Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Do our leaders envy Kim Jong-il's Press regulation?

I wonder if our politicians envy Kim Jong-il, a leader who had the Press exactly where he wanted it.

The weeping North Korean millions mourn a man who, the regulated media tell them, was so special that a new star appeared when he was born and so pure that he never went to the toilet. He was also the world's greatest golfer; having scored 11 holes-in-one in a single afternoon. He even invented a snack called 'meat double bread' which, in spite of appearances, is nothing like the imperialist hamburger.

Well, perhaps our lot aren't that bad, but the current calls for Press regulation and protection of privacy need to be watched.

We do need a media that can push through the pomposity and pretension of the powerful and we shouldn't assume that every story is the product of skulduggery.

Remember Gordon Brown's claims that his son's medical reports were hacked. They weren't true.

Some other accusations against the Press were exaggerated. Only yesterday, the Guardian corrected a story alleging that journalists who - shamefully - hacked a mobile phone belonging to murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler had also deleted voicemails, making the police think she was still alive. In fact, the phone deleted them automatically.

There are clear instances of media abuse, but hard cases make bad laws, while Press controls can protect corruption and lies.

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