Inform’s Blog has an entry discussing the UK tabloids’ coverage of yet another sex scandal involving a sports figure. I’ll skip the rehash of coverage and links to the tabloid coverage they critique to cut to their main point about the Press Complaints Commission (PCC):
The breaches of the PCC Code relating to privacy are patent. In a recent speech PCC Director of Public Affairs said this about “Kiss and Tell”
A 2006 piece in the News of the World was subject to censure by the Commission, which said:
“When reporting one party’s account of a relationship, newspapers must also have regard to the other person’s right to respect for their private life.
Some of the detail in the article – particularly the description of sexual activity – was of an intimate nature. The piece revealed matters that would normally be regarded as private. The newspaper would either have needed some public interest for doing so, or been able to show that the complainant had previously been happy to discuss similar matters in such detail. Neither of these possible defences was a feature in this case.”
We await with interest the reaction of the newly pro-active Press Complaints Commission to these infringements of its Code. This seems to us a golden opportunity for it to demonstrate that it is not just the editors’ poodle but that it can impose proper standards of behaviour and responsibility on the tabloids in a key area.
For U.S. readers who, like me, are not really familiar with the PCC and what it can do in the way of investigation or sanctions, this section of their FAQ might be helpful.