Jan 13, 2012

Complaints to Press Council double — so will it beef up?

Those who are inclined to write off the Press Council might be given pause by the fact that the number of complaints it receives has doubled since October.

Margaret Simons

Journalist, author and director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism

Few things are certain in media at the moment, but one of the sure bets of the new year is that the sorry old beast of the Australian Press Council will be at centre stage, thanks to the federal government’s media inquiry, headed by Ray Finkelstein, QC, which reports next month.

It was clear from the inquiry’s public hearings late last year that The Fink, as he has become known in media circles, had “bought” large elements of the media self-regulation model proposed by reformist Press Council chair Julian Disney. Namely, a better funded and resourced Press Council with more power to act firmly and quickly.

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28 thoughts on “Complaints to Press Council double — so will it beef up?

  1. Mark from Melbourne

    Paraphrasing the great Jerry Jeff Walker –

    “I took 2 steps backwards and gave ’em a dropkick in the crotch. I believe in talking to media organisations but first you’ve got to get their attention”…

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    Well Greg Sheridan and the Australian have been found to be wrong on any number of occassions for calling asylum seekers “illegal immigrants” but they do it anyway without apology.

    Just last week in fact Sheridan was at it again.

  3. Gavin Moodie

    The first remedy for breaching Press Council standards and for defamation should be a correction given the same prominence as the breach or defamation.

  4. Steve777

    No one wants to put restrictions on the freedom of the press to publish and comment on FACTS that may be embarrassing to Governments, businesses or celebrities. In fact I think there are too many now (e.g. libel laws as they operate in this country). Also, media organisations, like anyone else, do have a right to push their interests, as long as they don’t pretend it’s news. But some media outlets, especially the Murdoch tabloids, seem to be getting away with metaphorical murder. We do need to have some way to call to account instances when misleading or false information is published either deliberatly to further some agenda of the organisation or through sloppy reporting / editorial processes.

    An ability to enforce a requirement for the publication of corrections / clarifications with equal prominence to that of the original story, as soon as practicable after the offending article was published, would serve that purpose. If a media outlet had to publish something which meant, in effect ‘We were wrong’ on page 1 every time they actually were wrong, this would I believe lead to a much higher standard of news and reporting than we have now, without in any way hindering the right to publish facts and (clearly identified) commentary and opinion.

  5. Andybob

    Equal prominence be stuffed.
    All Press Council ordered corrections and clarifications should be on Page 1 displacing advertising. They need more incentivising.

  6. Mark out West

    Everyone bangs on about the freedom of the press, which means freedom to hide behind that idea while producing partisan articles that do nothing for clarification of an issue.

    The Press council should ask “how” it was that the article was published, poor journalism or management direction. The answer should be published and what remedies that are taking to address these issues.

    It really grates that there are SO MANY sycophantic company men receive these protection under law so they can promote their employer’s agenda.

    The privileges that they request should be provided on a case by case basis based on a public interest criteria or they should lose the privilege if found not be of highest journalistic standards that require such protection.

    Let’s be real there are only a handful of journo’s out there that write stuff that warrant such protection.

    Journo’s are the only industry that are able to self promote this idea that they some how promote openness and accountability when in the most part in australia it is partisan Bullsh#t.

  7. rossco

    The weakness of the Press Council process to date is that a complaint can be upheld and the offending newspaper only has to publish the finding. However the paper (and others) can keep repeating the offence ad infinitum without any penalty. As Marilyn has noted above the Press Council has on its records a determination that asylum seekers should not be called “illegals” as they are not illegal. All papers continue to ignore that ruling with no consequences.

  8. fractious

    The only things more spineless, gutless and chinless than the APC are members of the Protozoa. Nevertheless I hereby support any move to replace the current members of the APC by amoeba, since amoeba don’t have bank accounts or super funds to protect.

  9. Liamj

    Interesting proposal Fractious, however amoeba may be over-qualified – i suspect they would take up any morphological advantages on offer, where-as the APC seems dead set against developing any spine or teeth.

  10. klewso

    Reading between their lines, I thought Limited News was above such mundane matters as “balanced presenation” and “acceptable social behaviour”? That their actions were beyond reproach and question, from anybody?
    They work for the Sun King – His will be dun!

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