Tag Archives: baroness buscombe

The Press Complaints Commission consultation: respond by January 25th

The Press Complaints commission, which is the industry body which attempts to regulate the printed media, and now the corresponding websites, is engaged in a “Governance Review” – and is wanting responses by January 25th 2010.

The commission last had the attention of bloggers when a proposal was made by the PCC Chairman Baroness Buscombe that they should be regulated by the PCC. Unity, at Liberal Conspiracy, organised a response which drew expressions of support from perhaps 300 bloggers over the following 3 days.

At that point I also commented on some problems with the PCC itself :

Baroness Buscombe, the Press Complaints Commission and the Internet: Hard Questions

Firstly, the Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission is a position which surely depends on political and commercial neutrality. (Baroness Buscombe takes the Tory Whip in the Lords)

Secondly, despite the Chairman of the PCC clearly needing to be a neutral figure, Baroness Buscombe used her speech to the Society of Editors to make party political points.

Thirdly, the PCC’s level of knowledge and understanding about the Internet is open to question; they appear not to understand News Headline Aggregators.

Fourthly, the PCC needs to defend vigorous investigative journalism. The Baroness – as current Chairman and a Peer herself – has suggested that the Lords should not be subjected to the same scrutiny as the Commons has been in the last 12 months.

Tim Ireland has been organising an excellent response , based around these five specific proposals:

SUGGESTION ONE: Like-for-like placement of retractions, corrections and apologies in print and online (as standard).

SUGGESTION TWO: Original or redirected URLs for retractions, corrections & apologies online (as standard).

SUGGESTION THREE: The current Code contains no reference to headlines, and this loophole should be closed immediately.

SUGGESTION FOUR: Sources to be credited unless they do not wish to be credited or require anonymity/protection.

SUGGESTION FIVE: A longer and more interactive consultation period for open discussion of more fundamental issues.

And he has done an excellent (and noisy) video involving space invaders, which you can see here .

The PCC has a special website set up, from where you can send your submission.

The closing date is January 25th 2010.

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What I was told when I asked about blogs joining the PCC

Following recent coverage of the PCC’s Baroness Buscombe’s Independent interview where she possibly mooted the idea of the PCC regulating blogs, I thought I would share some correspondence I had with the PCC recently over the same issue. In a nutshell: blogs can already choose to operate under the PCC anyway.

I asked Simon Yip of the PCC whether a hyperlocal blog could opt in to the PCC Code and self-regulation. These are his replies:

“They can decide to adhere to the PCC Code if they choose. To fall formally within the system overseen by the PCC, they would have to subscribe to the body responsible for funding the Commission.

“I am afraid I am unable to answer the question of cost, as it depends on the circulation of the newspaper [sic]. As you can imagine, it would vary from publication to publication.

“For any publication to subscribe to the Code of Practice, the publication would contact Pressbof.”

So there you go. If you can afford to pay for a shiny PCC badge, then you’re welcome.

And of course, that’s the main hurdle to the idea of PCC regulation of blogs: few blogs could afford to pay, and even fewer would want to. Meanwhile, there is no financial incentive for the PCC to recruit blogs (nor is there any incentive for bloggers – yet – in joining an organisation whose 2 main purposes appear to be to stave off statutory regulation and to mediate disputes to avoid legal costs).

Whether there is financial incentive in trying to attract public funding to do so, or to use blogs as a common foe to do the same is, of course, a separate matter.

What is much more worrying than this blogging regulation sideshow is the apparent ignorance demonstrated by Baroness Buscombe in talking about Google and the news industry’s business plans, described earlier on this blog by Matt Wardman.

The most curious quote for me from her SoE speech is this one, following on from a paragraph which attempts to conjure up the now almost pantomime-like Monster Of Google.

“I urge you to recall the recent words of Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO: “We use as our primary goal the benefit to end users. That’s who we serve.” So there you have it: the end user matters, not those who create content in the first place.”

Is she saying that serving users above content creators is a Bad Thing? Weren’t newspapers supposed to serve their readerships as well? Or did that change while I wasn’t looking?