Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Blogging: now mainstream + converged?

See http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/24/blogging-orwell-prize;

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

WIDER LAW: LIBEL Frankie Boyle wins £50k damages off Mirror's racist libel

Article URL.

Frankie Boyle wins more than £50,000 libel damages from Daily Mirror

Jury decides comedian was libelled by claims he is a 'racist' and that he was 'forced to quit' BBC show Mock the Week
Frankie Boyle
Frankie Boyle. Photograph: Ian West/PA
The comedian Frankie Boyle has been awarded £54,650 in damages after a high court jury found he had been libelled by the Daily Mirror.
Boyle won £50,400 after the jury's verdict on an article that described him as a "racist comedian". Jurors awarded the comedian a further £4,250 over the claim in the article that he was "forced to quit" the BBC2 show Mock the Week.
The publisher of the Daily Mirror, Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), must also pay an undisclosed amount of costs.
During the five-day trial before Mr Justice Eady, jurors were shown a string of Boyle's jokes from Mock the Week and his Channel 4 show Tramadol Nights. The Scottish comedian told jurors he used racial language in jokes to ostracise other people's racist attitudes and make a point about society.
Several witnesses, including Boyle's manager and the former production editor of Mock the Week, appeared as witnesses in the case in support of the comedian.
The jury took just under three hours to find in Boyle's favour.
Boyle said on Twitter: "I'm very happy with the jury's decision and their unanimous rejection of the Mirror's allegation that I am a racist. Racism is still a very serious problem in society which is why I've made a point of always being anti-racist in my life and work and that's why I brought this action."
Boyle spent hours in the witness box to explain the frequent use of racial references in his sketches. He denied accusations of using offensive words "gratuitously", telling jurors at one point: "There is no way they are an endorsement of racist terminology. It is the absolute opposite of that. If I dressed up as Godzilla, people would not accuse me of wanting to crush Tokyo myself."
David Sherborne, for Boyle, said it would be "political correctness gone mad" if the comedian was labelled as racist for using racial language in his jokes.
MGN argued the "racist comedian" description in its article, published on 19 July 2011, was either true or honest comment. A barrister representing MGN said if jurors thought that Boyle had been libelled they should show their "contempt" by awarding damages of 45p – the price of a copy of the Daily Mirror.
Boyle said he would donate the damages money to charity.
The trial was one of the only libel cases to be heard before a jury in the past decade. Lawyers have increasingly opted for judge-only trials because of financial and time restrictions.

WIDER LAW: CONTEMPT Mail/Mirror fined (Milly Dowler case))

A good example of how wider law acts as a regulator: both the Mail + Mirror were fined (something the PCC didn't have the power to do, but its successor likely will) £10k each for their reporting on the now-convicted killer of Milly Dowler. Press reportage can be seen to influence jury decisions, so the media are not meant to report on live cases in such a way as to make a fair trial problematic.
As the article notes, there were other recent examples of this: 'In July last year, the Daily Mirror was fined £50,000 and the Sun £18,000 for articles on the arrest of Christopher Jefferies, who was later released without charge, in the Joanna Yates murder case. Vincent Tabak was found guilty of her murder in October 2011.'
This comes in the same month as Frankie Boyle won his libel case against the Mirror (called him a racist), being awarded £50k damages.

Daily Mail and Daily Mirror fined for contempt of court

Newspapers fined £10,000 each over coverage of Levi Bellfield's conviction for the abduction and murder of Milly Dowler
Royal Courts of Justice
The Daily Mail and Daily Mirror have been fined £10,000 each for breaching contempt of court laws. Photograph: Alamy
The Daily Mail and Daily Mirror have been fined £10,000 each, and ordered to pay £25,000 apiece in costs, for breaching contempt of court laws with their coverage of Levi Bellfield's conviction for the abduction and murder of Milly Dowler.
The two newspapers were found guilty of contempt of court in July after two senior judges said their coverage risked serious prejudice to Bellfield's trial.
Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Tugendhat last week ordered the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror to pay £10,000 each, plus £25,000 apiece in costs.
However, reporting restrictions meant the fines could not be made public until after the verdict in comedian Frankie Boyle's libel trial against the Daily Mirror had been delivered on Monday. Boyle won his case against the Daily Mirror and was awarded more than £50,000 in damages.
The Bellfield articles were published by the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail on the day after his conviction for the murder and abduction of Milly Dowler, while the jury was considering another charge on the attempted kidnapping of Rachel Cowles.
The articles contained background information about Bellfield, which the high court said went far beyond what the jury had been told in court.
The Daily Mirror reported allegations of Bellfield's violent treatment and sexual abuse of his ex-wife and a former partner, and an allegation that he had once boasted of raping a disabled girl.
Sir John Thomas, high court judge and president of the Queen's Bench division, said: "Bearing in mind the amount of costs paid, we can take the course in this case of fining each newspaper at the very bottom end of the scale, namely £10,000 each.
"But for the future the message is clear and the court's observations, we hope, will ensure others exercise the most scrupulous care at the critical time in a case where only some verdicts have been returned and others remain outstanding."
Both the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail expressed surprise and disappointment at the contempt verdict in July.
They questioned whether their coverage had an adverse impact on a jury which had already found Bellfield guilty of two murders.
In July last year, the Daily Mirror was fined £50,000 and the Sun £18,000 for articles on the arrest of Christopher Jefferies, who was later released without charge, in the Joanna Yates murder case. Vincent Tabak was found guilty of her murder in October 2011.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Ken Clarke's pro-statutory reg arguments

We're not far away now from Lord Leveson's initial findings, but no matter what the outcomes of the Leveson Inquiry you need to be able to outline and critically discuss arguments for and against each form of regulation (statutory, quango, mixed [BBC], industry self-regulation, wider laws, laissez faire non/de-regulation [Desmond/Northern Shell]). Former Justic Sec Ken Clarke's arguments, presented to the Inquiry, are very useful as an example of well-reasoned pro statutory regulation arguments. It seems likely his Conservative government colleagues will oppose any such change, as this clashes with their free market ideology (and political opponents accuse them of being too close to Murdoch still), with PM Cameron and Michael Gove making prominent speeches on this line.

I've copied in below the full article, which has stats from a YouGov poll for Hacked Off which outlines the extremely high level of public distrust of the media and support for statutory regulation (as with any poll its worth asking how well informed the public are in making such judgements), and outlines Clarke's main points and proposals for a much beefed-up PCC-successor with powers to fine and force apologies on any page they wish.

Ken Clarke tells Leveson he supports statutory press regulation

Clarke's remarks come as poll shows overwhelming public support for greater controls despite other ministers' opposition
Ken Clarke
Ken Clarke backs a fully independent body capable of imposing fines in a letter to Lord Leveson. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
Ken Clarke, the minister without portfolio, has written to Lord Leveson saying he is not opposed to a form of statutory regulation for the press, pointing out that a similar statutory underpinning of the judiciary has not undermined its independence.
Clarke also dismissed those who claim that regulation would amount to Armageddon and backed a fully independent body capable of imposing fines.
His intervention follows sharp warnings by other ministers, including Francis Maude and Michael Gove, opposing any intervention to inhibit press freedom in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
Clarke's remarks come as a poll showed overwhelming support for greater controls over the media and widespread distrust over the closeness of politicians to those in the media.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Press/Children - anonymity protecting kids or culprits?

A provocative post from Roy Greenslade in which he takes Education Secretary Michael Gove to task for seeming to contradict his stated opposition to statutory regulation and his passing of new rules which prevent reporting on cases such as this which has been leading the news this past week (about 15 year old Megan and her Maths teacher absconding to France).

A PCC replacement may well revise the PCC Editors Code guidance over reportage of children, but if anything they're likely to make it stricter still. The PCC made much of the changes they made to tighten up the Editors Code on this.

Either way this makes for a useful example: it clearly shows that media regulation extends far beyond the formal regulators themselves - in this case it is the Education Secretary, not the Culture, Media, Sport Secretary enacting this change on press and media regulations.

You can read the full article below, or here on Greenslade's Guardian blog.

Surely freedom loving Gove cannot defend press restrictions?

Here's education secretary Michael Gove speaking to the Leveson inquiry in May this year about regulation of the press:
"I have a prior belief that we should use the existing laws of the land and individuals and institutions should be judged fairly, on the basis of the existing laws of the land… And that the case for regulation needs to be made very strongly before we further curtail liberty."
Gove went on to express what he described as a strong "bias, a prejudice, a predisposition to favour free expression" and spoke out against current libel laws.
It would not be far-fetched to say he was passionate about the cause of press freedom.
From today, however, Gove's department will be seeking to enforce a law that most editors, probably all, believe to be inimical to press freedom.
Under section 13 of the Education Act 2011,

Tele's arguments against statutory press reg

The arguments for statutory press regulation are easy to master and widely expressed. Even if you disagree, you need to present both sides of any argument in this exam (and within academic work generally!) before reasoning which you favour and why.

So, whilst the source (the right-wing broadsheet D.Telegraph) is clearly biased, their arguments cannot be dismissed. You can read the full article (with Roy Greenslade's commentary) here, or click read more below.

Telegraph to Leveson and Cameron: don't undermine press freedom

Today's lengthy Daily Telegraph editorial, The threat to our free press is grave and foolish, appears to betray an increasing nervousness about the coming Leveson inquiry report.
Its strapline, "The growing clamour for press regulation backed by statute threatens a priceless British freedom", either implies some kind of inside knowledge of Lord Justice Leveson's intentions or amounts to a shot across the judge's bows.