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.