5% increase in complaints to Press Council

THE Press Council of Ireland received 351 complaints last year, mostly for alleged breaches of the code of practice, including truth, accuracy and privacy issues.

The council published its second annual report yesterday detailing the complaints, the number of which increased by almost 5% compared with 2008.

Almost 140 complaints related to truth and accuracy, a higher number in that category than in the previous year. The category with the next highest number of complaints was privacy.

Other complaints related to distinguishing fact and comment, fairness and honesty, respect for rights, prejudice, reports involving children and protection of sources and court reporting.

However, in 157 cases, the complaint was dropped following a preliminary enquiry by the complainant. In another 53 cases the complaint was deemed outside of the council’s remit. In 47 cases, the complaint was ruled out on a first reading. Of the 53 cases fully processed last year, 33 were decided by the Press Ombudsman, 15 were successfully resolved by conciliation and five were decided by the Press Council on referral.

Of the 33 decisions made, the complaint was not upheld in 17 cases but was upheld in 12 cases. In four cases, the ombudsman considered that the newspaper had taken sufficient remedial action to resolve the complaint.

An appeal was lodged in 11 cases, three of which were considered but none of which were upheld.

Almost 80% of complaints made to the Press Council last year involved national newspapers, and just 8.4% involved regional papers.

Five cases were referred to the Press Council by the Press Ombudsman, John Horgan. In one case the ombudsman ruled that the Irish Sun and the Irish Daily Star were within their rights to publish photographs of the body of Irishman Michael Dwyer, who was shot dead in Bolivia.

The outgoing chairman of the Press Council, Thomas Mitchell, made what he called “an urgent appeal” to newspapers and publications who are not members of the IPC to sign up. He said some free sheets were not members, nor were some regional newspapers.

Yesterday’s publication was attended by a number of national newspaper editors, including the editor of the Irish Examiner, Tim Vaughan.



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