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Thursday 1st November 2012 | 09:50
Hacked Off press release
Some of the UK’s most senior and respected academics have today rejected plans put forward by the newspaper industry for continued self-regulation of the press.
In a letter published in today’s Financial Times, 26 of the country’s leading professors in journalism, law and politics express their opposition to the proposals being advanced by Lord Hunt and Lord Black, arguing that their scheme is “an attempt to perpetuate self-regulation by editors, an approach that has been shown over nearly 60 years to have failed both journalists and newspaper readers”.
Newspapers owners and editors recently launched a “Free Speech Network”, a coalition of publishing groups claiming that freedom of speech would somehow be imperilled by making newspapers more accountable.
But the letter, endorsed by free-speech advocates, distinguished former journalists, and educators on Britain’s leading journalism courses, demonstrates that the newspapers’ argument is not supported by independent academics. They urge all those interested in promoting a “healthy, fair and free press” to reject the industry’s proposals and await the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.
Coming in the wake of two separate polls showing that the vast majority of the general public does not trust the industry to regulate itself, this letter from some of Britain’s most eminent scholars in the field is further evidence of the industry’s isolation.
The letter and full list of signatories is below:
We are free speech advocates and senior educators of law and journalism students in British universities and we write to express our opposition to proposals for a new self-regulatory body for the press that have been put forward by Lord Hunt, the chair of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), and Lord Black, the chair of the Press Standards Board of Finance. We do not believe these proposals to be in the best interests of journalists and journalism. The Hunt-Black scheme is an attempt to perpetuate self-regulation by editors, an approach that has been shown over nearly 60 years to have failed both journalists and newspaper readers – a failure that led to the establishment of the Leveson Inquiry. While the new scheme incorporates some features not seen in the discredited PCC, we believe these changes are insufficient to promote good journalism or to protect the public from the kinds of abuses highlighted so vividly in evidence to Lord Justice Leveson. We urge all parties interested in a healthy, fair and free press to reject the Hunt-Black proposals and to await the judge’s recommendations, which are due in the coming weeks.
Prof Stuart Allen, Professor of Journalism, University of Bournemouth
Prof Steven Barnett, Professor of Communications, University of Westminster
Prof John Corner, Visiting Professor in Communications Studies, University of Leeds
Prof James Curran, Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London
Prof Mike Feintuck, Professor of Law, University of Hull
Prof Natalie Fenton, Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London
Prof Matthew Flinders, Professor of Politics, University of Sheffield
Prof Chris Frost, Professor of Journalism, Liverpool John Moores University
Prof Ivor Gaber, Research Professor in Media and Politics, University of Bedfordshire
Prof Thomas Gibbons, Professor of Law, University of Manchester
Prof Ian Hargreaves, Professor of Digital Economy, Cardiff University
Prof Jackie Harrison, Professor of Public Communication, University of Sheffield
Prof David Hutchison, Visiting Professor in Media Policy, Glasgow Caledonian University
Prof Justin Lewis, Professor of Communication, Cardiff University
Prof Joni Lovenduski, Professor of Politics, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Tim Markham, Reader in Journalism and Media, Birkbeck, University of London
Prof Maire Messenger Davies, Professor of Media Studies, University of Ulster
Prof Graham Murdock, Professor of Culture and Economy, Loughborough University
Prof Ralph Negrine, Professor of Political Communication, University of Sheffield
Prof Julian Petley, Professor of Screen Media, Brunel University
Prof Greg Philo, Professor of Communications, University of Glasgow
Prof Richard Sambrook, Professor of Journalism, Cardiff University
Prof Philip Schlesinger, Professor in Cultural Policy, University of Glasgow
Prof Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History, University of Westminster
Prof Frank Webster, Professor of Sociology, City University
Prof Lorna Woods, Professor of Law, City University