Power to the People: Blogging and Ivan Lewis

There has been an uproar amongst bloggers from various websites over Shadow Minister Ivan Lewis’ controversial statement that suggested journalists guilty of “gross milpractice” should be “struck off” in light of this year’s phone hacking scandal. Interestingly enough, it has been the blog and forum members who have voiced their opinions and left an echo, rather than the mainstream press. While newspapers start a fire which burns out after a few days, blogs keep burning. This again shows the increased power given to ordinary people. Many blogs, notably The Telegraph’s provided users with an outlet for their frustration. One blogger commented, “I long for the day when politicans are “struck off” (ie barred from any public office for life) for lying, stealing from the taxpayer and taking no notice of public opinion.” Indeed, it would be easy to ask Ivan Lewis what journalists would be struck off from. There is no register, no Law Society, no General Medical Council, no organisation deciding who and who isn’t a reporter.

Most bloggers are against the state register. There is justification in Lewis’ argument that the phone hacking incidents were appalling, however the construction of a register for journalists is preposterous. Another blogger responded on the MP’s Twitter, “Your proposal is entirely impractical and hugely misguided and most certainly not representative of what people want.” Lewis added that journalism is a “highly respected” profession, but admits that the recent allegations have tainted the industry and minimized the confidence of the general public, thus upholding his view that those journalists responsible deserve to be struck off.

Soon after the public’s outcry, Ed Miliband abandoned the policy. Many blogs had argued that a crackdown on the British press would be following in the footsteps of other countries such as Syria and Israel, where reporters are held to a restrictive press decree. Due to social networking sites like Twitter however, public opinion on the matter has been weighed up fairly. After all, how else would the public have their say? Because these sites encompass so much of today’s journalism, and are essentially collectively moralising, Lewis’ proposal appears even more ‘totalitarian’, according to Cory Doctorow on Boingboing.

Personally, I agree that Murdoch and others who were involved in the phone hacking deserve some kind of punishment, but for all journalists to get the heavy end of the stick is unfair. Perhaps the best way to sum up the conclusion to this difficult, slogging case, and many more like it  in the future, is to listen to the bloggers.

One Response

  1. This is another great example of the power the social media have, essentially the public’s outrage through twitter, facebook, etc, making Mr Lewis make a sharp U-turn. The influence social media has on politics is becoming greater than ever.

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