Media-bashing live

Sunday 21 October, 9.30am until 10.15am, Pit Theatre

‘Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel’, runs a famous warning. Yet, if all the charges submitted to the Leveson Inquiry are to be believed, maybe the media need to buy more ink. They stand accused of being Public Enemy Number One: Of making prime ministers bow to the might of press barons; of dumbing us down through a diet of celebrity gossip and the latest moral panic; and of misinforming us on everything from governmental policy and scientific evidence through to teen delinquency, immigration and the difference between paedophiles and paediatricians. Whatever your political inclination, what used to be tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper is today’s boiler-plate excuse: Don’t blame me, it was the media wot done it!

Yet there are undoubtedly heroic hacks among the villainous press pack. It was, after all, Guardian journalist Nick Davies who broke the ‘Hackgate’ story with good old-fashioned investigative reporting, while Johann Hari discovered that fellow journalists can be ruthless in challenging others’ misconduct. Free speech campaigners point to the bravery of persecuted journalists the world over in exposing censorious regimes and counter that, with the rise of super-injunction on top of the UK’s notoriously stringent libel laws, the media must still be bloodying some of the right noses. Meanwhile, in the face of drastic cuts across the sector and the difficulties of finding support for serious investigative journalism, newshounds and opinion-formers can equally plead desperate poverty as much as a supposed malign power.

Was colourful Queens’ Counsel Robert Jay correct when he announced that putting the media under legal scrutiny was ‘so much fun’? Is it really possible, as Hugh Grant urged, to separate off the ‘goodies’ from the ‘baddies’ of the tabloid beast? Faced with evidence of their crimes from Hillsborough to Hackgate, isn’t it time the press were made to eat their words? Join our panel of plucky hacks as they take the brickbats, and maybe the occasional plaudits, of Media-Bashing Live!

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Sean Bell
secretary and founder member, The Brighton Salon; copy-editor, writer and journalist

Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal
freelance journalist; former sex-advice columnist, Evening Standard; author, Tourism

Ed Dorrell
features and comment editor, Times Educational Supplement

Jo Phillips
award-winning journalist; former press secretary to Paddy Ashdown; co-author, Why Vote?

Jason Walsh
journalist; foreign correspondent, CS Monitor

David Bowden
associate fellow, Academy of Ideas; culture writer

Produced by
David Bowden associate fellow, Academy of Ideas; culture writer

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