The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is a regulator that enforces rules for newspapers, magazines and electronic news publishers. To help maintain the professionalism of members of the press, a code of ethical standards was created. In printed and online versions of publications, it is the editors and publishers responsibility to apply the code. Below are the codes that the journalists should follow.
- Inaccurate, misleading or distorted information should not be published. As a journalist, this would hugely damage your reputation and it’s likely that if you shared incorrect information people will not want to see your work.
- The Press must also “distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”.
- “A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action”, “unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published”.
2. Opportunity to reply
- Everyone has entitlement to respect for their private lives. In my opinion, this hugely applies to celebrities and I think it’s unfair when press invade their lives.
- “Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent”.
- “It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent. Note – Private places are public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy”.
- “Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit”. This is really important to me and I think everyone should follow this because it can bring the quality of people’s lives and their well being down. By harassing people as a journalist, it would also affect your reputation and the companies that you work for.
- “They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on their property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent”.
5. Intrusion into grief or shock
- “In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings, such as inquests”. Not only is this point taking into account how you could affect others feelings, it helps journalists because they are more likely to get information if they are sympathetic.
- “When reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail about the method used”. I think this point is really important because if you did go into detail about a suicide in the press, it could influence other suicides.
- “Young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion”.
- “A child under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents”.
- “Pupils must not be approached or photographed at school without the permission of the school authorities”.
- “Minors must not be paid for material involving children’s welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child’s interest”.
- “Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life”.
7. Children in sex cases
- “The press must not, even if legally free to do so, identify children under 16 who are victims or witnesses in cases involving sex offences”. In all case reports, adults can be identified, the word ‘incest’ cannot be used and nothing should imply the relationship between the child and the accused. I believe it’s very important that victims don’t get identified because it would affect their quality of life, unless they ask to be identified so they can share their story.
- “Journalists must identify themselves and obtain permission from a responsible executive before entering non-public areas of hospitals or similar institutions to pursue enquiries”.
- “The restrictions on intruding into privacy are particularly relevant to enquiries about individuals in hospitals or similar institutions”.
9. Reporting of crime
- “Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story”.
- “Particular regard should be paid to the potentially vulnerable position of children who witness, or are victims of, crime. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings”.
10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge
- “The press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices; or by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails; or by the unauthorised removal of documents or photographs; or by accessing digitally-held private information without consent”. An example of when this code was broken was when the phone hacking scandal came out about News of the World. I believe this code should never be broken because it’s invading people’s privacy without their permission or acknowledgement.
11. Victims of sexual assault
- “The press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so”. This is important because most victims of sexual assault don’t like to share their stories and try to get on with their lives.
- “The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability”.
- “Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story”.
13. Financial journalism
- “Even where the law does not prohibit it, journalists must not use for their own profit financial information they receive in advance of its general publication, nor should they pass such information to others”.
- “They must not write about shares or securities in whose performance they know that they or their close families have a significant financial interest without disclosing the interest to the editor or financial editor”.
- “They must not buy or sell, either directly or through nominees or agents, shares or securities about which they have written recently or about which they intend to write in the near future”.
14 Confidential sources
- “Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information”.
15 Witness payments in criminal trials
- Witnesses should not receive or be offered any payments.
16. Payment to criminals
- “Payment or offers of payment for stories, pictures or information, which seek to exploit a particular crime or to glorify or glamorise crime in general, must not be made directly or via agents to convicted or confessed criminals or to their associates – who may include family, friends and colleagues”.
The public interest includes:
- “Detecting or exposing crime or serious impropriety”.
- “Protecting public health and safety”.
- “Preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation”.
- “There is a public interest in freedom of expression itself”.
- “Whenever the public interest is invoked, the Regulator will require editors to demonstrate fully that they reasonably believed that publication, or journalistic activity undertaken with a view to publication, would be in the public interest and how, and with whom, that was established at the time”.
- “The Regulator will consider the extent to which material is already in the public domain, or will become so”.
- “In cases involving children under 16, editors must demonstrate an exceptional public interest to over-ride the normally paramount interest of the child”.
This code is very important to me as a journalist. By following the code, it will stop me from gaining a bad reputation and will help maintain my moral and ethical views.