IPSO Blog: Manchester discusses press regulation with an expert panel

IPSO held its second roadshow event last week in Manchester. Following our successful Birmingham meeting, it was great to see around 50 people come and take part in what was a really stimulating discussion on a wide range of topics to do with press regulation.

We had a panel of speakers who brought decades of experience in local media and real insight into the way local newspapers continue to serve their communities. 

The discussion was skilfully chaired by Eammon O’Neal, who has more than 30 years’ experience of the Manchester media scene and had the distinct advantage of knowing half the audience! 

Our Chairman, Sir Alan Moses, kicked off with a brief introduction about the impact of our work, the challenge of balancing freedom of expression with protecting individuals and how much IPSO values public engagement. 

Janet Wilson, Editor of the Wigan Observer and Wigan Evening Post spoke about the massive changes that have taken place in newsgathering and news consumption over the last decade and highlighted the growth in council communications departments, remarking that Wigan Council now has twice as many staff in their PR department than there are journalists at her newspapers. 

Rob Irvine talked about his job as Editor-in-Chief of the Manchester Evening News and the importance of newspapers getting things right. He stated that Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act – which would make newspapers liable for all costs in libel cases even if they win – would prevent him from doing his job properly.   

Dr Sara Hadwin, Senior Journalism Lecturer at Salford University brought a fascinating perspective from her time as a local editor as well as ta how her students are taught about the Editors’ Code, ethics and transparency. 

It becomes more and more obvious to me that readers are interested in press standards, journalistic accuracy and the impact IPSO is having on journalism in the UK. They quite rightly want to know whether we’re doing our job to support those who feel wronged by the press and to uphold the highest professional standards in the UK press. 

Areas covered during the question and answer session included: 

  • whether the press was sufficiently covering the issue of mental health and wellbeing 
  • the Editors’ Code and the current consultation into whether it needs changing 
  • whether or not the perception that young people are more easily offended is real and if so, does it stop them wanting to work in the media 
  • the debate over prominence when it comes to clarifications, corrections and rulings (note: the independent review  by Sir Joseph Pilling recommended that IPSO publish guidelines on this topic, which we will do this year) 
  • the funding of press regulation and whether IPSO would ever accept funding from a wealthy individual 
  • if trust in the media suffering because of ‘churnalism’. 
  • whether IMPRESS is a genuine regulator or merely a campaign vehicle for changes to legislation 

We’re going to be holding more public meetings during the course of 2017, with Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast the most likely destinations. Sign up for the IPSO newsletter and you’ll hear about it first.


Originally published 10 February 2017.