Ivan Clueless

Ivan Lewis, Labour MP and Shadow Culture Secretary, has been caught up in a social media firestorm after suggesting that journalists should be registered by the state. This proposal, essentially a call to arms for censorship, has quite understandably led to him being chastised by media outlets everywhere. The fact that he let this slip the very day of Ed Miliband’s speech to Labour conference seems a slight mistep.

Supposedly standing up against media conglomeracy in the name of integrity, “This is Britain, Mr Murdoch. The integrity of our media and our politics is not for sale.” He sees this as a way to prevent another scandal along the lines of the phone hacking ordeal, and he seems to be (or seems to be wanted to seen as) doing it for the British public.

Ivan The Terrible: An Ulterior Motive?

However, the slightest of investigation seems to dig up a far more likely reason for Ivan Lewis’s dream of muzzles on the mouth of every journo in the country: try Googling his name in conjunction with the phrase ‘text pest’. This brings up news articles from a multitude of newspapers detailing his sordid past of “bombarding” a secretarial aide almost twenty years his junior with “over-familiar” text messages. This was three years ago, but it’s easy to imagine the bitter taste in Lewis’s mouth lingering for quite some time.

Yes, it’s true that something has to be done about the state of British journalism. The “hackgate” scandal has left the public’s faith severely damaged, and the industry is in tatters with the damage done by media convergence. State registration (or industry resignation, as he claims to have actually said, citing misreporting) simply isn’t the way to repair that shattered faith. With the rise of social media, and the enfranchisement of the online individual, the idea of a journalist being ‘struck off’ simply doesn’t mean anything. It’s an outdated, and quite frankly, stupid, idea.

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