Monday, 3 December 2012

Scotland And Press Regulation

It wasn't a particularly comfortable time for the Westminster coalition in the past week.  The Libdems were reduced to 750 votes in the Rotherham by-election; David Cameron has suggested he will ignore the main point in the Leveson report while his deputy wants the all recommendations put into action.

Alex Salmond has decided Scotland will devise its own press regulation system and he should be applauded for taking such a step.  I wouldn't be so hearty in my praise if he had suggested state regulation, because I feel that once politicians get themselves involved to any degree in the behaviour of the press - or the public for that matter - then freedom of speech would quickly vanish. I've noticed many commenters are far more interested in the control of the internet than the press and that's worrying.

The First Minister favours an independent ombudsman and a Scottish press council which would pursue complaints against newspapers, similar to the model used in the Irish republic.

The Irish system includes seven independent members appointed in the 'public interest', five representing the interests of media owners and one representing journalists.  I've no idea if a 13 member press council would be suitable for Scotland, but I am concerned about the appointment of any 'public interest' members.

As Kenneth Roy has oft penned, Scotland has a small coterie of individuals, many with close relationships with members of the Scottish 'elite' - who spend their time wafting from board room to board room representing the public interest.  A new system must be completely independent of the government and the usual suspects.

Should such a plan come to fruition I propose Kenneth Roy as the representative for journalists and a close eye is kept upon how and who are elected to represent us - the hoi polloi.

As an aside, media bias was very evident this weekend. I gave up counting the number of newspaper articles and television clips which, when discussing Alex Salmond's stance, included images of the First Minister with Rupert Murdoch. This picture is well over a year old and the Guardian should be ashamed they've no up-to-date images of Scotland's leader in their image library.


English Pensioner said...

"The First Minister favours an independent ombudsman"
So would most of us, but the problem is finding this paragon of a person and getting him appointed.
Looking at numerous "independent" persons appointed as heads of Quangos and other statutory bodies, very few of them appear to be genuinely independent and usually reflect the political views of the minister appointing them.
One only has to look at the "Independent" Bank of England; Many commentators suggest that the Bank was doing what the Chancellor wanted, rather than what a truly independent Bank would have been doing. Whether you believe this is true or not depends in turn on your own personal views.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

I'll second your Kenneth Roy proposal.

Other than that Levenson has followed the trait of most recent inquiries of damage limitation and buck-passing in order to maintain the status of the carpet baggers.

That said, expecting an independent report from an establishment is akin to expecting a miracle of substance to emerge from an oxymoron.

subrosa said...

Therein lies the problem EP. It's bound to be one of those who drift between quangos etc.

subrosa said...

Exactly Crinkly.

JimS said...

Whether it be Students Unions or such as the proposed body I think a lot can be said for an extension of the jury system.

Make a random selection from the qualifying population and the chances are that it will be truly representative of that population, rather than those who think that they OUGHT to represent it.

When given responsibility most people rise to the challenge. Jurys are selected, mostly do their job well and are disbanded. They aren't looking to build a career.

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