Tie the Culture Secretary down, please
THERE ARE a range of government policies affecting journalism on the stocks. You have a chance of influencing them. Some MPs do take note of individually-crafted letters from their constituents; and those not well-disposed to your argument will take the absence of such letters as an excuse for not thinking at all about an issue. So mention of a petition is also an invitation to send such a hand-crafted message if you have time. Look up your constituency MP at www.theyworkforyou.com
First, there's the matter of changes to Freedom of Information law (see here). There's a petition supporting the specific recommendation to extend the openness rules to private companies that run public services: see www.bit.ly/public-FoIA
Next, there's the controversial matter of press regulation. Unlike certain newspaper proprietors, the NUJ supports the recommendation of the Leveson Inquiry for an independent regulator (see the June 2013 Freelance). It backed a lobby of Parliament by Hacked Off on Wednesday 20 April to demand that the second phase of the Inquiry happens, as promised by David Cameron, a Prime Minister, when the prosecutions are complete.
"Leveson 2" is intended to determine how widespread press wrongdoing was, who was really responsible, and the rôle of the police and politicians in covering it up. According to Hacked Off John Whittingdale MP, who was Culture Secretary as we went to press, wants to bury it.
Please also ask that Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which provides the "engine" for the press regulation proposals, is brought into force. John Whittingdale has said he wants to shelve it. For details see www.bit.ly/LevesonLetter
Last but not least, there's the matter of control of the BBC. John Whittingdale in March announced plans for a new board for the corporation - with the great majority of members appointed by government. There's a petition against this at www.bit.ly/BBCboard