Posts Tagged ‘free press’

Our free press should remain free

15/11/2012, 07:00:17 AM

by Peter Watt

I know a bit about the impact of aggressive press activity.  Back in 2008 when I resigned as general secretary of the Labour party it was pretty big news.  The story revolved around me.  For the first few days (it could’ve been a week) there were journalists outside our home, TV trucks in the street and people trying to climb into our back garden to see if we were in but not answering the door.

Luckily the whole family, including our very young children, had shot off to stay with relatives before they arrived.  We had to move twice over the next few weeks.  The neighbours had their doors knocked but they all closed ranks and wouldnt talk to the media.  At one point my wife, Vilma, had to go home to collect some clothes; she went into our neighbours’ house so that she could go into our house unseen by the media via our back door.  While she was in the neighbours’ house a journalist knocked on the door and asked her if she knew the neighbours – i.e. us!

Friends were contacted to comment via Facebook and my wider family were phoned at home and work.  One newspaper offered a large sum of money to someone to both comment and let them know where I was.

Someone else told me to change the PIN on my voicemail which I did and changed my phone as well.  Friends eventually told us when the media had gone; it took a while as for a further week or so after most had left, there was a pooled journalist constantly on guard.

Even after that there would be someone knocking on the door at least once a week.  All in all, it was a pretty grim experience that went on for a couple of months with someone even turning up at our door on Boxing Day.  For months we had to ban the kids from answering the door.

So I know what serious intrusion into your life by an aggressive persistent media feels like.  The truth is that unless you have actually gone through it then it is actually hard to imagine just how frightening and destabilising it really is.


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The week Uncut

16/07/2011, 10:30:20 AM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

Dan Hodges says phone hacking is not the silver bullet

Anthony Painter calls for media ownership reform

Kevin Meagher thinks Ed deserves a pat on the back

John Woodcock on the BskyB bid and media regulation

Atul Hatwal reports on Ed’s next move

Dave Talbot says big up to the Guardian

Ian Austin isn’t after blue or new, he wants future Labour

Matt Cavanagh says the government are spinning rising crime rates

… and this weeks Commons sketch

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