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UCL events news and reviews


Archaeology and the Media: A Special Relationship?

By news editor, on 27 February 2012

The first of five topical debates about archaeology and heritage in a contemporary world, “Archaeology and Media” proved to be a lively and engaged discussion about the role of media in archaeology and the role of archaeology in media.

The event, held on 20 February, was chaired by Maev Kennedy (arts/archaeology correspondent, the Guardian), and featured Alexander Langlands (presenter of BBC2’s Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm and Tales from the Green Valley), Caroline Norris (producer, Horrible Histories), David Keys (archaeology correspondent, the Independent) and Charles Furneaux (Managing Director of Kaboom Film & Television, former commissioning editor, Channel 4).

As archaeology struggles to find its place in the current era of restricted funding, with a dominant focus on the economic value of STEM subjects, the topic of archaeology and the media is particularly relevant.

My interests in the history of archaeology in the late 19th and early 20th century cover a period in which government support for archaeology was nearly non-existent – a useful parallel for negotiating today’s market driven attitudes to scholarship. In the past, archaeologists used print media, film, exhibitions and marketing to raise money for research from a variety of stakeholders, including major industrialists.


Freedom of the press vs. privacy rights

By Ruth Howells, on 17 February 2012

The focus of the seventh UCL Laws/Bindmans debate, held on 8 February, would have struggled to be more topical against the backdrop of the ongoing Leveson Inquiry.

The Inquiry was set up to look at the practices and ethics of the press in the wake of Summer 2011’s phone-hacking scandal, which sent shockwaves through the UK media – the full repercussions of which are yet to play out.

The panel convened by UCL Laws and the law firm Bindmans to debate privacy and the media would have struggled to have a greater level of combined insight into the topic.

Media heavyweights

Tessa Jowell, Labour MP and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, joined Martin Moore, Director of the Media Standards Trust, and Gill Phillips, Director of Editorial Legal Services at the Guardian. The fourth panel member was Max Mosley, former motorsport figure and focus of one of the most famous recent examples of a media-driven sex life exposé.

An audience of lawyers, law students and journalists gathered to hear what the panel had to say about the issues surrounding self or statutory regulation of the press, how the current system might be reformed and whether regulation is possible or desirable.

We’ve been here before

Lord Justice Leveson is not the first to have looked in detail at these issues. In the early 90s, the Calcuttt committee grappled with the topic, with David Mellor saying at the time that the press were “drinking in the last chance saloon.”

Some might say that they’re still there, steadfastly propping up the bar – resistant to any change and knowing that parliament will be unwilling to legislate when they risk association with oppressive regimes – especially when they have themselves been in the pockets of the media barons.