Life after LevesonGeorge BrockProfessor and Head of JournalismCity University LondonThe Hidden Cost of Free CommentWorld Editors Forum, Bangkok, June 2013
Who’d be a judge judging journalism?Lord Justice Leveson Ray Finkelstein QC
Phone-hacking in the UK…but inquiriesheld across the English-speaking world• South Africa: worries about the new press law(also Ghana NMC)• New Zealand: worries about new media andlaw• Australia: press regulation andconcentration/plurality (+ separateconvergence inquiry)• Britain: 2-part (?) Leveson Inquiry triggered byphone-hacking
Why was all this happening? (1)• Law-breaking• Privacy concerns• Self-regulation failing• Ownership concentration• New legal dilemmas driven bynew technology
Why was all this happening? (2)• Some newspapers driven by economicdesperation (NB decline is a long trend)• Law enforcement failed• Increases in the velocity and volume ofinformation• Is the definition of (a) privacy and (b) journalismchanged by technology?• Is there any longer “the press”?• Revisiting “freedom of the press”.
Is this an attack on press freedom?• Sometimes, but not necessarily so• There is no such thing as absolute pressfreedom• All societies balance freedom and restraint• Asking if the balance is right or needs re-tuning is a legitimate social and politicalquestion• Journalists shouldn’t run away from it
This man has attacked press freedom(and intends to continue)
This is not quite the same thing2000 pages, 50+recommendationsA messy parliamentarydeal which may not stick
Leveson in 30 seconds• Operation Motorman• Scandal revealed by journalists• Phone-hacking: 5,000+ names found• 3 Scotland Yard inquiries• Almost 60 people charged with crime (mostlyjournalists)…300m emails searched.• Celebrities feature little in the report• Trials begin September…Leveson part 2?
What Leveson actually said• Who guards the guards?• Dilemma: self-regulation but uninfluenced bybosses• Preoccupied with lobbying power of popularpaper companies• Arbitration, not courts• Regulation must have quality control =“recognition body”• Last resort: could be Ofcom• Not “state regulation” but not freedom either
The post-Leveson deal• 2 rival Royal Charters• Vengeful lords• Court cases to come• Exemplary damages
The Leveson effect• Popular papers are now (a bit) more careful
More Leveson effects• A very full record…catharsis• Phone-hacking+Leveson+trials = a publichumiliation for News Corp
What Leveson didn’t do(and what he might have done better)• Look at the disruption of mainstreammedia and what it means for law andregulation• Look at technology and privacy andlaw• Look at law and regulation combined
The issues will come upagain, elsewhere. So read on…
• Out of Print published inSeptember• www.georgebrock.net• @georgeprof• Slideshare: georgeprof