Monday, 18 March 2013

Charter or regulation, whatever you call it, it’s an insult

This won’t be liked by many, I will be called a ‘whiney journalist’ (courtesy my very own troll) but if standing up against an attack from people with vested interests is wrong, sue me!

And after today’s charter that’s what I and probably a number of bloggers will face as all ‘news-based’ material is coming under attack under the Royal Charter-that-isn’t-statutory-regulation-but- oh-its-underpinned-by-it-if-you-look-hard-enough!

Put simply, it’s a solution to a problem which has not yet been defined (thanks to @davidallengreen) and doesn’t deal with the true problem – true punishment for those who truly plumbed the depths all for a front page.

What went on with phone-hacking and other dark, dirty, moments was wrong and yes downright evil but legislation like this motivated by Hacked Off, a bunch of rich celebrities who want draconian privacy laws, solves nothing.

Don’t believe the lies being spread, Hacked Off don’t represent the true victims, the Dowler’s, the McCann’s, the Chris Jeffries of this world. They represent the like of Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Charlotte Church.

People who court publicity one minute complain the next. Under oath in a court of law Miss Church admitted she did deals with Rupert Murdoch, such as singing at his wedding, in exchange for good publicity!

Not only does my blood boil that Hacked Off virtually pressured Labour and the Lib Dems and later the Tories into making a deal but that our elected representatives fell so easily.

How dare Hugh Grant dictate how we regulate the press, how dare they issue press releases virtually condemning political parties!

I look at their reprehensible actions and think of a group of people, the families of the 96 people who went to a football match in 1989 and never came back.

The Hillsborough families never needed celebrity, they acted with dignity in their fight for the truth, they met, met, met politicians and stated their case until eventually action began to be taken.

And when the true horror of what happened was revealed, did they demand and threaten, no they simply stated the truth had been revealed, leading to a certain national newspaper to offer its apologies once again.

I admire them greatly, I admire the Dowler’s, I cannot admire people like Hugh Grant – if Hacked Off is such an upstanding institution then why won’t it name the people funding it?

So what would I do, well some of the punishments being suggested by this sham are correct, huge fines and prominent apologies. But a Royal Charter – problem is that suggests legislation of a free press and I don’t know if Hacked Off have done their research, but phone hacking....already illegal.

From the outset I have said the industry needs a steroid infused PCC, butch and bulky and packs a punch to those who err.

Instead of the current code which was set up to deal with complaints (hence Press COMPLAINTS Commission) we need a code of practice with laws, not guidelines – laws.

Hack a phone? Boom instant dismissal, fine for paper AND proprietor. Defame, libel an innocent man who has been arrested (Google the Chris Jeffries case) and fines, sackings the lot.

By fine I mean, millions and millions of pounds – won’t work? Oh believe me it will.

But most importantly, the board of my new regulator should have (but not chaired by) a serving editor of a tabloid and one of a broadsheet, a member of Parliament and ordinary people who have been wronged. I couldn’t do wrong sitting opposite Bob and Sally Dowler, could you?

Free speech needs to be protected, injustice needs to be exposed, but in the correct ways, not through invasions of privacy.

This Royal Charter does nothing to tackle the cancer still within the industry, just make it harder for the press to report on wrong-doing.

We have a genuinely free press, we have a genuine free democracy and the power still lies with the consumer. If you don’t like a newspaper, don’t buy it!

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