Why Not Regulate The Press?
Posted by The Futility Monster on July 23, 2011 @ 22:47
I don’t know about you, but when I see newspaper front pages like this…
… a front page which is nothing other than a contemptible and deliberately cynical lie… I can’t help but feel that the current situation – much debated at present – that the broadcast media should be regulated, while the print media is allowed to get on with it – is completely untenable.
Can you imagine if, at 10pm last night, the BBC News at 10 had asserted to the same degree of certainty that front page does, that it was Al Qaeda responsible for the attack? If they had been right, no doubt they would be paraded as a fine example of getting an early scoop. But if they’d got it wrong, they would soon discover the full fury of the rest of the media. Not to mention those other unimportant bodies like OFCOM and the BBC Trust.
And rightly so. After all, if a broadcast media organisation had been so sloppy, so brazen, so downright wrong in such a manner as to give people completely the wrong impression, and – worse – potentially inflame the state of race relations in the UK – then they would deserve the book and the whole of the British Library being thrown at them.
So why not the print media? Why, on Monday (not yet on Sunday) will the Sun say absolutely nothing about just how disgustingly and dangerously wrong they were with their Saturday front page? Why is it that no one at all will be able to hold them to account for it?
Why should it merely be that the answer is “if people don’t like it, they will stop buying it”? Don’t the people in such powerful positions as to be able to dictate public policy and influence the public debate have a responsibility to at least either get the basic facts right, or, if they aren’t in possession of those, not to speculate idly without having a scintilla of evidence to back up their wild assertions?
If nothing else, don’t they owe it to their own readership to at least try to get things right?
The constant refrain during the Murdoch/News International hacking scandal has been “whatever we do, we want to preserve press freedom to self-regulate”. It’s just a tragic shame that it requires such an appalling incident as what happened in Norway to, once again – as if recent events have not been enough – illustrate just how misguided that opinion is.