IPSO Blog: Annual Statements for 2019

As we ask our regulated publishers to submit their annual statements for 2019, Standards Officer Rosemary Douce explains how the process works, why it’s such an important part of our monitoring work and how the regulation changes will affect changes to the annual statements this year.

Why do our members have to submit an annual statement?

Submitting an annual statement is one of the requirements of IPSO membership. Written in each publisher’s own words, it reflects the publisher’s commitment to following the Editors’ Code of Practice and upholding the highest standards of journalism.

What has changed for 2019?

IPSO updated its regulations in September 2019. This includes an amendment to Annex A setting out the process for annual statements. Publishers no longer need to specify when they have sought pre-publication guidance or how they have verified stories. Instead, they must explain how they comply with the Editors’ Code of Practice. Of course, this may still include times when publishers have dealt with pre-publication advice or have taken steps to verify stories. Other information which could be discussed includes:

  • Details of complaints-handling processes including how complaints are logged and who responds to them
  • Steps taken to resolve complaints
  • Information about editorial meetings held with staff
  • Information about briefings on complaints investigated by IPSO with the purpose of reviewing or adjusting editorial practices if required
  • Adding links to IPSO’s public information to online articles on subjects such as court reporting
  • Details of financial transparency and conflict of interest policies

What does an annual statement look like?

There is no set format for an annual statement. The style of statements varies considerably between publishers, from very formal to chatty and colloquial. We like our members to complete the statement in the format which they feel best reflects their business and their publications. As we regulate a diverse group of publishers, from those with a single magazine to big corporations with numerous titles, it is inevitable that there will be differences in the information presented.

It’s always encouraging to see examples of good practice highlighted in the annual statements. Many publishers have explained their training process, how they have shared IPSO’s guidance for journalists with staff and contributors, and how they are using the IPSO mark. Member publishers now carry the IPSO mark in print and online to denote their membership and commitment to high quality journalism.

One of the main requirements of an annual statement is to address action taken in response to upheld complaints. Detailing the steps taken in response to complaints helps both IPSO and the publications analyse best practice and offer suggestions to prevent the same issue occurring again. Some complaints have raised serious concerns and it is therefore important that IPSO sees evidence that publishers take these concerns seriously and endeavour not to repeat them.

You can view the 2018 annual statements here.

What happens next?

Publishers have 56 days to complete and submit their statements. The deadline this year is 22nd April. Once submitted, we assess the statement against the regulations (taking into account the size and nature of the publisher) and then contact publishers to let them know that the statement meets our criteria. All statements are then uploaded on to our website (with confidential information redacted) as part of our commitment to transparency.

If you have any questions about the annual statement process, please contact Rosemary Douce at rosemary.douce@ipso.co.uk or on 0300 123 2220.