Changes made to PCC Editors' Code of Practice

The PCC-enforced Editors’ Code of Practice has amended to include new rules relating to due prominence of adjudications and the public interest defence.

A statement released on behalf of the Code Committee today said the changes had been agreed following consultation with the magazine and newspaper industry and the PCC.

Under the new changes, from 1 January 2012:

  • “The Code’s preamble will require editors who breach the Code to publish the PCC’s critical adjudication in full and with due prominence agreed with the PCC’s director.
  • “The public interest rules will require editors who claim a breach of the Code was in the public interest to show not only that they had good reason to believe the public interest would be served, but how and with whom that was established at the time.”

Committee secretary Ian Beales said the new due prominence rules essentially codified what had been happening within the industry over the past 11 months.

While it will not necessarily mean that adjudications relating to front page stories are run on the front page, for example, it does mean the PCC has the power to demand this.

Code Committee chairman Paul Dacre said: “These changes are designed to ensure that the normal good practice followed in most newspaper offices in most cases becomes enshrined in the code itself, and in doing so explodes some popular fallacies about press self-regulation.

“Last year we introduced a rule requiring editors running corrections to agree prominence with the PCC in advance. This has helped to kill the myth that they are routinely buried in the paper.

‘Now we have brought the publication of critical adjudications more into line with that. It should dispose of another misconception.”

Dacre added: “The public interest amendment underwrites the need for editors and senior executives to give proper consideration before they consciously decide to breach the code – something that should never be done lightly.

‘They should be ready to demonstrate they have observed this process. Most do it already. This measure should be a safeguard, not a burden.”

The Society of Editors said it will be printing 40,000 wallet-size copies of the new code to distribute in the New Year.

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