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.
Racism and discrimination
IPSO should have the power to require newspapers to apologise – particularly when they have subjected minorities groups to abusive reporting.
The code preamble should specify that the regulator has the power to
The Code must permit discrimination complaints to be brought where groups of people have been affected by racist, sexist or otherwise abusive coverage. This gaping loophole in the Editors' Code, which allows groups of the population to be subject to abusive reporting without remedy, must be closed.
Clause 12 (Discrimination) should be amended to provide protection from hate attacks and abuse from newspapers for groups which are vulnerable and already subject to discrimination.
Clause 12 must rely on specialist definitions of racism and other forms of prejudice, rather than leave interpretation entirely in the hands of IPSO.
Clause 12 should be amended to require editors to have regard to established definitions of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, such as the APPG on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia. The list of protected characteristics should be replaced with a direct reference to those characteristics which are protected in equality legislation.
It was dangerous and wrong that after the Christchurch attack in New Zealand several newspapers, in defiance of instructions from the NZ police, circulated extracts of the killer’s livestream on their websites (Mirror, the Sun, and the Mail). The Daily Mail even published the killer’s terrorist manifesto.
There are further examples of violent crime and terrorism being republished in some form. It is also increasingly common for photographs of the bodies of deceased victims from the scene of the incident being published.
Britain’s most senior counter terrorism officer has said media coverage of deadly attacks could be exacerbating the problem and increasing the threat.
The code should be amended with the following new clause:
When reporting on violent incidents the press should take care to avoid coverage which glamorises the perpetrator, their actions and motives.
The press should not publish photographs of the victims of attacks without first obtaining their consent. Images of deceased individuals taken from the scene of the incident should not be published, although this does not restrict the press’ right to publish historic images of deceased victims within the law.
The press should not publish terrorist publicity material, including video recordings of terrorist acts and written terrorist propaganda.