Truth and accuracy are top complaints to Irish Press Council

(Credit: Press Council of Ireland)

Almost 50% of the 278 complaints to the Irish Press Council in 2015 were over truth and accuracy, Ireland’s press ombudsman revealed, according to the Irish Times. Nearly a quarter of complaints focused on privacy.

The ombudsman’s report was released in late May, noting the council’s ninth year in existence. “The critical functions of the Press Ombudsman’s Office and the Press Council is to offer an independent complaints handling service,” the statement from press ombudsman Peter Feeney says.

“I have been in office since September 2014, the term of office is for three years, but it can be renewed,” Feeney told iMediaEthics by e-mail.

On the council’s website, Feeney reminded journalists of the importance of protecting privacy and determining what is in the public interest.

“I would ask all editors and reporters to be aware of their considerable responsibility to protect children’s interests and to respect the privacy of individuals,” Feeney said. “Of course there is no absolute right to privacy, but privacy can only be breached if publication of something private is already on the public record or if its publication can be justified as in the public interest. I would ask all journalists to consider carefully what ‘in the public interest’ means and to not confuse the public being interested in something as necessarily the same as in the public interest.”

The top ten reasons people complained to the council in 2015 were:

  1. Truth and accuracy
  2. Privacy
  3. Distinguishing fact and comment
  4. Prejudice
  5. Fair procedures and honesty
  6. Court reporting
  7. Respect for rights
  8. Children
  9. Protection of source
  10. Publication of the decision of the press ombudsman/press council

The ombudsman decided 34 complaints, 18 were resolved, 3 were closed or withdrawn and in 79 complaints, the complainant dropped their complaint.

Hat Tip: Ethical Journalism Network