Debate Magazine

Press Regulation Deal Fails to Tackle Demonisation of Communities

Posted on the 20 March 2013 by Lesterjholloway @brolezholloway

leveson-2I wrote last December about the need to regulate against press racism so its’ disappointing to see that the issues is still being largely ignored by MPs.

Much of the raging debate surrounding regulation and Leveson is about how the cross-party deal will work, whether it will inhibit press freedom, and whether this includes bloggers. Meanwhile, as editors discuss whether they will sign up to the agreement, the Spectator has declared it won’t sign.

I have my doubts over the deal but contrary to fears that it will over-regulate it looks to me like it will hardly be any different from the current paper tiger of the discredited Press Complaints Commission.

We might get larger-sized corrections to inaccurate stories but many of today’s issues appear to be unaddressed.

Even though Leveson devoted significant attention to the way some newspapers demonised whole groups in society, particularly Muslims and asylum seekers, this appears to have been ignored by MPs and the media when it comes to discussing press regulation.

Failure of the party leaders and MPs to tackle inaccurate reporting against whole communities, as opposed to individuals, is a gaping hole in the proposals.

Roy Greenslade, writing in the Guardian, highlighted another issue missing from the discourse when he wrote:

Representation and equality issues should be part of journalism training, and schools encouraged to explore critical thinking and education about the media; the press industry needs to encourage women to take up senior posts in the print media; and the public, academics and campaign groups should insist that any new regulator does indeed act on Leveson’s recommendation to take complaints from third parties.”

While Green MP Caroline Lucas has criticised the failure to include any guidelines about women’s representation on the new regulatory body, especially in light of the sexism often displayed by the red top tabloids, a point also made by gender equality campaigner Jackie Hunt on BBC Radio 4′s Women’s Hour.

Equality is clearly off the agenda when it comes to Leveson, even if it was on Leveson’s own agenda. Let’s hope that the new body at least put in place some measures to address these issues, particularly the demonisation of whole communities.

By Lester Holloway @brolezholloway

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