Editors’ Code of Practice Consultation opens


As readers of this column will know, IPSO regulates the vast majority of the regional and national press. And every three years, the regulator undertakes a public consultation which invites submissions on how the Code might be revised to “improve the system of self-regulation”.

So, if you feel strongly about a particular aspect of your working life, now is the time to make submissions regarding the wording of the Code and how it is interpreted.

It is certainly something worth engaging with, as compliance with the Code is something that affects the day to day working practices of all journalists who are regulated by IPSO.  After all, it’s part of your contract of employment.

Submissions can inform amendments to the Code itself, and also the Editors’ Codebook – the Handbook that accompanies the Code which contains examples of non-binding best practice.

The last consultation, in 2020, resulted in the addition of “physical and mental health” to Clause 2 (Privacy), after representations from charities campaigning on mental health.

Although mental health was already implicitly covered by the clause, the amendment was a “timely reminder of the changing attitudes in society”, and brought the clause in line with Clause 12 (Discrimination) which already explicitly referenced mental health.

According to the Review Report from the 2020 consultation other issues which were considered by the Code of Practice Committee were transgender issues, suicide, reporting terrorism, victims of crime, climate change, accuracy, political impartiality and privacy.

A lot has happened since 2020 and we expect to see these issues revisited, as well as the discussion of new ones.

You might be wondering why this column is not identifying clauses in the Code which might benefit from the review.  It is tempting to do so, but the Code is primarily a working document to assist journalists in the day to day jobs.

Reporters are much better placed than lawyers to identify the issues which might need attention.  After all, it’s the journalists who have to write articles which comply with the Code, not the lawyers, and that makes you much better placed to identify any changes that might be needed in practice.

So please have a look at the consultation, and tell the Code Committee what works, and what doesn’t. I know they will be delighted to hear from you!

The consultation closes on Friday 31st March 2023

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