I’ve been meaning to get round to writing about the Leveson inquiry for a while now, but it’s been such a drawn out process with no end in site that it’s been hard to know where to begin and where to finish. It feels like the whole thing has become a circus where the next witness is wheeled in, we wait to see what controversial remarks get brought up and then watch the media work themselves into a frenzy of excitement as a result.
Yesterday was one of those days and today probably will be too. Anything involving a member of the Murdoch family is bound to result in some sort of controversy. This time round James Murdoch (I assume deliberately) did his best to turn the attention away from himself and onto the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
Having revealed emails from Fred Michel, News Corporation’s director of public affairs giving the impression that Mr Hunt wasn’t being entirely impartial in his role overseeing the proposed takeover of BSkyB by News Corp, we now find ourselves in the position of listening to claim and counter-claim as Mr Hunt denies that he did anything improperly.
As is usually the case in these situations we’ve been told that Jeremy Hunt has the full backing of the Prime Minister which is likely to be worrying for any minister to hear. Ex-Defence Minister, Liam Fox was told the same thing before being forced to resign. Also predictably Labour in their role as opposition party have jumped at the chance to tell Mr Hunt he should step down before he has the opportunity to fully present his side of the case.
We as the public are now left in that familiar situation of trying to decide whom we trust less; the media or politicians. As with the banking sector, if you leave the media to its own devices without regulation it will try to get away with whatever it can with the aim of making money, but also with the media, there is the added desire for power and influence. The politicians as we have seen will cosy up to the press in the hope of winning them over to gain favourable headlines in order to put themselves in a positive light and win votes.
So here’s my question. Will this ever change? Will politicians learn to keep out of trouble and not get themselves in to situations that they will regret further down the line. Will the press learn to treat people with respect and not act as if they are above the law?
The Leveson inquiry has given us the best chance in many years to at least begin to tackle this. The media is being scrutinised like never before and our politicians are having to come clean as to their dealings with the press behind the scenes. If this inquiry genuinely takes its findings seriously and doesn’t fudge the answers, then we have the chance to see lasting change that might begin to bring about at least some trust in our press and a more moral form of journalism. This inquiry desperately needs to deliver results and we need to ask God to give those in charge a big helping of wisdom and determination to make the right decisions.
One last thing. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t heard anything from church leaders on this yet. Perhaps they are biding their time or perhaps they’re just ignoring it, but it is the church’s duty to speak up on matters affecting our country and this is such a time. The Church hasn’t always had a particularly easy relationship with most of the press and media and I wonder if it feels uncomfortable wading into the debate, but that shouldn’t stop it. Nor should criticism from some groups and individuals who think it should keep its opinions to itself. The churches are quite happy to make a fuss about same-sex marriage, so why not this?
I’m not entirely sure how those in the spotlight of the Leveson inquiry would react if there was an overwhelming response from Christians calling for the police, politicians and journalists to clean up their act, but I’m longing to see it happen.