Saturday, September 04, 2010

MetGate: Coulson is finished. Next up: Scotland Yard and News International

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe)  

Farewell then Andy Coulson,
Dave's Director of Communications and Planning.
You have become  the story, not the storyteller, and you will will leave your office at Number 10 in the next few days, after Dave has expressed his confidence in you &c.
The briefest yet most damning verdict came from Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown's spokesman, who tweeted "By Bye Andy Coulson" yesterday, as his sole comment on the affair.

Credit to the Guardian for persisting with the story, and to the blogosphere for bringing the pressure that has forced the BBC and other broadcast media to carry it too. Alan Duncan and the conservatives will be fighting their rearguard action, dissing and smearing the two reporters who have had the courage to testify that Andy Coulson promoted the "Dark Art" of illegal invasions of privacy in the News of the World. Other reporters on other papers will be coming out with the truth in the next few days.

The danger is that we sit back on our laurels. The Guardian has a useful list of other developments in the unfolding scandal, which has 3 elements:
  1. Coulson
  2. The Metropolitan Police, who clearly failed to exercise due diligence in their investigation of the phone taps. This requires a judicial inquiry (Tom Watson MP) or an inquiry by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of the Constabulary (Alan Johnson MP). The Police should interview Coulson. Some public figures including John Prescott are considering sueing the police.
  3. News International, which is the key player. George Galloway may sue News International for hacking his phone.
Rupert Mordorch  has too much power, being overlord of too many news outlets. In the UK he owns:
  1. The News of the World
  2. The Times and Sunday Times
  3. The Sun
  4. Sky TV
Note that Mordorch's News Corporation only pays 7% tax on his UK profits.  ( pp. 300–303, 87–90, 177) 

The question is, what to do about over-powerful influence of single news corporations. There is most certainly a problem, since the media strongly influence public opinion, and public opinion is the source of power in a democracy. We need diversity in the media, otherwise we are little better off than the masses in the Soviet Union.

I went to look at the Culture Media and Sport section of the Green Party's Policies for a Sustainable Society, but there is no link to it on the Green Party website. Which means that all the toil that we carry out in Conference is to no avail. *sigh*.  I guess this is because...well, better not to say. But it is the opposite of transparency. (Now I bet someone will tell me it's there and I didn't click the right links).

So what to do about the Dark Lord?
  1. Oblige all news outlets to carry the name of their proprietor. On newspapers, this would be in 10-point on the banner. On broadcast media, it would be in the credits. 
  2. It would be not unreasonable to pass a law restricting any one person or corporation to ownership of only one news outlet.
  3. Reclassify some organs as "Newscomics" based on the ratio between celeb gossip and hard information. Newscomics would lose any financial advantages enjoyed by newspapers.
  4. Corrections to be given same position and prominence as the original incorrect article.
  5. Press Complaints Authority to be reformed and given real authority.
  6. A Media Commission should be set up  to examine Britain's media ownership and competition rules. (Will Hutton)
Any other ideas? I suppose I should go and mug up at the Index on Censorship website, but I need to go for a walk.

Mabingogiblog links:
First Mab'log on the affair.

Other sites:

Click this link to find if Andy Coulson has resigned yet.

Next Left has an interesting challenge: find a media manager who will affirm this proposition:
"Of course, Andy Coulson did not know about the phone-tapping operation which took place while he was editor of the News of the World. It is quite absurd to suggest that he might have done".

Here is an example of a Murdoch newspaper distortion 

John Pilger on Murdoch 

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