Based on his renowned expertise on issues surrounding freedom of the press, Professor Julian Petley from Brunel's School of Arts will today [8 December 2011] be giving evidence as part of the ongoing Leveson inquiry.
Set up by the Government following the News of the World phone hacking scandal, the first part of the inquiry will examine the culture, practices and ethics of the media.
One of the questions posed by Leveson asked for submissions of evidence on "the special role to be played by the press in a democracy, what 'freedom' requirements need to be in place for that role to be played and whether this role places any obligations or responsibilities on the press."
In response to this Professor Petley will suggest that the time has come to re-think the whole notion of press freedom and indeed the freedom of the media in general. He says:
"Traditional notions of press freedom are rooted firmly in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries and are in serious need of updating. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are all too readily conflated and need separating out from one another.
"We need to consider not only the right of the press to publish but the right of readers to receive the information which they need in order to function effectively as citizens of a democratic society, a right which places certain obligations on the press."
Professor Petley also gave evidence to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's joint committee on privacy and injunctions in November 2011.
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