The just-released report into News Corp.'s phone-hacking scandal and the health of the British press in general by Lord Justice Leveson has recommended to Parliament that a new, independent, body be established for effective self-regulation of the press.
The report "wholly rejected" the argument that while there were problems at News of the World, that was no justification for believing other titles may have been acting unlawfully or unethically.
Even before the report was released, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) was anticipating that possibility. "While I understand that the main goal of this report is to make policy recommendations, the core of the Inquiry remains the illegal and unethical practices of newspapers owned by the News Corporation," he said in a statement, "I remain deeply concerned that these companies may have violated U.S. laws and injured U.S. citizens. I hope that Lord Leveson's new report and other ongoing investigations will continue to clear the air and hold the companies accountable for their deplorable conduct."
The Lord Justice said in the report that he was not recommending that the press be "delivered into the arms of the state," but that "the price of press freedom should be paid by those who suffer, unfairly and egregiously, at the hands of the press and have no sufficient mechanism for obtaining redress."
And taking a page from an argument broadcasters and others in the U.S. have been making to the FCC, the report concludes that when talking about preserving diversity of voices, or what it calls "media plurality," online news needs to be considered as part of that equation.
But he also warned against "burdensome or insensitive regulation [that] would make it even harder for British newspaper groups to survive," particularly given that they the UK has "few world class players to rival great global American information businesses."