With the newspaper industry’s flawed IPSO project – its replacement for the failed PCC – delayed yet again to September 2014 or even ‘Autumn’, the PCC continues discreetly posting summaries of ‘concluded complaints’ on its website.
Hacked Off has again crunched the numbers the papers don’t want you to see and will not write about. Here is the table of actual or ‘probable’ breaches of the Editors’ Code for January – April 2014.
The Daily Mail has managed to consolidate its chart-topping run even further, with the paper – edited by Paul Dacre, coincidentally Chair of the PCC Editors’ Code Committee – notching well over a third (36.4%) of code breaches for 2014.
In fact, the Mail’s wanton Code breaching is leagues ahead of the next placed offender, the Mail on Sunday (10.3%). In current third place is The Sun (8.4%) with the Daily Record and Daily Telegraph tied in fifth place with 7.5% of all breaches in 2014 each.
The Daily / Sunday Mail’s parent company, owned by Lord Rothermere, now accounts for pretty much half (48.6%) of the corporate Code breaching results this year so far, with News UK (15.9%) and Trinity Mirror (14.0%) also increasing their proportion compared to March.
Never forget: however shameful these figures for the PCC and their paymasters, they represent a sliver of the stories that newspapers get wrong. Many potential complainants often simply shrug their shoulders and ask ‘What’s the point?’ when they contemplate the PCC’s talk-to-the-hand approach to self-regulation.
April’s ‘most complained about’ story was the widely reviled Mail on Sunday’s ‘exposé’ of food banks – “No ID, no checks…and vouchers for sob stories: The truth behind those shock food bank claims” – with more than 80 recorded separate complaints. The subsequent twitter backlash boosted donations to the Trussell Trust, operators of the foodbank.
But April’s most notable episode involved the discriminatory reporting of a story involving Dr Kate Stone, a Cambridge academic gored by a stag. No fewer than six newspapers – the Scottish Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Record, The Sun, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail – failed to follow Clause 12 of the Editor’s Code covering Discrimination.
This case further confirms that the PCC fails to provide an adequate remedy in cases like this – and fails to make newspapers learn lessons, change their ways or behave appropriately. The PCC’s replacement, IPSO, will be no different.