IPSO Blog: Call for Publishers' Annual Statements 2020

As we ask our regulated publishers to submit their annual statements for 2020, Standards Officer Rosemary Douce explains how the process works, why it’s such an important part of our monitoring work and what has changed this year.

This week IPSO wrote to all members asking them to submit an annual statement in respect of 2020. For some of our members this would be the seventh time they have been through the process. For new members who joined last year, it will be the first!

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 high standards of journalism.

What has changed for 2020?

As we discovered from the statements submitted last year, 2020 has been a challenging year for the newspaper and magazine industry.  

This year we have asked our members to highlight examples of good practice, innovation and challenges around reporting of COVID-19 as an optional part of the annual statement requirement. This is a great opportunity to highlight the vital role of journalism during this period and the important steps that publishers are taking to ensure high quality, code-compliant content.

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.

What happens next?

Publishers have 56 days to complete and submit their statements. The deadline this year is 27th 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.

Last year’s blogs can be seen here: https://www.ipso.co.uk/monitoring/annual-statements/annual-statements-2019/

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.