Sue Roberts, External Affairs Manager of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) today came to Woodlane, Falmouth to introduce first year journalism students to ‘The Code’.
The Press Complaints Commission is a British independent body which deals with complaints from members of the public about the editorial content of newspapers and magazines.
Mrs Roberts revealed that the PCC originally began life as a voluntary press organisation called the ‘Press Council’ in 1953, with the aim of maintaining high standards of ethics in journalism.
Mrs Roberts commented that, “We (the PCC), attempt to resolve complaints quickly and amicably in the best way.”
The PCC also enforces the editors ‘Code of Practice’ which is framed and revised by the Editor’s Code Committee.
The Editor’s Code Committee is comprised of independent editors of national and regional newspapers as well as magazines.
In addition to this, Sue added that, “Around 60% of the committee are independent, non press members and around 40% of the rest of the committee are press members (editors)”.
‘The Code’ includes 16 sections ranging from: ‘Accuracy’ (Code 1) to ‘Payment to Criminals’ (Code 16).
The aim of ‘The Code’ according to the PCC is to, ‘set the benchmark for ethical standards, protecting both the rights of the individual and the public’.
Each of the 16 sections are reviewed once a year, to accommodate issues which have arisen over the previous year in the industry.
The main issue within the last year, according to Mrs Roberts has been, “Privacy” (Code 3).
If a journalist is to break one of these codes “they will be in a lot of trouble” added Mrs Roberts.
During her speech Mrs Roberts also mentioned that the PCC: “has around 40 days” to decide whether a complaint is upheld or not.
In 2006, the PCC received 3,325 complaints from members of the public. Around two thirds of these complaints were related to alleged factual inaccuracies, whilist 25% of all complaints were privacy issues.
Word Count: 325