By Leah McLaren - Friday, December 14, 2012 - 0 Comments
Why the Leveson inquiry put the romcom star in the spotlight
During the months of political caterwauling and public outrage over the U.K.’s phone-hacking affair—in which reporters intercepted the cellphone calls and voicemails of celebrities, politicians and even a missing girl—and its buttoned-down cousin, the Leveson inquiry, which looked into the scandal, a dazzling new activist has stepped onto the public stage. His name is Hugh Grant and he wants you to know that just because he’s taken up a cause, he’s not political. “I’m often asked why I keep banging on about the press,” he said in a recent article for The Spectator. “Am I a lefty? I’m not. I’m not a righty, either. I drift.”
Indeed, the film star’s involvement is more personal. He wants press regulation and he wants it now. Like most British celebrities, he has been repeatedly doorstepped and harassed by the tabloid press. (Last fall, the mother of his child, Tinglan Hong, was forced to take out an injunction against paparazzi after she and Grant’s baby were reportedly besieged by photographers and phone calls at home.) But unlike most celebrities, Grant is willing to exert the entire force of his charisma and fame to get it. He’s done so, not just by testifying at the Leveson inquiry, as many other celebrities did—singer Charlotte Church, actors Sienna Miller, Jude Law and Steve Coogan, to name a few—but by attending party conferences and going on TV and radio. He’s also written editorials for whomever will publish him on the subject about which he is suddenly so passionate: the need for British media to “put right its past wrongs” by submitting to regulation by an independent body underpinned by government authority.
This last issue has become the sticking point in a debate currently raging in the U.K. Parliament, where a draft bill on the matter is now under way. The 2,000-page Leveson report, released last month, recommends the creation of such a body to govern press standards in the U.K. Among its powers would be setting fines and mandating more prominent apologies or corrections.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 12:20 AM - 0 Comments
Phone hacking, now pedophilia. The Imperfectionists author Tom Rachman dissects the U.K. media mess.
As the BBC hyperventilates over grave mistakes in its news coverage, an earlier media scandal prepares to sting anew. The government-ordered Leveson inquiry, prompted by charges of criminal mischief at British tabloids, is expected to issue recommendations this month—perhaps calling for legal curbs on press freedom, a prospect of distress to journos and delight to their targets.
The British press—often dubbed “raucous,” apparently as a compliment—has a tradition of wit and wilfulness, from Samuel Johnson to George Orwell to Christopher Hitchens. Publications investigate boldly, comment amusingly. But there’s oodles of rubbish too, some obtained by dubious means that have included impersonating a sheik and, it is alleged, illegally accessing the voicemail of crime victims and celebrities.
The actor Hugh Grant, enraged by intrusive tabloid reporting, has become a prominent advocate of press regulation. “We’re not the wicked Goliath of the establishment taking on the plucky David of the press,” he wrote recently in The Spectator. “It’s the other way round. They are the establishment. They have effectively run the country for the past 40 years. They are Goliath. We need help.” Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 8:10 AM - 0 Comments
In January, the Globe and Mail appointed longtime editor and correspondent Sylvia Stead its first “public editor”. What say we pause right there, before we go any further? The job of “public editor” is one most closely associated with the New York Times, which has had five different people doing the job since it created a post with that title in 2003—soon after the Jayson Blair fabrication scandal. The function of the public editor at the Times, as the title suggests, is to advocate for journalism ethics, fairness, and proper practice on behalf of the paper’s readership, dealing with concerns and challenges as they arise.
To that end, the Times—quite naturally, one would think—has always recruited people for the job who haven’t been associated with the Times for their entire adult lives, but who do have some knowledge of journalism and non-fiction practice. The first Times public editor was Daniel Okrent, a legendary book and magazine editor. The new one, Margaret Sullivan, has been associated with the Warren Buffett-owned Buffalo News since 1980.
The Times is probably careful about this because it created the “public editor” job in the wake of a serious credibility crisis. It could ill afford to choose somebody who had grown up in the Times cocoon and was an irrecoverable permanent hostage to old friendships, work relationships, and office politics. In fact, it would be fair for you, dear reader, to ask the question “Why would you?” Why wouldn’t you hire someone with some independent standing to represent the public, if you were serious about it?
Well: those last six words bring us to Ms. Stead’s remarkable papal bull, published Friday, concerning Globe columnist Margaret Wente. Continue…