The conclusions of Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into the conduct and ethics of newspapers in the UK have ruled out the need to impose any additional monitoring of online-only communications – such as blogs and commentary via social media networks.
Following a series of mobile phone hacking scandals, the inquiry’s findings have recommended that a new watchdog be put in place to ensure that newspaper journalism does not fall into disrepute.
Although the findings have proposed that this watchdog be created from within the newspaper industry itself, they have also insisted that the scope and terms of the new watchdog’s remit be set out clearly in law.
The inquiry however has reached the conclusion that the monitoring of online-only content be excluded from this remit since, it claims, the latter does not have the same pervasiveness and impact as newspaper journalism.
Regarding social media content, the Leveson report states:
“Despite their extraordinary growth, as with most blogs, in the main, few tweets or social network pages are read by very large numbers of people, most tweets are read by very few people.”
The report further argues that the real-time nature of social media activity means that countering and correcting online reports can be achieved more quickly and effectively than is often the case with newspapers.
On blogging in general, the report says that while there are some exceptions, most blogs do not achieve the same reach as an article in the national press – and, it claims, are in any case mostly opinion pieces rather than news in any real sense of the word.