IPSO Blog: Changes to the Editors’ Code of Practice

Communications & Public Affairs Officer Hanno Fenech discusses the latest revision to the Editors’ Code, which underlines protections for people with mental health issues.

As the largest regulator of newspapers, magazines and online publications in the UK, IPSO upholds the highest standards of journalism under the rules of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The foundation stone of the UK press self-regulatory system, the Code first came into force on January 1, 1991 and has continued to set out the standards which newspapers, magazines and news websites commit to uphold. In its 30-year history,  30 changes have been made to the Code to reflect changes in society and respond to major events.

The Code is a living document under constant revision by the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, a group of editors, lay members and the Chair and Chief Executive of IPSO, who’s role it is to keep the Code fresh, responsive and relevant.

Changes to the Code can come about in a variety of ways. Anyone can suggest a Code change at any time by writing to the Editors’ Code Committee. Other times, rulings of the IPSO Complaints Committee, which decides whether or not an IPSO complaint has breached some part or parts of the Code, highlight areas for possible revision and prompt changes.

The Code Committee also runs a consultation every two years, inviting submissions from the public on changes they’d like to see made to the Code. They have recently held a consultation, and earlier this week, announced that as a result Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Code would be updated to include specific reference to mental health.

The revised clause reads:

2. *Privacy

i) everyone is entitled to respect for their private and family life, physical and mental health, and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The Code Committee have also published a new edition of the Editors’ Codebook, the essential handbook which accompanies the Code. It sets out how the Code is administered and applied to assist editors, journalists and others in editorial decision making and making sure they fully comply with the standards of the Code. You can view it here

Find out more about the Code changes, and read all the submissions to the consultation and the Code Committees response here.