Who wants to be a media regulator?

posted at 5:21 pm on February 4, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Want to squelch investigative reporting? Punish media outlets for offenses, real or perceived? If you don’t mind relocating, the UK has a position open for aspiring public-debate referees:

Wanted: someone unconnected with the newspaper and magazine publishing industry willing to take on the burden of chairing a new press regulator for £150,000 a year.

Applicants are being invited for the inaugural chair of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) in an advert placed in the print edition of today’s Guardian.

It says that the job “is a real challenge and rare opportunity to lead in the creation of an important new national body.”

So the successful applicant will be “a proven leader with experience in a complex and high-profile environment” who can “demonstrate independence, sound judgement and resilience, as well as the ability to work and communicate effectively in a public and high profile environment.”

Furthermore, the Ipso chair “will be committed to protecting the rights of the public whilst maintaining freedom of expression.”

Good luck with that. IPSO is a little more than just a trade organization such as Underwriters Laboratories is here in the US. Parliament has added some regulatory heft to the panel, and may add penalties for legal actions involving non-members, which makes this somewhat less than entirely voluntary. (The Guardian, which reports this opening, has refused to join, as has the Independent and the Financial Times.) It’s a lever to allow government to dictate limits of reporting, which is at the moment a not-unpopular position among the British after the press scandals at News of the World and other outlets of late.

Americans might well feel a little sanctimonious about the premium we put on free debate and expression, but I’m not sure we’re much different these days. In my column at The Week, I offer my services to IPSO as their new chief regulator of the press, and explain that they needn’t fear hiring Americans these days:

All one needs to do to confirm that our reputation exceeds reality is look at how free speech is handled on college and university campuses. Earlier this month, the free-speech watchdog Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its report on campus speech restrictions, finding that 59 percent impose “policies that seriously infringe upon students’ speech rights,” which is a slight improvement over the previous year. These institutions, many of them state-funded, impose “speech codes” to prevent “offense,” and in some cases restrict the First Amendment’s application to small “free speech zones” that others on campus can avoid. This, by the way, surveys official action against free speech by administrators, and not the assaults and blockades that often greet speakers with heterodox viewpoints from universities’ student populations.

The lengthy use of such campus speech codes has, as FIRE president Greg Lukianoff argues in his new book Unlearning Liberty, begun to transform American society from a culture that values open debate to one intolerant of any contact with differing opinions. Thus we have the attempts to shut out those who challenge political correctness, such as a reality TV star who expressed mainstream Christian theology on homosexuality, an actress who endorsed a Republican in California (admittedly a bit of a novelty these days), and according to the governor of New York, anyone who opposes abortion.

While I could regale the committee with plenty of examples along these lines — for instance, the demand to fire meteorologists who refuse to endorse anthropogenic climate change from all media outlets — one more for this week will suffice. ABC invited conservative radio host Dana Loesch to make a guest appearance on The View, which rather notoriously features just one conservative at a time among their regular contributors. The one conservative regular, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, left the show in the summer of 2013 and has yet to be replaced.

Needless to say, this put Loesch in the distinct minority on the panel, but that wasn’t good enough for a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Rather than cheer on the lopsided odds facing Loesch in defending her gun-rights positions, MDA founder Shannon Watts blasted ABC and The View for giving Loesch any time at all. Watts claimed to speak for 80 million moms, while perhaps forgetting that Loesch might just as well claim to speak for 62 million gun owners. Watts lamented that rather than look for a “responsible gun owner” to co-host, The View gave “a pro-gun activist” a spot in which she was outnumbered 4-1. Watts also noted that The View had a right to select its own co-hosts, but that the producers and ABC should have realized how offensive it would be to have Loesch offer her opinions on gun laws.

It might seem a little odd for me to be using my current job and platform to apply for another one across the Atlantic, but I’m pretty sure everyone knows that my satirical tongue is planted firmly in my satirical cheek here. However, the job does pay £150,000 a year for a three-day work week, roughly equivalent to $245,000 here in the US. As I conclude in my piece, that’s pretty tempting even with the relocation, because these days, there doesn’t appear to be much difference in embracing free debate.

Be sure to read it all.

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Big brother…

OmahaConservative on February 4, 2014 at 5:28 PM

However, the job does pay £150,000 a year for a three-day work week, roughly equivalent to $245,000 here in the US.

That’s a better gig than Obama has! Sure he takes a pay cut but it isn’t like the lazy shiftless coward is even working three days as it is! Now he can golf without making any pretense of working.

Happy Nomad on February 4, 2014 at 5:33 PM

As I conclude in my piece, that’s pretty tempting even with the relocation,

Might they allow you to “tele-commute”? Or, for that kind of money, you could just make it a five day work week with transportation tacked on Mondays and Fridays. As I tell my daughter, go ahead and apply, the worst that can happen is that say “No”.

oldleprechaun on February 4, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Michael Savage should apply just for kicks.

Banned in Britain!

Murphy9 on February 4, 2014 at 5:37 PM

My understanding is that the BBC does its hiring through the Guardian, which seems to be like the revolving door that Time correspondent Jay Carney swung through.

cbenoistd on February 4, 2014 at 5:38 PM

The small print says the eventual nominee must speak British, and Dog Eater doesn’t speak Austrian or British so he’s out.

Bishop on February 4, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Ipso facto, free speech is censored in Britain.

Steve Z on February 4, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Wonder if AP will put up a thunderdome thread on Ken Ham vs Bill Nye?

knob on February 4, 2014 at 5:44 PM

The place of the Magna Carta :(((((

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Might they allow you to “tele-commute”? Or, for that kind of money, you could just make it a five day work week with transportation tacked on Mondays and Fridays. As I tell my daughter, go ahead and apply, the worst that can happen is that say “No”.

oldleprechaun on February 4, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Yeah ask if you can do the job whilst living in MN! They’ll like the use of whilst. Shows you don’t hate the brits the way Obama does.

Happy Nomad on February 4, 2014 at 5:52 PM

John Milton spoke out against censorship in the 17th century:

Milton’s tract is a direct response to the the Licensing Order of 1643 which reinstated much the same sort of pre-publication censorship once exercised by the Star Chamber and other earlier censors, royal and ecclesiastical. Milton does not argue here for free and unregulated speech or printing, but simply that books should not be suppressed before publication. Treasonous, slanderous and blasphemous books, he allows, should be tried according to law, then suppressed and their authors punished.

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/areopagitica/

[Which includes the full text. Summary: http://www.enotes.com/topics/areopagitica

davidk on February 4, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Andrew, Il Duce

Viator on February 4, 2014 at 6:29 PM

…it’s ok!…Chris Christie agrees with him…98% of the time!
…thank you New York!

KOOLAID2 on February 4, 2014 at 7:07 PM

That Cuomo is one ugly bastaad.

Sherman1864 on February 4, 2014 at 7:38 PM

Big brother…

OmahaConservative on February 4, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Being a british character written by a british author and all that…

workingclass artist on February 4, 2014 at 10:37 PM