Friday 21 October 2016

Nearly a third of complaints to Press Council related to 'inaccurate reporting'

Published 22/05/2015 | 13:56

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald at the launch of the Press Council's Annual Report Credit: Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald at the launch of the Press Council's Annual Report Credit: Frances Fitzgerald

The Press Council of Ireland received some 350 complaints last year, with one in three relating to "inaccuracies in reporting".

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Surmising the nature of complaints received in 2014, the body, which deals with complaints about newspapers, magazines and online publications, said the number one issue Irish people complained about was “inaccuracy”.

“Journalists should not see this as a threat, but as an incentive to “up their game”. They should strive to get it right, to present their readers with all the relevant information and to do so in a fair and clear manner,” said Press Ombudsman Peter Feeney, who spoke at the launch of the Press Council’s 2014 annual report on Friday morning.

“They should not rush to judgment before assessing all the relevant information and viewpoints… we are in a period where the volume of information available to all is exponentially increasing and access to that information is infinitely greater.”

Washington Post
Washington Post

This week the Washington Post was force to apologise after it reported that Prince Charles had “always denied being a member of the IRA” following his visit to County Sligo, where his great uncle Earl Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979.

The other big area for complaint was privacy, with one in ten writing to the Press Council to complain.

Mr Feeney said: “Participating in public life does not mean the abandoning of all rights to privacy… but clearly there may be aspects of a public person’s life that are more open to scrutiny than a person’s who does not seek any involvement in public life.”

Regarding the issue of complaints referring to children, he added: “All of the considerations about privacy apply with additional vigour when reporting involves children.”

“The right to privacy is tempered by the principle of public interest.”

Among those present at the report’s launch this morning was Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who said that "freedom of the press is a key pillar of a free democracy".

Following a review of its guidelines, the advisory body said that it had introduce a new recommendation for the reporting of suicides.

The new requirements reads: “In the reporting of suicide, excessive detail of the means of suicide should be avoided.”

Welcoming the change, Catherine Brogan, Executive Director for Samaritans Ireland said: “We recognise that the media can play a hugely important role in raising awareness of the issues surrounding suicide and encouraging people who are struggling to cope to seek help.”

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