Thursday, 30 August 2012

The prince and the paper

Personally, I'm slightly less interested in nude pics of Prince Harry than I would be in, say, knowing the Swahili word for 'crispbread'. The decision by The Sun to publish them, though, is extremely interesting.
Neil Wallis, the former managing editor of the News of the World, said he would have published the snaps a year ago - but not now. Not since the Leveson Inquiry started querying the ethics of the national press.
The next day there is Harry, in all his naughty glory, decorating the pages of the News of the World's former stablemate. Someone at Wapping took a different view from Wallis.
So is this a matter for Leveson? Has The Sun stepped out of line?
Frankly, I find it hard to see much of an ethical dimension here.
Those papers that chose not to publish the Harry pics may have taken a good decision on taste grounds. Or they may have feared – rightly or wrongly, reasonably or unreasonably – upsetting the royal family.
The Sun’s decision to publish was a commercial one. Ethics, or morals, don’t come into it.
Complaints that The Sun broke a Press Complaints Commission instruction by publishing should be balanced by a question whether the PCC should be wasting its time and risking its authority on such trivia.
There is nothing either moral or immoral about nudity in itself, whether the nude in question is a royal or just some bloke down the pub.
If the right royal Jack-the-Lad sees fit to get his kit off at a party - in effect, a public place - that's his own business. But he can hardly claim invasion of privacy if someone snaps him at it.
And, to be fair, I've seen no suggestion that Harry himself is particularly upset.
If he really is the sort of chap he seems to be, his reaction is probably a combination of mild embarrassment and greater amusement. Which would seem about right.
Louise Mensch, who has been a robust member of Leveson's committee, was more worried about attempts to suppress the pictures than by their publication.
"We cannot have a situation where our press is so scared of the Leveson Inquiry that they refuse to print things that are in the public interest," she said.
Which is exactly right.
Except that it's hard to see how publication of these particular photos was in any way "in the public interest".
Here, yet again, is that old confusion between what's in the public interest and what's of interest to the public.
Mensch, incidentally, is much the most interesting of current Conservative MPs. She will be missed when she goes off to spend more time with her husband, Peter.
He, bizarrely, is the manager of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band who have happily long since outgrown their earliest claim to notoriety. Which was getting their kit off.
The Chilis have gone on to make some excellent music and some less excellent, though still more interesting than anything Prince Harry's done yet or seems likely to do.
Still, there are clearly plenty of people interested - even if only in passing - in seeing the dashing prince's formerly private parts.
And The Sun has never let taste get in the way of giving the people what they want. It makes a change for the unclothed celeb to be (a) a genuine celebrity, even if only by accident of birth, and (b) male.
The justification offered by managing editor David Dinsmore was that "Hundreds of millions of people have seen these pictures over the internet and it seems perverse that they shouldn't be shown in the pages of our newspaper."
Well, hardly. If everyone's already seen them, why show them again?
In fact, it's all a bit of a storm in a teacup. But what an interesting teacup, and what an amusing storm.
IPSWICH Community Radio, otherwise known as ICR (105.7fm), is on the lookout for new premises and a new board.

If that sounds as if the station is in crisis, I’m assured by presenter Doug Coombes that there is “no great scandal to report”.

The station’s directors resigned en masse last week, though, being replaced by an interim board. And Nick Greenland, who was formerly paid to be the station co-ordinator and is carrying on in a voluntary capacity, says they are seeking new faces with marketing skills and local business contacts.

ICR first broadcast in 1989 from a caravan in Christchurch Park. Since launching on its current wavelength in August 2007 with a permanent FM licence, it has been one of the most vibrant community radio stations in the country.

My own involvement has been just one appearance on Coombes’s excellent Wednesday morning arts show, Lifelines, and a few on Graham Blackburn’s anarchic but always entertaining Naked Football Show, a kind of on-air Ipswich Town fanzine.

I can recommend the station, though, for its diversity and for the passion of its presenters, who are all volunteers.

Coombes said: “CSV Ipswich have been fantastic landlords, allowing us to live in the Clubhouse rent-free since 2003, but with financial pressures of their own they have decided they need more house-room for their other community projects and we have agreed to move out.

“The general feeling among members is that the challenge of finding a new home and funding could be a very positive new start.”

If you can help, contact Nick Greenland at

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