Why the Twix advert is a perfect metaphor for the debate on press regulation

I hate that Twix advert.

To be fair, I hate most TV adverts.

But that Twix one about the two factories is particularly inane and annoying.

And yet, it struck me the other day, it does a serve a purpose of sorts.

I doubt that the agency behind the cringeworthy commercial had this in mind, but it perfectly sums up the debate over post-Leveson press regulation.

On the one side are many of the national papers, represented by the Free Speech Network.

On the other lies the campaign group Hacked Off.

As the media commentator Roy Greenslade pointed out in an incisive piece in the Guardian, the two factions are fundamentally at odds, utterly irreconcilable.

Neither cuts a particularly attractive figure: the nationals with their over-the-top shroud-waving, and Hacked Off with its smug superiority.

And in the middle, pretty much untainted and very much exonerated by Leveson, sits the regional media.

I was going to say lies.

But that’s something we tend not to do.

The joy of working for a local newspaper is that we have to look the people we write about in the eye virtually every day.

We are judged in the court of community credibility all the time.

It’s a form of regulation far more effective than anything dreamed up by a public inquiry or royal commission.

But it’s one that the nationals will never feel subject to.

One mildly reassuring theme of the first year of Ipso’s work has been what appears to be a reduction in the harassment of ordinary, innocent members of the public.

But there has been no let-up in the assault of political untruths and statistic-twisting, and no real evidence that the country’s biggest media players have turned over a new and honourable leaf.

I haven’t warmed to Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, and I don’t entirely trust him not to dismantle the BBC.

But I welcome his move to shelve the part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act that would force newspapers signed up to the unrecognised Ipso to pay the legal fees of complainants.

Rather than cry wolf over watchdogs, the national media would do better to show a bit of humility.

This isn’t about rolling over in the face of Soviet-style media repression. It’s about recognising that the reporting which led to Leveson was utterly and completely indefensible. And showing that things have changed.


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