Leveson recommendations only way to a truly accountable press: Steven Barnett in The Guardian

31st May 2017

This week Steven Barnett was featured in The Guardian responding to Tim Luckhurt’s comments on the Leveson framework. His letter is reproduced here:

Tim Luckhurst (Letters, 23 May) says that the Leveson framework is “state-sanctioned” regulation and a threat to professional journalism. He appears to forget the thousands of professional journalists working for the most trusted news media in the country: the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. The notion that their dedication to professionalism is encumbered because they adhere to editorial guidelines overseen by Ofcom is ludicrous. Leveson recommended – and parliament approved – a framework of genuinely independent self-regulation entirely free from the state. It is supported by the vast majority of the public, who have grown tired of editors routinely abusing their own editorial codes. It is supported by the NUJ, and the great majority of journalism academics who understand that newsroom cultures and bullying editors will override even the most comprehensive ethics training.

Luckhurst’s allies are the press barons who have created and control their own “regulator”, Ipso, in the same image as the discredited Press Complaints Commission. And now the Tories, in a cowardly bid to ingratiate themselves with Dacre and Murdoch, have said they will abandon their commitment to Leveson. The result will be more print journalists browbeaten into breaching editorial guidelines, and more innocent victims of a newspaper culture that too often hides its shocking lack of accountability behind the mantra of “press freedom”.
Prof Steven Barnett
Professor of communications, University of Westminster

Prof Tim Luckhurst is mistaken about the form of press regulation recommended by the Leveson inquiry. Sir Brian Leveson, having found that our national press had “wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people” over many years, recommended regulation that is totally independent, both of government and of the press. Thus, without any risk of ministerial meddling or censorship, a regulator could be trusted to uphold the code of practice and protect the innocent effectively. This could include encouraging respect for the neglected current clause in which all our national papers promise to “take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”.
Prof Brian Cathcart
Kingston University London

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

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