A free and fair press is central to any democratic society. It isn't for controlling politicians or self-serving editors to decide what constitutes freedom of speech or fairness. That must be determined by independent regulation.
The groundwork has been laid thoroughly by campaigners, charities, women's organisations and the like, who have worked tirelessly to change this situation, and yet there is still no means at all of holding the UK press to task for degrading, sexist or harmful reporting. Which leaves us wondering; is it time to update the Editors' Code?
How do we know when is press regulation good enough? The question is topical because IPSO, the self-regulator established by the big corporate newspapers, has been trying lately to persuade us it can be trusted to do its job.
The next milestone following the Leveson Inquiry and Report has been reached this week. Press regulators can now apply to us, the Press Recognition Panel (PRP), for "recognition". After consulting widely on draft proposals over the summer, we have explained how we will go about that recognition process.
The big corporate papers are encouraging the idea that the result of the general election means the end of the Leveson process. Although this claim is hardly surprising given their wild-eyed desperation to avoid any form of meaningful accountability, it is wrong. Here are five reasons to be confident that independent, effective press self-regulation along the lines recommended by the Leveson Inquiry is on its way.
MYTH 5. The CPS is engaged in a witch-hunt against journalists. The facts. Normal procedures were followed and those procedures are designed to protect defendants from unfair prosecution. The CPS, an independent body, followed published guidelines in deciding that the evidence was sufficient to put before a jury.
It is no exaggeration to say that one of the most important choices we face on 7 May is between a freer, better press, fit for a modern democracy, and one that continues to be dragged down by corruption and dishonesty.
My fear is the televised cases are only going to be those that draw in an audience because broadcasters are commercial animals. They need viewing figures. Thus the celebrity jungle, which has become more and more unedifying in recent years, will have another wild beast out of control and out of kilter with reality.
As IPSO - the press' response to Leveson - opened for business this week, newspapers may be wondering whether they will be able to convince the public that it is not just a replica of its discredited predecessor, the Press Complaints Commission. No doubt IPSO will receive praise from newspapers themselves - at least initially. But will this be enough to paper over its shortcomings? Based on the public's response to the coverage of the Leveson Report and its implementation by the national press, the answer is no. It is highly unlikely that positive newspaper coverage will ever convince the public that IPSO is independent or effective.
The coverage of Robin Williams's death in UK national newspapers reveals not only that some editors treat their own industry Code of Practice with contempt - there is nothing new about that - but also that they seem unable to learn responsible practice no matter how often they are told and no matter what is at stake. No British editor can claim to be unaware that human lives are at risk here. Again and again in the past decade they have been told by leading charities and campaigns in this field, including the Samaritans and MIND, that suicides can prompt copycat events and that the suicide of a celebrity is especially likely to do this.
Like many journalists, I revel in the cacophony of voices our papers present - but that is not enough. Humans see as well as listen. To ensure balance - of news, comment or of features - we need a range of photos too.
The people who hacked my phone and appeared outside my house a cold January morning over eight years ago, bringing my career and life as I knew it to a end, are now all in jail. And with the latest phone hacking scandal, I should feel the wheel has turned; perhaps a sense of revenge or justice.
I can never be sure whether any of the stories I worked on were expedited by the headlining practise of hacking. What I can be sure of is that a number of leads that had reached a dead end, had all of a sudden endless avenues after a hack's surreptitious chat with news desk elders. It is amazing what you can learn by eavesdropping on a phone call of a hack, rather than hacking a phone of a Jude Law.
When asked what he thought of western civilisation, the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi replied that 'I think it would be a great idea'. The verdicts handed down from the phone hacking trial together with the information contained during the eight months at the Old Bailey suggest pretty much the same thing. We need a free and fearless press because we certainly don't appear to have one now.
Now the hacking trial verdicts have confirmed that the country's biggest newspaper company suffered a catastrophic collapse in standards, the question must be: has Rupert Murdoch done what is necessary to ensure it won't happen again? And the answer is no, he has not. In fact Murdoch has done the reverse. He has joined a conspiracy with other press bosses to prevent the changes that were demanded by the Leveson Inquiry - changes endorsed by all parties in Parliament, by victims of press abuse and by the public.
This trial was the eye of a perfect storm in that was a very high-profile case and a much more far-reaching prosecution in terms of punishment and implication than we saw in 2006... Whether or not the law around phone hacking is changed or new offences created will probably depend on the public reaction to Coulson's sentence.