It now looks like wrongdoing at the News of the World – and quite possibly beyond – has the potential to place the freedom of the press in the UK in jeopardy.
All three political parties have already signalled their desire to scrap the Press Complaints Commission.
The tone of yesterday’s parliamentary debate on the now suspended News Corp-BSkyB takeover raises the prospect that we could face knee-jerk legislation – a sort of Dangerous Dogs Act for journalists to muzzle the press.
David Cameron yesterday suggested that ministerial meetings with journalists need to be logged – a move which in itself could greatly undermine source confidentiality and free reporting.
The two promised judicial inquiries will reveal the extent of corrupt practices in the media. But whatever happens it looks likely that the journalism industry itself will have to take major action to restore public trust.
This petition is an attempt to show that the vast majority of journalists do act in the public interest and need help – not further hindrance – to let them to continue to do so.
Press Gazette will publish the names of those who sign this petition and submit it to Number 10 and to the inquiry into press standards in due course.
The vast majority of Britain’s journalists work hard to tell their readers the truth under increasingly tough conditions.
We deplore the actions of journalists who have intercepted mobile phone messages. And we condemn any journalist who has breached the trust of their readers/viewers by being involved in corrupt practices.
As journalists, we believe in free speech and a robust free press and media. We also believe we have an overall duty to serve the public interest and the common good.
The press should be fearless, exciting, entertaining, waspish, commercial and competitive.
At the same time journalistic integrity must be respected, encouraged and protected from political, commercial and other pressures.
Any reforms to press regulation should seek to strengthen the ability of journalists to report the news without fear or favour – and not further weaken it.