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Press Review Blog: Complaints, the PCC and accountability online

July 6th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Matthew Cain uses a recent complaint made to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) against the Sheffield Star – and how it was dealt with by the paper – as an in interesting case study on the pros of self-regulation and the difficulties of dealing with apologies online.

“The online reaction to the story is interesting, with a number of people recognising a problem with the article both on the newspaper’s own comment section and on sheffieldforum.co.uk. With the data that the newspaper captures in the comments section, it wouldn’t be too difficult for the paper to contact all of the people who commented and to draw attention to the correction,” writes Cain.

“This case shows some of the strengths of self-regulation: a successfully resolved complaint, a complaint submitted by a third party, a prominent correction offline and a free service for the complainants. However, it also shows the unresolved difficulties of correcting articles sufficiently quickly, making corrections to stories online, and the problems associated with making sure the right people are held to account.”

Full post at this link…

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A new blog for the MST’s independent press review group

In May, Matthew Cain launched a new site, the Press Review Blog, as part of the second stage of the independent press review group’s work on behalf of the Media Standards Trust (MST). He is supporting the press review group in its examination of the effectiveness of press self-regulation, although the blog will not be part of the final review.

The first stage was the report on the current press self-regulatory system, strongly disputed by the PCC. The second stage will make recommendations for UK regulation.

The blog will track the proceedings of the current House of Commons Select Committee (latest update here) into press standards, media law and privacy.

“I’ve started the press review blog in light of the considerable focus on media and regulatory issues, for example Baby P, Alfie Patten, MPs expenses,” Cain told Journalism.co.uk.

“The MST wanted to capture some of those issues and think through what we can learn from debates about reforms to self-regulation in other areas, such as Parliament and the lobbying industry; the debates resulting from the select committee inquiry; and continuing concerns about the impact of libel and privacy cases on the freedom of the press.

“The review group has been following the select committee hearings closely but because the committee’s inquiry is so extensive and might not publish until the autumn, we wanted to ensure that there we still had a public presence to participate in relevant debates.

“The blog isn’t intended to be a formal contribution to the review but a space to log issues, develop our thinking and ensure that our work is as transparent and open as possible.”

Matthew Cain can be contacted via matthew DOT cain AT mediastandardstrust.org or by calling 020 7608 8112.

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UK Media regulation – what’s the future?

February 11th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Press freedom and ethics

With the intention of following up with some more comprehensive ideas and suggestions, here’s a start on the regulation debate, following the publication of the Media Standards Trust’s new report (report in full at this link), which has provoked considerable discussion around the web.

Is the PCC in need of reform, and do we need a different kind of media regulatory system in the UK? To kick things off, here are two initial sets of suggestions from two bloggers – we’re aware there are plenty more suggestions out there. Have a look at these and then please do vote in the poll, which asks if you’re happy with UK media regulation. You can also Tweet @journalismnews with the tag ‘#regulation’ or comment on this post below.

So, what’s the future of media regulation in the UK?


  • Martin Belam of CurryBet (@currybet). Belam is an internet consultant, information architect and writer.

currybet

“Six things I think the PCC should act quickly to change about the way it works:”

1. End the requirement for personal involvement

2. End the requirement for a hard copy

3. Update the code to reflect the reality of online

4. Insist corrections be reported online by newspapers

5. Hold monthly meetings in public

6. Publish data

Visit CurryBet.com to see this points expanded upon.

newscounter

“I like Martin’s proposals but would go much further.”

1. Financial recompense for the victim and penalty for the publisher

2. The PCC needs to be citizen led

3. Develop a proactive capacity

Visit Cain’s own blog for full post.

POLL:

[polldaddy poll="1360996"]

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Sea change: did online campaign group force political transparency?

January 21st, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Online Journalism

It’s an interesting landmark: a quickly put-together online campaign in the UK may have influenced a political reversal. Gordon Brown has cancelled proposals for MPs to protect the details of their expenses.

The House of Commons leader, Harriet Harman, cited lack of cross-party support as the reason behind the change, according to the BBC report.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported:

“The decision is a major victory for freedom of information campaigners and follows growing opposition led by the Liberal Democrats to the proposal, and website campaigns urging the public to email their MP objecting to the move.”

Does this show something of a sea change in political influence? Note that the campaigners directly mobilised their supporters, without reliance on mainstream media.

Tom Steinberg, founder of My Society, the organisation behind the campaign, thinks traditional media manipulation tools had little effect.

He comments on the MySociety blog:

“This is a huge victory not just for transparency, it’s a bellweather for a change in the way politics works. There’s no such thing as a good day to bury bad news any more, the internet has seen to that.”

Matthew Cain, over on his BacAtU blog, gives five reasons why he believes the campaign had clout, and points out that Stephen Fry helped the cause too… with a humble re-tweet on Twitter:

But, also today, a reminder of the way media connections have traditionally worked, with the appointment of a new head of political lobby, the Financial Times’ Jean Eaglesham. But how much influence and inside knowledge does the lobby have anymore?

Press Gazette reported:

“Eaglesham dismissed any suggestion that the need for constant ‘rolling’ news has diminished the quality of parliamentary reporting.

“She said: ‘Clearly it’s a risk we’re all aware of, however, now we also have the added value of more analysis and breaking news through blogging and other online content. Things change so fast now, it’s fascinating.'”

The role of the lobby was discussed at the end of last year in the House of Lords. Hazel Blears talked about the influence of the political bloggers in November, in an address to the Hansard Society.

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