The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Okay. There were two paragraphs to question 8 and the first paragraph just restates what I see as the fundamental principles underlying the importance of freedom of the press. So on the one hand the press' role in constituting a public sphere in which we can take part as equals; on the other hand, importance of constraining power and enabling democratic decision-making.

Then in the second paragraph, I talk about media organisations being answerable to a public body because of their role in shaping the public sphere and I suggest that we shouldn't take this as a very demanding role. We're not saying the press' sole role is to enable democratic decision-making, is to hold the government to account. I think that would be much too demanding and it overlooks that first thing I said, which is that the press just creates a public sphere, it's part of the creation of that, and we want it to be a free public sphere, so we don't want to say the press has to do X and has to do Y, but nonetheless we want to make sure it doesn't undermine or distort the instrumental ends that it could achieve, such as holding government to account or enabling democratic decision-making.

So the idea here is that we shouldn't censor -- censure the press -- hold them to account or criticise them for failing to promote democracy but if they distort or pervert democratic decision-making then we could rightly, I think, hold them to account for that because of their very important role in enabling such decision-making.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech