The Regulated?

25 April 2013

With plummeting sales and the damage caused by the Johann Hari scandal, Chris Blackhurst had his work cut out when he took over as Editor of the Independent in 2011. Perhaps he saw the Leveson Inquiry as a chance to make a name for himself, because he became a frequent figure on the airwaves and signed his paper up to the government’s Royal Charter on the very day it was announced. But he’s cutting an increasingly isolated figure on Fleet Street these days. As the Times (£) puts it this afternoon when reporting news of a rival Royal Charter agreed by newspaper publishers:

‘The Guardian has not declared support for the new charter and The Independent was not consulted about it prior to its publication today.’

Maybe the state regulated ‘Independent’ should consider a change of name?

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  • David Lindsay

    The principle of a Royal Charter has been conceded, then.

    The call for industry representation on a regulatory body could easily be accommodated, and could only happen if there we to be such a body. As could be the desire for trade approval before changes to the Royal Charter, which likewise necessitates that there be one, and which could coexist perfectly well with a further requirement of parliamentary approval. Unless they really do believe that the monarch ought to obey the Press? Perhaps they do.

    The game is up. Rupert Murdoch’s extremely conspicuous absence from Margaret Thatcher’s funeral told the world that he can no longer visit this country for fear of arrest. The Sun is setting fast. The Daily Mail, although it does provide an important platform for broadly or strongly paleoconservative perspectives (the Mail on Sunday, even more so), may yet die of measles, or certainly suffer severe debilitating effects of that disease. One could go on. All in all, the Press is suing for peace.

    Parliamentary sovereignty can now be reasserted, and with it national sovereignty against a highly politicised transnational empire headed by a man who renounced his allegiance to the Queen. Simple “citizens with typewriters”, to use the old-fashioned expression, would not need a Parliamentary Press Gallery. They ought to have to seek tickets to the Public Gallery, like anyone else.

    But the Press are not such simple citizens, nor ought they to be. They are necessarily a privileged class, and need to be reminded of the responsibilities that come with their privileges, as well as of the identity of the body by which those privileges are granted.

    Next up, then, the opening up of the Lobby to all and only those individuals certified by one or more seat-taking Members of either House, and the extension to Members’ staff of the same rights of access as those enjoyed by members of the Lobby. Who is in charge here?

  • MikeF

    When the Independent was founded it was on the premise that it would somehow avoid what was deemed the ‘bias’ of the other broadsheets of the time. However the notion was utterly vacuous and merely – no pun intended – created a vacuum that was filled by a drift to an extreme left(-liberal) perspective that seemed to be driven by the collective prejuduces of its staff rather than by any sort of deliberate editorial policy. The consequence is a publication that is both shrill and pointless.

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