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

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

IPSO: Joan Smith's scathing verdict

The press is obviously awash with news of the Hackgate trial outcome, which I'll come to in time, but here's a very succinct (taking just the 1st paragraph quoted below) view on why IPSO is just yet another figleaf for press business as usual by veteran journalist Joan Smith:
The grandly named Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) is just the discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC) in a new guise. We have been round this course many times, going back several decades, following a nearly identical trajectory: scandalous behaviour by sections of the press, public outrage, the announcement of an inquiry, followed by a new regulator which looks very much like the old.

The PCC, set up and run by the industry, failed to notice criminal conduct at the NoW; it was a complaints handler, not a regulator in any meaningful sense. That is why Lord Justice Leveson called for a form of self-regulation by the industry, with an independent recognition panel to make sure that this time it does what it promises. It is what Ipso and the apparently penitent Murdoch are resisting, flying in the face of the recommendations of a very thorough public inquiry.
A free press is a cornerstone of democracy. I have always believed that, and it is one of the reasons I wanted to become a journalist. After campaigning for freedom of expression around the world, I was shocked to the core when the police told me that my phone had been hacked at home by the NoW in 2004, a few weeks after my then-partner's eldest daughter was killed in a sky-diving accident. I have interviewed many vulnerable people, including victims of the Yorkshire Ripper and women rescued from traffickers, but I have never used underhand methods. It is occasionally necessary for journalists to break the law, but only when there is an over-riding public interest. That did not apply to the vast majority of stories that the NoW obtained through phone hacking.
It is clear from opinion polls that the public supports both a free press and Leveson's approach to regulation. I am not sure that Murdoch or the other newspaper groups that support Ipso understand this. But if we do not achieve it, I am sure of one thing: there will be more scandals and we will look back on the past three years as a missed opportunity. Somewhere along the line, sections of the industry lost their moral compass and began abusing their power. What we need now is not more hand-wringing but a commitment by the industry to give the public the free and accountable press it deserves.
Read the full article here.

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