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i Editor's Letter: Post-Leveson Royal Charter

 

Can you make head or tail of the post-Leveson Royal Charter on press regulation that does or does not have statutory underpinning, depending on who is telling you? Do you even understand what "statutory underpinning" is, after all these weeks of hearing the term kicked about like the political football it is? If so, congratulations, you are doing better than many journalists whose jobs are directly affected.

Inevitably, the truth was lost in the conflicting claims that followed what used to be known as a "smoke-filled room" deal but was actually decided over fruit salad and coffee in the wee hours on Monday. No smoke then, but a lot of hot air. The public, those not numbed into apathy by hyperbole, can surely see through all this: both sides cannot have won.

It is a dispiriting saga, marked by the manufactured outrage and hatefulness that is symptomatic of what passes for political debate today. At its heart lies a press that has violated the trust once placed in it, and shown that it has been unwilling to regulate itself with real teeth, against a victim group that argues through personal experience that freedom of the press has been a catch-all for the freedom to exploit personal lives for profit.

The greatest truism in this sorry saga is that with freedom comes responsibility. Parts of the press have so frequently abused that maxim that, like a naughty child, they need to be threatened with losing that freedom in order to behave better. Remember this as you watch the unedifying scaremongering and posturing that will continue inexorably in the wake of Monday night's fudge.

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