Why Regulating the Press is Not the Answer.


We were all shocked. The hacking scandal was huge. Celebrities, Politicians, Businesspeople and most tragically of all, the parents of a dead girl, were all hacked.

You’ll hear a lot that clearly this shows that our press is out of control, that it needs to be regulated. Friends, the press never needs to be regulated – it is an important bastion of freedom of speech, of freedom of expression. I was horrified as the next man when I read about the hacking of the parents of Milly Dowler, my initial reaction was that something needed to be done about it, that clearly the organisations responsible had to be regulated.

But then I thought about it. What we have to bare in mind is that it is only some journalists hacking and doing other disgraceful things, and then we have to bare in mind that the law already has rules against hacking. It is illegal and those who hack phones will go to jail.

Over the last 15 years regulation of our freedoms has gone mad. Slowly but surely we have watched one of our key freedoms – the freedom of speech being eroded. No longer. Those journalists who do illegal things should be punished for it. Editors who encourage this sort of journalism should be punished for it. Currently the law will punish these people, and because of that it is my firm opinion that the press does not need regulating.

Regulation is a step in the direction of a press controlled by the state; this is the country of free press. When the German and Russian press was still tightly controlled by the state 100 years ago our press was allowed to freely report; now is not the time to take a step backwards.

It is awful when people are abused and some journalists- perhaps entire companies- have abused innocent people with phone hacking. Those people should go to jail and laws are in place to ensure they do, now it is all down to the judges and the police. Government should not pass regulatory legislation, that is not necessary. If we value our freedoms, and we must, then it is vitally important to allow the press to report freely. I will leave you with a quote by Benjamin Franklin which I believe is particularly appropriate for this issue – “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”


Discussion4 Comments

  1. avatar

    So you don’t want to regulate journalism because this might give the state too much power. And also there’s no need because the state can imprison journalists who break its laws.

    I think you might need to consider a slight tension above.

    Regulation is not inherently dangerous. For the past 100 years of press freedom that you cherish so much our newspapers have been subject to thousands of regulations. What you need to do is tell us why the specific regulations proposed are problematic.

  2. avatar

    ‘Regulation is a step in the direction of a press controlled by the state; this is the country of free press’. Since when were we the country of the free press? Super injunctions are just one example of how we’re not.

    You’re peddling some romanticised image and then comparing it to failed dictatorships of nearly a century ago. It’s the standard logical fallacy of going from one extreme to the other. Try again.

    There is a completely rational middle ground with *some* regulation which would prevent this. Journalistic best practice isn’t to be confused with state censorship.

  3. avatar

    The inotrpamt stories during the hacking/spying years werent milly dowler or the soham murders it was dr. kellys odd death….blairs relationship with bush…iraq…robin cookes resignation and death, 7/7 and mi5s odd behaviour, labour mps being pedophiles and blairs d-notices to the press…. i think the loose cannon rebekah brookes is holding some nuclear bombs on big people…. i reckon she will be 100% protected or will have an assisted suicide courtesy of mi5/mossad… dr.kelly style!

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