Media Essay 1
Topic 2: With reference to the hacking scandal in the UK and the current debates about the Media Appeals Tribunal in South Africa, discuss the merits and demerits of statutory regulation versus self-regulation for the media.
Regulation in the media is a hotly debated topic, especially in light of recent scandals, namely the UK hacking scandal, and more locally, the issues surrounding the Media Appeal Tribunal in South Africa. With the advances in private investigation technologies, the ease in which accessing private information increases and matters that were intended to be private become public domain. This essay will look at whether, in today’s age, where information is on such high demand, and the tools needed to get otherwise inaccessible information so readily available, self-regulation in the media is enough to prevent illegal practices, or whether stricter rules and policies need to be introduced. Balancing media regulations with freedom of speech is the overriding problem with this debate. On the one hand, there is a regulation process whereby parliament appoints a regulatory leader, or group of individuals, to act as a regulator of journalists and journalistic practices. That group or leader is also given jurisdiction in terms of fining, reprimanding and jailing those journalists if they are found to have infringed on the regulations established. This form of media regulation, known as statutory regulation, is frowned upon as being undemocratic as it hinders the rights of expression of journalists and the rights to information of the consumers. The second form of regulation to be discussed in the essay is self-regulation. Although self-regulation is the more democratic of the two types, there are some draw-backs. Self-regulation requires the journalists, themselves, to commit to ethical reporting that is fair, accurate and not harmful; the problem there being that a journalist might report on something that he or she thinks is fair...
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