Sir Alan Moses, chair of IPSO, rejected the idea of “a defensive press” and championed the cause of robust, “edited journalism” over “the unedited flatulence of the troll online” in his keynote speech at this year’s London Press Club Awards lunch.
Was “all fair and dandy in the world of press behaviour?” he asked several hundred editors and senior journalists gathered at the five-star luxury Corinthia Hotel in London for the annual Awards lunch. “Oh good lord, I sincerely hope not,” he said.
“The thought of a well-behaved press tiptoeing daintily in the park for fear of treading on the pretty flowers in so many illicit beds gives this regulator cold gruel indeed”, said Sir Alan, a former Lord Justice of Appeal and Court of Appeal judge, who became IPSO’s first chair in 2014.
“We don’t want a defensive press fearful of treading over the line and this perhaps, beyond the well-deserved prizes, is what we ought, what we must celebrate.
“We need more than ever a press that has verifiable reliable sources, we need the geography, the serendipity, the smell of edited newspaper journalism. Above all, we need edited journalism and not the unedited flatulence of the troll online. And that is what it seems to an outsider we rejoice in today.”
And a thinly-disguised dig at IMPRESS, the self-appointed charity claiming to rival IPSO which was set up with the backing of the majority of UK newspapers, he announced a new category of award – for Regulator of the Year – with IPSO coming second, but “highly commended”.
“The winner is…IMPRESS…what regulator could hope to rise to the eminence of a regulator of the Ferret and the Bit of Stone….where few if any complain and where those worthy blogs do what you all ought to learn to do…behave yourselves. What fun it must be a theoretical regulator. The triumph of theory over practice needs does it not our admiration”, said Sir Alan.
Later, Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, winner of Newspaper of the Year (check) praised the newspaper industry of today, rather the “gin-soaked industry of yesterday”, although during Leveson, he said, “the entire industry was judged guilty and had to prove its innocence”.
However, the future looked brighter with the appointment of Sir Alan, whom he said was “passionate about the freedom of the press”, as opposed to “the malign zealots” lined up to attack the press. But he lamented the pay of regional journalists who worked “for a pittance” in order to become journalists.