Legal Obligations

Legal considerations are when people or companies consider potential laws which affect their industry and whether or not they are within or breaking that law. Unlike Ethical considerations, conviction is a potential consequence if companies fail to uphold the law

The media does not have a special legal “value” or “exceptions” and most of the laws which are used to regulate it are the same laws which would be used to convict normal people, which is one of the main reasons why no special laws have been made specifically for the press

That said however, the press are not allowed to:

  •  Record or take photos of real court proceedings in the UK. That is why when real court proceedings are talked about, they tend to use drawings to enact what had happened in court
  • The media are not allowed to alter the course of justice by publishing “potentially” influential information or publish any information which may be used to identify people involved in the case, whose identity is being kept secret by the Court
  • They are not allowed to ruin people’s reputations by inaccurate and unfair reporting. In addition to this, they are subject to Libel Law which means that they are also not allowed to ruin people’s job standing, expose people to shame or ruin their reputation as mentioned earlier.

The press follows the Press Complaint Commission’s Editor’s Code which now serves as the IPSO code of conduct.

These are 16 carefully laid out rules which the press is encouraged to follow which include:

  • Accuracy,
  • Opportunity to reply,
  • Privacy,
  • Harassment,
  • Intrusion into grief or shock,
  • Special regard towards Children,
  • Special regard for Children in sex cases,
  • Hospitals and confidentiality
  • Reporting of crime,
  • Clandestine Devices and Subterfuge,
  • Discrimination,
  • Financial Journalism,
  • Victims of Sexual Assault,
  • Confidential Sources,
  • Witness Payments in criminal trials,
  • Payment to criminals, [1]

 

The Role of IPSO.

Taken from the IPSO website itself, it states that The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the independent regulator of the newspaper and magazine industry. We exist to promote and uphold the highest professional standards of journalism in the UK, and to support members of the public in seeking redress where they believe that the Editors’ Code of Practice has been breached. We are able to consider concerns about editorial content in newspapers and magazines, and about the conduct of journalists.’[2]

Rulings by IPSO- Not Upheld

07572-15 Worthington v The Sun

Stanley Worthington complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) in an article headlined “‘Killer’ on Masterchef”, published on 21 October 2015.

The article reported that a suspected serial killer had “served up meatballs to hungry bus drivers” on the television programme “Celebrity Masterchef” alongside a number of celebrities during a segment filmed at the kitchen in which both he and the complainant had worked. It included details of the allegations made against the alleged serial killer. The article included quotations from the alleged serial killer’s family, and screenshots from the programme, where he had appeared next to colleagues. The caption to one of the screenshots identified him standing “behind [a] chef” in the kitchen.

The article appeared in largely the same form online, but did not include the photograph of the alleged serial killer standing behind the complainant.

The complainant said that he was the “chef” referred to in the caption. He said that he had worked in the kitchen with the alleged serial killer, but had nothing to do with his alleged crimes. The complainant was concerned therefore that he had been identified in breach of Clause 9, and that the newspaper had published the image without his consent.

The newspaper did not accept that the photograph breached Clause 9. The article did not suggest in any way that the complainant had been involved with the alleged serial killer. He was not specifically identified in the photo, and was not named or otherwise referred to in the article. Further, the newspaper said that the complainant would have appeared on the programme of his own free will, and the footage showing the alleged serial killer in the same shot had already been seen by several million viewers, given the programme’s popularity. The newspaper also said that the footage remained readily accessible on the internet.

The newspaper argued that in any case, the publication of the screenshots was in the public interest because they showed a person accused of serious crimes taking part in a very popular, family-oriented programme. Nonetheless, in order to try to resolve the complaint, the newspaper offered as a gesture of goodwill to blur the complainant’s features in the screenshot. [3]

Rulings by IPSO – Upheld

06194-15 Mace v Gloucester Citizen

Charlotte Mace complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Gloucester Citizen had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Couple jailed for attacking three sisters”, published on 2 October 2015.

The front-page headline referred to an article on page 2 with the headline “Couple’s ‘nasty’ assaults had no racist undertones”. The article reported that the complainant and her partner had been convicted of attacking three Asian sisters, but cleared of having a racist motive for the attack, following a trial at Gloucester Crown Court. It explained that the case had been adjourned for sentence until 22 October.

The online article did not contain any reference to the couple being jailed, and was substantively similar to the print version that appeared on page 2.

The complainant said that it was inaccurate to report that she and her partner had been jailed, as sentencing had been adjourned at the conclusion of the trial. She said that the front-page headline had caused damage and stress to her and her partner.

The newspaper accepted that the headline on the front-page was inaccurate. It said that a sub-editor composing the front-page caption close to deadline had misread the article on page 2 and wrote that the couple had been jailed, rather than convicted. However, it said that the caption on the front page referred readers to the court report on page 2, where it was made clear that sentencing had been adjourned until 22 October. The newspaper said it was approached by the family of the complainant’s partner after publication, and published the following correction, headlined “Mark Ridler and Charlotte Mace case”, in a prominent position on page 6 of the next edition of the newspaper on 5 October:

In a picture on the front page of Friday’s Citizen, we incorrectly stated that Charlotte Mace and Mark Ridler had been jailed for an attack on three sisters. While they have been convicted of the attack by a jury, sentencing has not yet taken place. We are happy to make this clarification. Mace, 24, and Ridler, 27, both of Tolsey Gardens, Gloucester, were found guilty of assault causing actually bodily harm against three Asian sisters in an attack which took place in August 2012. They were cleared of racially aggravated assaults against the sisters.

On being contacted by the complainant following publication of that correction, the newspaper told the complainant that it would cover her and her partner’s sentencing hearing, and depending on the outcome, was willing to publish an interview with them both. It said that after it published an article on the pair’s sentencing hearing, which appeared in a prominent position on page 8 with the headline “Couple spared jail for attacking three sisters”, the complainant had turned down the opportunity of an interview. In addition to these measures, the newspaper said that it would be willing the re-publish the correction on page 2, where the original article had appeared.  [4]

 

 

Disclaimer- This was designed and created solely for the purpose of a BTEC Journalism class

 

 

 

 

[1] https://prezi.com/c_yzx7jc42eb/legal-and-ethical-considerations-in-the-media-industries-btec-creative-media/

[2] https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/aboutipso.html

[3] https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/rulings/IPSOrulings-detail.html?id=296

[4] https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/rulings/IPSOrulings-detail.html?id=294

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