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 Rosemary Westwood - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 1:57 PM - 0 Comments
The findings of the Leveson inquiry may alter coverage of the most anticipated baby since William himself
As soon as the royal baby story hit the wires, up popped the “live coverage” feeds on the Guardian and Telegraph news sites.
It’s the “only story that anybody on the royal beat is going to be working on for the next nine months,” declared the Telegraph’s Gordon Rayner. He predicted “feverish” coverage of the pregnancy before pronouncing it “the most anticipated baby since Prince William himself.”
But even as reporters and camera crews huddled outside the hospital where Kate was being treated for extreme morning sickness, anxious for more news (William leaving the building was about as dramatic as it got), British MPs were busy debating a controversial plan to reel in the more zealous members of the press.
The Leveson report calls for greater scrutiny of the media through a new independent regulatory body, backed up by legislation. It stems from the Leveson inquiry, the government’s response to the British phone-hacking scandal. Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed the idea of a low-cost body to handle libel disputes, levy fines and even demand apologies. But, wary of too much legislative meddling, he dumped the file onto the desks of Fleet Street editors. Come up with a plan, he warned them, or expect a new press law. Continue…
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…