As we ask our regulated publishers to submit their annual statements for 2018, Standards Officer Rosemary Douce explains how the process works and why it’s such an important part of our monitoring work.
An annual statement is a document which all our members are required to submit every year. They are a key requirement under the terms of publishers’ legally-binding contract with IPSO and must include a list of each publisher’s titles, the name of their responsible person, copies of training manuals, information about each publisher’s compliance process, and steps taken in response to any upheld complaints during the previous year.
Annual statements are one of the ways we closely monitor press standards. They allow us to scrutinise publisher’s compliance with the Editors’ Code and make sure complaints processes are working as they should be. They also show the steps that newspapers have taken to address any errors and make sure they are not repeated.
We use this knowledge, along with data from daily work with complaints, wide monitoring of the media landscape and engagement with groups interested in coverage of particular issues to track patterns and identify areas of potential concern to provide targeted interventions to raise press standards.
There is no set format and the style of statements varies considerably between publishers, from very formal to chatty and colloquial. This reflects the diversity of our members, who range from small teams to large corporations, and who publish a variety of titles including local newspapers (from the Channel Islands to Orkney), specialist trade magazines (about everything from flowers, whisky, local transport to veterinary services) and digital-only news websites. Examples of previous years’ annual statements can be found on our website here.
Some statements are just one page. The Barnsley Chronicle’s looks a little like a newspaper page, reflecting its business. Others, like the statement from Archant who publish numerous titles, are more detailed and include coloured flow charts outlining the complaints process.
It’s always encouraging to see examples of good practice which are highlighted in the annual statements. Many publishers have explained their training process, how they have communicated the new Editors’ Code to their staff and contributors, and how they are using the IPSO kitemark so that readers know their publication is a professionally produced, curated and regulated product.
Publishers will receive a letter from us, along with some guidance in how to complete their statements. The publishers then send in the statement in whichever format they feel best conveys the information we have asked for.
IPSO’s Standards Team then acknowledge each statement and check that the statements comply with the requirements.
Once they are all received and logged, with any confidential information redacted, they will be published on IPSO’s website in summer 2019. As you can imagine the next few weeks are a very busy time for both IPSO and our members!
If you have any questions about the annual statement process, please contact Rosemary Douce at email@example.com or on 0300 123 2220.