Guest Speaker – Robert Pinker

A guest speaker visited University College Falmouth today to tell students about the ongoing process of the Press Complaints Commission.

Robert Pinker, an ex-Chairman of the PCC, talked to BA(Hons) Journalism students at UCF about the purpose of the PCC. This was essential for Journalism students to understand for their future careers.

The PPC was set up in 1991 as the regulatory body for news print. It deals with complaints from editorial content in newspapers and magazines to keep a high industry standard in the media.

Robert explained to students that the PCC helps to train journalists and editors to work ethically by working under the terms of the Code of Practice.

The Code of Practise covers the way in which news is both gathered and reported and is used to protect the rights of individuals.

In 2009, the PCC dealt with 4,698 complaints. Most of these were concerned with accuracy in reporting and also the intrusion into privacy.

The PCC this year had to deal with 25,000 complaints alone due to Jan Moir’s article on Stephen Gately’s death. Moir’s article breached three clauses of the Code of Practice; Grief and Shock, Accuracy, and Discrimination.

When there is no permission from the first party, the PCC are reluctant to third-party complaints. For example, they can not deal with complaints towards Jan Moir’s article unless Gately’s family gave permission.

Although the Code of Practise is consistent with the law to set an ethical standard, the PCC itself is independent from law. It is self-regulatory and entirely private.

All complaints are anonymous and are aimed to be dealt with in 35 days. The PCC aim for ‘quick justice’ whereas complaints through law could take up to 2 years to be dealt with.

New changes in the Code to make the PCC more reasonable regarding privacy. Such changes have been put into place to make reports about children and sexual offences more private.

The PCC is now online and argue for Europe instead of just the UK to deal with as many complaints as possible.

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