helps more people become involved with the world around them.



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