COMMENT 

Quality controlled?

James Evelegh's editorial from today's edition of InPubWeekly.

By James Evelegh

Quality controlled?

This week saw the unveiling of the new IPSO mark, “For press freedom with responsibility”, which IPSO hopes its members will display on their pages to demonstrate that they adhere to professional standards.

IPSO chief executive Matt Tee said: “I strongly believe that IPSO membership helps our publishers distinguish themselves from the unregulated, thereby demonstrating that they choose to hold themselves accountable to higher standards.”

Higher standards are indeed what it’s all about, but having a code and being regulated doesn’t necessarily translate into the highest standards. The Editors’ Code says: “The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”, yet as Liz Gerard’s excellent article ‘Rise of agenda-driven journalism’ points out, an unwillingness to provide context and an increasing tendency towards agenda-driven journalism is blurring the lines between the regulated press and the unregulated fakers.

Indeed, agenda-driven journalism predates the digital age. In 1931, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin complained: “The newspapers attacking me are not newspapers in the ordinary sense. They are engines of propaganda… What are their methods? Their methods are direct falsehoods, misrepresentation, half-truths, the alteration of the speaker's meaning by publishing a sentence apart from the context… What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, and power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.”

Back to the present day, the very active and increasingly effective Stop Funding Hate campaign (240k Facebook followers; 84k Twitter followers) was set up to take on what it saw as the “divisive hate campaigns” of certain newspapers.

To really separate ourselves from the fake news peddlers in the eyes of the public, we all need to demonstrate our commitment to abide by the spirit of the Editors’ code as well as the letter.

Finally, a very quick thank you to ACE for what was surely the most festive and exuberant Christmas party anywhere in the publishing world, yesterday at the Grosvenor House. My ears are still ringing…