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Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 29 November

Leveson verdict: new independent regulator to halt newspaper “havoc”


The British Press is in need of an independent regulatory body, today’s much anticipated Leveson report has suggested.

Lord Justice Leveson recommends the formation of a new self-regulatory body that will be completely independent from the media industry and the Government. In his 2,000-page document – unveiled at 1.30pm today – Lord Justice Leveson outlines the possible responsibilities of the body, which could include funding investigations, sanctioning newspapers and advising editors.

The report states that the board should include only one serving editor. No board member should be involved in government or have vested interest in the press, although some should have experience of working in the industry. Lord Justice Leveson also calls for statutory “underpinning” of regulation and suggests that membership to the body should be legally-binding.

"The press has to be accountable to the public in whose interests it claims to be acting and must show respect for the rights of others,” Lord Justice Leveson said. "It should not be acceptable that it uses its voice, power, and authority to undermine the ability of society to require that regulation is not a free for all, to be ignored with impunity.

"The answer to the question of who guards the guardians should not be 'no-one'."

Lord Justice Leveson rejected a proposal from the press industry for their own regulation system, saying that it did not go far enough to demonstrate independence from publishers when parts of the press already ignored existing measures and “wreaked havoc” with innocent people’s lives.

He said: "There have been too many times when, chasing the story, parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it wrote, simply did not exist.”

However, Lord Justice Leveson also emphasises that the board should not encroach on freedom of expression by censoring the press and clearly states that he does not recommend complete statutory control of the industry.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will deliver independent statements to the Commons this afternoon after no agreement was reportedly made on a joint-party line in response to the document.

Questions for discussion

General Discussion

  • What does ‘self-regulation’ mean?
  • Do you think that self-regulation would work in our school? Could pupils regulate their own behaviour?
  • What are the arguments for and against press freedom? Where do you stand on the issue?
  • This inquiry focuses on regulation of the press, but not the internet. Do you think there should be more regulation online?

Related resources

Does the press behave legally?

  • A thoughtful resource exploring the role of the Press Complaints Commission.

The right to privacy

  • A lesson examining the right to privacy as upheld by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Influencing attitudes

  • With this lesson plan, pupils can explore how our attitudes and opinions are influenced by the media.

Media ethics activity

  • A series of scenarios which put pupils in the role of a newspaper editor facing ethical dilemmas.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

News items

The publication of Lord Leveson’s report on improving regulation of newspapers and journalism is already big news.

Dr Joseph Murray, the pioneering surgeon who performed the world's first successful kidney transplant, has died at the age of 93.

The Environment Agency has announced a "national crisis" after storms and floods ravaged communities across England and Wales, with more flooding still predicted.

The bloodshed between Israel and the Palestinians over the Gaza strip may have been halted but the likelihood of a long-standing peace deal in the region is as remote as ever.

In the news archive index

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