Thursday, 18 February 2010

Press Self Regulation Fails Time to Disband the PPC

Earlier today Mark Thompson wrote what is the point of the Press Complaints Commission in light of their ruling on Jan Moir and her Stephen Gately piece which lack cajones? Well now his view and mine are both being backed up by Peter Tatchell he says:

"The Press Complaints Commission should be disbanded. By failing to uphold its own standards and enforce its own Code of Practice, the PCC has demonstrated that it is unwilling, unable and unfit to regulate newspapers. We need a new press regulator with principles and teeth.

"Jan Moir's commentary on the death of Stephen Gately was factually inaccurate on two points. His death was not unnatural or lonely, yet the PCC has rejected a complaint concerning this inaccuracy by Stephen's civil partner, Andrew Cowles."

As I argued earlier the case for homophobia was the hardest of the three main clauses that the PCC may have had to judge on. Surely the timing of the article showed a lack of sensitivity to those close to the singer, the PPC merely said that the timing was "in questionable taste". But surely the factual accuracy should have been upheld more than anything else.

The PCC acknowledged that Jan Moir mentioned the coroners reports, that right the one that said he died of natural causes, to be precise Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS). The whole push of her article was to use unfounded, homophobic stereotypes to prove that is was "not natural".

Of course as Millennium Elephant points out the PCC is paid from by the people it regulates. Why? We have independent bodies to regulate almost everything else. This decision to even ignore the blatant things like accuracy in the face of opinion writing shows what a failure the self regulation of the press, by the press is. It really only serves to help the press.

As Dave Page wrote on today's Lib Dem Voice:

"Had Moir’s comments been made in the average workplace to a colleague who had complained, would she have been let off the hook?"

I think we all know what we hope the answer to that question would be. So in one workplace where such comments only affect a few to another where it clearly affects 25,000 who bothered to speak up, yet no action is taken.

As the PCC clearly have no cajones, there is nothing to really cut off apart from their ability to pass judgement on their own. Let's set up an independent body, with some clear standards (the current ones work for starters but could do with strengthening and broadening in some areas). Today they failed, show them the door and get somebody in that will actually do the job that is required.

READ ALSO: Of course not all Grauniad opinion is of hte abolish variety. Jonathan Heawood poses the opposite stand point. Of course I still say freedom of speech is one thing but being allowed to propagate deliberate falsehood, even in an opinion piece, is quite another.

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