Editors’ Code of Practice Revised

The Editors’ Code of Practice, under which the vast majority of Britain’s newspaper, magazine and news website journalists work, including those at the Financial Times, Guardian and Independent, has been revised to reflect the findings of the major review of the Code recommended by Lord Justice Leveson.

It is the first revision of the Code since, in a landmark move fulfilling another Leveson recommendation, independent lay members joined the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, and the chair and chief executive of the Independent Press Standards Organisation became full members.

The lay members are: Christine Elliott, chief executive of the Institute for Turnaround and previous director of Bletchley Park;  David Jessel, former TV investigative journalist and current member of IPSO’s complaints committee; and Dr Kate Stone, founder of Novalia, a Cambridge company specialising in digital interactive touch technology.

Changes to the Code, agreed unanimously by the members of the Committee, include:

  • For the first time, specific reference is made to headlines not supported by the text of the article beneath.
  • The reporting of suicide becomes the subject of a stand-alone clause, reflecting concerns about the publication of excessive detail about methods of suicide.
  • Gender identity is added to the list of categories covered by the discrimination clause, which protects individuals from prejudicial and pejorative reporting.
  • The duty of editors to maintain procedures to resolve complaints swiftly, and to co-operate with the Independent Press Standards Organisation, becomes enshrined in the Code’s preamble.
  • The Code’s definition of the public interest, and the circumstances in which editors can invoke it, has been updated and expanded in line with the Defamation Act, Data Protection Act and Crown Prosecution Service guidance.

In another new departure, the Code is to be made available for the first time in a mobile friendly format, so that journalists can consult it in all circumstances.

The revised Code, which comes into effect on 1 January  is subscribed to voluntarily by the British Press and is enforced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Code Committee chairman Paul Dacre said: ‘I am very grateful to our new lay members – and Sir Alan Moses and Matt Tee – for the depth of experience they have brought to our discussions. I am convinced these changes strengthen the Code and will ensure it remains the universally accepted standard for journalistic practice in the post-Leveson era.’

Sir Alan Moses said: ‘It is important to acknowledge publicly and to welcome the significant degree of co-operation and accord which all those at the Editors’ Code Committee have achieved. As IPSO gains authority through experience, we look forward to continuing and improving our contribution to the work of the Committee in the next round of discussion and consultation in 2016.’

The revised Code is here.

For further information contact Jonathan Grun on 07971 611325.