Blogger Censured By Press Complaints Commission

The Press Complaints Comission (PCC) has censured a blogger for posting unsubstantiated comments on the website of a print publication, The Spectator.  This is the first time that the PCC has censured a newspaper or magazine over a journalistic blog.

The PCC regulates the behaviour of the press in the UK and holds them to an Editors’ Code of Practice which includes accuracy, respect for privacy, non-payment of criminals, etc.

In this case, Rod Liddle made comments about the ethnic background of criminals in London, namely that the “overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London was carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community.”  Although The Spectator tried to justify the comments partly through statistics and partly through the comment being an opinion, the PCC found that Code of Practice, Clause 1 (Accuracy) had been breached.

The director of the PCC,  Stephen Abell, said: “This is a significant ruling because it shows that the PCC expects the same standards in newspaper and magazine blogs that it would expect in comment pieces that appear in print editions. There is plenty of room for robust opinions, views and commentary but statements of fact must still be substantiated if and when they are disputed. And if substantiation isn’t possible, there should be proper correction by the newspaper or magazine in question.

Before all the UK’s bloggers get worried, first of all, there’s no danger of the PCC going round censuring bloggers.  To start with, the PCC is only concerned with newspapers and magazines who subscribe to its funding body. Secondly, it can only censure, which is largely name-and-shame, and it cannot impose fines.

However, while Britain has always had libel laws, it would appear that it’s just become a bit harder to defend (inaccurate) commentary by saying that it was an opinion and not a fact.  You have been warned.

Mainstream Media Reacts to Bloggers

I was in the CES Press room today and I was talking with a main stream media guy about how the Apple announcements have completly blown away any coverage that was being reported from CES. We got to talking about how I was determining who was getting press and who wasnt. I mention that I was tracking coverage through Techmeme.com and thru my RSS aggreator.

Then a guy from the BBC who was sitting across the table from me pitched into me on why he thought it was a travesty that CES had allowed non-objective bloggers had been allowed into CES. The reaction at the table which was filled with about 20 other journalist was interesting, in that no one had to much to say except one guy on the end that defended the decision and mentioned that he had been following at least 20 of the bloggers here coverage.

I went on to talk about my past experience at the show that many vendors on the floor go the whole show and never once talk to the main stream media and are happy to get coverage. When I explained I search the floor for what I considered innovative products.

When asked how many interviews I have accomplished I broke out my journal and run down about 20 of the 100+ interviews I have completed. That got a pretty interestingt reaction as they asked how that was possible. I told them I don’t allow myself to become trapped in reporting just on the big companies and I stay away from the press rooms as these press rooms take to long to get in and out of.

I won’t go into everything that was said but needless to say the main stream journalist know that the bloggers are here and we are getting stories through hitting the pavement and talking to companies that deserve attention but do not often get it.