The judgement relates to mobile phone video footage of unruly pupils at the John Ogilvie High School near Glasgow. This was taken by a pupil and then published on the website of the Hamilton Advertiser without permission from the school authorities, the children or their parents.
The publication also failed to contact the school in respect of the footage which was linked to a story about unruly pupils.
This highlights the need for care in supplying material to online media – but also emphasises an opportunity to take action in the case of materials that may break the PCC code.
The PCC can only rule on websites operated by newspapers and magazines – and it claims this ability to intervene will help readers distinguish such sites as being more accurate than “unregulated news services”.
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, is cited as believing such control will help newspapers and magazines “maintain the quality of their brand on the internet.”
It is an interesting argument that traditional media have a “hard-won reputation for accuracy and quality”, given the recent scandals over phone in competitions and “fake footage” in documentaries.
In the case of newspapers, there is a lot to be questioned in respect of the accuracy of many of their more sensationalist stories – which have often been “crafted” by press agents, such as Max Clifford (famously “Freddie Starr ate my hamster“).
If newspapers and magazines believe their brand value is dependent on a reputation for quality – this needs to be reflected more consistently.
Undoubtedly, the public will increasingly select their sources of information on the basis of who they feel they can trust. Whether or not this is, or will be, the traditional media, is another matter.