Codes of conduct for print and broadcasts
Spelling it out
Enter the name Fabio Capello
in the search slot of the Press Complaints Commission and you will see
that the England manager went to the PCC rather than to the courts when
the Daily Mail and the News of the World intruded upon his privacy as
he and his wife took a mud bath on the beach.
Go the minutes of the Ofcom Broadcasting Sanctions Committee for April 3 2009 and you can the read disciplinary findings which followed the infamous R2 show during which Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left lewd messages on the answer-phone of the actor Andrew Sachs.
These two cases are among hundreds you can trawl through on the PCC and Ofcom websites - and as you trawl you begin to appreciate what is and what is not ethical in the media.
You also appreciate that both print and broadcast
have codes of conduct which are plainly spelt out and both have the muscle
to discipline offenders even though there is often controversy about their
findings and, in the case of the PCC, sniping by critics who insist that
self-regulation doesn't work.
The Editors' Codebook, the official handbook
that sets the Editors' Code in context, brings together the Code and the
case law developed through years of PCC adjudications. It provides a unique
guide to how the Code works in practice.
This releases a pdf which gives the rationale behind each section of the code and provides examples to illustrate them.
These are where the PCC acts as a go-between
to resolve complaints without having to make an adjudication itself. The
Capello case is a good example and the respected media commentator Roy
Greenslade declared it was a landmark case for the PCC.
The decision in the Clare Balding case is
a good example of the way it works and the arguments some decisions provoke.
First the decision, then the PCC ruling, then the arguments......
off to Ofcom
Most of the adjudications,
however, are less pithy than those of the PCC and take some working through.There
is another big difference. Ofcom can fine offenders - and the money goes
straight to the Exchequer (to help with the deficit?).