Bristol NUJ presents
Where now for the Press after Leveson?
The Benn Lecture 2012
in conjunction with Bristol Festival of Ideas and UWE
A debate with NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet
and Mick Hume, author of There is No Such Thing as a Free Press
Watershed, Bristol, 7pm, Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Tickets £7/£5 concs & NUJ members
The Leveson report will be published shortly. Lord Leveson is not expected to pull his punches: he is predicted to condemn years of abuses by the press in spying on and misreporting the actions of innocent members of the public and celebrites alike.
But will his recommendations to the Government say that legal underpinning is essential to give teeth to the new media watchdog?
Or will he satisfy the claims of some national editors who say a statutory regulator will impinge on press freedom?
The NUJ has made a major contribution to the Leveson inquiry and was a core participant.
NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet says:
“Journalism is a force for good, a vital part of any democratic society.
“We believe that if we are to achieve independent, accountable regulation it needs to be underpinned by statute enabling a framework for a new body to be established with clear terms of reference, and a structure that involves journalists and civil society as key stakeholders.
“This is absolutely not the same as state regulation, far from it. Our model is based on the system in Ireland, where a Press Council was established together with a Press Ombudsman.
“It is significant that in Ireland, employers work sensibly and positively with the NUJ as a key stakeholder in a structure that journalists are actively represented within.”
But Mick Hume, author of There is No Such Thing as a Free Press, believes the Leveson Inquiry has become the playground of liberal intellectuals who are out of touch and don’t understand the true value – or the meaning – of a free press.
“Much of the liberal media has abandoned belief in a free press – or as they say these days, ‘We believe in a free press, but…’. And the buts are getting bigger.”
The Leveson Inquiry “has been a judicial inquisition which anybody with a liberal bone should have recognised as an act of state intervention in the affairs of a free press unseen in living memory.
“How has an unaccountable judge assumed the authority to propose how far the clock should be turned back on the historic struggle for press freedom?
“The other key question … was: who should decide what is in ‘the public interest’? The one thing we can be certain of is that the public will have no say in deciding what might be in the public interest to publish.”
Who is right? Should we, and can we, regulate the Press in the public interest, and without interference from politicians or bias from media barons acting in their own business interests?
Contribute to the debate – at the Watershed, Bristol, on November 27th
Watershed box office: 0117 927 5100
Harbourside, 1 Canons Road, Bristol – Map
Chair, Bristol NUJ