Newspapers, Press Freedom And Actually Caring

I made a decision, maybe a resolution, at the beginning of the year to keep more up to date with the news, whether that be via newspapers, online or on the TV.  So far, so OK.  I have learnt, though, that there are certain subjects that have piqued my interest and those that haven’t, which is quite interesting considering a recent story that started in the Daily Mail on Thursday 7th April under the front page headline “Why The Law Is An Ass!“.

The story is about a married couple with children.  They were in an open relationship when one of them had a threesome with two friends.  The couple sought a super injunction, which in England and Wales not only prohibits newspapers and the press (and anyone who else who might knows, except members of Parliament) from publishing the names of those involved, but also the fact that they have sought an injunction at all.

An injunction won’t be granted where the story is “in the public interest” and this provided the crux of the argument at the initial hearing when judge Mr Justice Cranston, accepted that argument saying “It seems to me that having promoted that particular public image [of a matrimonial monogamous commitment] there is a public interest in correcting it when the claimant has engaged in the sort of casual sexual relationships as demonstrated in the evidence.”

Indeed, even the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Code of Conduct for editors supports the exposure of hypocrisy to “protect the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation”.

The Court of Appeal subsequently accepted the claimants’ point that their children’s right to privacy should be protected under article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights and an injunction was granted.

News Group Newspapers, contesting the injunction, said that the couple were “using their kids as an excuse” to prevent disclosure which “stinks” when they spend lots of money cultivating an happy relationship to endorse a consumed product.

“Yet the moment an uncomfortable truth threatens to shake the fans’ trust, they run screaming for an injunction. Whatever happened to the public’s right to know?

This story obviously generates lots of moot points, not least that 323 billion people in the US plus the population of Scotland can find out who this couple is, but the people of England and Wales can’t share it.  It also raises the question of press freedom and public interest and where and when people’s private lives should be protected.

However, I think that one of the saddest indictments that this story has promoted is that certain people see the sex lives of consenting celebrities even as news at all (barring that hypocrisy thing obviously).  What someone does in their free time is up to them as long as it’s not hurting anyone else.

I had similar feelings about the news that British PM David Cameron’s mother had gifted him some money so has to negate death duties.  That gift really isn’t important to me – loads of people exploit the same legal mechanism.  It probably isn’t important to anyone else who just doesn’t want to cause trouble, but where the money came from is important.

It was only in digging a lot that I found the real importance (or should that read “real story of public interest”?) in the story of Archbishop Welby finding out who is real father is.  I thought that that was his own news and not needed to be shared publicly.  The fact that canon law, before it was amended, would have meant that he could not remain in post was not really mentioned.

I’m all for freedom of the press and being able to know everything that is important, but sometimes things aren’t and newspapers and other members of the press should have a responsibility to not only uphold their legal obligations but also to not exaggerate things that don’t really matter.  I might have a right to know, but sometimes I just don’t need to.

Can you hear the sound of the static noise
Blasting out in stereo?
Cater to the class and the paranoid
Music to my nervous system

Advertising love and religion
Murder on the airwaves
Slogans on the brink of corruption
Visions of blasphemy, war and peace
Screaming at you

I can’t see a thing in the video
I can’t hear a sound on the radio
In stereo in the static age

The Static Age by Green Day

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