Vigorous response shows determination abounds

The day after Lord Hutton delivered his verdict last week, Press Gazette sent an e-mail to its subscribers. We wanted to know how worried you were about the impact that the verdict might have.

The response was astonishing. Replies came in from all corners of the journalism world. From regional newspapers; from national newspapers; from business magazines; from consumer magazines; from freelances; from students; from academics and, of course, from the BBC itself.

The scale of the response – all 12,000 words of it – meant we could only publish a fraction of it in this magazine, on pages 12 and 13 and on the letters page opposite. The full, unedited replies are available on our website.

What it shows is that there is far from a consensus in your views.

Although the majority were critical of Hutton and defended the BBC’s right to broadcast a story that was quite clearly in the public interest, a significant number, perhaps around 30 per cent, felt the corporation’s failings had quite rightly been exposed.

But the message that does come through loud and clear is how much passion there is out there and how much concern there is in the journalism world that proper investigative reporting will be in some way diminished in the fallout from Hutton’s decision.

What also comes across is an awareness that courage and determination will be needed in the weeks and months ahead to ensure that we aren’t cowed by those parts of the establishment which will undoubtedly brandish Hutton’s name when things get sticky for them.

The worst charge that could be levelled against us, as a profession, is that we slept while any part of our freedom to report was stolen from under our noses.

Judging by the strength and volume of your replies, there is little chance of that happening.

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