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Br(e)aking the News

Journalism, Politics and New Media

Janey Gordon, Paul Rowinski and Gavin Stewart

What is the breaking news in the world today? How did you find out this news? How do you know it is true? Was it reported ethically? What checks and balances are being put on the news media?
The answers to these questions reflect the themes of this book. The chapters are by experienced journalists, academics and practitioners in the field. They unravel and clearly present the recent and on-going developments in journalism and the press around the globe, including the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. Chapters deal with the phone hacking and data thefts in the UK that provoked a major inquiry into press ethics and standards. Twitter is examined and found to be a valuable tool for reporters in the Arab world and research shows how, in Australia, readers use Twitter to pass along news topics. Chapters also explore the use of the mobile phone to access news in sub-Saharan Nigeria, the role of media magnates in presenting political views in Europe, and Wikipedia’s representation of conflict. This collection of fourteen chapters by leading authors examines journalism as practised today and what we might expect from it in the future.

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KATE IRONSIDE Closing Time at the Last Chance Saloon?

Extract

Phone hacking and the future of press regulation The British system for regulating the press was killed of f by the News of the World phone hacking scandal. The inability of the voluntary, self-regulatory body, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) to tackle the issue sealed its fate. However the origins of the crisis can be traced straight back to the PCC’s earliest days. Indeed the closest precursor we have to the events sur- rounding the slow death of the PCC are precisely those that surrounded its birth and first faltering steps. Although separated by two decades, there are striking similarities. In each case, there were f lagrant examples of breaches of privacy of the newsworthy by a minority of newspapers, some of which involved phone hacking. The existing models of press self-regulation were then both found want- ing. In 1989 the Press Council was denounced as ‘Ombudsmice’ (Browne, Hansard1 1989a) while in 2011 the Press Complaints Commission was deemed ‘a busted f lush’ (BBC: 2011a). In each case, the government of the day ordered inquiries. Both inquiry chairmen ended up recommending models of statutory press regulation, with Sir David Calcutt opting for a full throttle model while Lord Justice Leveson backing an infinitely more delicate, nuanced approach. When forced finally to decide, the UK gov- ernment’s response has been shaped by ideology, self-interest and, above all, as this chapter will argue, by political weakness. 1 ‘Hansard’ is the edited verbatim report of proceedings of both the UK Parliamentary House of...

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