22 February 2005 – In a statement in support to the Right of Reply and Press Standards Bill produced by Peter Bradley MP with cross party support, MediaWise Director Mike Jempson said:
“Having a Right of Reply on the statute book would keep editors on their toes. They have nothing to fear if they demand fairness and accuracy of their reporters, acknowledge when mistakes are made, and allow appropriate redress, swiftly and prominently.
“Throughout Europe citizens have a right to demand a fair opportunity to reply to inaccurate or unfair representation of their circumstances or opinions in the print media. The concept of this right is acknowledged within media self-regulation and statutory regulation in the UK, and in most journalistic Codes of Conduct.
“However, citizens who believe they have been wronged here, are regarded as supplicants rather than as equals. This Bill acknowledges that press freedom is a responsibility exercised by journalists on behalf of the public, which is one of our founding principles.
“There would be no need for legislation if all newspapers were willing to set the record straight promptly and prominently when the inevitable, occasional mistakes occur. The problem gets worse when editorialising in news stories leads to confusion between fact and conjecture.
“We welcome the opportunity this Bill brings for public debate about accountability and accuracy in press reporting. The right of reply is a democratic issue. The press are free to print without fear of favour, but there must be adequate systems of instant redress, which appear to be beyond the scope of Press Complaints Commission procedures.”
For more information contact:
Mike Jempson (MediaWise) 0117 941 5889 / 07968 031 532
Note to editors
Originally known as PressWise, The MediaWise Trust began as a voluntary organisation set up by ‘victims of media abuse’ in 1993, and registered as a charity in 1999.
The Trust supports press freedom and responsible journalism is committed to the promotion of accurate and fair reporting. We provide:
· Advice to members of the public affected by inaccurate or unfair print or broadcast coverage;
· Information about how the media operate, and media ethics, law and regulation;
· Research into aspects of media practice, representation of minority groups, and media regulation;
· Training for community groups on how to make best use of the media, and for journalists about more effective ways of reporting problematic issues.
(Bulletin No 109)