That blue booklet is something the British press have feared since the start of the Leveson Inquiry- the final report.
However now that the Leveson Report is out, loud, and proud we journalists can take a deep breath.
So what are the suggestions made by Lord Justice Leveson, the suggestions which have taken several months to come up with?
Well to be brutally honest, they are what was predicted and we will not be having to hand in our notepads just yet like naughty school kids handing in homework for correction.
“The press have been urged to take action over Leveson Inquiry recommendations to regulate the newspaper industry,” reported the BBC.
From a glance the outcome looks somewhat scary. The word regulation rings alarm bells but relax it is self-regulation, something that the British press is already used to.
It was said, by Leveson, that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) have been weak in regulating the press if it ever saw regulation as its duty.
It has been recommended for a new independent self-regulation body to be created with no connection to the governement, politicians or industry leaders.
“It will still be marking its own homework,” said Lord Leveson.
This will aim in promoting high standards in the industry and have the ability to investigate into journalism findings. It will be backed with legislation yet is said to enshrine through this legislation to promote ‘freedom of the press.’
This to me is slightly ironic we have freedom, through legislation that are in other words binding rules? Once legislation is created it will be reformed, and reformed and eventually overrid journalist’s right to freedom of the press, something that has existed for more than 300 years.
Newspapers do have the right to refuse to join this regulator body however if they do they face direct regulation from the media watchdog Ofcom – an organization that no company wants to hear from, as they enforce strict watchdog authority over media communications.
There will also be a hotline for journalists who feel that they are being put in unethical positions. I personally think this is a great idea. Newspaper codes of ethics are not set in stone, as we can see from past they say they have standards but there are a number who don’t and will go that extra unethical mile to get stories to sell papers.
This is when it becomes a dilemma for journalists – do they do what their editor is telling them to do or do they risk their job to keep their ethical standards? Now they have somewhere to vent those concerns and make a decision.
There was no evidence in the report that there was police corruption however some relationships were criticized for police officials being too close to editors and workers at newspapers.
It was concluded by Leveson that politicians had developed a relationship with the press that was too close and it had damaged the perception of public affairs. In particular the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron were criticized in being too close with the Murdoch media empire- but let’s be honest what pies doesn’t Murdoch have his fingers in.
However I think the greatest, most hopeful and optimistic outline given by Leveson is for the press to show some decency – stop laughing and read on…
It was noted that the press behavior while chasing certain stories of celebrities and the public to gain stories was “outrageous” and that the media should be more respectful to the subjects of their stories.
That is all very well but don’t we already know this is a problem? Isn’t this why when I tell someone I’m a trainee journalist they give me a look like I’ve handed them a dead cat and say “oh well I will remember never to tell you anything” or “you have to be nasty to be a journalist”.
I by no means support bad journalism, and when I say bad I meal malicious, hurtful, and distasteful actions towards innocent people- such as haking phones of the suspected dead (which was the starting point of the Inquiry).
The victims of interrogated journalism have mixed views on the Leveson report. Gerry McCann, father of Madeline McCann the missing girl in 2007 said that the “Leveson report does not go far enough.” He and his wife were subject to reports that they, themselves had killed Madeline when newspapers had no evidence.
Christopher Jeffries the landlord who was accused, but was not guilty, of murdering Johanna Yates by numerous newspapers had sued for damages. He said that it was hard to measure decency in the press however thought that the Leveson report was sufficient enough to make good changes to the workings of the press.
I personally am happy with the outcome. Right now, I think it will make little change to the way journalists report. Some regulation will be beneficial as the industry will be able to establish a boundary of what is acceptable and what is not. However legislation scares me in the way that it will only get tougher, and only more restricted in what we can report on.
I certainly do not want to see legislation that restricts us on holding government accountable- this is an extremely important aspect of journalism.
Overall I think that Leveson’s suggestions are somewhat wishy-washy with little difference to the model we have now.
It feels like journalists have just been handed a bad school report, a slap on the wrists and a lesson to be nicer.
This won’t be the last time we have a huge issue like this- the changes are too small to make a difference.
Watch the Leveson Report on its official website
Follow Leveson Inquiry – @Levesoninquiry
What does the Prime Minister think? Watch here.