IPSO Blog: Supporting the public with new information

IPSO is committed to upholding high standards of journalism and to supporting those who feel wronged by the press. We want to help the public understand the rules which newspapers and magazines regulated by us must follow – supporting people to confidently engage with the press if they wish to and letting them know where they can seek help if they need it.

Often, the first time members of the public encounter the press is in relation to a stressful or traumatic event such as the death of a family member or after being caught up in a major incident.

If you are not used to dealing with the media, it can be hard to know what to expect or where to turn for help if you need it.

Some people may wish to speak to journalists, to tell their story, highlight an injustice or gather public support for a campaign. Others may want to deal with any incident more privately.

Part of my role as Standards Officer is to look for patterns which might highlight a significant press standards concern and identify any issues that the public are most are concerned about, such as the kind of coverage that frequently causes complaints from the public.

The three topic areas for our public information and the specific issues raised in the leaflets are some of the things that come up the most in my analysis. They are also some of the things we receive the most enquiries and questions about through our 24/7 helpline.

With this in mind, we’ve published three information sheets for members of the public covering the reporting of deaths and inquests; court reporting and the use of information from social media. The information is designed to answer some of the main questions people have, outlining in simple terms the rules that journalists working for regulated publications must follow.

Court reporting: What to expect is for people who may be involved in court proceedings, including witnesses, people accused of a crime or the family of someone accused of a crime. It explains the importance of open justice and gives information about what to expect when the press is interested in reporting court cases, and how IPSO can help with any concerns.

Press reporting on a death is for people who have experienced the recent loss of someone close to them. It explains what to expect when newspapers and magazines report a death or an inquest, as well as about how IPSO can help.

Journalism and the use of information from social media is for anyone concerned about how a newspaper or magazine can use information taken from social media, and gives advice about the rules which newspapers and magazines must follow as well as the support IPSO can offer.

I would like to thank the Readers’ Advisory Panel for their input on the content of these leaflets - we are grateful for their continued advice on the work that we do. They provide us routinely with helpful reminders about the public understanding of journalism and press regulation and keep us from using regulatory jargon!

We hope that these leaflets are helpful to the public and will be working with external organisations in 2018 to try to get these leaflets into the hands of those people that need them most.

If you are an organisation which is interested in working with us on projects like this, or have ideas about topics which we should cover in the future, please get in touch with me at liam.tedds@ipso.co.uk