Praise for the local press

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MORE than nine months after the inquiry was set up to look into press and media standards following the outrageous behaviour of a handful of journalists, Lord Justice Leveson has delivered his report.

For the national press it makes for difficult reading, an unpalatable indictment of an abuse of privilege and a warning that unless it acts speedily to reform, then 300 years of freedom from state control should be ended.

There has been a frantic and frenetic climax in the arguments about whether the press should be regulated by law or not - fought vociferously by interested and aggrieved parties.

But the truth of the matter is that the wider general public are not as interested as those in the media would like to believe they are.

What our readers are more concerned about is that their local newspaper reports accurately and impartially local events. That we are there to fight for their cause and champion their campaigns. That their local newspaper tells the stories of people’s lives and celebrates the good news and that we are there to expose wrongdoing when it occurs.

Leveson pays tribute to the local press. He has been careful to draw a distinction to what has been played out in his inquiry and nationally, and to say that the demise of the local press would be “a real loss for our democracy”.

He says: “The criticisms of culture, practices and ethics of the press that have been raised in this inquiry do not affect them: on the contrary, they have been much praised.”

We thank him for recognising that.

Yet, we also have a valid opinion on statutory regulation.

We believe it would be a retrograde step and unwarranted.

It’s all in the best possible taste

POOR hygiene and contaminated food - it’s enough to make your stomach churn.

Fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often at restaurants in this city, but when it does the council acts.

It closed down 27 food premises between January 2011 and this September because inspectors believed there was an ‘imminent risk to health’.

This is not a figure to cause alarm. The authority carried out 2,581 inspections at restaurants and take-aways, so closing 27 suggests the vast majority of eateries do a good job.

We should be glad the council is being thorough and that extreme cases are prosecuted in court.

All of which is definitely most palatable news.