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Should Politicians Control The Press?

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date

OneFootInTheGrave

OneFootInTheGrave Report 23 Mar 2013 15:52

There is no doubt in my mind that the atrocious behaviour of some of our newspaper editors in recent years was diabolical, totally unacceptable, and an affront to peoples decency, privacy, and dignity.

The hacking of Milly Dowler's mobile phone must go down in history as one of the most disgraceful actions ever to have been undertaken by a newspaper. It caused terrible grief to her family and the considerable indignation and condemnation it drew was fully justified. I for one believe that all those responsible should be prosecuted, and if found guilty should be sent to jail for their part in what was a heinous offence, and they should be barred from journalism for life.

That said I do not think that our newspapers should be controlled by politicians, the privy council, or any other government quango. Freedom of the press is fundamental to a free society and no one should put that asunder, least of all our politicians.

If the body proposed by the government to scrutinise the press had been in place several years ago, would we have ever found out about the expense fiddles, the Saville scandal, the Hillsborough cover up, the Mid Staffordshire Hospital scandal, and many other disgraceful actions of those in authority and public office, I think not.

It is not a law to regulate the press that we need, it is a law/laws to state clearly to the press what is criminal, and such laws must carry severe penalties. Some laws already exist but they have never been properly enforced, those that already exist need to be strengthened, and any laws must be rigidly enforced.

The politicians are already trying to control our courts and now they want to control our press, they should not be allowed to do either :-|

I know this is a controversial issue - but what do you think?

eRRolSheep

eRRolSheep Report 23 Mar 2013 15:58

Absolutely not!!!!!
I totally agree with you that there have been some pretty despicable instances but in general terms we have the best press in the world that generally toes the line.
Political control is the start of a very slippery slope and we do after all already have laws in place.
As a former journalist and editor I am still very proud of the industry in the UK in general terms

OneFootInTheGrave

OneFootInTheGrave Report 23 Mar 2013 16:08

Thank you ErrolSheep,

You have more or less concurred with my own views, if the authorities had been more pro-active and enforced the existing laws over past years instead of ignoring them, then things might never have got to the stage they did.

eRRolSheep

eRRolSheep Report 23 Mar 2013 16:13

In the light of recent revelations I think some areas of the press may have got away with more than they should have. This is not because laws or regulation did not exist, it is because those laws and regulations were not adhered to and implemented by those that should have.
The very suggestion of political involvement in governing the "free" press is abhorrent and, dare I say, something of a kneejerk reaction.

ChrisofWessex

ChrisofWessex Report 23 Mar 2013 16:14

I do not always agree with how the papers act/say but I do not wish to envisage a censored Press.

They do good in high lighting certain misdemeanors.

Guinevere

Guinevere Report 23 Mar 2013 16:24

We have always had a censored press in my lifetime.

D notices are slapped on information it isn't "in the national interest" to reveal. Very few editors would dare to publish anything with a D notice on it.

Fleet St editors conspire with the government of the day to keep things from the general public and will continue to do so.

They need to be muzzled far more for what they print about ordinary members of the public. If common decency doesn't prevent them behaving badly the legislation will have to.

We don't have a free press, never have had.

eRRolSheep

eRRolSheep Report 23 Mar 2013 16:30

D notices are now called DA notices and are voluntary. However they are necessary and in general terms the press abides by them and quite rightly so. That is not censorship.
As far as I am concerned, the press may print whatsoever it wishes just so long as it does not break the law as it stands.
We also have the sub judice law

maggiewinchester

maggiewinchester Report 23 Mar 2013 16:46

Well, it looks like government controlled press is already here.
As I mentioned the other day, the government managed to hide their retrospective change of law very successfully - not a whimper from the press:

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.parliament.uk%2Fbriefing-papers%2FSN06587.pdf&h=aAQFCbljC&s=1

Guinevere

Guinevere Report 23 Mar 2013 16:55

I know they are voluntary, just not the new name for them. It's still censorship because the government's view of what the general public mustn't be allowed to see can be dictated by self interest.

I don't trust any politician to decide what's in my interest.

Either we have a free press or we don't, and currently we don't.

Private Eye does its best, though. They published stuff about Savile long before the mainstream media - and other poliical scandals.

eRRolSheep

eRRolSheep Report 23 Mar 2013 17:01

How can it be censorship if it is voluntary?

In general terms D or DA notices cover military, anti-terror, intelligence etc and do actually serve a purpose.

Think about it, if we were at war with another country would we really want just any information published in the public domain.

We do have a free press. Sadly though, it may be SWAYED by other influences sometimes but it is certainly not censored.

eRRolSheep

eRRolSheep Report 23 Mar 2013 17:02

incidentally, DA notices is not the new name, it has been used for about 20 years

Guinevere

Guinevere Report 23 Mar 2013 17:13

I can't be bothered to argue semantics - or when words changed, all beside the point. Same thing different name. Swayed/censored the effect is the same - hidden from us.

You think about it Errol - how much has been kept from us that we have a right to know? How many secrets kept by editors hand in hand with politicians or those is positions of power? How much is kept out of local papers as a "favour" between friends? I know of quite a bit in these parts.

Some of the "secrets" come out but how much more is hidden?

I repeat - we do not have a free press, never have had, never will.

We aren't going to agree you believe as you do and I the opposite.



eRRolSheep

eRRolSheep Report 23 Mar 2013 17:22

Guinevere I do not wish to argue - merely debate.
I would be interested to know of these instances in your parts - please tell more.
Censorship is very different to being swayed. One is imposed upon you whereas the other is choice.
Certain newspapers, for example, choose to have a particular political leaning.
Some choose not to print certain stories or comment on certain topics.
But we do not have censorship.
I have written for national, regional and local press and have never come across censorship.
There have been times when it has been suggested that I do not print a certain article but the final choice has always been mine or, in the case of national press, that of the commissioning editor.

Guinevere

Guinevere Report 23 Mar 2013 17:30

Then you've been very lucky, Errol, that's all I can say.

A friend worked for Today and then The Sun and he told me quite a few things that were kept hidden at the time but, thanks to the internet and Private Eye, are now more widely known about.

Locally an editor was persuaded to keep out of the paper the fact a councillor's wife was done for drunk driving. A small thing but symptomatic. Both Rotarians and it wouldn't do to create an atmosphere at the next meeting.

Hitchhiker's Guide on TV now, so I'm off.

eRRolSheep

eRRolSheep Report 23 Mar 2013 17:36

But that is NOT censorship and freedom of the press which is what this thread is about.

As a journalist I was always taught to base things on fact and not hearsay and I still do to this day.

However, consider this. We are all now editors and publishers thanks to the world wide web and so we are all affected by new legislation concerning publishing.

maggiewinchester

maggiewinchester Report 23 Mar 2013 18:17

Does anyone else question the closeness Cameron had to Rebekah Brooks? Was that healthy? Who, exactly, benefited most?

...well, certainly not the public.....

AnnCardiff

AnnCardiff Report 23 Mar 2013 19:10

politicians control the press - they are the last people who should do it - had they been in control we would never have heard of all their fiddling and stealing and lying with regard to their expenses and they'd still be getting away with it - very few politicians are trustworthy in my opinion and Private Eye is the publicaton to believe

eRRolSheep

eRRolSheep Report 23 Mar 2013 19:37

Well said Ann

Maggie although there may, according to some, have been some closeness that should be questionned, that does not mean that all members of the press are the same.
I so wish that people would get it out of their heads that the press in general and newspapers, news channels et al are a service - THEY ARE NOT !
Such a notion is exceedingly naive

AnnCardiff

AnnCardiff Report 23 Mar 2013 19:44

I didn't care for the closeness between Cameron and Brooks - didn't think it was professional at all

Chrissie

Chrissie Report 24 Mar 2013 07:08

I think further controls need placing on our media but I think I'm looking at it from a different angle. I think our tabloids are an embarrassment and the journalism in them is appalling. I don't see them as a free press bravely fighting the institution to tell us the truth. It's a vile grubby industry at worst and the Internet has replaced newspapers for many of us as a place where we can find out what's going on. The Jimmy Savile story has been widely available for ages on there.
I don't think politicians necessarily equals bad either. Not all good but they are elected.