New Media, our free and fearless press has decreed, is such an unruly Wild West Show that it must be subjected to some kind of regulation. All that poorly-sourced borderline Fake News being put out there, often by those failing to adhere to the most basic journalistic standards. This sounds, at first hearing, only reasonable. But I have to tell those peddling this view that it is the most flagrant hypocrisy.
Danielle Hindley - her story proves the press has not cleaned up its act
If one form of media outlet should be subject to some kind of regulation, so should they all. After all, the Old Media has its own New Media presence: every newspaper has its own website, amplifying its content and its message. But the Old Media resists any kind of proper regulatory oversight, clinging to the fig-leaf that is sham regulator IPSO, and incessantly smearing press reform campaigners as “anti-press”.
Such is the lot of campaigning group Hacked Off, whose heinous crime is to advocate for a free, yet properly accountable, press. And the group has shown once again that the idea the Old Media cleaned up its act following the first part of the Leveson Inquiry is bunk.
Though Hacked Off’s good offices, a young businesswoman from West Yorkshire has mounted a legal challenge to intrusion and smears from the Mail on Sunday which came close to wrecking her business. Zelo Street regulars may recall that in late December 2017, Danielle Hindley was approached by someone posing as a customer, but who was in reality a MoS hack with a hidden camera. It looked like a hit piece was in preparation.
Recalling what businessman Andy Miller had said about the MoS’ daily stablemate libelling him via a front page spread in 2008 - that, had he still been in charge of the firm concerned, it would have been put out of business - I concluded that when the MoS ran its hit piece, it could have serious consequences for Ms Hindley’s business.
And so it came to pass: she was smeared as a “rogue beautician”, a “cosmetic cowboy”, and it was inferred that she was breaking the law. All of these claims were bogus and indeed defamatory. Ms Hindley’s life was turned upside down: in the small community where she lives, the gossip started. It was in the paper, so it must be true. Her son was bullied at school. Her takings were down 80%.
She complained to the MoS. They eventually offered a “correction”. She went to IPSO. A further correction was ordered. It was to be on Page 2. In the event, the MoS put the correction on Page 8, ignoring the IPSO direction because they had a story on the Royal Family, and decided that this was more important.
Thus the uselessness of IPSO. So after I, and others, had contacted her, she was put in touch with a lawyer thought the good offices of Hacked Off. The action begun on her behalf against the MoS continues. But the lesson to all those claiming the press has cleaned up its act and we should “look over there” at New Media is clear.
Our free and fearless press has done no such thing. The MoS, for instance, managed to “lose” a whole hour of that hidden camera’s footage. Dirty tricks, invented quotes, poorly sourced hit jobs, The Dark Arts - they’re still at it. And that’s not good enough.
You can read more about the Hacked Off campaign HERE.
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