Press regulator publishes guidance on reporting of Muslims and Islam

IPSO has today published guidance on how the Editors’ Code of Practice applies to the reporting of Muslims and Islam

The information, which is intended to support editors and journalists to comply with the Editors’ Code, explains how key clauses including Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) apply to reporting in this area. It outlines key questions for journalists to consider and includes relevant case studies. 

The guidance has been informed by extensive engagement with community organisations, academic experts, journalists and editors. 

It is the latest in a series of guidance notes published by IPSO. Previous guidance has related to a range of issues including reporting deaths and inquests, major incidents, sexual offences, suicide, transgender issues and use of social media. 

Chief Executive of IPSO, Charlotte Dewar said: 

“Guidance helps editors and journalists to comply with the Editors’ Code by pulling together in one place information about how the Code applies to a particular issue. 

We hope this latest piece of guidance, like other guidance we have issued in the past, will help editors and journalists to report on this important subject in a way that fulfils the high standards set by the Editors’ Code of Practice.” 

Fiyaz Mughal, Founder of Faith Matters and Tell Mama, said: 

“I welcome this guidance document, which is an excellent balance after much deliberation and engagement by IPSO, its regulated publishers and diverse community activists and organisations where there is not always pluralism of thought or opinion. 

I strongly believe that any faith or ideology must be open to critique and that opinions by writers in publications should be protected. This means negative or derogatory opinions around faiths must be protected for publication, however much those views are disagreed with. 

However, on issues of fact that do not have anything to do with Muslims and Islam and which are woven into stories and conjecture that maligns whole communities so that it promotes discriminatory views about them, this document makes clear that there are important guidelines that should be followed.” 

Gary Jones, Editor-in-Chief, Daily and Sunday Express, said: 

“With fake news in abundance, accuracy is undoubtedly the key to preserving the integrity, reputation and future of the mainstream press. This voluntary advice which has been extensively debated isn’t about censorship or control but providing information useful in terms of accuracy and the avoidance of prejudicial language.  

“A free press has the right to challenge, offend and shock. That’s an inalienable right in a democracy. Though with that freedom comes responsibilities. In my lifetime reporting on race, colour, religion, sexual orientation and disability has changed dramatically, positively and for the betterment of society. This guidance lays out the standards. I, for one, am comfortable for those standards to be set.” 

Published 9 November 2020