Here’s Kelly’s Rule: The amount of squealing and bleating by newspapers about the government bringing in statutory controls of the press is directly proportional to the need. Remarkably, newspapers will have to sign up to the controls which is a major loophole.
For years the press has ridden roughshod over everything that caught it’s eye with nary a thought for the consequences (except a wary acknowledgement of defamation laws which most people are too poor to use). One has only to follow the current phone hacking trial to see how extensive the abuse has been – and for how long.
Crucially, will we be worse off once there are controls? Will newspapers be less likely to report on things they have been able to report on hitherto (eg, MPs’ expenses)? No, we won’t be worse off because now we have the Internet with a variety of ways to inform us.
The controls are A Good Thing – alas, the Daily Mail is unlikely to go bust – but it might calm down – and the controls won’t cover BBC news which should be given to the Guardian so there is finally no pretence over where BBC journalist’s sympathies lie.