Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Monday, 18 September 2017
So the wild wild web can be regulated...
The UK's ASA and US's FTC are beefing up their enforcement of recent rules that insist Instagrammers and the like use specific hashtags to make it clear when they're being paid to praise or highlight brands. A useful point, along with the BBFC ratings, to look at in the context of the music industry...
Social media stars face crackdown over money from brands https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/16/social-media-stars-face-crackdown-over-money-from-brands?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Finally is the word to springs to my mind, and I see the scientist complainant has had 3 previous complaints rejected as well as parts of this one.
The PCC allowed the Mail to lead the way with often preposterous anti-EU propaganda over decades, a poison drip that certainly influenced the Brexit vote, and continues to impact on the contentious claims that this narrow vote by part of the electorate forms an absolute mandate.
Climate change denial is another field in which the Mail clouds the issue alongside it's fellow right-wing rags; shouldn't it and the likes of The Sun be feeling the heat over incessant clouding or clowning around Clause One?
At least IPSO has issued a partial breach ruling ... but so what? What impact will this really have? Will the paper really be more cautious in its future approach? Does this undermine the impact of its years of denial reportage and editorial?
Press regulator censures Mail on Sunday for global warming claims https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/17/press-regulator-censures-mail-on-sunday-for-global-warming-claims?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Sunday, 10 September 2017
Murdoch's high profile purchase of the august WSJ was controversial enough to provoke a revelatory book warning Americans of what this would mean for their democracy.
The classic Murdoch playbook can be seen here: a fiercely right-wing editor brutally teaching journalists what to self-censor and what tone to take by routinely spiking or editing stories critical of Trump or Murdoch's business empire, or not being critical enough of Trump's political or Murdoch's media rivals.
There are claims that Murdoch and Trump, whose election Fox News played a large role in, speak every day. Murdoch has had British PMs kow-towing to his rabidly right-wing agenda since 1979, and now it seems he may finally have reached the top step in US political influence too.
Ownership of the press is not usually raised whenever the press becomes the story, as it did over phone hacking, but as Curran and Seaton argued in Power Without Responsibility, looking back at the 1800s legal reforms that squashed a thriving radical press and the very explicit statements made in parliamentary debate around seeking to encourage "the right sort of people" (the rich) as press owners, it is a central issue in press regulation and the very, very weak nature of this. Chomsky and Herman also recognised this, listing it as one of the five filters in their propaganda model.
The Wall Street Journal's Trump problem https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/sep/10/the-wall-street-journals-trump-problem?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Tuesday, 5 September 2017
Friday, 25 August 2017
Yet another example of why Chomsky was correct to include advertisers as one of the five filters in the propaganda model.
Steve Bannon is back at Breitbart. But can his page of rage survive an ad boycott? https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/aug/25/breitbart-steve-bannon-ad-boycott-revenues?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Friday, 18 August 2017
I've read lots of right-on, celebratory articles about the announcements of YouTube and Spotify especially this week - both banning a number of far right accounts, channels, artists/tracks.
As with many acts of censorship, it seems hard to forge an argue against this diminution of hateful rhetoric and ideology - but the quartz article outlines the same concern that struck me: this means entrusting these private firms to define political extremism. Not that state definitions are any safer - the public sector BBC takes a very partial stance on Palestinian-linked lyrics, silenced the Pistols' 1977 classic, and refused to reflect the public mood in also banning Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.
Media regulation, including censorship, can often appear incontestably as a good thing - but there's always a counter argument. There's an irony in this case too, the fiercely neoliberal, anti-regulation, laissez-faire free marketeers of the social media giants queuing up to proslytize over President Trump's seeming support for neo-Nazi, quite the U-turn from their customary extreme free speech positions.
Monday, 7 August 2017
Obviously be sensible where you read this, and be aware that it's topic is strong language which accordingly features throughout the article.
From the research just 3 terms are identified as the strongest swear words. The BBFC undertake similar regular research to gauge public feelings on which terms should be hit with 12, 15 or 18 ratings - and there seems to be some difference, though that could put down to the OfCom research method (using 4 categories of acceptability linked to the watershed rather than more specific age ratings).
Two of OfCom's 3 strongest terms are featured heavily in Working Title's sci-fi/comedy hybrid World's End, with 'the c word' also multiply used - enough to force an unexpected 18-rating on the Ken Loach indie Sweet Sixteen but judged okay for the studio subsidiary's production to get a 15-rating.
Here's a short comparative analysis of some American audience research, showing quite a different attitude: http://nofilmschool.com/2017/08/swearing-in-movies-harris-poll
Tuesday, 25 July 2017
Classic clash between free speech and wider rights, linking into other other high profile cases such as France's anti-Nazi laws and the EU's investigation into whether the right to be forgotten that Google applies globally are undermining media freedom illegally
Saturday, 10 June 2017
Wednesday, 7 June 2017
Monday, 5 June 2017
Saturday, 3 June 2017
Thursday, 1 June 2017
Tuesday, 30 May 2017
A bullet-pointed, abbreviated list; everything I refer to below is covered in more detail elsewhere in this blog and/or handouts (many of which are also embedded within posts).
There is very little change from PCC to IPSO, but there is some:
IPSO has exercised a new power (still no sanctions if papers refuse though) to insist on front page corrections: it has forced The S*n to do this over a false claim about Jeremy Corbyn, and the Daily Express (in Dec 2016) for claiming English is dying out in schools; they have also forced The Times to do this.
The Editor's Code was revised for 2016, now including headlines within Clause 1 (Accuracy)
Part of this revision was to explicitly require SWIFT resolution of complaints.
They have increased the non-industry representation on their board
They have shown a much greater willingness to consider third party complaints, something the PCC was criticised (by the Culture Select Committee) for routinely threatening to do (The Express '311 languages spoken in our schools' story about the decline of spoken English was one example)
They have been much more assertive over website content, notably including US editions - even more notably, this includes ruling against the Mail Online, the world's leading newspaper online and the newspaper group many accuse IPSO of being run by
There are very few examples to convincingly argue that the press have been effectively regulated, but all of these points can be raised:
- the PCC consistently highlighted high 'satisfaction ratings' in their annual reviews
- despite all the contrary evidence, they did get fulsome praise from Tony Blair and David Cameron
- (and, when FINALLY responding to Calcutt's 1993 recommendation to replace the PCC with statutory regulation, the 1995 Tory gov praised the PCC)
- Prince William held a 'thankyou party' for the PCC and national editors (we'll consider this more later)
- by encouraging non-legal resolutions to disputes (ie, not the courts, expensive lawyers), they arguably made resolution more attainable for ordinary people
- a glib argument, rather hypocritically used by a press who leave to scream for state regulation of TV/film/ads/web, but still important: the press remains (notionally...) free from state/political interference; we have a 'free press' in the UK unlike many authoritarian nations (China etc)
- a linked point: it was/is self-funding: it costs the taxpayer nothing (ditto the BBFC), unlike OfCom (around £100m a year)
- the PCC argued that the numbers of cases 'resolved' itself indicated success, and that every correction or removal of article/picture proves their effectiveness
- three notable improvements from the PCC over the GCP and Press Council that preceded it: (1) lay membership become dominant; this wasn't just a press body judging the press, but also many non-press outsiders (2) it had a published 'Editor's Code' which set out the grounds on which complaints could be made and on which they would be judged [the PC did this in their final year, but essentially neither the GCP nor PC made the basis of judgements, or an open set of standards, known] (3) as is now accepted practice across the board for media regulators (the BBFC in particular highlights this, labelling their published information 'BBFC Insight' and specifically proclaiming this as a service for parents), the PCC publish their Code and judgements on a website, as well as detailed annual reports
There are few respectable sources who will offer up arguments for the PCC specifically, though there are more who will argue the wider point in favour of self-regulation; I recommend in particular looking for the 'Peter Preston' tag in the tagcloud. A former Guardian editor who also briefly served on the PCC, he continues to pen articles strongly advocating self-regulation, and even defending the record of the PCC. He insists that they do a better job than statutory regulators like OfCom. The PCC's website itself naturally contains useful material arguing that it is an effective regulator.
The counter-argument is overwhelming, but you mustn't make the mistake of simply ignoring the points above. Its also worth stressing that the apparent failure of self-regulation isn't a direct argument for statutory regulation: it is simply a reflection that the form and nature of the self-regulation we have had has been ineffective. The GCP, PC and PCC have all been largely reactive bodies, mainly responding to complaints (as explicitly highlighted in the PCC's very name), although the PCC did occasionally intervene when contacted with pre-publication concerns by those who would be impacted by planned articles. It also remained too dominated by press figures, despite the numbers of lay people involved. If a tougher regime, with the power to fine (as Leveson recommended, but the press rejected, and IPSO won't have), to enforce corrections within a timescale and on a page/size of its choosing, or even, as had been discussed, inflicting tax on papers who repeatedly breached the agreed standards or, like Desmond, just refused to come under the regulatory system ... then self-regulation may very well be effective.
So, before going into the many reasons for and examples of ineffective press self-regulation, do remember that this is not necessarily proof that self-regulation doesn't work - just that the style and approach of a system that, for example, ignores issues around press ownership, is (and surely will be with the not-so-different IPSO?) ineffective, as can clearly be seen by the consistently poor standards of our national press.