IPSO Blog: Happy third birthday IPSO

Today marks the third anniversary of IPSO starting work.

When we started we had opposition from people who thought they’d be promised something different as a result of the Leveson inquiry. They even felt it was worth having a demonstration outside the office!

Over the years some of our opponents have decided it’s more constructive to work with us than shout from a distance. Others continue their opposition, but it’s become increasingly clear that there’s nothing we could do that would satisfy them.

Take corrections as an example. IPSO has the power to dictate the ‘nature, extent and placement’ of a correction. A greater power than any UK organisation that preceded it or any other press regulator in Europe and precisely what Leveson called for. Our opponents now demand ‘equal prominence’ for corrections and if we decided on equal prominence they’d demand something else.

Away from the demonstrations and petitions, what has IPSO done over three years?

Our work

Nearly 50,000 people have complained to us about an article in a newspaper or magazine or about the behaviour of a journalist and many thousands of other complaints have been resolved by publishers directly with the public.

Over the same period we have issued nearly 200 Private Advisory Notices to editors – telling them that someone does not wish to speak to journalists or be photographed. These are confidential, so it’s not possible to give real examples, but, although they’re not binding on the press, they work. We issued one recently for someone who was unexpectedly in the news and had photographers camped at the door. Twenty minutes after we issued a notice to editors most of the photographers had gone.

Each year publishers have to report to us on their record on complaints for the year. Importantly this report also includes the steps publishers have taken when they’ve breached the Editors Code to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

What next?

There’s much to be quietly pleased about in the first three years, but there’s more for IPSO to do. Over the next three years, I would like to be able to answer three questions with good evidence:

  • Have editorial standards improved?
  • What impact has IPSO had?
  • Do the public feel that publishers are held to account appropriately?

And of course, there's the huge imponderable over the next few years: what will the industry we regulate will look like as readers and advertisers increasingly consume content online?