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Gagging Journalists? The Ivan Lewis Approach.

by Alix White.

Ivan Lewis – “the integrity of our media and politics is not for sale”. In all honesty, as we have all seen in recent months, the actual fact of the matter is that anything is for sale; integrity, humanity, morality, practically just about anything. I am not condoning the actions of journalists involved in phone hacking and misconduct by any means, but in reality we cannot sit high up on our pedestals, acting as if we would have been the ones to stand up to a foreboding editor, and risk our jobs by going against what was asked of us. I do not mean to excuse these journalists actions, and I believe them to be morally corrupt and unethical in every sense. However, we must understand that these people are not inhumane, they were most likely just doing what was pushed upon them. The right thing would have been to refuse to get involved and stand with their head held high, but this is often easier said than done. What Ivan Lewis has recently proposed does not sound like a reasonable solution to anything. One of his recent tweets in response to the backlash against his proposal for a state register of journalists tried to justify the proposal, “Journalism is a highly respected profession. Why shouldn’t journos found to have commissioned or engaged in phone hacking be struck off.” However, it is just not that simple. Unlike nurses and doctors, journalists do not have to adhere to an official code of conduct. Within journalism the unwritten code of conduct which encompasses morality and ethics is normally respected amongst those in the industry. There is a general consensus over what is right and what is wrong. The individuals who disregard this unofficial code cannot simply be ‘struck off’.

The backlash to Ivan Lewis’ address at the Labour Conference was echoed throughout twitter. Many took to the extremely powerful social networking site to share their fury with other similarly outraged social networkers. His proposal was criticised as trying to muzzle freedom of speech and some twitter rants hinted to it as being a communist idea. There were even references made to ‘Mussolini’ and ‘Fascism’, which displays the real state of outrage and shock felt by members of British society after hearing Ivan Lewis’ speech at last week’s Labour conference. Whatever the answer is to the hacking scandal and other cases of misconduct, one thing is for sure, Ivan Lewis’ proposal for a state register of journalists is certainly not it.

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