Press Council to include blogs

The Herald reports:

The Press Council will offer membership to blogs and digital media and will get tougher powers for dealing with complaints.

The move follows a by the council’s main funder, the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, after considering recommendations by the Press Council and a Report.

Association director Rick Neville said most publishers felt the time had come to strengthen the council’s authority and extend its coverage to handle complaints against digital media, including blogs.

I presume it will only extend to blogs who decide to join, otherwise they’ll be very busy! Cactus Kate has commented that they’ll need an extra staff member just for Whale Oil.

Digital media will be offered a new form of membership with a fee based on the size of the entity and its commercial or non-commercial status. They must agree to the same statement of principals and complaints process as other members.

Take up may depend on the size of the fee.

Under the changes the council would also have the right, in exceptional circumstances, to censure a magazine, newspaper or website by unanimous decision of the council.

Other new measures include greater power over where an adjudication appears in a publication.

Members will be required to regularly publicise information about the Press Council’s complaints process, and member websites will be required to provide an easy-to-find complaints channel with details on making a complaint.

The council will also have the power to direct that elements of a story be removed from an online article, or for a story to be taken down.

Good to see slightly more teeth.

Whale Oil notes:

The only problem I have is the two EPMU representatives on the Press Council. I believe that in extending these provisions they need to have two bloggers on the council too. Perhaps is now time to formalise the Bloggers Union so that representatives can be appointed to the Press Council.

That is a concern. The EPMU are members of the Labour Party, fund the Labour Party and vote for its leader. Having EPMU representatives take part in decisions on non Labour supporting blogs could be a conflict of interest.

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