Annual reports are a staple of all organisations, big and small. I worked on my first one in the 1990’s at a south London NHS Community Health Trust and looking back on it last week (yes, I am a hoarder – you never know when these documents might come in useful!) I can still remember the process of agreeing text, making sure the figures were right and negotiating word limits with the Chair.
Our annual reports are, of course, about fulfilling the requirements spelt out in our regulations, so financial information and a full list of our regulated publications are naturally included. However, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the successes and the practical ways in which we’ve provided protection for those who feel they’ve been wronged by the press while at the same time protecting the freedom of speech.
This year, the report looks in much more detail at our complaints statistics. We’ve provided figures on investigated complaints for each of our 80 plus publishers and also detailed the number of resolved complaints, breaches – along with what sanctions were applied – and the numbers of complaints that were not upheld.
For the first time, we’ve included the 25 publications that generated the highest number of complaints during the year along with the results of any resulting investigations. It’s a level of transparency that goes beyond what Sir Joseph Pilling said we should do in his review of our effectiveness last year.
In a year where IPSO received a record number of complaints and enquiries, the stats throw up a number (pun intended) of really interesting details.
One that stands out for me is the increase in the amount of complaints that were resolved between complainant and publication – either with or without IPSO mediating. In 2015, there were 269 resolutions and in 2016, that number had risen to 334. Such resolution is means quicker redress and to me shows that our publications take redress seriously. I hear my colleagues speaking every day with complainants and these resolution statistics are a testament to their work in finding a mutually agreed solution to what might first look like an intractable problem.
We hope the design of this year’s report makes for easier reading and we’ve introduced some infographics to make it slightly easier on the eye. I’m also really pleased with the layout of our two pages of regulated publications. It was quite a challenge to get 2,500 plus newspapers, magazines and websites in a readable format, but hats off to our designers, everyone is there, from the Dawlish Gazette through to the Sun. It’s a brilliant illustration of the extent to which the UK press have signed up to independent effective regulation.