2021 Annual Report of the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman
Launch of 2021 Annual Report of the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman
Buswells Hotel, Dublin, Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Embargoed until 01.00 on Tuesday 21 June.
The Annual Report of the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman shows that the 527 complaints received in 2021 represented a 50% increase over 2020 and was the second highest number received in any one year.
Approximately 200 of the complaints related to coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2021 the Press Ombudsman upheld seven complaints, two of which related to Covid reporting. In both instances he found that privacy requirements of Principle 5 of the Code of Practice of the Press Council had been breached.
Nineteen complaints were resolved by editors to the satisfaction of complainants through the Office’s Alternative Dispute Resolution service. Two of these were resolved through mediation, where the editor and the complainant met, on a voluntary and confidential basis, to discuss the complaint with the aim of arriving at a mutually satisfactory outcome.
The Chair of the Press Council, Rory Montgomery, said at the launch “The pandemic has underlined the importance of objective, thorough reporting, and of well-informed expert comment and analysis. I believe that the press has served Ireland very well in this crisis, at a time when the risks and downsides of over-reliance on social media are really visible”.
He welcomed the publication in March of the “comprehensive and considered” Report of the Review of the Defamation Act. Mr Montgomery commented that “The Press Council is mindful of the fundamental rights of individuals, but it is also essential that the functioning of defamation law does not undermine the capacity of the press to report fully and objectively on matters of public interest.”
He was glad that the Review recognised the continuing efficiency and effectiveness of the Press Council and the Office of the Press Ombudsman - as demonstrated once again in 2021 - and acknowledged that it had taken on board specific suggestions aimed at enhancing their alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
He concluded: “I urge the Minister for Justice to move ahead quickly on her welcome commitment to the early publication of draft legislation implementing the Review’s recommendations.”
The guest speaker at the launch of the Annual Report was Professor Brian MacCraith, Chair of the Future of Media Commission, whose report awaits publication.
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