As iMediaEthics has previously written, a Quebec, Canada politician has proposed licensing journalists. (See our stories here and here). But now will the UK look into a similar move, following the phone hacking scandal?
The Guardian reported that the Independent’s editor, Chris Blackhurst, is backing a political call for licensing journalists and prohibiting journalists who violate standards.
“The Jockey Club bars jockeys from riding horses – why can’t we bar journalists from writing articles,” Blackhurst is quoted as saying. “Newspapers had to take charge of their own industry.”
The Guardian reported Sept. 27 Labour shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis announced “a series of proposals” regarding the media in the UK. Lewis suggested that people be allowed to be journalists if they are “guilty of gross malpractice, that newspapers publish corrections and retractions on the front page of the newspaper, and “a new system of independent regulation.”
The Associated Press noted that if any such proposal were enacted, the UK must have a “professional register” like the one that doctors belong to.
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The Guardian noted that Ed Miliband didn’t support Lewis and instead commented that he advocates “self-regulation.” Also, conservative Parliament member Louise Mensch rejected Lewis’ call and instead commented that “we need a free, fair press, not some state registry for journalists,” according to the Associated Press.
However, shortly after Lewis’ comments, which were met with “a barrage of criticism,” Lewis changed tack and claimed “he was not proposing a state register of reporters,” according to the Telegraph. The New Statesman added that Lewis tweeted on the matter noting that he isn’t advocating governmental control of the media. Lewis’ Sept. 27 tweets read (see here and here):
“Journalism is a highly respected profession.Why shouldn’t journos found to have commissioned or engaged in phone hacking be struck off.”
“I said industry should consider whether gross malpractice should lead to a journo being struck off and i oppose state oversight of press.”