I've just had a look at the transcript of Dacre's submission to the seminar stage of the Leveson enquiry.http://hackinginquiry.org/news/paul-dac ... y-seminar/
It's an abrasive performance, arrogant, not really seeing the need for change. There's a lot of 'not us m'lud, it was the other boys' about it, and of course the announcement that the Mail would have a small corrections corner - as though that makes everything OK.
I unequivocally condemn phone hacking and payments to the police. Such practices are a disgrace and have shocked and shamed us all.
Really? So why didn't you print any stories about it? Why did you criticise the Guardian for sticking with the story? How come Motorman found that the Mail titles had used private investigators more than any other newspaper, including the NotW - a fact you still have yet to publish?
They need to be purged from journalism and reforms instigated to prevent such criminal activities ever happening again.
We'll come back to that, but essentially the 'reforms' will be bigger corrections after the event.
But let’s keep all this in proportion. Britain’s cities weren’t looted as a result. No-one died. The banks didn’t collapse because of the News of the World. Elected politicians continued to steal from the people they were paid to represent.
Well, of course, this is the oldest 'schoolboy defence' - you can't punish me because someone else did something worse. Note also the first Dacre Obsession - politicians, always seen as venal, corrupt and dishonest.
The nation didn’t go to war. Yet the response has been a judicial inquiry with greater powers than those possessed by the public inquiries into the Iraq war – an inquiry, incidentally, that includes a panel of experts who – while honourable distinguished people – don’t have the faintest clue how mass-selling newspapers operate.
So he is saying here that because the 'panel' has no tabloid editors or proprietors on it their recommendations will automatically be flawed. Like me, you might think that having red-top editors on the panel would inevitably lead to special pleading and watering down of changes, but hey - I've never edited a newspaper so I'm not allowed to have an opinion on ethics. That's really what he's saying. Incredible arrogance.
Indeed, am I alone in detecting the rank smells of hypocrisy and revenge in the political class’s current moral indignation over a British press that dared to expose their greed and corruption – the same political class, incidentally, that, until a few weeks ago, had spent years indulging in sickening genuflection to the Murdoch press.
There's that love of the 'political classes' - you have to wonder where such hatred came from. Could it be that he's a frustrated failed politician?
the political class’s current obsession with clamping down on the press is contiguous with the depressing fact that the newspaper industry is in a sick financial state. Several of our quality papers are losing awesome amounts of money. More worrying, Britain’s proud provincial and local press – currently subject to closures, mergers and swingeing cuts – is arguably facing the severest challenges.
This diminishes our democracy. Courts go uncovered. Councils aren’t held to account. And the corrupt go unchallenged. That is a democratic deficit that in itself is worthy of an inquiry.
Here he is actually saying that if the press is regulated (remember the regulation we are talking about is that they will be prevented from illegally accessing private information except where there is a public interest defence) (and not lying) we will damage democracy, because the papers are losing money and it must therefore be through hacking, blagging and lying that they sell enough papers to stay afloat. In fact the courts and councils going uncovered goes back many years (see Flat Earth News) and is attributable to the removal of all motives except profit - of which Dacre is the most extreme example. Someone should have asked him how many journalists Associated Newspapers have cut from local papers in the last 15 years. None of which have been accused of wrongdoing.
The Data Protection Act means that reporters can be criminalised for such basic journalist practices as obtaining ex-directory numbers which they need to do to check stories are accurate.
They can be 'criminalised' (interesting term) for engaging in criminal acts, he means. He then goes on to tar privacy laws and no-win no-fee legal cases. In effect he wants the press to be able to operate above the law.
Meanwhile the Bribery Act – in which there’s no public interest defence – makes it illegal to pay a civil servant for information that could reveal corruption and, indeed, would have prevented The Telegraph from paying for the material confirming MPs’ fraud.
An argument in favour of bribery and corruption. Not something you see every day. Of course, the Telegraph could still have had its information, if the source had believed enough in what they were doing to part with it free of charge - the essence of whistleblowing. Whistleblowing for money has other names.
My last paradox is that this demand for greater press regulation comes at a time when more and more of the information that people want to read is being provided by an utterly unregulated and arguably anarchic internet.
Dacre doesn't get the internet, hence his pejorative comments. In fact large chunks are regulated under communications law, and of course he can always take on anyone he doesn't like. Oh, he has? Apart from pinching copy and pictures.
the PCC was naïve
Fell off the sofa giggling at that one.
it is vital that the good work of the PCC, helping vulnerable people obtain protection and redress, without compromising freedom of expression, is not lost.
He's playing it for laughs, now. Jan Moir? PCC can't act on behalf of 3rd parties or the dead. Quite.
Some way must be found to compel all newspaper owners to fund and participate in self-regulation.
God knows, the industry fought hard enough to prevent it, but the Express Group’s decision to leave the PCC was a body blow to the commission. How can you have self-regulation when a major newspaper group unilaterally withdraws from it?
Dog eating dog?
My own view is that as long as the code is observed and no law is broken, papers should be free to publish what they believe is best for their markets.
Quite apart from the breathtaking gall, that is significant. Newspapers no longer have readers whom they interest and inform, they have markets from which they draw revenue.
Over the past month, I have read calls by so-called academic experts for the licensing of journalists and the need for a regulator with supervisory powers over the press, to set and monitor standards and have the right – backed by the force of the law – to conduct spot checks on newspaper offices and seize equipment and evidence.
My own response to these experts is that they should emigrate to Zimbabwe.
Doesn't do irony, does he?
A bravura performance, certainly, and the clearest I have seen for essentially maintaining the status quo because it works so well, if you can just stop the PCC from being so annoyingly naive. He also advocates a press ombudsman, but it's hard to see how that position would do anything other than confuse matters vis-a-vis the PCC.
Have a read, see what you think.