Press Releases

Press Council to Mark World Press Freedom Day

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Posted on: 21-Apr-2011
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Press Council to mark Press Freedom Day with visit by brother of assassinated editor.

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Press Council of Ireland launchs Annual Report 2010

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Posted on: 01-Apr-2011
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Annual Report of the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman is launched in Dublin

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Extract from remarks by Professor John Horgan

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Posted on: 01-Apr-2011
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The fact that the public’s use of our new structures has been consistent over the past few years demonstrates, I think, that the creation of these structures was extraordinarily timely. Put simply, people were ready for them – waiting for them, even – and have learned to use them with a natural sense of entitlement and with confidence. All of us, I think, feel immensely privileged to have been involved, from the outset, in a great cooperative venture in which newspapers, institutions of the State, and indeed the public, have all played centrally important roles. And it is important to remember that both my Office and the Press Council are governed by the Articles of Association of the Press Council and by Code of Practice for Newspapers and Magazines, not by our personal predilections. Each element in this structure has the responsibility of exercising judgment in the light of that Code. And it is worth while remembering that this Code, while its Principles require the newspapers to accept certain voluntary restrictions in relation to important matters like privacy, also contains a Preamble which offers a doughty defence of the freedom of the press. This, it declares, “includes the right of a newspaper to publish what it considers to be news, without fear or favour, and the right to comment upon it.” The Council and the Press Ombudsman alike, therefore, are entrusted with the task of balancing the rights expressed in the Preamble against the rights of individual and collective members of the public as expressed in the principles of the Code itself. The freedom of the press, however, also includes the freedom to – on occasion – offend people, including people who would prefer to be portrayed in the press as rather better than they actually are. The publication that never offends anyone is probably not doing its job properly. But just because someone has been offended doesn’t mean that the offender has to be punished. We live in a rough old world of give and take where things are not perfect, taste is not always exquisite, language is not always polite, and, as long as the power of the press is not abused, grown up people should be able to live with that and take their chances. At the same time, it is important to recognise that the freedom of the press does not exist for the press itself: it exists and is exercised for and on behalf of the public. Some recent examples are relevant. Would the phenomenon of child physical and sexual abuse still be under wraps if we did not have a free press? Those who have read the small print of Judge Moriarty’s report will note that he singles out two instances of information disclosed by the media – one in print, the second in the broadcast media – which prompted him to extend his investigation in significant ways. This is journalism in the public interest, in the most classic sense of the word. Because the two main strands of the activity of my Office over the past year, and as detailed in this Report, continue to be in relation to privacy and to truth and accuracy, I would like to add a few remarks about these two specific aspects of the Code. Privacy is not an absolute right, because it can sometimes be qualified by what is in the public interest. And the truth sometimes hurts individuals. But the Code’s voluntary restrictions on the right of the press to publish make it clear that editorial sympathy as well as discretion will always qualify the right to publish, and that gratuitous amplification of grief, shock or distress is to be avoided. I can give you one very simple example of this. Frequently nowadays, the newspapers report court cases involving the re-possession, by lenders, of family homes. The details are often harrowing. In virtually all cases, however, the names and addresses of the families involved are not published, although they form part of the proceedings in open court and there is no legal bar to their publication. This is a classic – and entirely justifiable – example of editorial sympathy and discretion at work. In journalistic best practice, sympathy and discretion go hand in hand with courage, risk-taking and exposure. In relation to truth and accuracy, it is important to recognise that these concepts are not synonymous. Inaccurate statements can be accurately reported, even if they are untrue. Think of how boring life would be, and how inadequate journalism would be, if the press did not occasionally publish rumours, conjectures, or unconfirmed reports- and the Code of Practice specifically envisages that this is a normal part of the press’s activity, as long as such matters are accurately labelled. Sometimes these matters are published as much for their entertainment value as for any other reason. Sometimes, they are the only way of drawing public attention to more important matters that merit further investigation. But here, too, best practice is always qualified by the requirements of the Code to strive for truth as well as for accuracy at all times, and to take reasonable care in checking facts before publication. It is not always possible to check all facts before publication. However, because verification is always high on any journalistic agenda, a publication’s responsibility to truth as well as to accuracy, as expressed in the Code, is not limited to whatever appears in print on any given day. There is no shame or disgrace in a newspaper being half-right today if it can be wholly right tomorrow. David Broder, the great American reporter for the Washington Post who died only very recently, put it most succinctly three or more decades ago: “I would like to see us say over and over until the point has been made... that the newspaper that drops on your doorstep is a partial, hasty, incomplete, inevitably somewhat flawed and inaccurate rendering of some of the things we heard about in the past 24 hours... distorted despite our best efforts to eliminate gross bias by the very process of compression that makes it possible for you... to read it in about an hour. If we labelled the paper accurately then we would immediately add: But it's the best we could do under the circumstances, and we will be back tomorrow with a corrected updated version.”

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Extract from remarks by Daithi OCeallaigh

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Posted on: 01-Apr-2011
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It is commonplace today, especially among critics of the print media, to suppose that the advent of the internet has made the traditional media, and the print media in particular, irrelevant or redundant. Nothing could be further from the truth.For one thing, the traditional media are still the main sources for a huge amount of what appears on the blogosphere. A recent US survey showed that the ten news outlets cited most often for original reporting in the American blogosphere included three of the major US newspapers as well as a number of news agencies and television stations. The next twenty news outlets included no fewer than 14 different newspapers. These newspapers must be doing something right – and perhaps repetition, as well as imitation, is the sincerest form of flattery.For another, the traditional press now has an independent regulatory system that is wholly absent from the internet. In time, perhaps, web-based journalism may come to see the value of quality control and best professional practice. If and when it does – and at least one web-based news organisation has already been accepted as a member publication of the Council - we are ready to play a positive role in the light of our own experience and in support of the highest possible journalistic standards. 

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Press Council to host seminar on Children and the Media

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Posted on: 21-Nov-2010
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Press Council to host seminar on Children and the Media

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Children and the Media Seminar Schedule

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Posted on: 21-Nov-2010
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Seminar on ‘Children and the Media’, Monday, 6 December 2010, Morgan Hotel, Fleet Street, Dublin 2

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Press Council announces appointment of two new independent Council members

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Posted on: 08-Sep-2010
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The Chairman of the Press Council, Dáithí O’Ceallaigh, today (8th September 2010) announced the appointment of two new members of the Press Council of Ireland, who will serve for a three-year term.The new members are Professor Aine Hyland, Emeritus Professor of Education at University College, Cork, and Mr Eamonn Mac Aodha, Chief Executive of the Irish Human Rights Commission. They replace two retiring members of the Council, former District Justice Mary Kotsonouris, and Mr Peter O’Mahony, former CEO of the Irish Refugee Council. The appointments were made, on the basis of applications from members of the public, by an independent Appointments Committee, which was chaired by the outgoing Chairman, Professor Thomas Mitchell.Announcing the new appointments, Mr.O’Ceallaigh said “I am delighted to welcome Professor Hyland and Mr Mac Aodha to the Press Council. They bring a wealth of experience in the public service to the Council.” Bio notes for the new members:

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