IPSO Blog: IPSO’s Standards function

Standards Officer Rosemary Douce discusses the role of the Standards function.

As the regulator of the majority of the UK’s press, one of IPSO’s main roles is to uphold the Editors’ Code of Practice and investigate complaints involving potential breaches of the Code. However, IPSO has a broader commitment to press standards which goes far beyond complaints handling.

The Standards function uses knowledge and data from daily work with complaints, wide monitoring of the media landscape and engagement with groups interested in coverage of particular issues to track patterns and identify areas of potential concern to provide targeted interventions to raise press standards.

Guidance for editors and journalists on the Editors’ Code

We provide guidance for editors and journalists on a range of topics including the reporting of suicide, major incidents, and deaths and inquests, which can be found here: https://www.ipso.co.uk/member-publishers/guidance-for-journalists-and-editors/

We support all our regulated publishers, large or small, with bespoke newsroom training on how we apply the Editors’ Code and how to handle complaints effectively for editors, managers and for journalists.

Information for the public

We also publish information for the public on topics such as court reporting and the reporting of deaths and inquests. This information is designed to help people understand the rules which newspapers and magazines must follow so they may be more confident in engaging with the press and know where to go for help if they are worried. Supporting the public and upholding high standards of journalism is integral to our work. This can be seen here: https://www.ipso.co.uk/harassment/advice-for-the-public/

Monitoring

We specifically monitor complaints made under Clause 12 (Discrimination) and publish our findings quarterly on the IPSO website, along with a summary of standards concerns relating to complaints concluded in each quarter. These complaints are discussed in more detail by IPSO’s Liaison Committee and further action taken if it is required. This may involve extra training or the creation of guidance for journalists on a particular topic. Please see: https://www.ipso.co.uk/monitoring/editorial-standards-monitoring/

Compliance

The Standards department oversees the annual statement process. Each year, IPSO requires publishers to submit a statement which sets out their approach to editorial standards, complaints handling, training, and details of any complaints upheld against them within the relevant period. The annual statements are also published on the website each year: https://www.ipso.co.uk/monitoring/annual-statements/annual-statements-2020/

Panels

The Standards function organises two panels who meet regularly throughout the year. The Journalists’ Advisory Panel is made up of ten people who are current journalists, from a range of publications including national newspapers, regional newspapers and magazines. They meet four times a year to discuss a variety of issues facing the industry, share experiences and to inform the guidance IPSO produces for journalists and editors. The Readers’ Advisory Panel is made up of 11 people who are enthusiastic readers of a variety of newspapers and magazines and who do not work in the journalism industry. The panel meets three times a year and provides a perspective on press regulation from the point of view of the general public. More information about our panels can be found here: https://www.ipso.co.uk/what-we-do/people/readers-and-journalists-advisory-panels/

Standards Investigations

IPSO also has the power to launch a standards investigation to investigate serious and/or systemic concerns about the behaviour or actions of our members.

Find out more about IPSO’s standards work here