IPSO Blog: Have your say on the Editors' Code

Communications and Public Affairs Officer Hanno Fenech explains how you can make a submission to the recently announced review of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

IPSO regulates the vast majority of newspapers and magazines in the UK under the Editors’ Code of Practice. The Code is a set of 16 clauses setting out the highest professional editorial standards – designed to balance the rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and freedom of expression.

The Code itself is written, reviewed and revised by the Editors’ Code Committee – a group of 15 individuals including ten editors from national and local newspapers and magazines, and five lay members including IPSO’s Chairman and Chief Executive.

IPSO’s role is to police the Code, holding regulated publications accountable to the standards they have set for themselves under the system of voluntary self-regulation. Regulated newspapers and magazines adhere to the Code by binding legal contract and agree to be held to account by IPSO.

The Code is designed to be a living document. This means it has to be flexible and responsive, changing with the times to reflect developments in circumstances, technology and public attitudes. It is the job of the Editors' Code of Practice Committee to keep it fresh and relevant.

One of the ways they seek to achieve this is by running a public review of the Code every three years, seeking input from the public, editors, journalists and others working in the media, civil society and anyone else with an interest in journalistic standards, on how the Code might be revised to improve the system of self-regulation of the press.

Of course, periodical review is not the only way that the Code is kept up to date − it is open to all to make suggestions for its improvement outside of the consultation period if appropriate. For example, in June 2019, the Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) was amended in response to an area of ambiguity identified by IPSO’s Complaints Committee, to clarify that the anonymity afforded to victims applied to newsgathering as well as published editorial material.

In December 2017, the last Code review received several thousand submissions which informed the strengthening of the Code – including a change to clarify Clause 2 (Privacy), and changes to Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) to increases protections for children accused of crime.

At IPSO, we regularly meet with individuals and representative groups with an interest in media reporting on particular topics and how the Code applies to them and we will be encouraging them to make submissions for the Code Committee to consider.

Editors and journalists, members of the public, representative groups and other interested parties can take part by sending a submission to codereview2020@gmail.com. The closing date for submissions is Friday March 27.

Click here to find out more on the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee website.