Regulation of UK newspaper and magazine websites


Just spotted an interesting post from Heather Yaxley about the UK’s press self-regulatory body, the Press Complaints Commission, ruling about video content presented on a website belonging to the Hamilton Advertiser.

The Press Complaints Commission operates a code of practice, and earlier this year extended its jurisdiction to editorial audio-visual content on magazine and newspaper websites.

Heather’s post focuses on the value of regulation in enhancing the credibility of these sources compared to similar, but unregulated, online news resources.

She also notes that

This highlights the need for care in supplying material to online media – but also emphasises an opportunity to take action in the case of materials that may break the PCC code.

It’s worth noting that the PCC’s jurisdiction only extends to what it calls “editorial” content on member websites – which doesn’t mean everything that appears on such sites.

The PCC applies two requirements that must be fulfilled for content to be covered under its code:

  1. That the editor of the newspaper or magazine is responsible for it and could reasonably have been expected both to exercise editorial control over it and apply the terms of the Code.
  2. That it was not pre-edited to conform to the on-line or off-line standards of another media regulatory body.

Many newspaper and magazine websites now include user-generated content, such as blogs, videos or forums, which may not be included within the PCC’s code according to the commission:

Some of it, principally user-generated material such as blogs and chat-rooms, is not subject to editorial control. All such material will continue to fall outside the jurisdiction of the PCC.

In the Hamilton Advertiser case the complaint was upheld on the basis of the user-generated content being used to support a more traditional “editorial” story, rather than because the content was published on the newspaper’s website per se. If the video had been uploaded directly to a newspaper site by a user and not used to support editorial, then the PCC wouldn’t have been able to rule against it.

It’s a small distinction, but worth noting as more newspapers and magazines blur their online presence to include both editorial and user-generated content.

[tags]PCC, press+complaints+commission, regulation, video[/tags]