Lord Justice Brian Leveson, chairman of the UK’s recent press inquiry, gave a speech last night in Melbourne entitled ”Hold the Front Page: News Gathering in a Time of Change.”
Leveson’s speech focussed on the effects that the internet has had on the media. He made the point that the established media is slowly moving online to compete with “bloggers and Tweeters.” He also decried the internet as being like the “wild west” because of how difficult it can be to enforce the law online. But the most concerning parts of his speech were in relation to what should be done about it.
Leveson is clearly a fan of giving government more power over the media. But his speech indicates that he would prefer to go one (giant) step further. Apparently, individual governments each with their own media regulation regimes is just not quite good enough. His main gripe was that there are no internationally agreed standards. According to Leveson, this allows media companies to move from one jurisdiction to another to escape regulation. But that’s the great thing about not living under a global government – it leads to innovation as countries make their regulations more efficient in an attempt to compete for investment.
Presumably these international standards would require a global media regulator but I can’t imagine Australia and Turkmenistan coming to an agreement on a uniform set of media standards. (Well, perhaps under the current government.)
These ideas have been discredited over and over but still we get supposedly serious people like Leveson asking us to consider them once again. Some of us prefer freedom.
The text of Leveson’s speech can be found here.