Yesterday, I was in London for two events, both held by Hacked Off. As this blog is a way for me to document ‘journalism training’-and because these events involved journalism, it seemed apt to post about.
Hacked Off are a group campaigning for a free and accountable press; founded in 2011, it works closely with victims of press abuses. Yesterday they were holding two events; one was a panel/lobbying event at a Committee room in Parliament, the other a reception.
Once I got through security, I had to find the committee room-which was in a part of Parliament that I had previously not been in. But the officers were incredibly helpful-they all knew where to go.
Committee room 11 was easy to pick out; there was a stand set up outside, and on entering, you were given two leaflets-one a programme, and the other was about Press regulation. (The programme was not necessarily stuck to in the rigid sense.)
Professor Steven Barnett opened; we were told that there were three panels, and that throughout MP’s would be coming in, in order for us to lobby them. They’d be announced, and you’d go outside, in order to brief them. (I was not impressed with mine; the less said the better.)
Panel One was with Professor Brian Cathcart (he sometimes writes brilliant pieces for Byline), and Professor Justin Schlosberg. This went into the history of press regulation, the Royal Charter, and noting why we were all gathered. (I stepped out at about twenty five to four, so I missed the end.)
Panel Two looked at the current Press regulator, IPSO, and how people are not having their cases heard when a complaint is filed. The people on this panel were Isobel Ingham-Barrow from MEND, Professor Natalie Fenton MRC chair and board member of Hacked Off, and Hugo Dixon, InFacts.
There was a slight diversion, meaning that Panel Three had to be cut in time; however, we heard from a representative of Tom Watson, and Earl Atlee. (I think the latter gave one of the funniest speeches that day-it lightened the mood-and it was so refreshing to see.
Panel Three was Edward Bowles, part of the Hacked Off Board; Paul Dadge, who talked about his experience of press intrusion, and Alastair Morgan. (I reviewed his book a little while ago; I can’t sum up what he had to say in minimal words.)
We also heard from people like Earl Attlee and Baroness Hollins.
I’m still very new to this industry; I also am not particularly educated about the abuses and intrusions that have happened. (For instance, I only remember bits of the phone hacking trial.) But I think it is imperative that Leveson Two goes ahead for the simple reason that these people are not being heard. I do not believe that Hacked Off want to curtail press freedom, as I have been told recently; rather, they want to hold people to account. (Like any good journalist should do!) It was harrowing to hear what had happened-when relatives had been killed, and journalists turned up to doorstep those of the bereaved. There were also accounts of being followed for not taking money, being followed. There have also been admissions in open court of further activity like this. This was insightful for that very reason, and why I signed the petition for Leveson Two. And that’s why I think you should, too. The people here were not rich or famous; they were like you or me. And that’s summed up in the aphorism”People are not the means for a good story, the story should be the means for the people. “