One major event to watch for today is the release of the Leveson Inquiry Report, a 2,000 page document that is the result of over a year of research into “the culture, practice and ethics” of the British press and which could have major negative effects on it. One outcome of the report, the possible creation of statutory regulations for the British media, has already seen one newspaper, The Spectator, announce it will disregard any implemented rules:
Today, laws intended to stop the worst excesses of the tabloids could end by exerting a chilling effect on the rest of press. Once parliament has granted itself such powers, it can be counted on to expand them later. The language being used by the enemies of press freedom in Britain today is positively Orwellian: the state should merely ‘guarantee independence’ of the press regulator. The idea of benign ‘statutory regulation’ was advocated by MPs in 1952 and The Spectator vigorously opposed it then, too. ‘Everyone who really understands what freedom of the press means and cares about it,’ we argued, ‘must resist such a proposal to the uttermost.’
That is what The Spectator will now do. If the press agrees a new form of self-regulation, perhaps contractually binding this time, we will happily take part. But we would not sign up to anything enforced by government. If such a group is constituted we will not attend its meetings, pay its fines nor heed its menaces. We would still obey the (other) laws of the land. But to join any scheme which subordinates press to parliament would be a betrayal of what this paper has stood for since its inception in 1828.
The report is scheduled to be released at 1:30 p.m. GMT, or 7:30 a.m. US Central Standard Time. Follow the proceedings on Twitter by searching for #leveson.