Monday, 25 July 2011

Lewd Leadership

The phone hacking scandal, a boil that has finally burst, runs the risk of missing a central point about how the media provides leadership for our country and our culture. In the case of News of the World, and several other newspapers, they realise that "sex sells" and celebrity sex sells more. So a good number of their stories "out" the private sexual exploits of the rich and famous, celebrities and politicians. They pander to base human instincts and debase our culture in the process: they provide lewd leadership.
Until now the political powers have been feeble in their response, despite the Human Rights Act, which states:
  1. "the right to respect for private ... life"
  2. "freedom from ... degrading treatment"
  3. "the right to liberty"
  4. "freedom of assembly and association"
  5. "the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property" (including mobile phones?)
  6. "the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms" (celebrities v general public)
To increase the quality of the leadership that the media provide I think it is essential that we curtail their power to exploit and manipulate, while strengthening the sector as a whole. After all, investigative journalists do some good stuff, but enquiries are often expensive with uncertain rewards.
One way of limiting lewd leadership would be to use the Human Rights Act, perhaps as a class action. Another is to limit media monopolies.
To strengthen print news (including electronic print) perhaps we should be considering some sort of financial support from our taxes: despite not paying VAT, some papers run at a loss. Perhaps we should also curtail the BBCs involvement in web-print and focus their attentions on iPlayer services instead, so that newspapers can better compete on the Web and Kindle.
(This post from January comments on phone hacking.)

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