Press Complaints Commission

One of the major topics on this blog is the nonsense that is printed by a significant proportion of the British press. The press in this country is “controlled” by the Press Complaints Commission, but in the majority of cases the PCC either can’t or won’t adjudicate effectively.

Every year the PCC invites interested parties to submit suggestions of ways that its Editors’ Code of Practice could be improved. Along with a group of other bloggers with an interest in this area, I’ve been thrashing out a list of suggestions to submit to the committee. We’ve come up with a list of five suggestions which we intend to send to the committee before the 31st January deadline. Our suggestions are as follows:

SUGGESTION ONE: Like-for-like placement of retractions, corrections and apologies in print and online (as standard).

Retractions, corrections, and apologies should normally be at least equally prominent to the original article, in both print and online editions. Any departure from this rule should only be in exceptional circumstances, and the onus on showing such circumstances should be on the publication.

SUGGESTION TWO: Original or redirected URLs for retractions, corrections & apologies online (as standard).

Retractions, corrections, and apologies in respect of online articles should always be displayed either at the original URL or at a URL to which the reader is redirected.

SUGGESTION THREE: The current Code contains no reference to headlines, and this loophole should be closed immediately.

Headlines should be covered by the same rules as the rest of a story. Further, headlines and titles for links should never be misleading in what they imply or offer and should always be substantiated by the article/contents.

SUGGESTION FOUR: Sources to be credited unless they do not wish to be credited or require anonymity/protection.

Sources should normally be credited. Any departure from this rule should only be when the source does not wish to be credited or if the source requires anonymity/protection.

SUGGESTION FIVE: A longer and more interactive consultation period for open discussion of more fundamental issues.

We submit all of the above without implying support for the PCC, the remainder of Code as it stands, or even the concept of self-regulation, and request that the 20th year of the PCC be marked with an open debate about its progress to date, and its future direction.

We think that this is a sensible set of suggestions and that no reasonable newspaper editor could disagree with them. Time will, of course, tell.

Now, we could put these suggestions forward as coming from a small group of bloggers but we’d like it to be wider than that. We’ve put up a petition where you can register your support for our ideas. If we can get a large number of people signing the petition then hopefully that will make it less likely that the PCC can dismiss our submission out of hand. If we can get some press interest around our campaign, then that would be even better.

So please sign the petition and please pass on the information to anyone else who might be interested. With your help we might just be able to change something.

For more details, see Tim’s blog post on the campaign.

These suggestions were decided upon by Tim Ireland, Kevin Arscott, Adam Bienkov, Dave Cross, Sunny Hundal, Jack of Kent, Justin McKeating, MacGuffin, Mark Pack, septicisle, Jamie Sport, Clive Summerfield, Unity, Anton Vowl.


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