Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Dear Mr. Cameron: Regulate this

Posted on | July 8, 2011 | 2 Comments

One of the most stunning pieces of media news in our times is being followed with another piece of stunning news.

News Corp. announced this week that it is shutting down the 168-year-old News of the World newspaper in an attempt to limit the damage from the publication’s involvement in hacking into citizens’ phones for stories.

There are any number of perspectives as to what it all means. Mine is pretty simple:

Murdoch’s got stones. I will admit (I’m sure to sound and fury) that I admire Murdoch. He’s the smartest, toughest publishing baron of our time, one who, by the way, has a special fondness for print while moving his company aggressively into the digital age (OK, maybe the MySpace wasn’t so bright). Perhaps, his son, James conceived of the end game, but Rupert signed off it without too much hand-wringing.

That news was followed today by a more depressing bit of news: British PM David Cameron, who has personal links to many of the players in this drama, announced an investigation and vowed tougher regulation of the media.

Reported Reuters:

So widespread was the rot, Cameron told an emergency news conference after Murdoch dramatically shut down his best-selling Sunday paper, that only a completely new system of media regulation and a full public inquiry into what went wrong over a decade at News of the World and beyond would meet public demand.

A new system of media regulation. That’s a completely ridiculous and dangerous notion that needs to be smothered in its crib right now. The U.K. already has pretty strict media regulations that obviously did nothing to disabuse certain reporters from their baser instincts. Instead:

  • The hacking came to light.
  • Investigations are underway.
  • People already have gone to jail
  • And the guy who owns the offending (and offensive) newspaper just pithed it in one of journalism most historic decisions.

What more do you need?

Oh, right. Cameron needs political cover.

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2 Responses to “Dear Mr. Cameron: Regulate this”

  1. Dick Selwood
    July 10th, 2011 @ 5:53 am

    As a Brit I find your comment that “The U.K. already has pretty strict media regulations…” a little surprising. There is no legislation, apart from the more general laws on libel, and contempt of court. The regulatory body, the Press Complaints Commission, is a body set up and run by the newspaper industry, and has proved singularly useless at self-regulation. I don’t want to see greater regulation, particularly imposed by government, but the newspaper industry has shown itself totally incapable of carrying out the task.

  2. Brian
    July 17th, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    Dick, thanks for commenting. I defer to your insight on British regulations (I have a less granular, across-the-pond perception, which clearly isn’t accurate).
    But I want to ask in response: doesn’t the fact that Murdoch nailed three close, top lieutenants this week and shut down the biggest paper in the country pretty impressive self-regulation?

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