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Keywords:

  • freedom of the press;
  • media regulation;
  • media responsibilities;
  • News International;
  • phone hacking;
  • right of reply

This article examines the implications of the 2011 phone hacking scandal for press freedom in the United Kingdom. Specifically, it argues that the language of rights has too long dominated public discourse, which has led to discussion of media responsibilities being evaded. The article argues that there is now an opportunity for a radical restructuring of the relationship between the press, the public, and the political system that restores the media to their rightful role as a watchdog on government and steward of the people. It points to the need for independent regulation of the press and a statutory right of reply as means through which the relationship between media and citizen can be recast on the grounds of obligation and responsibility but argues that it is only when we move away from a framework grounded in rights to one grounded in responsibilities that meaningful change can flourish.