I do not have confidence in the independence or effectiveness of IPSO and the Editors’ Code Committee, on account of IPSO’s failure to meet the standard of “Recognition” as assessed by the Press Recognition Panel.
Nonetheless, this submission highlights several areas where the Code is in urgent need of improvement and reform which I hope the Committee will consider.
Accuracy, disinformation and fake news
Too often, serious inaccuracies are dealt with by IPSO with a tiny adjudication which is far less less prominent than the article in breach. This means fewer people read the correction than read the inaccurate story. The failure of IPSO to require proportionate remedies also means that newspapers have little incentive to get their facts right. This allows fake news to be spread recklessly, when stories are not properly checked out, or deliberately, when fake news is published to support the personal agenda of the editor or owner of the newspaper.The UnMasked Report by Professor Brian Cathcart and Paddy French reports on a catalogue of serious errors in stories about Muslims published by The Times newspaper.The code should specify that corrections should be of equivalent prominence to the breach, so that the same proportion of readers at risk of being misled by a false story also see the correction.
The Accuracy clause in the Code on quotations has been seriously weakened by how IPSO has chosen to apply it; sometimes allowing it to be used to summarise peoples’ comments even when the reported meaning was inaccurate.The code should be amended to make clear that comments given within inverted commas as quotes should be fully accurate, and not depend on subjective interpretations of summaries of what was said.