‘The media shouldn’t be able to trash reputations in the heat of the moment’: BBC’s Kevin Marsh on libel reform

Kevin Marsh from the BBC College of Journalism has a thought-provoking blog post on Lord Lester’s libel bill, asking whether the public’s voice is loud enough to be heard in the debate.

Analysing the main changes in the private member’s bill, Marsh says it “tackles some of the current laws’ deficiencies head on” but “body swerves others”.

Biggest swerve is that this bill doesn’t do what many newspapers and freedom of information campaigners wanted – reverse the burden of proof (…) On the other hand, the bill proposes that, unless it’s decided otherwise, a libel action should be heard by a judge sitting without a jury.

But his biggest concern is that public views may not be as easily heard as the media’s.

Isn’t there the possibility, at the very least, that those who have no self-interest in all of this believe that that ‘chilling effect’ is no bad thing; that the media shouldn’t be able to trash reputations in the heat of the journalistic moment; and that the possibility/threat of legal sanction might, in the wider public interest, possibly do more good than harm?

Full post at this link…

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