Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 18 February 2010

What is the point of the PCC?

I have just learned that the Press Complaints Commission has ruled in favour of Jan Moir with respect to the article she wrote last year following the death of Stephen Gately (I blogged about it at the time here). There is some analysis of the ruling from Andrew Reeves here and Stephen Glenn here.

25,000 people complained to the PCC about this article, more complaints than they have ever had about any single article which left many people repulsed at the unfounded comments about a man who had just died.

If the PCC think that this article was fine then I seriously wonder what the point of it is. I also think that it is high time the composition of the upper echelons of the organisation were reviewed. Can it be right that Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail is chairman of its "Editors’ Code of Practice Committee"?

If we are going to have a PCC, it should be a robust, independent organisation which strives to uphold the highest journalistic standards. Otherwise, why are we even bothering to have one? It currently just seems to act as a veneer of accountability without doing very much to justify its own existence.

1 comment:

Ollie Cromwell said...

Mark, I couldn't disagree more, the ruling is robust and clear, had they ruled any other way it would have amounted to censorship. Jan Moir has a right to write her point of view, it is a total pack of bigoted drivel in my opinion. But I have the right to disagree with it and choose not to read her as do you. It is vital in these days of increased authoritarianism that the press remain free of political interference. Any other ruling would have been an outrage and a threat to all our liberties.

When the papers covered Max Mosley’s peccadilloes’ in S&M clubs they were not accused of being sadophobic, when the sleazy behaviour of John Terry was covered they were not accused of being heterophobic. Why is it that if they criticise the behaviour of a homosexual couple bringing a young man back to their flat and one partner heading to the bedroom with him whilst the other remains on the sofa this homophobic. Lets’ just change it slightly, a heterosexual couple go to a nightclub, pick up a girl, the wife is then expected to sleep on the couch whilst the husband takes the young lady to bed. Would there be an outcry if this was described as sleazy?

I don’t seek to defend Jan Moir views or her insensitive and bigoted comments at the time of great sadness for the families involved. But I do defend her right to publish them and commend the PCC decision. I will of course now be accused of being homophobic.

I would add that the number of complaints should have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the ruling and to suggest otherwise is beneath your normal considered analysis. The PCC should be seeking to make correct rulings not popular ones.