Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ryan Giggs, Imogen Thomas, and Press Freedom

I’ve been following the Ryan Giggs/Imogen Thomas story without much interest in either of them, but with a real interest in the issue of superinjunctions and press freedom. Some people have positioned themselves as defenders of free speech, complaining bitterly about the gagging orders and demanding that the press should be able to print what they like about whomever they like. I take the opposite view, but with a twist.

I was disappointed that the superinjunction taken out by Giggs didn’t work, but I feel that Thomas should have been allowed one as well. They should be cheap, in fact they should be free. If they had been, the story wouldn’t have come to anyone’s attention and we would have been spared reading about it. I support free superinjunctions, but with one condition – that the media are not allowed to feature anything ever again about those who ask for one, except for stories with material connection to their profession.

Just think, we’d never have to read any story ever again about Imogen Thomas, although magazines would be able to print pics from her modelling work – a girl’s got to make a living after all. The same with Giggs – no stories about affairs, only those about football. Just think – if Katie Price, Paris Hilton, Kerry Katona or any Big Brother/X Factor-loser ‘celebrity’ had to resort to a injunction, under my proposals, we’d never hear anything from them ever again! Max Clifford, (inevitably) Thomas's publicist, is arguing that superinjunctions should be removed so that newspapers can print more of these stories. No, let's have less. In fact, let's have none. Let's put Clifford and his like out of business for good!

If my proposals are accepted, think how little celebrity gossip there would be. People would be taking out injunctions all over the place to protect themselves from damaging revelations about their private lives but, afterwards, the papers couldn’t print stories on their inane opinions, their nights out at society parties, the people they’re seen with etc. All those horrible celebrity gossip rags would go out of business overnight, the newspapers would have to print er... news, and the TV companies wouldn’t be allowed to follow people around with a camera 24 hours a day.

Some people might miss this for a few weeks. There might be withdrawal symptoms, but we’d all end up far happier as a result – of that, I’m confident.

As for press freedom? Well, the press has enormous power and they often use their freedom to curtail the freedoms of others, to destroy lives - often unnecessarily – to publish highly slanted political opinion masquerading as news, and to print stuff simply to make a great deal of money for themselves, at the cost of not printing stuff that actually matters.

We need to preserve a lack of interference/censorship from politicians etc. That’s what matters as far as freedom of the press goes. The media have enormous freedom to publish what they want in the UK and they choose to serve up a constant diet of inane celebrity gossip. That choice has enormous impact on our society – its awareness, intelligence, and ability to make coherent choices. Other people do their jobs according to rules and regulations and I don't see why journalists should expect themselves to be some kind of hallowed exception. A celebrity news black-out might lose them some sales, at least for a while, but they’d be able to use their massive freedom to print other stuff, stuff that really counts.

No comments: