Archive for the ‘adjudications’ tag
The Press Complaints Commission has published guidance to newspapers and magazines on how to handle corrections in their digital format. It follows the recommendations of a working group established by the commission to look at the issue.
The PCC has previously worked hard to ensure that newspapers publish corrections, apologies and adjudications on the same page or further forward within the newspaper. However, newspapers have taken different approaches online and occasionally this has led to the offending part of an article being repeated or remaining online despite the existence of a correction elsewhere.
The key parts of the guidance are:
- editors should give consideration to appropriate placement on the relevant section where the original article appeared (such as the “news” or “showbusiness” section, for example)
- Care must be taken that the URL of an article does not contain information that has been the subject of successful complaint.
- Online corrections and apologies should be tagged when published to ensure that they are searchable.
This will avoid cases such as Gamsu and Stirling v Sheffield Star where the newspaper corrected an inaccurate headline but the URL remained. It will also act as guidance to newspapers which act quickly to change newspaper headlines in response to complainant demands (as the Daily Mail did on the day the Gately / Moir storm broke).
The issuing of the guidance should not be the end of the matter. In the short term, the PCC needs to devise a way to measure the prominence of corrections online as part of its annual report. There’s a bigger challenge for the secretariat: how to explain the precedent to complainants. The guidance states that:
“discussion between complainant, editor and PCC will be necessary in the placement of online” and;
“consideration should be given to the publication making explicit reference to the existence of the alteration. How quickly the text has been amended will be a factor in this consideration.”
Both of these areas appear open to interpretation which may be meat and drink for the lawyers that represent newspapers to the PCC (and those that represent complainants) but not to the member of the public who benefits the most from the free system the PCC guarantees.
In the longer term, the PCC will need to consider how it treats tweets and Facebook status updates from journalists where measuring online prominence is far harder. Equally, timely corrections of content that has appeared on apps will need to be addressed sooner rather than later.