What Woolwich told us about press freedom vs regulation

Like many Londoners I was shocked about what happened on our streets this week – an atrocious attack on an unarmed individual in full public view.

But in some ways I was equally shocked about the reaction of the free press the following day – almost every newspaper had the same picture on the front page, of  a bloodied man carrying a meat cleaver, in some cases with a dead body in the background. The journalist Simon Jenkins has already commented on the current media and political hype that serves the interests of extremists.

I don’t get a daily paper but I had gone into a shop (part of a well-known chain) to buy a snack – this was at London Heathrow Airport in the arrivals lounge of one of the international terminals. Young children could walk around the stand looking at the same horrific pictures on every side. But no-one really seemed to be bothered about it – have we all become immune? As for visitors to the UK who were looking forward to a pleasant and peaceful stay with us ….

So I ask, why did almost every UK newspaper carry the same picture on their front page and why were these all displayed like a pubic gallery in our main international airport? I don’t have any answers which AREN’T connected with commercial interest i.e. if a newspaper/shop didn’t have it then they would lose out to others who did.

This is one of reasons why I am supporting the campaign for better regulation of the UK press.