Yes I know I took my own pictures of the Carter-Ruck flashmob last week, but this one has me in it. I’m in print! In the Guardian! Yay! Peter Preston also has some interesting points about the new alliances forged as a result of the second Carter-Ruck injunction on the Guardian:
as the Guardian‘s triumphant Alan Rusbridger noted, is that it wasn’t a win for press battalions or nippy legions of Twitterers alone. You needed the resources of a determined paper – and, in parallel, a dogged BBC – to pursue the toxic case of Africans falling violently ill in the Ivory Coast. And you needed an elliptical front page story in print about a gagged Commons question to set the blogosphere buzzing.
It’s a cute, quick conclusion, but he should bear in mind that there was no deliberate alliance, and after Carter-Ruck clearly got nervy about their misjudgment with it and varied the second injunction, it rapidly fell apart. Between Tuesday and Friday night’s reversal of the first super injunction, the blogosphere and Twitter in general had completely lost interest in Trafigura and Carter-Ruck. The issue for Twitter was the question of freedom of speech in parliament, nothing more – when that was restored it was job done, everyone then piled on Jan Moir for her homophobic bile, even though the Guardian was still operating under severe restrictions. The BBC also didn’t act uniformally with the Guardian and blogosphere – Newsnight and the Guardian may both have exposed Trafigura’s role in the toxic waste dumping in Ivory Coast, and both were facing legal action by Carter-Ruck as a result, but the BBC was almost entirely silent when the Guardian went on the offensive.
Don’t get me wrong I think some very interesting changes have happened as a result of Carter-Ruck’s historic misjudgment with the second super injunction, but the relationship between old and new media is unstable and the outcomes frequently overstated. The fight against hack Jan Moir’s homophobic attack on Stephen Gately may have generated an historic number of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), but the Daily HateMail’s editor Paul Dacre remains chairman of the PCC’s Editors’ Code of Practice – the very code his employee (and he by extension) broke. As long as that’s the case all the tweets in the world won’t really change anything, and indeed although Trafigura and Carter-Ruck are rapidly backtracking from their hardline behaviour, libel law is unchanged in the UK, other super injunctions remain in place and noone is holding Trafigura to account.
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