All those Zelo Street regulars who have followed the struggles by press reform campaigners, and victims of press misbehaviour, to put in place a system of press regulation that serves the wider public - rather than just the rich few who can afford to take the miscreants to the cleaners - will be familiar with the claim that the press establishment would, if the Leveson proposals were enacted, be subject to “State Regulation”.
The cross-party Royal Charter on press regulation, which the press initially ridiculed, then tried to mimic by putting forward their own (unsuccessful) version of it, before reverting to denigration and misrepresentation, would, their readers were told, mean a loss of 200 years of alleged press freedom. It would entail censorship (it wouldn’t, but hey ho). And it would probably cause parts of hacks’ and editors’ anatomy to drop off.
Thus the press establishment made it crystal clear that Government should have no role in telling media organisations what they should or should not say or do. The Duke of Wellington’s maxim - “Publish and be damned” - should endure. But that same press establishment also does a good line in rank hypocrisy, and so it has come to pass that they have decreed that some media organisations are more equal than others.
The News Media Association, which as any fule kno is a front for the press establishment, has decided to take the heat off its members’ often questionable behaviour by telling the Government it should “look over there” at online information sources. As Press Gazette has told, “Government told by UK news publishers it must tackle Facebook/Google duopoly to stop fake news”. State regulation is suddenly back in fashion!
Do go on: “UK news publishers have urged the Government to tackle the Google/Facebook ‘duopoly’ in order to stop fake news becoming a major problem in the UK … The News Media Association made the recommendation in its response to a Parliamentary inquiry into the issue of fake news, entirely fabricated stories which appear online”.
That would be as opposed to the Sun/Mail “duopoly” which drives the agenda of so many other media outlets - including broadcasters - and which generates a significant amount of Fake News - yes, entirely fabricated stories, except they appear in print, which still carries more heft with the consumer. You think I jest? Check out the Sun’s “Queen Backs Brexit” or “Court Jezter”, or the Mail’s “We’re From Europe - Let Us In”. All Fake News.
Yet the press doesn’t seem to get it: “The NMA believes that Google and Facebook need to face up to their responsibilities for spreading and profiting from fake news”. How about the press face up to its responsibilities for doing the same thing? And look what comes next: “And it has also called for a shake-up of rules governing automated online advertising so that advertisers can know where their money is being spent”.
That’s the same press that has been screaming the house down over campaigns like Stop Funding Hate. The hypocrisy is so blatant, one wonders if the NMA and its paymasters bothered to stop and think beforehand (doubtful).
The press establishment - stuck in its arrogant “do as we say, not as we do” rut, along with its ridiculous sense of entitlement. Pass the sick bucket.