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Leveson – ethics without morality?

From Evangelical Alliance

Why is it that, the more freedoms we are given, the more laws we seem to need? The Leveson Inquiry and the accompanying public debate has not got to the root of this core problem: you won't improve ethics if you ignore morality. Recommendations on the future of press regulation are evidently needed and the focus of much attention, after all, the press is interested in what concerns their future.

But it is vitally important to step back from the frenzy surrounding the media scandals, corruption, inquiry and now the report and ask more foundational questions about the place of ethics in our media. This crisis echoes a broader crisis of public leadership across all of society, whether it's politics, banking, finance, even our education system. Albert Camus once observed that: "A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world." There is a lot of talk about ethics in public life, but little acknowledgement that ethics flow from a moral framework. If we don't accept the indispensability of morality, no number of new laws and regulators will make men and women good.

The Leveson Inquiry has exposed how truth and transparency are vital for a healthy society – and how our media has shown a frequent disregard for its value. Too often we seem to be trying to cultivate public ethics in a vacuum: how can we expect honesty without a high regard for truth? It's (literally) impossible to have honesty in the media without having truth as an objective for reporting. With media outlets competing for power and profits, each one seeks to present its own worldview at the expense of the other. Fuelled by a pervasive myth of secular neutrality, the outcome is a subtle but apparent manipulation of facts and reality to suit a particular agenda – all of which has the effect of reducing public trust.

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