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Deconstructing Leveson's Inquiry

In the wake of the Leveson inquiry, LSE’s Media Policy Project| (MPP) were quick to analyses the proceedings. Jacopo Genevese (MSc Comm. Governance, '13) spoke with MPP director Dr. Damien Tambini| to get the details. (MPP) were quick to analyses the proceedings. Jacopo Genevese (MSc Comm. Governance, '13) spoke with MPP director to get the details.

Responding to Lord Justice Leveson’s call for evidence in the wake of the News International phone-hacking scandal, the The Media Policy Project swiftly published two policy briefs in June 2012. The first| took a comparative perspective, addressing how press regulation works elsewhere in Europe, while the second| investigated plurality of media ownership and how might media influence be measured in contemporary society. took a comparative perspective, addressing how press regulation works elsewhere in Europe, while the investigated plurality of media ownership and how might media influence be measured in contemporary society.

Both briefs gained Leveson’s attention, resulting in Dr. Damien Tambini, head of the MPP, being called to give evidence to the Inquiry. “Giving oral evidence under oath, I was able to refer to pieces of [scholarly] research,” said Tambini, “and give an informed view of the academic community and discuss with Leveson and Robert Jay, a member of the Queen’s Council, how they might approach their recommendations”.

The briefs are an example of the type of mediating work the Media Policy Project aims to do in order to unite scholarship and policy. “We very quickly realised that there was a need at the Inquiry and in the public debates around the Inquiry to have access to good academic research” said Tambini, who also called the scandal one of the biggest crises ever for media policy in the UK.

Set up in 2010 in the LSE Department of Media and Communications, the MPP aims to create better quality and increased communication between academics, policymakers, and other stakeholders in the policy process. “When I was involved in policymaking from a non-academic perspective, working with think-tanks” said Tambini, “I found that it was very difficult to access independent, high-quality academic research which was relevant to policy at the right time.” In order to address this issue, the MPP tries to translate and mediate between policymakers and academics, mostly through policy briefs and its blog, while actively involving civil society organisations in debates.

Tambini, Senior Lecturer and director of the LSE programme in Media and Communication Governance, spoke of the pedagogical utility of the MPP, stating that “the students involved in the courses that I teach are thinking about the process of how society problematises the media” and are interested in media accountability systems, harm caused by the media, and whether media institutions are structured in a way that it’s beneficial for society.

For this reason, Tambini maintains that the MPP is a unique benefit to students as it offers experience in the applied practice of doing media policy. “Through working with the Media Policy Project students will meet policymakers, talk with them and actually get involved not just in theoretical way, but hopefully in an influential way in the policy debate,” said Tambini.

The students and staff at the MPP were quite fortunate in that the beginning of the project coincided with the start of the Leveson Inquiry. The team was quick to act, however, Tambini emphasised that there is still more work to do stating “we are just entering a new policy cycle which will lead to a new Communications Act. The Media Policy Project will closely look at this process.”

When asked to comment on the main objectives of the MPP in the foreseeable future Tambini stressed a focus on the draft of the Communications Act which he maintains “will transform the framework for broadcasting and telecommunication policy in the UK”. Future foci also include increasingly involvement in the global debates about Internet governance and increased engagement with policy at the European Level.

You can learn more about the Media Policy Project at blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject. You can also follow the project on Twitter @LSEmediapolicy.

 

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