I was talking to an old friend yesterday. We were discussing my dilemma about whether or not I should publish some stories that I believe to be in the public interest at the risk of incurring the wrath of the subject individual or organisation. We didn’t agree.
Most stories in trade magazines are derived from press releases and interviews given willingly by people who have something to gain by publishing their stories or are, at least, happy for the item to appear. Some, however, are not and by publishing them I run the risk of legal challenges that are distressing, distracting and possibly devastating if I get it wrong. My friend said that I didn’t have a responsibility to publish those stories at the risk of my livelihood. He was trying to protect me, but I felt that it was my job as the editor of the only independent publication in the industry to advise people about potential threats to them. Although I have no wish to risk everything I have for the sake of a story, how can my readers treat The Mover as a serious publication if I shy away from the difficult issues? If not me, then who?
I am pleased to report, however, that the government seems to have some sympathy with my problem and, from 1 January, 2014 has changed the law on defamation to make it harder for, in the words of the Justice Minister Shailesh Vara (see page 23) “wealthy people or companies to bully or silence those who may have fairly criticised them or their products".
This doesn’t mean that it is now open season on everyone that has crossed me; stories still have to be substantially true and free of malice. But it does mean that I am more able to publish the stories I feel should be aired knowing that the law is on my side, not working against me. In consequence, you might notice a slightly more relaxed tone to our reporting as the year progresses.
On another subject, this issue has the first of our regular columns from Tony Richman. Tony is recognised worldwide as the Oracle on everything Europe. In my opinion he has been treated appallingly by the industry he has served so long and I am pleased and honoured that he has chosen these pages through which to share his thoughts.
Your comments on his opinions and any stories in The Mover are welcome, as always.