Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Press Watch


This week was an interesting one for those of us who watch the press.

In the UK, the Leveson Inquiry took evidence on how invasive journalists hacked people’s phones, read people’s emails and put notes into their children’s schoolbags. The tabloids complain that their freedom of expression is on the rack, but the evidence given all week shows that they routinely ignored, undermined or rode roughshod over their targets’ freedoms.

The Leveson Inquiry will eventually protect people, both celebrity and ordinary, from excessive press invasion.

In South Africa, the government put the Protection of State Information Bill before Parliament and it was voted through by 229 votes, with two abstentions and 107 votes against. The Bill contains a clause which will allow any organ of state down to the smallest municipality to declare any document as secret and prosecute whistleblowers with jail terms of up to 25 years. There is no public interest defence. The Bill still has two more levels to go through before it becomes law, and the opposition, the media, civil society and statespeople like Desmond Tutu, Nadine Gordimer and Mamphele Ramphele are declaring it a blow against press freedom.

The Democratic Alliance’s parliamentary whip, Lindiwe Mazibuko, made a key speech against the bill on Thursday, saying to the MPs in the house,”You’ll tell your children that you fought for freedom, but will you also tell them you helped destroy it?”

The Secrecy Bill will protect government from the press, and allow corruption to go unreported.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

3 thoughts on “Press Watch

  1. Thank goodness we have twitter, and blogs – South Africa’s truth will out somehow. Though draconian measures like these only serve to underline the ideas that the regime is leaning in a totalitarian direction. (Mind you, we have an Official Secrets Act, which has some pretty bonkers clauses!)

    Let’s hope Leveson does manage to protect people. Even people who don’t want to be protected? (Simon Cowell openly admits he doesn’t want to know if his phone was hacked. Some celebrities can be inconsistent in the press department.)

  2. You know nothing gives me more pleasure at the moment than seeing the ghastly antics of the press brought to light. I read a book ages ago, Flat Earth News by Nick Davies (it was brilliant) in which he went through all the dirty tricks they play. He is a journalist himself, so knew what he was talking about. The idea of the freedom of the press has been used to justify all sorts of outrageous strategems, and mostly to infiltrate the lives of celebrities who are not news in any case. The film Good Night and Good Luck is one of my all-time favourites and makes me very nostalgic for an age when the press actually got involved in issues that mattered. Here’s hoping that things might change a bit in the light of the investigation. Whatever steps we take forward will eventually have knock on effects in other parts of the world, even if that happy day looks a while off still.

  3. Yep, exactly. I am so revolted by the many abuses that occur under the justification of ‘freedom of the press’ – it’s beyond offensive to distort that privilege and that responsibility in this way. At the same time, the other side, the reason why the ideal of freedom of the press is still so important, is still alive and well, as evinced by this cynical Protection of State Information Bill. Dear oh dear.

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