Posted by: quicksandtimerbookreviews | September 19, 2013

Mair, John, Editor: After Leveson? The Future for British Journalism

008This book follows from the latest edition of ‘The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial’ first published in February 2012 during the associated hearings presided over by  Lord Justice Leveson which John Mair, citing Richard Keeble as co-editor, says to his great satisfaction, informed and impacted upon the debate. John Mair, Head of Journalism at the University of Northampton and a former TV Producer (Factual), again delivers a very readable account offering differing perspectives from both academics and journalists. In this work he calls on the leading media experts, twenty from each discipline, some names the reader will be familiar with.

This comprehensive book is broadly divided into eight sections each headed by John Mair, covering many aspects from the historical and reflective, leading to a multi-perspective view of the whys and wherefores the current position is presumed to be contingent upon. It seeks to answer the diversity of questions raised by Lord Justice Leveson in light of the responses to his enquiry. Thus Section A., headed by John Mair asks the question ‘After Leveson: What now?’ Here contributors focus on varying topics with cases made both for and against statutory underpinning. Section B. again lead by Mair who asks the question ‘Will anything Change?’. The following contributions provide interesting reading, raising issues of stereotypical perpetuation and the influence the press could have in massively contributing to a fairer society. Section C. ‘Lap Dogs and Lamp-posts?’ (Mair) considers the age old question of the relationship between the press and politicians, whilst Section D. lead by Mair’s ‘Regulation before and After The Good Lord’ looks at differing aspects of the feasibility of press regulation. Section E. is lead by Mair’s ‘The Chilling Effect’ which focuses the debate on privacy implications after Leveson, both positive and negative. The question of the future importance of ethics is considered in Section F., ‘What do We Tell the Kids? Ethical Education After Leveson’ (Mair) and Section G. ‘Suffering for the Sins of Others: the regional and local press’ (Mair) discusses the likely impact all this will have on the local press as to whether regional and local journalists will be curtailed as a result of the misbehaviour of journalists and editors of the daily nationals. Finally Mair leads Section H. with ‘Do they mean us? The View from Elsewhere’ with contributors taking a look, outside in, to consider world reaction to the Leveson enquiry and the implications of this.

In editing and compiling this work, John Mair has produced an eminently readable account for all and not only for those with a professional interest in the subject. The work is full of recognisable personalities and where they present as the subject matter, the context in which they are placed gives one a fair and fuller understanding of positions, not subject to any idiosyncratic reporting as may possibly arise from the media. Mair in his selection, for the most part, ensures all shades of opinion are represented providing sufficiently diverse debate to enable the reader to draw his own conclusions from a compilation appearing to lack a general consensus. Although highly topical and certainly entertaining I found this book somewhat challenging as there are many opinions to carry, many threads to hold if one is to retain a coherent view of the debate in order to be able to formulate an opinion. It is possible to dip in and out for inevitably there are subject areas which will be more appealing to some individuals than others. Each contributor contextualises to varying degree the content of their relatively short dissertation which inevitably gives some useful overlap serving to reinforce one’s understanding of events regardless of individual perspectives.  In the interests of understanding the influences on the democratic machine and the necessity to safeguard it, this book is an important work. John Mair proves a superb architect of this vital debate and presents it in such a way as to appeal to a lay person such as myself.  I do highly recommend the reading of it.

ISBN  9781845495763

Publisher:  Abramis academic publishing   2013   (imprint of arima publishing)

Reviewer: Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright – all rights reserved

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