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Sunday, 4 November 2012

Regulations and Codes

It's important to recognise risk. It is a key skill to have in the newsroom. You should get a sense of when you're in danger. However, the Codes of Conduct aren't laws that could see you sent to prison, but they are a set of rules that are in place to try keep journalists regulated away from the law.
The codes fill the space between criminal offences and the right things to do. It covers things that aren't quite covered by the law. It also guides us through ethical issues which affect how far we go to get a story. Such as what practices are legitimate and when different circumstances change how we approach certain situations. It is also important in helping build trust with the public.

There can be a temptation to 'dress up' a story which can occasionally lead to misrepresentation.
A good example is Peter Fincham, a former BBC one boss that quit after a story came out in 2007 that claimed he misrepresented the Queen in a documentary trailer. A sequence was edited to make it suggest that the Queen had stormed out, when she hadn't.

Key areas that the code covers
Ethical behaviour
Fair treatment for privacy
Requirement for accuracy and impartiality
Protecting vulnerable groups (such as children)

Codes of practice
The 3 main codes -
- PCC (Press Complaints Commission) - Newspapers and magazines
- Ofcom - Broadcasters
- BBC - For BBC staff and licence payers

Press Complaints Commission (PCC)
It is a self regulated.

Has a few sanctions, but not many. These include being verbally reprimanded, reported to an editor, asked for a statement to be released.
It can't fine people, or really ask for people to be sacked. This means it has limited power.

It has more power than the PCC, because it can fine people. (It can take upt to around 5% of a company's profit)

Powers includes
- Decision not to repeat programme.
- Corrections or findings must be broadcast.
- Can impose fines - up to 5% revenue.
- Can revoke broadcast licence. (It can licence broadcasters to operate and can also take things off air.)

A good example is the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand fining a few years ago. The BBC was fined £150,000.

BBC Editorial Guidelines
These guidelines are set by the BBC itself. Being such a big organisation, these regulations set their own expectations of employee's, but are generally not too different from other regulations. Being a publically funded means that it has a few different rules to other brodcasters and news providers.

When would you not adhere to the rules?
Investigative reporting - Such as hiding cameras, or posing as someone else(not a journalist).
Public Interest - The information would have a high value to society.(this could be a possible defence)

The Crown Prosecution Service
Explains when public interest is a valid defence.

Why has regulation been relatively successful in broadcast compared to print journalism?
Broadcast seems to have a much broader audience, and also it means TV shows like the news could be watched by anyway. It's easy to avoid the news in print, because you can either don't buy the newspapers or avoid the news websites. This could arguably make it feel like it has less attention and slightly less responsibility than broadcast.

Regime for broadcast. How might Leveson affect it. Is their a tougher regime for print journalists?
It's very difficult to predict what will come out of the Leveson Inquiry.

NUJ - The National Union of Journalists
It's Code of Conduct is still recognised, but is not as powerful as it once was. Some newspapers used to require journalists to be a member of the NUJ to work for them.
The NUJ is not as concerned about privacy, but protection of sources have more emphasis.

'Honest/Fast, Accurate, Fair' is a good rule to follow.

You should apologise immediately after an error.

You should also remember to differentiate between facts and opinions.


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