Press regulation campaign group Hacked Off has said that the Royal Charter agreed by the three main political parties will benefit working journalists.
In a blog post published today on Press Gazette, executive director Brian Cathcart argued that the principles agreed in the charter represent “a golden opportunity” to rebuild the public’s trust in journalism.
Cathcart said: “By embracing change, distancing themselves from wrongdoing and showing they are ready to be accountable, they can begin to build public trust.”
He said the industry has been “tainted by the actions of a reckless, unethical minority, and the majority needs to show the public that a page has been turned”.
In a statement that is likely to anger several national newspapers which backed the alternative Press Standards Board of Finance (Pressbof) charter, Cathcart said that its submission for consideration to the Privy Council ahead of the Government’s own Royal Charter was a “cynical delaying device”.
He also claimed that the reputation of journalism “has been damaged in recent years” because of Pressbof’s “control” of the Press Complaints Commission.
“Their job was to uphold standards but their stubborn refusal to respond appropriately to major scandals destroyed public trust,” added Cathcart.
Hacked Off claimed that the system proposed by the Government will be independent of proprietors and executives as well as being free from political control.
It also said the introduction of a cheap arbitration service would allow journalists and editors freer to defend their reporting as they will be liable to “chilling by wealthy or litigious people and organisations”.
However, last month, a group of local newspaper publishers told a committee of MPs that arbitration could cause many smaller newspapers to go out of business as they could face a costly wave of small claims.