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Press Release

Press Releases

Hacked Off: Senior academics reject press industry plans for self-regulation

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



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