Our press have brought their current woes on themselves, though sections such as Rupert Murdoch’s empire have arguably done more than most to bring newspapers down to their current level of disrepute.
Accordingly it has recently been revealed, following the 2011 scandal of phone-hacking, that only 18% of us trust our national press to tell the truth, half of the 37% recorded ten years ago in 2006. Calls for the press to be better regulated have been tempered by revelations that only 3% of us would trust the press to regulate itself, and only 8% would trust a regulator set up by the government, with 73% being in favour of a regulator with no connections to either, to avoid newspapers pronouncing themselves innocent when guilty or our government using its regulator to cover up its own misdeeds and failures.
The current proposal, to make newspapers that don’t sign up to be regulated by press-hater and S&M fan Max Mosely and his press-hating team liable for all legal costs when exposure is challenged is downright dangerous. It means that no newspaper could afford to publish anything that anyone might find objectionable, even if the paper gets it right. So no-one will any longer read any investigative journalism exposing bent and unethical business types, corrupt and greedy politicians, benefit fiddlers, reckless trade unionists etc etc, but only stories and press releases that someone wants everyone to read.
It also opens the flood-gates to anyone that has been exposed by the press to bring a spurious legal claim against them in the knowledge that even if it is thrown out by the courts it will cost the plaintiff nothing to try, a real bonanza for “No win, No fee” lawyers.
Real question is, do we want all our newspapers permanently muzzled as punishment for the failings of some of them, and are we then prepared to accept that the muzzling will allow all the enemies of the people to stay anonymous?