UK press lobby barking up the wrong tree
TELEPRINTER: Press Ombudsman John Horgan has tried to convince the UK press lobby that his office and the Press Council of Ireland “don’t have a dog in this fight”. The fight concerns the backlash to the Leveson Inquiry into British press standards.
At a meeting of the Society of Editors in Belfast on Monday, Prof Horgan rejected the misrepresentation of the Irish system in nervous British publications. He said statutory underpinning of the independent Press Council does not equate to statutory regulation.
“We don’t have any interest in reverse imperialism, or in imposing our model on the UK,” he said, later describing the meeting as “a very valuable listening exercise”.
Interest in the Irish model as a potential successor to the UK’s discredited Press Complaints Commission has been high ever since Prof Horgan appeared before Leveson in July. A team from Channel 4 News visited The Irish Times offices this week to film a segment on how press regulation works here.
Meanwhile, membership of the Press Council looks set to expand following the application for membership by Distilled Media’s online publication TheJournal.ie. The rationale for its application is that membership would give it some protection in the event of a libel action under the Defamation Act.
Prof Horgan’s role as adjudicator on complaints from members of the public would also widen if newspaper groups ever take up RTÉ’s offer to provide their websites with video material. Videos used on the sites would be subject to the ombudsman’s remit.