Category Archives: Media freedom

IPSO boss: self regulation vital to press freedom

A voluntary system of press regulators, set up by the industry itself, was criticised as “the press marking their own papers” in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. But outcoming regulator Sir Alan Moses told a media freedom conference: “Voluntary self-regulation is the only way that freedom of expression may safely and reliably be preserved.” The alternative – state control – creates a risk of a government controlling what the public know or using unregulated social media to create confusion.

The speech described the workings of the Independent Press Standards Organisation and  the guidance it gives on issues such as reporting suicide and transgender issues.

Read a transcript here.

See Sir Alan speaking on the same theme at another conference (starts at 9.40):

News or hate? Google lawyer on terror video

Google and YouTube were working with governments to confront violent extremism online, wrote Google lawyer Kent Walker. Thousands of people were being enlisted as trusted flaggers of offensive content. But “a video of a terrorist attack may be informative news reporting if broadcast by the BBC, or glorification of violence if uploaded in a different context by a different user.” Read his op-ed piece here.

Outrage as gag order blocks #MeToo story

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An injunction to stop the Daily Telegraph exposing alleged sexual and racial abuse by a businessman was “a devastating blow” to press freedom, the paper said in six pages of coverage.

The Court of Appeal granted an injunction to stop the paper naming the “leading businessman”, because the story probably arose from a breach of non-disclosure agreements – in which employees are paid money to stay silent.

The Telegraph said the ruling was “contrary to the age-old principle against prior restraint of the press”, which traditionally said the media should not be prevented from publishing stories that people wished to suppress – on the basis that they could be sued if the story was unjustified.

The editor said he was confident the junction would be overturned.

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Prime Minister Theresa May said in the Commons that NDAs were being used unethically. Labour MP Jess Phillips said: “It seems that our laws allow rich and powerful men to pretty much do whatever they want as long as they can pay to keep it quiet.”

Telegraph stories: 
The British #MeToo scandal which cannot be revealed
Opinion: The public have a right to know when the powerful seek to gag the vulnerable

Press Gazette:
Telegraph gagged by injunction

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NUJ holds celebration for ethical journalism

The National Union of Journalists chose Valentine’s Day to celebrate independent, ethical journalism, prompted by memories of a broadcasters’ strike in 1985 that prompted the BBC management to resist attempts to stop it broadcasting a Real Lives programme about Northern Ireland. Journalism academic Tony Harcup commented on the NUJ website about the importance of ethical journalism for society. Read more.

Freedom risk as Europe tackles social media hate

Concerns were raised about efforts in Europe and the UK to tackle online hate and harassment, including by making social media platforms more transparent. As US writer Mathew Ingram reported in the Columbia Journalism Review, there was a risk of inhibiting free speech. Note that US law gives greater latitude on free speech, which is protected in the Constitution.