As the froth dissipates it is worth reflecting on what lessons the saga of the Prince Harry photographs has for the media regulation debate. There is a natural tendency to conclude that this is another passing “silly season” story – with as much wider significance as the Essex lion. After all Prince Harry holds no public office and the invasions of his privacy were relatively minor in the scheme of things. Such a conclusion would be too hasty. The absurd affair of Prince Harry’s bum is nevertheless a very clear and illuminating example of what remains wrong with the tabloid press and, we suggest, provides five important lessons for the media regulation debate. Continue reading
The Sunday Times does not mince its words, with a leading article entitled ‘The Sun’s brave lone stand for press freedom’. Prince Harry, it declares, ‘has put the issue of press freedom squarely on the agenda’, and the Sun, by publishing pictures of him with his clothes off, had exposed the absurdity of a situation where ‘British newspaper readers have been deprived of information freely available to their counterparts overseas’. This, said the Sunday Times, recalled the abdication crisis and the Spycatcher case. Continue reading
Well, against a cacophonous backdrop of hysterical commentary, The Sun has bitten the bullet and published on today’s front page those notorious photos of Prince Harry on the Vegas Strip. The Sun says that they have published in the public interest and as a test of Britain’s free press. Continue reading
So, finally, the “Sun” has come up with a public interest argument to justify writing about and publishing illegally taken photographs of a party in a private hotel room. Under the headline “We fight for press freedom” the “Sun” bootstraps for Britain – justifying its publication of private photographs by reference to the “debate” which it, and the rest of the media have generated. Continue reading
So there you have it. We spend a whole year discussing press ethics and then, for the sake of a peek at Prince Harry’s bum, half the world seems ready to say that the editor of the Sun can make up his own ethics.
No, this is not about the freedom of the press. Nor is it about print versus internet. And it is not about the public’s ‘right’ to see pictures of Harry’s bum either. It is about mob rule and the right of large newspaper corporations to do whatever they like. Continue reading
More than anyone else, it seems, the Daily Mail is furious about Harry. The Express, in an editorial on the prince’s adventures in Las Vegas, concludes: ‘Good luck to him.’ A Mirror writer observes: ‘. . . these pictures have just made me like him even more.’ The Sun’s leader carried a headline making a joke out of the prince’s game of strip billiards: ‘Cue laughter.’ But the Mail is at Defcon 1 on the indignation scale, devoting its first five pages to the story and leading with the headline ‘Palace fury at Harry naked Photos’. Continue reading
The internet has, today, been buzzing with stories about Prince Harry “cavorting naked” in his hotel suite in Las Vegas. It is said that the photographs are available on US celebrity websites – but the British press have rightly held back from publishing even “edited highlights”. Continue reading