How should the media be regulated?
The painful accounts of intrusion into private lives by the newspapers that the Leveson Inquiry has revealed should provoke some government reaction. Is there a danger that ‘good’ journalism will be regulated away in some fashion in the name of protecting privacy? Will some instances of bad behaviour by those who should know better be missed if privacy is protected? Probably. But it seems a price worth paying. And of course most ‘good journalism’ does not involve exposing salacious details of people’s lives.
I believe transparency is a good thing – but only until it does harm. The harrassment that goes with exposing private lives to the public very rarely has any justification, except to those who profit from it.
The key to any useful regulation of the media is to distinguish properly between what the public is interested in and what is in the public interest. The former should always be trumped by privacy; sometimes the latter should not.