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Phone-hacking: What the scandal means for journalism

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Phone-hacking: What the scandal means for journalism

Pritchard says the inquiry has revealed "the failure of ethical behaviour and self-regulation in the British media.

"These powerful newspapers had been party to a system that could deliver no more than a slap over the wrist and an obligation to publish an adjudication. There were no financial sanctions if you broke the rules. The press watchdog had no teeth to bite. It could not claim to be a regulator. It policed a perfectly sensible code of practice for journalists but was never given the power to adequately punish those who breached it."

He raises the questions of self-regulation and readers' editors:

"I fear that the public and our politicians will not allow this to be left purely to the law. The press in Britain needs to be seen to be putting its own house in order; after all, all the major professions –medicine, the law, engineering – have their own regulatory bodies, so why shouldn't journalism have one too? And crucially, our brothers and sisters in broadcasting have had statutory obligations for years. What's so special about the printed word?

"The Organization of News Ombudsmen spends a lot of time and energy in outreach work, particularly in parts of the world where the press is still developing. I have to say that I believe that Britain desperately needs some outreach. It's no accident that I am one of only two working ombudsmen in the British press. A culture of transparency and accountability simply does not exist in Fleet Street.

"Editors who say they cannot afford to appoint a readers' editor – a mediator between the newspaper and its audience with the independence to resolve complaints, publish corrections and comment on the paper's journalism – need to ask themselves whether they can afford to be without one."

Read Pritchard's full speech below.

Leveson Inquiry


Terra Tailleur


2012-09-04 15:55

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