Handbook to Editors' Code of Practice is launched

By Dominic Ponsford

The Press Complaints Commission is backing the launch of the first
handbook to help journalists navigate their way through the Code of
Practice.

The Editors’ Codebook offers guidance on subjects such as when
persistence becomes harassment, dealing with the bereaved and use of
subterfuge.

According to the handbook’s author, Ian Beales, it is
intended to provide a bridge between the 16 clauses of the Editors’
Code of Practice and the interpretive case law which has built up over
13 years of judgements from the PCC.

Beales was editor of the Western Daily Press for 20 years and one of those who drew up the original code in 1990.

He said: “The Code of Practice is the definitive rulebook for the industry –a sort of ethical compass for journalists.

The Codebook’s role is as a supporting map, which warns where the hidden rocks are and how to avoid them.”

He
added: “Whatever people claim about the Editors’ Code it is a balance
of rights and responsibilities. It also has the feature that it
requires editors to observe it not just to the letter but to the
spirit”.

According to the PCC, the 104-page paperback is “the
most comprehensive guidance of its kind available to any press
regulation system worldwide”.

The book was commissioned by the
Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, a group of newspaper and magazine
editors which regularly revises and updates the Code.

Chairman of
the Code Committee Les Hinton, who is also executive chairman of News
International, said: “It is not always understood how much decisions of
the PCC, with its clear majority of lay members, have helped shape
British journalism over the years.

“Together, the Code’s rules
and the PCC’s adjudications form the basis for self-regulation in
Britain. The purpose of the book is to set them in context. It is a
users’ guide to show how the Code works in practice. It also
demonstrates that, in practice, the Code works.”

PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer said: “I hope the handbook will attract a wider readership beyond working journalists.

“It
will be indispensable for anyone interested in self-regulation,
journalism and the great debates that swirl around issues of press
freedom and responsibility –and not just in Britain.

“It should
also help and inform those who use our services to seek redress from a
newspaper, by explaining how the Code has been interpreted over the
years.”

The Editors’ Codebook costs £5, or £4 when ordering more
than 25 copies, and is available from PressBof (Press Standards Board
of Finance), 48 Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, EH12 5DE. Cheques should
be made payable to PressBof.

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