In a well argued letter to the Guardian published on 12 June, Professor James Curran who writes and lectures on media history and policy, declared that: “… the reign of the tabloids is over. For weeks, the ancient bazookas controlled by Murdoch and Dacre and other press oligarchs were trained on Corbyn and McDonnell, portraying them as patrons of terror and fantasists forever shaking a magic money tree. The Campaign failed because the English Press is more distrusted than any other in Europe, its circulation is in free-fall and young people in particular get their news and political information from the internet…”
This week the two main parties published their election manifestos. Labour’s, which is set out below, is tighter than the leak from the previous week, and represents a good basis to build on. The Conservatives, on the other hand have thrown the press owners a life line by pledging to scrap part 2 of Leveson and repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 which would give victims of press abuse access to affordable justice. It also provides that in the event a ‘relevant publisher’ (i.e., a provider of general news in print) is sued, and that publisher has chosen not to register with an ‘approved regulator’ (i.e one that is Leveson compliant), that publisher will be required to pay a claimant’s costs even if the publisher wins in court. The provision was recommended by Leveson and supported by Parliament in 2013, but would only come into force once an approved regulator was set up (as IMPRESS was last autumn (see my blog “After all this time…” 27 October 2016).
I have just finished reading ‘Unleashing Devils’ by by Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s former spin doctor (Director of Politics and Communications to give him his official title, a position which he held from September 2011 until Cameron’s resignation in July 2016). It’s an insider’s story of the decision to call the ill-fated (and in my view irresponsible and divisive) referendum and other key moments, through to defeat and resignation. It may seem odd that I’ve read a book written by someone who is diametrically opposed to most of the things I believe in, but it’s fresh history, published just a few months after the victory for the leavers and there are many questions and deeper concerns posed by it, regardless of how you voted in the referendum. Continue reading Making the broadcasters raise their game