Misreporting in the media and how to correct it

KOR News - 6 May 2020

The nation’s news organisations are seeing record numbers of online readers, so it’s reasonable to say that more people are consuming local and national news than ever before.

Online news is generally free, and can spread much more quickly, and much further, than the printed word.

But what happens if, despite everyone’s best efforts, including those of the journalist involved, mistakes get through – and you are on the receiving end of fake news spreading far and wide?

One of our roles here at KOR Communications is to act as a trusted intermediary between clients and the media. The journalists we work with, in general, know and trust us, not least because many of us here have had long careers in the media. We speak their language and understand the pressures they are under.

So when we find something affecting a client which needs changing, explaining or even removing, what follows is usually a polite, constructive conversation with the journalist concerned which resolves the situation with minimal fuss.

On occasion though, we have had to take matters further. We recently made a formal complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organiation, IPSO, which resulted in a finding of a breach of the Editors’ Code.

It’s sobering to learn that last year, out of 2,774 complaints considered by IPSO, only 44 – that’s 2% – were ruled to involve a breach of the Editors Code requiring sanction.

Taking a complaint forward to IPSO is not a step to be taken lightly, because it can be a time-consuming process, and because the vast majority of cases are rejected. But it’s a step that may need to be taken when a client’s reputation is at stake.

The regulator’s role in such matters is to make a judgement as to whether the Editors’ Code has been breached, whether any action taken or offered by the publication concerned is sufficient, and what further action, if any, may be necessary.

In general, IPSO officials will try to resolve issues in the first instance, but those that can’t be resolved will be referred to the Complaints Committee. A minority of members of the committee have previous experience working in the media, but the majority do not. The chair is Lord Edward Faulks QC, who as a barrister specialises in clinical negligence, professional negligence, personal injury and claims arising from the Human Rights Act.

The committee findings are published online and it’s regarded as a badge of shame for any publication to be listed here.

The most important things you should do before lodging a complaint with IPSO are:

  1. Contact the journalist as a matter of urgency to notify him/her of the mistake and agree how it can be resolved. Follow-up with an email and keep a record of all dialogue and dates.
  2. If this is not satisfactory, contact the editor of the publication or media outlet. Again, keep records of emails and conversations.
  3. Gather all print, broadcast and online content and keep a record with dates
  4. Be sure of your case and the grounds on which you can complain by visiting www.ipso.co.uk for details

Contact a trusted consultant in media relations for advice.

At KOR, please speak to Andrew Howard: Andrew.Howard@korcommunications.co.uk or Annette Richman: Annette.Richman@korcommunications.co.uk

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