British media are debating proposed new regulations aimed at curtailing phone-hacking and other tabloid abuses.
Media companies oppose the regulations, of course. American journalists instinctively side with their British peers. But Americans may not appreciate the enormity of the abuses that occurred in the United Kingdom. In the Spectator, the actor Hugh Grant writes in support of the proposed restrictions:
Anyone who finds their phone has been hacked or their flat broken into on the orders of a newspaper; or has had their elderly father with a heart condition repeatedly brought down three flights of stairs to talk to door-stepping reporters, despite polite requests to leave him alone; or has witnessed the children of their (non-showbiz) girlfriend crying with fear in the back of her car as she is chased by photographers; or has seen the press print intimate details from the medical records of the mother of their child without her permission — any normal person in these situations would be angry. …
Ask the Bowles family, who this year lost their 11-year-old son in a coach crash in Switzerland. Despite pleas for privacy, their home was besieged, photographs of the boy were lifted from the school trip website without permission and printed in a national newspaper alongside long-lens pictures of his nine-year-old sister as she prepared to lay flowers at the crash site.