“The crisis in Britain’s journalism goes beyond Britain"
Friday, 13 April 2012 from 12:00 to 14:00 (EDT)
“The crisis in Britain’s journalism goes beyond Britain
(or, why that which interests the public is increasingly not in the Public Interest)”
A discussion on the implications of the recent British press scandals for the ethics, regulation and future of journalism in the UK and the US.
Chair: Tim Gardam, Principal, St Anne’s College, Oxford, Chair, Reuters Institute Steering committee
- Chrystia Freeland, Editor, Thomson Reuters Digital
- Nicholas Lemann, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University
- John Lloyd Director of Journalism, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
The inquiry into the British tabloids (the Leveson Inquiry) has shone light on to very dark deeds: bribery of police, bribery of civil servants, hacking into mobile phones, blackmail of contacts, harassment of citizens, blatant lying both to the subjects of stories and in the journalism itself, the deliberate destruction of reputations and an apparently endless stream of revelations of sexual infidelity.
These were the tactics of Britain’s most popular newspapers over several decades. They produced a journalism of which even now some tabloid journalists are proud; and debased every proclaimed ideal of independent journalism, and every code of editorial behaviour – including that of the Press Complaints Commission, which the newspaper editors had created to deal with issues arising from their coverage.
Britain has been proud of its press, including of its popular press – the first national popular press in the world. How will its journalists revalue that reputation: and what will they, and the authorities, do to change it?
Beyond the UK, the issues the affair arises are common to many. These are the rights of privacy vs. the need to hold public persons to account; the retention of a popular press; the need (or not) for, and the structure of, a press regulator.
Will the profitable conjunction of gossip, celebrity and sex shift to the internet (see the success of Gawker)? Will the concerns about, and efforts to preserve, private lives, especially of the famous, simply become impossible? How far have the British tabloids blazed a trail which can only get broader?
And will the decline of the popular (as well as the mid/upmarket newspaper) newspaper, mean that all news apart from broadcast news become niche? Will there no longer be a written form of news and current affairs journalism which encompasses a country’s majority?
These and other questions will be debated at this event. They couldn’t be more timely.
A sandwich lunch and refreshments will be served at 12.00, the debate will start at 12.30