Resolution statement 06589-18 Myer v express.co.uk
Summary of complaint
1. Luke Myer complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that express.co.uk breached Clause 1(Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice in an article headlined "Manchester Students’ Union BANS clapping to avoid triggering anxiety", published on 2 October 2018.
2. The article reported claims from a student newspaper that Manchester Students' Union had passed a motion, with little opposition, to ban clapping in order to avoid causing anxiety for other students. It featured comments from the Student Union's Liberation and Access Officer and comments from social media reacting to the motion.
3. The complainant said the article was inaccurate; the Students' Union had not banned clapping but had merely encouraged the use of British Sign Language at some events. The complainant said this had been clarified in subsequent statements from the Students' Union.
4. The publication denied breaching the Code and said that the article was not inaccurate at the point of publication. The Students' Union had released a press release saying that due to inaccurate reports in the media it felt it necessary to "clarify the scope and intentions of the policy" and that they were not "banning audible clapping". The publication said that the subsequent press release demonstrated that the situation required clarification. It noted that the Student Union's own paper reported that it had banned clapping. The publication suggested amending the article to include a subsequent response issued by the Student Union.
Relevant Code provisions
5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate,
misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not
supported by the text.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or
distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where
appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence
should be as required by the regulator.
iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies
should be given, when reasonably called for.
iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must
distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
6. Due to a technical issue the complainant did not receive the publication's response during the referral period. In any event, when provided with the response, the complainant rejected the offer. He said the Student Union had made its position clear there was no ban; other publications had clarified this. The complainant said that the student newspaper referenced by the publication is, and has been, editorially separate from the Student Union for nearly a decade. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter
7. During IPSO's investigation the publication offered to amend the headline and introduction to the article and include a clarification stating:
This article was originally headlined “Manchester Students’ Union Bans clapping to avoid triggering anxiety”. It also said “Clapping has been banned at University of Manchester Students’ Union...”. We have been asked to clarify the motion passed by the Students' Union was in fact not a 'ban' on clapping. After publication of our article the Union issued a statement to clarify their resolution. In fact the resolution was to encourage British Sign Language clapping. This was not intended to be interpreted as a ‘ban’ on audible clapping. We are happy to set the record straight.
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.
9. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 04/10/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 29/12/2018
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