I attended the Leveson Inquiry’s second seminar on the “culture, practices and ethics of the press” yesterday – and what a day it was!
If last week’s event was notable for the highest concentration of current national newspaper editors together in one room that anyone could think of, yesterday brought us Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail; Kelvin MacKenzie, infamous former editor of The Sun; Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC and Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of The Guardian all on the same bill. Sandwiched between such titans of the conservative and liberal media was a scarily expensive grouping of lawyers (what’s the collective noun: Gaggle? Wallet?), a full lecture-hall’s worth of ex-hack media lecturers and a handful of “victims” of the press.
These seminars are a prelude to the formal inquiry where core participants will give evidence under oath. The debates have been on: “The competitive pressures on the press and the impact on journalism”; “The rights and responsibilities of the press”; and, “Supporting a free press and high standards” – ie: regulation.
Our report is on page 11, but I want to gauge your views. A learned speaker told us that 79 per cent of Brits don’t trust the press – the highest figure in Europe. Do you? Do you believe in self-regulation? Is the PCC strong enough? Was phone hacking just a few bad eggs acting illegally, or symptomatic of a wider malaise? Is Leveson a waste of time, as MacKenzie suggested, and even: should i introduce a corrections and clarifications column as the Mail plans to next week? I believe these questions matter a great deal, but what about all of you?