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Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Debate around the web

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Jim Godfrey, formerly of ITV, writes in defence of Ofcom suggesting it has been successful and distancing itself from DCMS and has more credibility as a result.

Derek Jameson, a former editor, writes of the plausible deniability culture which, he says, helps insulate editors from knowing what their reporters get up to. Dominic Ponsford‘s reaction is also worthy of note.

An analysis of how the role of a journalist is changing thanks to modern technology. It’s interesting how often the regulatory implications get missed from these discussions.

Iain Dale highlights a survey of MPs holiday arrangements being conducted by the Daily Telegraph. It’s not clear how this attempt at compromising privacy (albeit with consent) is in the public interest.

Camilla Cavendish has won an award for her investigative reporting of family courts.

There’s some controversy over the Daily Express article reporting Richard Desmond’s failed libel action against Tom Bower. It’s not clear that the article is accurate.

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Is media accountability a level playing field?

In regulation on July 17, 2009 at 4:49 pm

One contentious story. One complaining MP. Two different approaches to self-regulation.

In May, top Tory blogger Iain Dale broke an exclusive story about Tory MP James Gray, a member of the defence select committee. His report ‘James Gray and the photo of the dying soldier’ told the story of a delegation of MPs visiting Afghanistan. The MPs were at an airbase as a:

“very poorly soldier was wheeled across the tarmac to the plane. It was a very sombre moment. Suddenly, James Gray took out his camera and proceeded to take photos of the soldier. His colleagues looked on aghast. . . .The MPs were then summoned into a sideroom by the Brigadier in charge who yelled at them and told them that taking photos on such an occasion was totally unacceptable. He ordered whoever was taking the photos to delete them from their camera. Needless to say, Gray failed to step forward and own up. Whether he did delete the photos is not known.”

Iain Dale then followed this up with a claim that James Gray MP should have the whip withdrawn. Both stories remain on Iain Dale’s blog.

Iain updated the first post on three occasions so readers can see how the story unfolded. One update includes the rebuttal from James Gray, a second source coming forward and notification that the Daily Mail was running the story.

Today, the Press Complaints Commission published the outcome of James Gray’s complaint to The Sun regarding its story:

“ which contained the inaccurate claim that he had taken photographs of injured British soldiers while on a visit to Afghanistan.”

The newspaper said that claim came from “several sources” but published the following letter from the MP.

“Further to your report that I “had taken photographs of a dying soldier on a recent trip to Afghanistan” (Sun, 12 May), allow me to set the record straight.

“My colleagues and I had taken photographs of the C-17 cargo plane onto which some wounded soldiers were to be transferred but at the time we were 500 yards away in the pitch black. Any photographs would have been impossible and there is no evidence any of the soldiers were “dying.”

“I assure your readers I took no such photographs and as an active member of the Royal British Legion, Chairman of the Parliamentary All Party Group for the Army and a former TA soldier myself, I hope they will be ready to accept that assurance.”

The article is not available on The Sun’s website.

Iain Dale is accountable because he clearly updates his blog so you can track revisions, enables comments and trades on his reputation – though it costs nothing to read.

The Sun is accountable through the formal process of the PCC, because it publishes a rebuttal and trades on its reputation – which is dependent on sales and advertising revenue.

Both compete for readers online. One is self-regulated and the other is subject to no regulation. Is that fair? Which system is more preferable?

Debate around the web

In links on July 16, 2009 at 10:53 am

The media select committee will take evidence from Rebekah Brooks (nee Wade), Colin Myler and Tom Crone next week as part of its investigation into the phone tapping allegations – according to the Snowblog.

A magazine for former MPs has urged sketchwriters to be less rude to MPs and says that the parliamentary standards committee should consider banning those who engage in personal abuse. The idea appears to be a clear infringement of the freedom of expression of sketchwriters – via the Londoner’s Diary.

The Lord Chief Justice has called for less lawmaking. He said that the government had created too much legislation framed in too many words creating too many crimes – via the Daily Mail. The argument supports the theme running through the debate on regulation that creating new rules does not necessarily foster a spirit of compliance.

Sarah Ditum examines the Telegraph’s business model, suggesting that it is wrong-headed to pay Boris Johnson £250,000 for a weekly column whilst inventing journalists – via Judith Townend.

Mick Fealty writes about the phonetapping story:

“the blogging phenomenon has prospered through the huge gaps left by the conventional media, this may be an opportunity to press home the advantage bloggers have of being multiple and mostly unattached to larger interests, to take up a task so unsurreptitiously being dropped by all but one of Britian’s big national newspapers, and dig around in the background to find out just what’s really been going on.”

Accountability of The Sun

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2009 at 11:31 am

The Media Standards Trust has had a lot of contact with people in response to our report: A More Accountable Press. Journalists, politicians and the public have all come forward with their views of the extent to which self-regulation is working for the press and the public.

One group of people with particular experience of holding the press to account is the third sector. In particular, those charities which represent vulnerable groups in society. We’ve now heard from more than one source that The Sun is one of the best newspapers at trying to be responsible.

Leaders in the third sector have told us how when they complain about a newspaper’s coverage, they often don’t get very far and, in some instances, have even received rude or dismissive replies. However, after some healthy nudging, The Sun has often been one of the most responsive newspapers. We’ve heard how they have gone further than anyone else to ensure their journalists use the right terminology, understand the sensitivities of certain stories and, when in doubt, that senior reporters have even proactively got in touch to seek advice.

There are, of course, people who are still unhappy with The Sun: Liverpool fans in particular. But it’s good to hear positive experiences and particularly of a newspaper which some prefer to dismiss as being part of the ‘gutter press’. Well done, The Sun.

Select committee inquiry into phonetapping story

In regulation on July 14, 2009 at 5:27 pm

The culture media and sport select committee began its evidence sessions in response to the phone tapping allegations in The Guardian. The evidence is being take as part of its inquiry into press standards, privacy and libel. It was the first session attended by two new committee members: Tom Watson and Peter Ainsworth.

Committee chairman John Whittingdale informed members that: Les Hinton says he does not wish to change the evidence previously given to the committee. His original evidence was “sincere and comprehensive”.

We tweeted live from the event so a blow by blow account is available before the transcipts are published.

Tim Toulmin, the director of the PCC, was first to give evidence. He told the committee that:

  • The PCC’s concern is with the integrity of its report into subterfuge and newsgathering and to ensure the practices are not continuing
  • It will ask further questions of the Guardian and Information Commissioner if there’s any evidence it had been misled
  • It has not yet uncovered any evidence that there have been further breaches of the code. Rumours that it did go on but “absolutely does not now”
  • “Even if we introduced hanging for editors there would still be people who would criticise the PCC”.
  • The PCC has stretched the boundaries of its remit as far as possible. “We are more like an ombudsman really”, not a regulatory body
  • The PCC is set up as a mediator. Toulmin said that he had a bulging postbag of thank you letters. But it was not a legal regulator. Not set up for these sorts of inquiries.
  • A number of the committee’s questions were more a matter for the information commissioner. In particular, he suggested it was odd that the commissioner had chosen not to name the journalists who had breached others’ privacy in respect for their privacy

There were a few moments where questioning was more confrontational.

  • Adam Price asked: Will you follow up on Private Eye story that Glen Mulcaire was paid £200,000 post conviction? Toulmin replied that the PCC was not going to follow up on every tittle tattle and suggested the story was not pertinent to the report the PCC wrote at the time. Price responded that it was extraordinary to dismiss it like this. Surely central to whether there is a pattern of behaviour?
  • Paul Farrelly suggested: This narrow view of your remit is why some people want you to take a more proactive view.
  • Mike Hall said that there was a general concern that PCC has very little power.

The team from the Guardian (Alan Rusbridger, Paul Johnson and Nick Davies) were next to give evidence:

Alan Rusbridger said:

  • Self-regulation only works when newspapers are open with the PCC. For example, Associated has admitted to faults and corrected them.
  • Peta Buscombe should examine whether PCC needs to be re-constructed to undertake such investigations.
  • News International has engaged in an aggressive campaign in response with cleverly drafted denials of allegations that weren’t made
  • News International knew of involvement of other senior journalists for at least a year. Why didn’t they tell cttee or PCC?
  • Press isn’t only profession looking at issues around when it is acceptable to invade privacy: so are the secret intelligence services. Struck by David Omand recommendations in a recent ippr pamphlet

Nick Davies told the committee that:

  • One source thought News Int statement was “designed to deceive” and had now allowed Davies to provide evidence as a result
  • He had a copy of an email sent to Mulcaire, written by a NOTW reporter, which referred to Neville Thurlbeck, a senior reporter at the newspaper
  • He had a contract signed by then assistant editor Greg Miskiw with Mulcaire. In which Mulcaire had used a false name
  • The police had all this evidence so either other implicated journalists had been interviewed (in which case the NOTW statement was misleading) or they hadn’t in which case, it was a concern that the police hadn’t investigated the matter further
  • Senior reporters made requests, including Greg Miskiw who made 90 requests. 35 directed at databases. Coulson was not one of them
  • He had copies of invoices from News International to Steve Whittemore, a private investigator who specialises in blagging. Payments were clearly made by the accounts department.
  • Mulcaire submitted regular lists to the newspaper of targets of his investigations to justify his retainer.
  • News International know the identity of all senior journos commissioning illegal info becuase legal docs to Taylor also went to NI
  • There was a consistent and worrying pattern in statements made by News International to the committee and the public
  • The statement made by assistant commissioner fails to disclose the facts of the case.

The committee is expected to have two more evidence sessions before the end of the parliamentary year next week.

Blogosphere reactions to Nick Davies’ allegations

In Debate on July 13, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Nick Davies’ allegations in The Guardian last week provoked a number of interesting and apparently informed comments in the blogosphere. I’ve selected some of the highlights from The Guardian, Iain Dale’s diary and ConservativeHome (not a representative sample, but I’ve tried to reflect the main perspectives).

Broadly, they fell into the following categories:

  • Failure of self-regulation
  • Critical of News Group
  • Reaction about the political consequences
  • What’s all the fuss about and;
  • Where next?

Failure of self-regulation

stevehill

You are right that the PCC is dead. It always was. Here’s a thought.

After a lot of messing about, it was decided (roughly speaking) that tax accountants wishing to introduce a so-called tax avoidance scheme should pre-clear it with the Revenue, or risk being in the dock themselves for assisting in tax evasion (a crime).

There should be some successor body to the PCC, working 24/7, able to give a pretty quick decision on whether something is or is not in the public interest prior to publication.

Newspapers should be at liberty not to consult such a body if they wish. But they should know that by taking such a course they are betting the company if they call it wrong.

Jonibegood

A good article Simon. The issue about Media Regulation is going to come to the fore one day. Journalists like yourself should push for stronger and better self regulation before a government decides to step it. At that point freedom of speech would really be in jeapordy.

Zerotolerance

As for the PCC, they’ve been a joke for a very long time. Here’s hoping that this story will be the stake driven into the vampire’s heart.

Kerrygold

I remember when he got the PCC job there were jokes going round, in what was once Fleet Street, about how the Press had managed to get Bozo the Clown to head up regulation. They laughed at their colleagues in the City who faced greater scrutiny, as they felt Bozo would be more worried about his priveleges than their ethics.

Critical of News Group

PeterParker

If the 2,000 or 3,000 “celebrities” all sued, I think that would sink the NOTW.

Saying this, if an average member of the public had his phoned tapped, would he/she be able to go court over it as easily as a “celebrity”.

Answer: No.

Live long…

ellis

The real significance of this story is the light it sheds on the enormous influence of the Murdoch empire. It seems that neither the police nor the prosecutors dare to tangle with an organisation which, after all is the Police State’s best friend.

ClaireinOz

Gawd. Even though my (now ex-) husband has been on the Sunday Times for 20 years and I know plenty about the inner workings of a Murdoch organ, these revelations have left me amazed. The extent of the cover-up is quite stunning, even by Murdoch standards. Forget the Queen, it seems it’s King Rupert who is the real ruler of Britain (and presumably the US, Australia and anywhere else his repressive tentacles can reach).

factsstraight

I spent 13 years on the Sunday Mirror, People and NoW variously and ran number plates and names through the police national computer through contacts in the police on almost a daily basis, as did every other hack.I also regularly got phone, bank and medical records.

But such activities were never to obtain stories but to help stand stories up. Otherwise papers would be spending fortunes on complete scattergun approaches.

It’s how redtops have worked, in my experience, since the mid 1980s when I did my first Saturday shifts. I’ve no problem with the way things worked we turned over some real villains and often worked closely with the cops as we could do things (quite legally) that they couldn’t. A system that worked well until cops started arresting people before we went to press scuppering weeks of work.

And there is one notorious paedophile, Roger Gleaves, who is still in prison as a direct result of one on my stories that relied in part on hacking his phone. o is phone hacking in a completely different category? Discuss.

Political reaction

Anonymous

Coulson was at the head of a bugging operation targeting anyone and everybody.

This must be bigger than Watergate. It’s got shit written all over it. He’s gotta go.

Lord Elvis of Paisley

I’m going to make a prediction. This story is not going to feature on the front page of the Sun tomorrow and will subsequently die a death. Methinks the government and it’s media cohorts have picked the wrong fight on this occasion and would have done better to let sleeping dogs lie.

There can be only one winner in this battle and it sure ain’t going to be the Grauniad or the people that are backing it.

Flemingcrag

If they are seen to be in cahoots with the Labour loving Gruinard on this affair the moves by the Murdoch Media group to distance itself from the mess that Labour has become may turn into a full scale stampede.

Invasion of privacy is not the sole provenance of the Murdoch Media group, the trendsetters since coming to power has been this Labour Government, you could say the NoTW was just being fashionable.

Batteredstrat said…

Just read the Guardian story, and it’s poor, thin on facts, and little more than a smear piece.

However, that does not mean that Coulson is totally in the clear.

Did he come into the NOTW at a point where this was already happening? Journos will protect their sources, even inside an organisation and editors have to trust the judgement of their sub editors.

If Coulson came into the organisation at a time when this was already happening, it is quite realistic that the truth was kept very quiet, the investment in technology had already been made, and that individual journalists would claim to have a human source but were economical with the truth.

After all, if you had a new boss, would you tell him that you had been breaking the law for years, and that it was common practice in the firm?

The story regarding Coulson is nothing more than innuendo right now, the Guardian don’t have the absolute truth or the truth is less damning, otherwise they would have printed it!

BTW, amazing how organised the trolls are at the moment, obviously the Labour party is in full election mode.

What’s all the fuss about?

DavidoM

The comentator on sky news said the heat was going out of this story… so that must be true, so move on now as there is nothing to see here.

SirOrfeo

As for the News of the World – what shocks me is why people are so shocked.

Breaking3

Oh, the irony of it.

Government Ministers like Two Jags might have been spied on – the justice of it, I know that two wrongs dont make a right but it makes me smile, if they don’t have anything to hide why worry? – Well that’s the argument they would use against the general public with their spying.

Next steps

ryeats

roy, thank you for this most interesting assessment. what should happen now. should the police investigate this most disgraceful affair. should the editors and their lieutenants be questioned under caution if necessary. how far up does all this go. was mr murdoch himself privy to what happened. did the authorities back away as they were worried they would be taking on a mighty company. political parties require the support of newspapers. did this play a part in the decision to let off the news of the world with a ticking off. if found guilty should such leading people such as mrs wade be dismissed without compensation. the daily telegraph led the way in its stories about members of parliament. now the guardian has reminded us it has a thirst for the truth. if you take off your hat as a professor and resume your former identity as an Editor in the popular press might I ask, did you ever permit your team to acquire information using methods such as those deployed by the news of the world. do you believe news corporation is telling the truth. who is not telling the truth. having worked for the sun did its team ever use such methods. in troubled times like these all of us who value democracy and privacy are grateful for fearless watchdogs such as you.

ahack

In nick davies’ story he mentions that the Guardian’s sister paper also used the services of Steve Whittamore, the private detective used by the NoW. I hope the paper will tell us why ot needed the services of this man, what he did for the paper and whether his employent was snctioned by the editor and indeed the editor-in-chief, alan rusbridger

Phone tapping revelations shows lack of press accountability

In Debate on July 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm

The latest allegations in the News Group phone tapping scandal highlight the chronic lack of accountability in the press.

Not accountable to editors

The editors in the case were keen to assert that they knew nothing of the activities of the individuals involved in phone tapping. Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail (which submitted 952 transactions from 58 journalists through Operation Motorman) told the select committee: “I will be very honest with you, I had not been aware they had been that extensive”.

He went on to say that the practice of paying for data of this sort had stopped and both newspapers and the PCC had ensured proper training so that journalists complied with the law. “I cannot think of more rigorous things we could have done to ensure that all abuses were completely [stopped]”.

The current system of press self-regulation is built on the premise that editors are responsible for the activities of their newspaper. As Peter Hill told the select committee ‘I reprimanded myself because I was responsible’ (for the coverage of the McCann case). However, as Paul Dacre told the committee, “I read the features and the commentary and a lot of the news stories” and “I read more words of my paper than most editors” but it is not possible to read all of the coverage produced by a newspaper.

Not accountable to the PCC

The Press Complaints Commission is not constituted to undertake investigations of this kind. Its constitution establishes it only as a body to resolve and adjudicate on complaints about the code:

“The primary function of the Commission shall be to consider, and adjudicate, conciliate and resolve or settle by reference to the Press Code of Practice . . . complaints from the public of unjust or unfair treatment by newspapers . . .

“It shall also be the function of Commission to consider and pronounce on issues relating to the Code of Practice which the Commission, in its absolute discretion considers to be in the public interests.”

It has a small staff, with no special powers to do this sort of investigation, a small budget (£1.8m) and its purpose is to resolve and adjudicate on complaints against newspapers regarding possible breaches of the code. The PCC was simply unable to investigate this affair with the same rigour as other regulators, even though its investigation was more comprehensive than most of its activities.

Should not be accountable to government

It would be too great a limitation on freedom of expression if government were to regulate the press. The thought of a government regulator being able to fine and jail journalists for investigative reporting is undemocratic. Yet the failings identified in this case give ammunition to those who support more government regulation.

Limited accountability to the law

Everyone is accountable to the law but it is preferable that journalists have as much freedom as possible. The Data Protection Act makes it an offence to gain unauthorised access to confidential databases but carries a public interest defence. However, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (which related to phone tapping) carries no such defence.

Newspapers are already fearful of the growth of media lawyers and the emerging case law around privacy. Any judicial oversight or investigations of newspaper practices could be deeply damaging to fundamental freedoms. The investigation by the Metropolitan Police may be necessary as the law takes its course. However, it is not appropriate for the police to get involved in the business of how newspapers are produced and self-regulation ought to act as a barrier to this sort of action.

As the Media Standards Trust has warned:

“Given the success of recent cases, the legal challenges and precedents will increase, unless the system of regulation is improved to give complainants more effective remedy against invasions of privacy.”

Not accountable to readers

Only two newspapers have independent readers ombudsman, the Guardian and the Observer. No other national newspaper thinks it necessary to appoint someone to represent the interests of the reader to the newspaper. A YouGov poll commissioned by the Media Standards Trust at the end of last year found that 70% of the public believe there are “far too many instances of people’s privacy being invaded by newspaper journalists”. The same poll revealed that 75% of the public now believe ‘newspapers frequently publish stories they know are inaccurate”. Fewer people are buying newspapers each year and few people trust journalists. That would not appear to be sufficient incentive for newspapers to change their behaviour.

Accountable to the profession?

Cases like these are a compelling reason for self-regulation. The difficult balances between privacy and the public interest can be discussed internally, amongst experts and independent representatives. Those in the industry who want to ensure high standards can ensure that all adhere to a clear code of practice. And those that break the rules can be embarrassed in front of their peers. Yet it hasn’t happened in this case. The failure of the industry to hold a newspaper to account weakens the position of supporters of self-regulation.

The importance of reform

The press can continue on the current path of low trust in newspapers with the widespread opinion that journalists do not seek to tell the truth, declining readership, economic crisis and growing intervention from the courts.

Alternatively they can use the opportunity to demonstrate why journalism matters; why the skills of journalism make it more valuable than a opinionated blog; why it’s vital to democracy and why high standards in journalism are essential to being able to entertain, inform and investigate on behalf of their readers.

Self-regulation remains preferable for the press. But it must be made to work or else it will be by-passed by those whose interests are better served by the courts and those who would gladly see a less free press.

Debate around the web

In links on July 7, 2009 at 12:48 pm

City commentator Jeremy Warner believes that the City doesn’t need more regulation. His remarks in the Telegraph are interesting to consider for anyone proposing a change in regulatory structures:

“The establishment of the FSA led to an unprecedented flood of rules and regulations. If all that was required to protect the public from the folly of bankers was more rules, codes of conduct and statements of principle, then the FSA would have been a champion several times over . . . The origins of the banking crisis lie in the very human characteristic that if you take away from people all sense of responsibility for their own actions and instead make conduct enforceable through an externally imposed, all-seeing system of monitoring and rules, then you remove the element of choice that enables organisations and individuals to behave decently as a matter of conscience.

On a similar theme, Guido Fawkes reports that the House of Lords has criticised the bill to create the parliamentary standards authority. He writes:

just as the Queen wanted ‘sentence first – verdict afterwards’, Gordon in Blunderland wants ‘legislation first, consideration afterwards’.

The new chief executive of the ASA has given an interview to Media Guardian. These remarks were particularly interesting for their applicability to the PCC:

“the consequences of not applying the code in such situations would, he says, see “a bit of an arms race between some, although not the majority, of advertisers to run more and more contentious, risque ads”.

Enemies of Reason follows up on the PCC’s adjudication against the Scottish Sunday Express:

“In a judgement that’s particularly stinging even for the PCC, the Express is hauled over the coals. But what punishment has it actually received, other than a pretty stingy smack across the back of the legs? Er, none. Nothing whatsoever. Hooray for an accountable British press!

Roger Cohen has written eloquently in the New York Times of the importance of journalism, drawing on a lecture from Max Weber:

“It’s more fashionable to denigrate than praise the media these days. In the 24/7 howl of partisan pontification, and the scarcely less-constant death knell din surrounding the press, a basic truth gets lost: that to be a journalist is to bear witness.

Angry Mob has compared and contrasted the different reports of national newspapers of the report, released today, by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission into the allocation of housing:

“they use the report to beat immigrants and still insist that they are taking too large a share of social housing.

Update: some interesting comments on Iain Dale’s blog about complaining to the BBC.

What does Peter Hill think of Richard Desmond’s libel action?

In Debate on July 7, 2009 at 9:59 am

The proprietor of the Daily Express, Richard Desmond, is suing investigative journalist Tom Bower for libel. According to Media Guardian the case rests on a paragraph of Mr Bower’s biography of Conrad Black which alleged that Desmond interfered in editorial policy.

Mr Desmond has hired top London legal firm Schillings to represent him in a case that will be heard by Justice Eady.

The culture media and sport select committee will shortly be publishing the findings of its inquiry into press standards, privacy and libel. In particular, the committee was keen to investigate whether the libel laws in the UK were producing a chilling effect on publishers, preventing them from investigating high profile public figures.

Express Newspapers submitted written evidence to the committee and the editor of the Daily Express, Peter Hill, was called to give oral evidence to the committee to assist its inquiry.

Mr Hill told the inquiry:

“You have firms of solicitors now who go to agents of celebrities whose sole object is to run up enormous costs so that they can keep their companies going and celebrities who want to manipulate people’s opinion of them and in many ways create a fake opinion of them.

“We have the most Draconian libel laws in this country and if you do that and it is not true, you are going to get sued. Not only that, you are going to get your Carter-Rucks on the case instantaneously because they have lookouts looking out for this at all times. We do not operate in a situation of impunity. The newspapers in this country have enormous constraints.

Hill proposed that the libel laws should be reformed in order to reduce the restrictions placed on publishers.

“We have the laws of libel which are the most severe in the world . . . If you got to the United States, they have what you could call a free press. We do not have a free press in this country by any means; we have a very, very shackled press in this country. Really you should be looking at means of removing those shackles not imposing more of them, which is what seems to me to be the tone of these discussions. How can we make the press freer? How can we have a free press? A free press is the only bastion that there really is in a democratic society; there is nothing else.”

One wonders then, what Mr Hill must think of his proprietor’s libel action against Mr Bower for defamation.

Debate around the web

In links on July 6, 2009 at 12:54 pm

The PCC has upheld a complaint against the Scottish Sunday Express for an article about survivors of the Dunblane massacre. It ruled:

“Even though the images and information were available freely online, the way they were used – when there was no particular reason for the boys to be in the news – represented a fundamental failure to respect their private lives.”

The thinking of the PCC in relation to social networking is set out in its adjudication. This blog commented on Facebook and privacy challenges for the press earlier today.

David Cameron has called for the abolition of Ofcom, saying that its policymaking functions will be brought into the DCMS. The future of its regulatory role is unclear but presumably it would mean ministers have a closer relationship to broadcasting issues such as harm and offence.

Ofcom has ruled that Jonathan Ross  did not breach its code when he said that “if your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player then you might want to already think about putting him down for adoption in later life, when they settle down with a partner”. The ruling is similar to a ruling by the BBC when it found that Chris Moyles was not in breach for using the word “gay” to mean “not very good”.

The Press Council of Ireland is in dispute with two of its members who failed to publish an adjudication:

“Failure to do so not only flies in the face of the articles of association under which the Press Council has been established, but also may fall to be considered under the Code of Practice, to which all newspaper editors have signed up,” warned Mitchell (the chairman of the council).

Monica Seles has spoken about her battle with an eating disorder in The Guardian. She says that the British press were particularly cruel:

“My heaviest ever was 1997 Wimbledon: my father was very sick, the outfit I had to wear that year didn’t help, I was 35lb overweight. . . . The British press was so unbelievably cruel. And then at press conferences I would have to sit there while these guys who had written about how fat I was asked me questions. And you know sports writers are not necessarily in the best shape themselves. These enormous guys, asking me if I could be in better shape – I mean, look at yourself in the mirror! Don’t be so brutal!”

The Guardian readers editor has written about the Alfie Patten story and its impact on The Guardian in light of the Julie Meyerson report:

“The Guardian’s editor has since agreed to update the paper’s editorial code to cover journalists who write about their children. Among other things, the new provisions contain the advice that, where children are old enough, their consent to publication should be sought, and suggest that editors consider whether children’s identities should be obscured online to protect them from embarrassment or harm as they grow older.”

SepticIsle reports on the PCC’s investigation of the Alfie Patten story:

“Is the PCC a regulator or is it not? A regulator with any teeth would have demanded that the newspapers themselves reveal what was promised, and just how, if the reports of the Sun setting up a trust fund for the child are accurate, it was intending to deliver the payment.”

Alan Duncan MP has criticised some of the journalism around the MPs expenses story – via SkyNews. He calls it: “deceitful journalism of the lowest sort”