Tuesday, 10 January 2012

NUJ opts for press ombudsman to replace PCC

The NUJ's national executive wants an ombudsman and a new press regulatory body containing working journalists to replace the Press Complaints Commission.

The union's National Executive Council has outlined its preference for how the press should be policed as the NUJ prepares to make a detailed submission to the Leveson Inquiry on what future regulatory regime it wants.

The NUJ will argue that the PCC should be scrapped and be replaced by an ombudsman backed by a new regulatory body made up of working journalists, publishers and members of the public.

The ombudsman model is seen by the NUJ as a success in Ireland where the Press Council of Ireland and a press ombudsman system was established four years ago.

Under the Irish system, the ombudsman is appointed by the Press Council of Ireland, whose members include working journalists, academics, lawyers and an NUJ official. The Press Council of Ireland aims to resolve complaints that have not been settled by the ombudsman. The current Irish press ombudsman is an NUJ member.

Although the PCC includes editors among its members it does not, unlike its predecessor the Press Council, include NUJ representatives.

Another major plank of the union's submission to Leveson is its long standing call for a "conscience clause" for journalists which would protect them from being sacked for refusing to do unethical journalism that was in breach of the NUJ's Code of Conduct.

An NEC member said the NUJ's proposals for Leveson are still at the outline stage with lots of detail needed to be added.

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