By Gabriel Princewill-
IPSO has launched a new logo for member publishers to show their commitment to ‘high standards and public accountability’
The new logo is aimed at encouraging member organisations “to show their commitment to professional standards and an edited, regulated product”.
Publishers can now display a mark that distinguishes their newspaper, magazine or website as a trusted, quality brand committed to the best professional standards
In an era where the public’s trust in journalism has been undermined because of the rise of ‘fake news’, the new IPSO mark is a way in which the 2,500 newspapers, magazines and websites can show that they embrace high editorial standards and public accountability, ”IPSO’s Chief Executive, Matt Tee said in a press release:
“I strongly believe that IPSO membership helps our publishers distinguish themselves from the unregulated, thereby demonstrating that they choose to hold themselves accountable to higher standards.
He continued: “The newspaper and magazine industry faces a number of complex challenges over the short term and I firmly believe that one of the ways in which it can thrive and prosper is by its commitment to independent, effective regulation. That means IPSO, and that’s why I’m proud that so many of our member publications will proudly display our mark on their pages.”in which the 2,500 newspapers, magazines and websites can show that they embrace high editorial standards and public accountability.
A full-scale advertising campaign is expected to be launched by IPSO early in 2018 to enhance the awareness of its work and inform the public about the services it offers. Editorial standards have in many instances been compromised in the past , sometimes inadvertently, other times, highly negligently. This has often led to bitter complaints made to the press regulator. Each upheld complaint that has led to a modification and apology by the transgressing publication is viewed as contributing to the maintenance of high editorial standards and public accountability. It reinforces the self imposed duty of editors and journalists to publish accurate materials presented fairly, eliminating any possibility that a reader of sound mind may misconstrue the facts.
Editors are not infallible, but are expected to thoroughly scrutinise articles presented to them before publication. Apart from fact checking, it is also imperative for editors to routinely train journalists adequately, particularly in areas that call for sound judgement in the presentation of articles dealing with sensitive issues. This will go a long way to avoiding statements with wide ramifications that could be detrimental to the image of any given publication. Whilst it may not always be possible for an editor to ascertain all the facts in an article presented by their staff, their public accountability imposes on them a high standard to scrutinise material they receive as diligently as possible. If the requisite high standards and public accountability is adhered to by journalists and editors, the overall standard of British journalism will invariably rise. Journalists have a remit to disseminate information of public interests, the course of which will often entail their own evaluation of those matters.
The knowledge that a publication can be held to account for any form of misrepresentation or impropriety in the coverage of any story or public interest topic is likely to deter them from being negligent in the coverage they undertake and approve. Niall Duffy, Director of External Affairs at Ipso told THE EYE OF MEDIA.COM:
” We are living in a time where public trust in journalism has diminished and this mark is a way in which publications can show they embrace high editorial standards and accountability. It allows the public to know that the contents of a publication has been edited, been curated. The mark is a sign that distinguishes those publications that are regulated by Ipso from those that are not.
‘It doesn’t mean that unregulated publications cannot be trusted but they run an internal complaints system which is different from those regulated by us”, Duffy added. Ipso was recently the subject of criticism following an article by one of their board members- Trevor Kavanagh- in which he had equated a sexual assault by a Newcastle gang to ”the Muslim problem”. Ipso ruled that the Kavanagh’s language had been offensive, but had not breached any particular code of theirs.
The press regulator cleared of being discriminatory because Ipso’s code protects individuals, and not groups. It said in the ruling: “The committee acknowledged that the question posed at the end of the column – ‘what will we do about the Muslim problem then?’ – was capable of causing serious offence, given it could be interpreted as a reference to the rhetoric preceding the Holocaust.
“The committee made clear that there is no clause in the editors’ code which prohibits publication of offensive content. It was clear that many, including the complainant, were offended by this aspect of the article, but there was no breach of the code on this point.”
The omission of discrimination from Ipso’s code is contentious because whilst discrimination must generally be abhorred, a mandatory rule prohibiting any language that can be construed to be discriminatory may blur the line between the right to freedom of expression and the expectation not to be discriminated against. . It nevertheless appears intuitive that discriminatory language that is unacceptable may need to feature somewhere in the code, though the ”high editorial standards” expected by Ipso naturally encompasses all unacceptable rhetoric that is discriminatory. The Sun had welcomed Ipso’s ruling. A spokesperson for the Sun newspaper had acknowledged the ruling as: “ a welcome reminder that the vitality of newspapers comes from the free exchange of ideas and opinions, perhaps particularly those which some might disagree with.”
In relation to the outcry against Ipso’s handling of the recent complaint against their board member, Duffy told THE EYE OF MEDIA.COM that Kavanagh’s membership of the board has no bearing on their complaint procedure because he does not sit on the complaints board. He pointed to instances in which Ipso had held him accountable for breaching the code in a complaint made by Channel 4 newsreader, Fatima Manji, and another in which Kavanagh had written a piece about migrants in Calais. The message clearly from Ipso is that they seek to objectively hold to account publications that infringe their code, and that all publications regulated by Ipso are held to a high level of accountability regarding their editorial standards.