BBC Home Affairs editor asks: Is our democracy moving into cyberspace?

This article feels like it was written three or four years ago - the idea that "democracy in cyberspace" means judging everything on the basis of the Daily Mail comments page is particularly simplistic (as the great contributions in this discussion have been demonstrating).It's not just the libel laws. There are deep professional and ethical concerns about adopting the values of the Internet, and troubling signs the mainstream is edging in that direction. If our democracy completes its journey into cyberspace, and I suspect it might, there are huge questions about just what…Read more

Our newest publication: Media Regulation and Democracy

I'm delighted to be able to announce the publication of our new report Media Regulation & Democracy, a collection of thinkpieces on that topic that we have produced with the kind support of the Carnegie UK Trust, and which can now be downloaded as a PDF (and will be up on Scribd shortly). Since the piece is a collection from different contributors, it doesn't count as blowing our own trumpet to say that they have produced a fascinating collection of thoughts on a vital democratic issue. The contents are: Media Regulation and Democracy…Read more

Media regulation: Rectifying the flaw

On 25 April, Demsoc is holding a discussion event on media regulation and new democracy at the RSA in London. This contribution to the debate comes from Dave Boyle. If you would like to attend, numbers are limited, but a few free tickets are left. In his famous mea culpa, Alan Greenspan told the US Congress that there was a flaw at the heart of his vision of capitalism, which was that he hadn’t expected shareholders of companies to be unable to ensure their own interests were protected; in his world, such self-interest…Read more

“Fair to the truth” journalism

Jay Rosen's blog Pressthink has an analysis of the new National Public Radio ethics guidance that tries to move the station away from "he said, she said" journalism, or in Paul Krugman's magnificent phrase "Views still differ on shape of planet". The new guidance says: At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources. So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth. If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell…Read more

Media regulation: Carnegie recommends voluntary regulator

Carnegie UK have published Blair Jenkins' report on Better Journalism in the Digital Age (report, summary pdfs). The report calls for a voluntary regulation regime, with strong incentives for joining, such as easier press accreditation or possibly labelling schemes. A new code of conduct would be at the heart of the regulatory regime. Jenkins also calls on civil society organisations to fund innovative practice in news and information, particularly focusing on technological and editorial innovation to broaden reach and access. Finally, the report recommends a stronger push on high-speed broadband, more emphasis on…Read more

Stephen Hester as the AntiEuro

My back-of-a-cornflake-packet physics knowledge tells me that matter has a counterpart, called antimatter, and if the two meet, they are annihilated in a burst of energy. It turns out that the Euro and Stephen Hester's bonus package have the same relation, except that when they meet, consistency is annihilated in a burst of comment pieces. Thus those who, on European issues, utter full-throated calls for the People's Voice To Be Heard are, on Hester's bonus, pursing their lips, wringing their hands and imploring us to look at the long-term economic consequences of giving…Read more

Media regulation project: first meeting

Happy New Year to everyone. Just before the Christmas break, we kicked off our media regulation project with a discussion session in London. Kathryn Corrick, Kevin Anderson, Douglas White from Carnegie UK, and Anthony from Demsoc took part, and the session was chaired by Paul Connolly from PAVKO. Dave Boyle and David Allen Green weren't able to be with us on the day, but will be joining us for future discussions. Over the next few months, the various contributors will be posting some of the big topics we discussed here on the blog, but…Read more

Pundits and policy

I sighed in rueful recognition at this passage from the New York Review's review of Ron Suskind's new book on the Obama White House : That incoherence [in understanding the different policy positions behind a particular row] speaks to the weakness of ... much punditry about the presidency. It is very sure-footed in its reporting on personalities and the process by which decisions were made, and very vague when it comes to assessing the policy that was under consideration and judging whether the final approach performed better or worse than the alternative proposals. It's…Read more

Media regulation and democracy project

It may be almost Christmas but we're still hard at work, and this week we're kicking off a new project on media regulation and democracy, leading to an event in late February/early March. We're working with the Carnegie UK Trust, and asking the question: what sort of media regulation is needed to support future democracy? The Leveson Inquiry starts from a set of facts, and a political moment, that mean there is a risk its recommendations will be backward-looking, and focused on regulation of print media to prevent illegal surveillance. We think that…Read more

Setting the tone

I've tweeted it already, but it's well worth reading this post from Kevin Anderson at his blog, discussing how journalists (and, we'd add, everyone who runs a discussion site) has responsibility for setting the tone of debate. An extract, but read the whole thing: Poisonous communities don’t sell. They don’t sell to most readers, and they damn well don’t sell to advertisers. It’s really interesting the different responses I hear when talking about some high profile engagement-based comment sites. People in the media laud them as visionary, ground-breaking and industry leading. When I…Read more
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