Brian Leveson – the English judge who presided over the UK media inquiry – has come to the colonies to lecture us on the rule of law and the evils of bloggers.
If the media in general and journalists in particular see the law going unenforced against those who blog and tweet, might this undermine media standards through encouraging them to adopt a casual approach to the law?
Lawlessness in one area may infect other areas. It may then lead to a more generally casual approach to ethical news-gathering by journalists; one which was less and less likely to approach that role within the boundaries set by the civil, and the criminal, law.
This effect may not be a direct one, in that it might not lead journalists to run stories online in breach of injunctions. Rather it might lead to journalists adopting an approach that was less than scrupulous in the pursuit of stories. In order to steal a march on bloggers and tweeters, they may be tempted to cut corners, to break or at least bend the law to obtain information for stories or to infringe privacy improperly to the same end. It may encourage unethical and, potentially, unlawful practices to get a story.
Shocking! Blogging has led to a decline in journalistic standards. I’m so ashamed.
I love the “Lawlessness in one area may infect other areas” line. It’s true – yet I don’t see Leveson arguing how the progressive income tax leads to high levels of tax evasion. Funny that.
The bottom line is this: Leveson is an enemy of free speech as this clip makes clear.
Here is part of the exchange between Michael Gove and Leveson.
If the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advanced Journalism were to have a UK speaker address them on these issues I’d have thought Michael Gove and not Leveson would have been more appropriate.
Update: Leveson defends himself here.
Make up your own mind. I’m underwhelmed.