Press review: Wednesday 14 May 2014
Protecting privacy or airbrushing history?
The Independent is the only paper to lead with the European Court of Justice's "right to be forgotten" ruling, which means people will have the right to ask that personal details are removed from internet search engine results.
Europe has thus marched into an area of the privacy v censorship debate where Leveson chose not to tread. Just as with the cases of ordinary people who suffered from the worst outrages of (mostly) tabloid newsgathering, it seems reasonable for people who live their lives out of the public eye to be allowed to keep private matters private.
But this won't be a matter of covering up youthful indiscretions, of protecting loved ones from the shadier corners of your past. We have all done things we'd rather no one brought back to the surface years later. But some people have done serious things that need to remain in the public domain.
SubScribe suspects that it will not be the woman who had a baby adopted while at university who wants to keep that secret from her family, but the crooks and conmen. And the celebrities and the politicians and, above all, the wealthy. This is a ruling that will do nothing for ordinary people and everything for people of influence with something to hide.
It would be a real worry if there were any way of putting it into practice. But European judges are deluding themselves if they think they can tame the internet. If we can't find what we want on google.co.uk or google.fr or google.es, we'll just have to look at google.com. The Americans will have no truck with this.
The surprise with regard to today's coverage is that it received so little, apart from in the Independent. The Guardian, which one would think would be the most exercised by this, puts it on page 4, choosing to splash instead on another continental court - the International Court of Justice at the Hague, which is to investigate the UK for alleged war crimes during the Iraq war. That is going to be a seriously slow-burn story.
The Mail is also concerned with evils of the internet, in this case a man who posed as a public schoolboy on Facebook to groom girls aged 12-14 over the web. Timothy Storey was convicted of eight child sex offences and given a three-year rehabilitation order. The Mail believes this is too lenient and its splash demands: "Why was internet predator not jailed?"
So far, so par for the course. But the strapline doesn't tell us something new about Storey - what he did for a living, for example - instead it says: "Fury after Oxford graduate's husband goes free despite grooming hundreds of girls".
What? Does the fact that his wife is an Oxford graduate - or a charwoman - have any relevance to this case?
Mrs Storey and her profession make a second appearance in the third paragraph as a subordinate clause in a sentence saying that Storey "would threaten to tell the girls' parents if they tried to end the vile abuse". Then when we turn to page 6, we are treated to a wedding photograph and a description of his wife, "a 26-year-old high flier", and their "dream wedding" at St Paul's Cathedral.
What is interesting here is that subscribers to the Press Reader service will not have seen any of this. The whole lot was removed, leaving a sorry looking front page. On the website, the story survives but detailed references to Mrs Storey and her work have gone, but a sentence has been introduced to say that the couple have been separated for a year.
Is this fair? The Mail has clearly responded sharpish to a telephone call or email. SubScribe feels that the over-emphasis of the wife's credentials and the use of the wedding photograph in the first print edition was wrong. But isn't it also wrong that someone has apparently brought pressure to bear to have her taken out altogether? She may regret having married this man, but - like those youthful indiscretions that may crop up on Google - it happened.
There is a difference between protecting personal privacy and airbrushing history.
Goldilocks and the three picture editors
Once upon a time an actress went to the castle for dinner. She paused on her way to have her photograph taken. When it appeared in the papers next day, one had cropped it too tightly, one had left it too loose. Which one got it just right?
SubScribe Pictures blog
Nigeria's stolen schoolgirls
For three weeks it seemed that nobody was interested in the hundreds of girls kidnapped from their school in north-eastern Nigeria. Now everyone is on their case
Tuesday's Press review
Bearded lady is
toast of Europe
Oh yes, we all love Conchita - but are we
as cool and tolerant as
we like to pretend?
Monday's press review
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