7 March 2007 – The MediaWise Trust has called for a major rethink and public debate about the way print and electronic media are regulated, to take into account multi-platform publication and concentrated cross media ownership.
Giving evidence to the Culture Media & Sport Select Committee inquiry into press self-regulation-on Tuesday 6 March 2006. MediaWise Director Mike Jempson proposed the appointment of a Media Ombudsman to deal with appeals by either party over disputed decisions of the Press Complaints Commission or Ofcom, acting as a bulwark against erosion of press freedom, and initiating public debate about the role and responsibilities of the media.
He suggested that publishers who breach the Editor’s Code of Conduct should face financial penalties and be required to compensate successful complainants.
Not enough thought has been given to the publishing industry’s decisions to allow the PCC to police all content on newspaper and magazine websites, including audio and video content, he said. “Multi-skilling means that journalists have to produce material for a variety of communication platforms at the same time, and they are expected to follow different standards and they switch between media. A single content regulator with a clear and accessible system for adjudication could restore public confidence in journalism.”
Commenting on the jailing of News of the World’s Clive Goodman for illicitly accessing personal information, and the efficacy of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Jempson said that competitive pressures would always encourage people to find away round restrictions. Payments to criminals are supposed to be outlawed, and may soon be a criminal offence he said, but MediaWise had recently been approached by an ex-prisoner wanting advice about an offer by a reputable newspaper to pay money into a secret account for his story.
(Bulletin No 133)