With both the Leveson Inqury and the Communications Review underway, there seems to be a sense of urgency to the start of the 2011-12 academic year for those in the field of media and communications. On 21 September both the Coordinating Committee for Media Reform and the policy group of MECCSA held meetings looking at ways academics can be actively involved in these and other related policy processes.
Initiated by leading academics from Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre, the Media Reform project is consolidating ideas in three areas that cut across the current policy reform processes: ethics in the media, plurality and the public interest, and new funding models for media. Working groups have already started preparing briefing papers expected to be presented for debate among a wider group of stakeholders later in October.
The MECCSA policy group heard from Martin Moore of the Media Standards Trust who laid out four main policy questions academics need to be thinking about and researching in order to feed into discussions in both Leveson and the Comms Review. These are:
- If the Press Complaints Commission is dead, as all 3 party leaders have said, what model – if any – should replace it?
- Do we need legislative action on privacy?
- With upcoming changes to legislation on civil litigation costs and defamation, who is going to be left less able to seek redress?
- How does this country need to deal with media ownership?
There are many specific research tasks within these four larger questions, and academia can provide evidence and ideas as Leveson and the Comms Review move forward. Media reform is afoot and academics can consider this a call to action.