Ruling

Resolution Statement – 14399-23 Windhow v newsandstar.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      25th May 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement – 14399-23 Windhow v newsandstar.co.uk


Summary of Complaint

1. Bern Windhow complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that newsandstar.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “West Coast Main Line to close for Preston track upgrades”, published on 31 January 2023. A headline banner accompanying the article said: “West Coast Main Line to close for four weeks for station track updates”.

2. The article – which appeared online only – reported on track updates to the West Coast Main Line. The article stated, “WEST Coast Main Line passengers are being urged to plan their journeys ahead of four weekends of essential railway improvements at Preston station”. The article went on to list the specific weekends where the train line would be out of use.

3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 as the banner to the article had inaccurately stated that the line was closed for four weeks, however it was actually only closed for four weekends, over the course of four weeks. The complainant believed the banner was sensationalist and intentionally misleading to create “clicks”.  It was the complainant’s position that the publication had initially denied that the original banner headline had appeared.

4. The publication said it did not accept a breach of the Code, it said it did not consider the headline to be “clickbait”. The publication said the article contained important and useful content concerning updates to rail services, therefore would not mislead readers with an intentionally misleading headline. It did accept that it had made a mistake by stating “weeks” instead of “weekends” in the banner, however this was corrected on the day of publication. It did not consider the banner to be significantly inaccurate or intentionally misleading or distorted. The publication further disputed that it had denied that the banner headline had appeared.

Relevant Clause Provisions

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.

Mediated Outcome

5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

6. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to delete the article or print the following footnote correction:

A previous version of this story unintentionally carried the headline ‘West Coast Main Line to close for four weeks for station track upgrades’. This should have read ‘four weekends’. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

7. The complainant said that publication of the correction would resolve the matter to their satisfaction.

8. 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:  31/01/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  17/05/2023