The Blog

News of the World: Will That Chill Return?

The Sun came out last Sunday, but a year ago it would have been the.

The Sun came out last Sunday, but a year ago it would have been the News Of The World.

On a cursory analysis, nothing has changed. Over breakfast many households read their newspaper, and down it in the same habitual way as they down their tea and eat their Sunday breakfast. Nothing too challenging to read. Some starting backwards to see the football and tennis, others starting at the front.

The real change is in but a few households. One year later the paper isn't about ruining lives, but reporting and commenting on news. Lazy journalism being replaced by effort based research.

Are we any the worse? Has there been the "chilling effect" that Michael Gove complained of?

It is tempting to be abusive to Mr Gove just to demonstrate that I have not been chilled, but such an attack would be puerile.

It is not stopped because of the Leveson Inquiry but because it would not be justified. The whole point of a free press, is that (within reason) people can say what they wish. Of course common decency prevents a totally free press if such freedom hurts someone else. As in all walks of life there is a balance to be drawn, anyone with a shred of common decency would not see a blanket ban on child pornography as an unjustifiable chill on publication.

So if the papers operate under a different regime this year to that which was in place last year then so what? Which regime is freer?

The Leveson chill that stops the use of illegal means to attack individuals, or the self-imposed chill by proprietors that prevented journalists telling their readers about those things we now know of.

Who knew about the unhealthy relationship between, politicians and News International? Who knew about the Metropolitan Police's cozy relationship with News International? Weren't they "chills".

Where were you Mr Gove, telling your constituents about that? Sadly you were not alone. Politicians from all parties bent over to please Mr Murdoch, who in his own words never asked a Prime Minister. He never had to. Hopefully that has changed.

The question is will that chill return?