Massive edit: It appears I misread the speech and that Ivan Lewis is NOT calling for state licensing of the media, however I still object because the “independent” licensing in the form he proposes goes way too far.
OK lets clear up one fact… TASS actually still exists but not in the form it used to be..
Ivan Lewis MP, speaking at the Labour conference laid forward his plans for dealing with media issues like hackgate, and they make chilling reading.
He has ideas for journalist licensing and the idea that they can be struck off from a register should they make a serious transgression.
It appears that he wants this to be done centrally (most likely by a QANGO).
To me this sees the return of the Soviet style of journalism (hence my reference to TASS – the official government sanctioned
news propaganda agency in the former Soviet Union) in that everyone is accountable to the government. Whilst some greater regulation is needed, this could be achieved by a totally independent body. Independent of the editors and journalists and independent of the judiciary. This should allow responsible investigative journalism to continue.
One also wonders with this new licensing agency that could be set up should Labour ever return to power whether in future governments, the administration in control may force non professional writers such as bloggers to be licensed. With the fact that blogging brings the power of publishing to anyone with an internet connection, this could be a very real threat to not only the freedom of the press, but freedom of speech.
Government has repeatedly proved itself to be largely ignorant of the power of the web and the internet until something goes wrong then they blame it, and their efforts to control the internet are proof of that. Don’t expect this to change anytime soon.
This is yet another example of Labour wanting to control everything centrally, removing individuality. We should resist any attempt of official journalism licensing and allow the press its freedom to do what it does best.