Independent Press Standards Organisation
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the independent regulator of the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK. It was established on 8 September 2014 after the windup of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which had been the main industry regulator of the press in the United Kingdom since 1990.
IPSO exists to promote and uphold the highest professional standards of journalism, and to support members of the public in seeking redress where they believe that the Editors' Code of Practice has been breached. However, its effectiveness is questioned by some critics, including Hacked Off, and it has been called a "pointless so-called regulator" by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The Editors' Code deals with issues such as accuracy, invasion of privacy, intrusion into grief or shock and harassment. IPSO considers concerns about editorial content in newspapers and magazines, and about the conduct of journalists. IPSO handles complaints and conducts its own investigations into editorial standards and compliance. It also undertakes monitoring work, including by requiring publications to submit annual compliance reports. IPSO has the power, where necessary, to require the publication of prominent corrections and critical adjudications, and may ultimately fine publications in cases where failings are particularly serious and systemic.
Report of the Leveson Inquiry
The Leveson Inquiry reported in November 2012, recommending the establishment of a new independent body. The PCC had received extensive criticism for its lack of action in the News International phone hacking scandal, including from MPs and Prime Minister David Cameron, who called for it to be replaced with a new system in July 2011. The Leveson Inquiry concluded that a legal framework was necessary to give a new regulatory body powers of enforcement such as exemplary damages and suggested the possibility of a Royal Charter to provide this.
This route was accepted by David Cameron and, following extensive political discussion, a Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press was granted by the Privy Council in October 2013, despite legal challenges by newspaper publishers (Pressbof) to prevent it. The publishers characterised the Charter as "deeply illiberal" and presented their own alternative proposals, which the High Court did not accept as they did not comply with the principles set out in the Leveson report, including independence and access to arbitration.
The industry therefore continued with its own proposals, despite fears that industry representatives would still have powers of veto over the chairman and other board members. The Media Standards Trust also published a critique analysing in detail where the proposals met and fell short of Leveson's recommendations.
One of the government's commitments in implementing the Inquiry's recommendations related to the idea that, while the industry should regulate itself, there should be some independent verification (or "recognition") of the regulatory arrangements the press put in place. The Press Recognition Panel was created on 3 November 2014 as a fully independent body with the purpose of carrying out activities in relation to the recognition of press regulators. IPSO has said that it will not seek approval from the Press Recognition Panel (PRP), which has officially recognised the regulator IMPRESS.
Several of the broadsheet newspapers, including the Financial Times, The Independent and The Guardian, have declined to take part in IPSO. The Financial Times and The Guardian have established their own independent complaints systems instead.
There have been criticisms of IPSO from organisations such as the Hacked Off campaign group, which has described IPSO as a "sham" and "the illusion of reform". Hacked Off state that because IPSO is "owned and controlled by the very newspapers it is supposed to regulate", and it "does nothing to stop them. Its code says papers must not publish inaccurate material, but it has neither the will nor the power to enforce this and never takes action to deal with repeated and systematic breaches of the code." Hacked Off further argue that IPSO should be replaced by a properly independent regulator as called for by the Leveson Report. In 2021, Hacked Off criticised IPSO's handling of complaints against The Jewish Chronicle made over a period of three years, saying IPSO was made aware of the complaints in November 2019 but had not provided a response as at August 2021.
The Transparency Project has criticised the remedy that IPSO applies against publishers in those cases where findings are made against them: the remedy often seems inadequate, in that a correction is "usually hidden away somewhere on an inside page".
IPSO has also been criticised by the National Union of Journalists, saying that journalists “still have little or no protection from editors seeking saleable stories regardless of ethical considerations.” In 2016 the NUJ announced that it was backing Impress, as it believed “it represents the best opportunity we have for independent press regulation” and it provided an alternative “to those national newspapers and their publishers who continue to fail to take their responsibilities seriously.”
- "Judgement on IPSO". The Guardian. 5 September 2014.[clarification needed]
- Editors' Code of Practice
- Greenslade, Roy (29 April 2016). "NUJ backs Impress, calling Ipso a 'pointless so-called regulator'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
- "Annual statements". www.ipso.co.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "About standards investigations". www.ipso.co.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "Phone hacking: Cameron and Miliband demand new watchdog". BBC News. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- Leveson, Brian (November 2012), An Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press, Volume 1 (PDF)
- "Press regulation: Privy Council grants royal charter". BBC News. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- Ponsford, Dominic (15 November 2013). "Independent Press Standards Organisation is not independent, but it is probably the best solution we are going to get". Press Gazette. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- IPSO: An assessment by the Media Standards Trust, Media Standards Trust, November 2013, retrieved 5 September 2014
- Ponsford, Dominic (19 October 2016). "Sir Alan Moses: Free press in the UK is 'doomed' if it allows Government to 'corral' it into state-backed regulator". Press Gazette.
- "First official UK press regulator, Impress, approved". BBC News.
- "Financial Times opts out of IPSO regulator in favour of its own system". Press Gazette. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- Greenslade, Roy (4 September 2014). "Why the Guardian's decision not to sign up to Ipso makes sense". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- Independent Press Standards Organisation (2020). "UK regulated publications". Retrieved 21 May 2021.
- "IPSO annual report 2016" (PDF).
- Independent Press Standards Organisation (2020). "About IPSO". Retrieved 21 May 2021.
- Jackson, Jasper (7 September 2015). "Ipso denounced as 'sham body' controlled by member newspapers". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- "The men behind IPSO, Part 2: Paul Dacre". Hacked Off. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- "White supremacism, the press, and the absence of regulation". Hacked Off. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
- "IPSO caught with its pants down". Hacked Off. 17 August 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
- M, Paul. "Press regulation: why we are unimpressed by IPSO | The Transparency Project". Retrieved 15 November 2020.