IPSO Blog: Why dad jokes don't translate...

Zhejiang province, Manila, Riyadh, the Rhineland, Stockholm, Kalamazoo, Syracuse, Addis Ababa and Detroit. Nope, not my bucket list of must-visits but the home of just some of the visitors that IPSO has welcomed to our offices over the last few months to learn about press regulation in the UK.

In the midst of all we do it’s sometimes easy to forget that our work is looked upon with genuine admiration and interest – both academically and professionally – right around the world.

Journalists in countries that don’t enjoy the level of press freedom that we take for granted want to understand how self-regulations works, hence we get lots of requests from a wide variety of sources.

The visits come about through requests from UK universities who are hosting delegations, from the British Council who are doing likewise, and also directly as a result of people seeing our work online.

One group of Americans told me how much they enjoy, yes enjoy, reading the rulings on our website as they’re published each Thursday. With the USA’s approach to press freedom being firmly rooted in the first amendment, there is an interest that goes beyond academic curiosity that newspapers have voluntarily subjected themselves to such regulation. The idea that any member of the public can complain to us, for free, without recourse to expensive legal services was seen as nothing short of amazing!

Something else that’s fascinating about these visits, and was a real eye-opener for me, is how much IPSO’s work is regarded as a gold standard.

The Editors’ Code in particular is a document that is admired far beyond our borders. Listening to working journalists talk about the Code as a set of rules to aspire to brought home to me the fact that what happens here in the UK, whilst by no means perfect, can be an inspiration to others.

It can sometimes be a bit of a challenge giving a presentation through a translator. I can report that my dreadful Dad jokes go down well when translated into German, but less so in Mandarin. Even worse when the English-speakers in the group laugh when I tell the joke but their colleagues sit stony-faced as the joke is utterly lost in translation…

Speaking to individuals after I’ve finished and am seeing them to the door is often the time when I’m given pause for thought. While shaking my hand and saying thank you, on more than a couple of occasions have I been told that visitor a or b longs for the day when their country has the same system as we do.

I find this outreach work one of the most rewarding parts of my job – and it’s a really important part of what we do at IPSO. It’s also great to get a greater awareness of how people feel about the media in other countries.

We’re always happy to talk about our work so if you’d like to arrange a session you can email me at niall.duffy@ipso.co.uk