The template for journalism?

Irish Times clock, image originally hosted on Irish Times websiteA Leader in today’s Irish Times welcomes the passing of the Defamation Bill, 2006, and argues that it will set an appropriate template for the practice of journalism in Ireland:

The template for journalism

The Defamation Bill has concluded its passage through the Oireachtas, with a few deserved wobbly moments on blasphemy, and now awaits the signature of President McAleese. It will set the template for the practise of journalism in the years ahead. …

The new regime for journalism will operate on twin pillars. The Bill attempts – quite successfully – a balancing of constitutional rights: between the public’s right to know and the citizen’s right to a good name. … The concession to the practise of journalism is the new defence of “reasonable publication” allowing newspapers to publish stories of public importance for the public benefit if they can be shown to have been thoroughly investigated and done in good faith – even if allegations made in them turn out to be untrue.

The quid pro quo for these changes is the Office of Press Ombudsman and an independent Press Council which are given legal privilege for their findings in the Bill. These offices give readers a formal and free complaints system which has been in operation for more than a year. The Irish Times supports them wholeheartedly. They face a huge challenge to stem the slide in standards in Irish journalism. …

Read all about it here.