Leveson Let-down

Last week’s announcement from Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, that a 2nd phase of The Leveson Inquiry would not be pursued and that some aspects of potential press regulation would be repealed, may not be a huge surprise but it still marks a disappointing “get-out-of-jail” card for the billionaire elite propagandists who have so much power over the government. 

Natalie Fenton wrote a superb breakdown of the story and the backdrop, published on many sites including Open Democracy, Media Reform Coalition, and Hacked Off.

The Campaign For Press And Broadcasting Freedom says the decisions are “based on lies” and that “it is not press freedom that the government is protecting but press owners.” 

Hacked Off, the campaign group who did so much to bring about Leveson in the first place have a petition to fight the decision. 

Perhaps more disappointing and certainly more surprising than Hancock’s announcement was that The Guardian went some way to defend it

The Guardian is understandably concerned about the printed press being constantly under the cosh in the age of social media, vanishing advertising revenue and fake news, all issues that Media Alert has kept abreast of. But there’s a heavy risk that they are overlooking, mitigating or even partially forgetting the serious nature of the crimes and other problems which brought around Leveson in the first place. 

For Byline Media, Brian Cathcart forwarded a detailed analysis of The Guardian’s position writing: “the paper’s editorial justifying this switch is a disgraceful mishmash of dissimulation, ignorance, playground logic and shifty language”. 

The Guardian have at least printed this fierce rebuttal from over 20 leading academics, who accuse them of betrayal. 

From the point of view of independent media, a failure to hold traditional media to appropriate account again render their accusations of low standards in independent media somewhat hollow, especially at a time when so many establishment sources took the ludicrous Corbyn “spying” story so seriously. 

Independent media should always look to raise its game and image, The Media Fund aims to help with that process, but at the same time, there is scant sign of traditional media doing the same despite the high professionalism of most journalists. In this climate, with the government clearly not too keen to improve practice among outlets that so often share their agenda, traditional media risks maintaining the high levels of public mistrust that sent people running to credible and less credible alternatives in the first place.

Stephen Durrant

The Media Fund