The Listening Post

Leveson and the politics of press regulation

What is the future of British journalism and where does the Leveson report leave the Cameron government?

The British newspaper industry, the raucous and often outrageous tabloid culture that produced the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, may never be the same. That is if the recommendations made by Brian Leveson, the judge who headed the inquiry into the press and politics in the UK, are acted upon.

Leveson wants the government to draw up Britain’s first press law since the 17th century and create a new independent body to regulate newspapers, one that unlike the current Press Complaints Commission, actually has some teeth. The lobbying over the report, which began before it was made public, has now moved into overdrive.

Prime Minister David Cameron, whose own cozy relationship with the Murdoch-owned press was revealed by the inquiry he called for, now seems to be siding with media moguls who do not want the new press rules enshrined in law. That could well test the relationship Cameron has with the coalition partner his Conservative Party needs to maintain its grip on power. On this week’s News Divide: What does the Leveson report really mean for the British press, politics and the public?

This week’s Newsbytes: Syria remains the most deadly country in the world to be a journalist, and picking a side is no guarantee of safety; a website editor who wrote critically about the abuse of power in Brazil has become the latest reporter to be killed there in a series of attacks against critical voices in the Brazilian media; then there is one journalist who got away – in Pakistan, but according to the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders eight journalists have been killed since the start of the year – and none of the cases have resulted in a conviction, which is par for the course in Pakistan; the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party has egg on its face after running a report from a US news outlet, without realising that that outlet, The Onion, deals in fake news: The article declared that the winner of its 2012 Sexiest Man Alive competition was in fact North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. 

Black and white newsreel

This week’s feature is slightly out of the box for Listening Post. We are showcasing a newsreel from the 1940s that introduces the audience to what it is like to work in a newsroom.

Back then in the pre-television era, newsreels were trailers of their day and were shown in cinemas before the feature film. We thought it might be fun to show one newsreel to a few journalists and get their thoughts on what has changed in the news business over the years – and a few things that have not. In this week’s feature, Listening Post‘s Flo Phillips on what life used to be like inside a newsroom.

Finally, last year it became one of the most recognisable public squares in the world and it is a dateline once again. Tens of thousands of Egyptians are occupying Tahrir Square, this time they are protesting against new President Mohamed Morsi’s recent decree in which he placed himself above the judiciary – leading some of his critics to say Morsi is less of a president than a pharaoh. We came across an online video that was made back in October to mark the first 100 days of the Morsi presidency – and the video suggested the warning signs were there that a power grab was underway. “Wake up Morsi” is our web video of the week.


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