Bill Hagerty: Another Journalism Institute? I Think We've Been Here before ; Bill Hagerty ON THE PRESS
Hagerty, Bill, The Independent (London, England)
FORGIVE EDITORS for a sense of deja vu when they learned of John Lloyd's latest scheme to clean up journalism's often grubby act. They had every right to feel they had been there before - because they had. This particular bee has been buzzing around in the bonnet of Lloyd, an eminent author and journalist and currently editor of the Financial Times magazine, for quite some time and every now and again it flies out to deliver its sting.
This time the sting - released at a seminar organised by the Demos think- tank - is in the form of a proposal for a national institute of journalism, the purpose of which will be to raise standards and rectify what is certainly an unhealthy mistrust of the media throughout the rest of society. So far so good - I have long argued the case for a new body that would examine standards, set new ones and devise a mechanism for enforcing them in the press.
Where Lloyd and I differ is in the composition of such an organisation. I believe, as a supporter of the self-regulation of the press, that it should be under the united control of the industry and be composed of representatives from publishing houses and others they care to invite to contribute. The plan Lloyd unveiled at the seminar calls for journalists, academics and policy- makers - a term more acceptable than politicians, but that's what it means - to get into a huddle under the aegis of an establishment of learning, such as the University of Oxford. There they would engage in debate on standards and the future role of journalism in a Britain where media bashing is set to fill the gap left by foxhunting in the blood sports calendar.
Demos has apparently agreed to help to raise funding for the enterprise. Yet exactly what purpose would it serve? There is already a conveyor belt trundling endless media debates, symposia and seminars across the face of all branches of journalism. …