A book published by journalism ethics charity MediaWise has accused the Press Complaints Commission of failing to serve the public adequately and having the “whiff of the establishment”.
The pressure group also carried out its own survey of 52 PCC users, which found that 64 per cent were either not very satisfied or very dissatisfied with the regulator’s service.
The PCC’s own customer satisfaction survey of all complainants revealed earlier this year that 62 per cent of those who responded were satisfied with the watchdog.
MediaWise, formerly known as PressWise, was set up in 1992 by a group of people with complaints against the press. It acts as a pressure group and training and advice service.
The book, Satisfaction Guaranteed?, suggests the PCC lacks independence because it is funded by papers and its committee consists of editors, with no representatives of ordinary journalists.
The report also suggests that adherence to the Editors’ Code of Practice would be strengthened if publications were subject to fines rather than just having to publish an apology with a possible “three strikes and you’re out” policy for offending editors.
MediaWise praised The Guardian for being the only national daily to have a dedicated readers’ editor and daily corrections column. His office is said to deal with up to 10,000 communications a year.
MediaWise director Mike Jempson said: “There’s never been a proper independent investigation into what complainants really thought about the PCC, so we hired journalists to talk to them and do a survey of people who had made complaints.
“It is not an academic study but a journalistic exercise to find out what people really think about the PCC.”
Suggested improvements to press self-regulation include the creation of a press ombudsman and a new Royal Commission.
The PCC declined to comment.
By Dominic Ponsford