Let's start with two questions to myself.
Do I think Lord Justice Leveson's report after his "Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press" offered a perfect and proportionate solution to a problem that clearly existed?
And would I, as a journalist whose 46-year career has been spent mostly in newspapers, lose a moment's sleep if, for all my reservations, the Leveson recommendations were implemented in full?
My concerns have been canvassed on these pages at length (go to this link to see pretty much the full menu). I fear he showed insufficient grasp of the realities of news gathering, realities that also affect the electronic media, untouched by the inquiry. I suspect that, governments having shown themselves capable of vengeance, a future one may seek to graduate from state-backed control to state control. I see Leveson as encouraging a culture of news by press release and authorised information. And I am worried that investigative journalism, while gaining a little, may lose a lot.
There is lip service to whistle-blowing, but I am less convinced than Hacked Off that realistic protection is provided by his comment that "ultimately, going to the press is both legitimate and justifiable" - which he in any case applies only to the police. He appears to be arguing that an employee who has no confidence in his employer should nevertheless make his or her first complaint to that employer, which does not look like a great career move.
But I have also tried to be honest and accommodating about the need for change. Some rotten practices have been too prevalent to dismiss as the work of a few mavericks. Individuals have genuinely suffered unjust intrusion and vilification, although I have tried to show in my reports here that even perfectly decent journalism, perhaps especially by television, can also intrude.
I offer no general justification of phone-hacking or the bribing of police officers. I am pleased to have reached the latter stage of my career without having done, or wanted to do, either; indeed, I had never heard of hacking being used in journalism before the Clive Goodman case came to light.
The law does become an ass, however, if there is no public interest defence. And I do believe the various investigations belatedly launched into the conduct of press, and targeted public officials, have been excessive, possibly vindictive and in some cases against natural justice.
But what is clear to me is that a large section of the public, extending far beyond the shrill anti-press voices of Hacked Off, the far left, the far right and vested, moneyed interests, will never again trust newspapers to regulate their own behaviour.
No mechanism the press sets in place or has any hand in setting in place is going to suffice. As I have said repeatedly, the press has itself to blame for that - if only up to a point.
My qualification stems from the feeling that Britain's vaunted attachment to liberties such as the freedom of the press is largely a myth. It is necessary only to look at civil court rulings made by judges, and obscene libel awards by juries, to see that when push comes to shove, people - educated or otherwise - don't actually like it when the press pokes its nose into other people's business. Sometimes that poking is in the public interest; sometimes it is merely in pursuit of what will interest the public.
People buy newspapers, or did, but are enthusiastic punishers of them when given the chance. Nor do they necessarily make distinctions between good newspapers and bad.
The steady decline of readership is unlikely to be arrested by newspapers suddenly or gradually becoming better behaved. Even the anti-press lobby lauds the work of The Guardian in campaigning for fuller investigation of press malpractices. But whereas a million or more adults in the UK would probably consider themselves "Guardian sort of people", fewer than 200,000 of them bought the paper each day in February.
For all that, the press has to clean up its act and be shown to be doing so. The price of a shred of respectability may be acceptance of more that the Royal Charter proposes, indeed close to what Leveson sought.
But I would also like Hacked Off, the Labour Party and my own union, the NUJ, to clean up their acts. It is scandalous, in my view, to hold Parliament to ransom by bolting on the sort of amendments we have seen in the bill to sweep away some of the odious iniquities of defamation law. However strong supporters of Leveson believe the case for full implementation to be, that is a dishonourable means of enforcing it.
And this squalid use of political sabotage, which has the inevitable effect of threatening the original piece of legislation, is now being extended to other parliamentary business.
I do not like the current government but recognise its mandate, in an imperfect system, to govern. For the NUJ to side itself with a strategy jeopardising reform of a law that damages its members as well as their bosses, not to mention lots of scientists and authors who have nothing to do with newspapers, is very close to being a resigning issue.
With interest, but not much hope, I await a reply from the union's general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, to this question I sent to her yesterday: "Think I'm even-handed on Leveson, flawed but honest, but am I the only member horrified by NUJ support of libel law sabotage?"