IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation)

  • IPSO is a self-regulator that does not use the government to regulate what is acceptable to be published in a news publication
  • Regulates national newspapers and magazines as well as their online publication e.g. The sun, Daily Mail, and Daily Mirror are all covered by IPSO
  • Their aim is to protect the right of individual members of the public as well as protecting a journalist’s freedom to express ideas/opinions.
  • IPSO regulates editorial content only which includes individual articles and the behaviour of journalists
  • When complaints are made IPSO look at the Code of Practice that Journalists should be following to decide whether it should be upheld or not.
  • The Code of Practice is set out into 16 sections:-

Accuracy: Journalists must not publish inaccurate or misleading information in their articles or in a picture

Privacy: Journalists must not intrude on anyone’s privacy without consent and if they do it must be proven to be for a justified reason

Harassment: Journalists must not intimidate, harass, or persist with a lead who is unwilling to speak to them

Intrusion into grief or shock: Journalists must treat these cases with sympathy and discretion which includes making sure that all family members are aware of a person’s death or accident before publishing a story.

Reporting suicide: Excessive details must not be released on how a person commits suicide as this heightens the risk of the act being copied

Children: Children under 16 must not be interviewed or spoken to without permission from a parent or carer.

Children in sex cases: Journalists must not release the identities of any children under 16 involved with or witnesses of sex abuse cases

Hospitals: Journalists have to identify themselves and get permission from an executive before entering a non-public area of a hospital to peruse an inquiry.

Reporting of crime: Journalists should not publish the identities of relatives and friends of a convicted criminal unless they have been given consent or are relevant to the story

Clandestine devices and subterfuge: Journalists must not publish or use material that has been obtained by hidden cameras or listening devices, or by intercepting emails, calls, or text messages. They must also not use images not given to them under the correct copyright rules

Victims of sexual assault: Journalists must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish information that is likely to make it easy to identify the victim.  

Discrimination: Journalists must avoid making prejudicial or pejorative references to a person’s race, colour, religion, sex, gender, identity, sexual orientation, physical/mental illness or disability unless it is relevant to the story.

Financial journalism: Journalists must not use financial information they receive in advance of general publication for their own gain or pass this information on

Confidential sources: Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources

Witness payment in criminal trials: Journalists should not offer payment to a witness of a criminal trial for any reason.

  • To make a decision on a complaint IPSO must balance the moral conduct of a paper/magazine/online publication with whether the story was newsworthy
  • If a publication is found to have broken one of the Codes of Practice IPSO will ask them to publish a letter of apology in the publication sincerely, however they can’t force a publication to do this
  • If a publication refuses to publish an apology it could be handed over to the court