The Leveson Inquiry, the UK Press, the current government’s response and Women

A guest post by Jennifer Hornsby.

[For more information on the Leveson report, go here.]

The report of Lord Leveson, who conducted an Enquiry into the Culture,
Practice and Ethics of the Press, was published on Thursday 29th
November. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has announced his
reluctance to implement the report’s principal recommendation – that
there should be legally backed regulation, independent of politicians
and press, to hold the press to account. A majority of M.P.s, however,
endorse that recommendation. And victims of press abuses want all of
Leveson’s recommendations implemented. At the time I write, over 50,000
people (and the number is growing apace) have signed a petition in
support of the victims.

These victims are individuals who have suffered lying, intimidation,
intrusion. Leveson was concerned not only with individuals, but also
with classes of people who suffer at the hands of the press. In the
regular press coverage of the report and of the ensuing debate, no
mention is made of the fact that Leveson took evidence from (among
others) representatives of women, and this evidence led to a

In his report, Leveson exposes the gross incompetence of the Press
Complaints Commission, tasked to ensure that the Editors’ Code of
Practice is enforced. The Commission proved itself to be aligned with,
and a champion of, the interests of the press; and it made no attempt to
monitor press compliance with the Code. It operated a complaints system
which normally required an individual complainant who was individually
affected by a story, so that complaints made on behalf of a class of
people was not ordinarily admissible. The Code (as opposed to those
supposed to enforce it) was not Leveson’s target. Under the head of
‘accuracy’, the Code has it that ‘the press must take care not to
publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including
pictures’. Under the head of ‘discrimination’, it has (i) The press must
avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race,
colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any form of physical
or mental illness or disability. (ii) Details of an individual’s race,
colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or
disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.’
Leveson gives an account of the evidence he heard from (among others)
EAVES, End Violence Against Women, Object. His account makes it clear
that the Editors’ Code has regularly been violated to women’s detriment.
(Leveson refrains from judging exactly how regularly.)
Leveson speaks of certain newspapers as failing to show “consistent
respect for the dignity and equality of women”, and he speaks of their
“tendency to sexualize and demean women”. He says that a new independent
regulator should have “the power to take complaints from representative
women’s groups”.

Women’s concerns are taken up in Volume 2 of the Report (the whole
Report is a million words long!). Anyone interested might want to search
for ‘women’ within the document.

“Native American designers fight cultural caricatures” – An actually good article from CNN

I was pleasantly surprised to see CNN post a well thought-out and executed article on responses to recent appropriation of American Indian cultures. 
(The comments are a different story, but at least there are some people calling out the bs among them.)

The article even does what its interviewees suggest: most of the article is just quotes from Native designers, artists, and bloggers.


“The conversation is important, because acts of cultural appropriation are not simply isolated incidents of “hipsters in Navajo panties and pop stars in headdresses,” said Sasha Houston Brown, a member of the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska. They are byproducts of “systemic racism” that perpetuate the idea that there’s no such thing as contemporary Native culture.  “Despite what dominant society and mainstream media say, Native culture is a vibrant and living culture. We are not a relic of the past, a theme or a trend, we are not a style or costume, we are not mascots, noble savages or romantic fictional entities.”


“What an ally does is support and help communicate the message of Native artists and entrepreneurs instead of speaking for them,” Brown said.


It would have been even better if the article had also discussed the connection between the amount of sexual violence American Indian women face (statistically) and the sexualization of them via things like the Victoria Secret runway show, ‘sexy Indian’ costumes, and other things.  Brown discusses that in her article here at Racialiscious.