Friday, July 15, 2011

News International: what next?

If a day is a long time in politics, then what is a week for media empires? Recent events are highly unusual and the situation continues to evolve. Today, we learn that Rebekah Brooks has resigned (see here), but several questions remain.

Perhaps the question is this: a leading Sunday tabloid was shut and up to 200 potential job losses all so that one person had an extra week at the company, or so it may appear. Why?

I suspect this story is far from over and its political repercussions will be something we'll be talking about for months, if not years, to come.


Richard Baron said...

Guido has been very good on the immediate story, with lots of angles on it:

(People of a sensitive disposition should be warned that those who make comments on Guido's posts often use rude words.)

Looking to the longer term, I see the biggest issue as being that of new controls on the press. I don't see any case for new controls. The hacking was already illegal. If new limits are set on what journalists can do to get their stories, then some innocent people will be saved from harassment or worse, but more politicians and business leaders will get away with things they should not.

Just as bad would be any new restrictions on what can be published. (I am not aware of such new restrictions being contemplated, but you never know.) The Hungarian government has got away with ghastly new restrictions on the press, and we really must not follow suit. I reckon we should import the First Amendment, a far plainer and more powerful defence than the feeble article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Brooks Blog said...

I'm not so sure. The current system is entirely voluntary and self-regulated. It also doesn't seem to have worked in light of recent revelations. Operations now very much in the public eye were not party to the system at all, or so it has been alleged. I do think some independent body that was not voluntary would do some good. I agree that we may not need further criminalization, but voluntary self-regulation does not seem to have worked properly.

There is no credible danger that the UK will become like Hungary, etc. and doing nothing strikes me as much worse than plausible alternatives.

Nevertheless, if it were possible to redesign existing bodies, like the PCC, then I'd be interested to know what this would look like and I could be persuaded.