Student reports on IPSO chairman lecture

MA International Journalism student Mark Subryan reports on the Sir Alan Moses lecture at the London School of Economics (LSE).

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is in its infancy and its chairman is emphasising patience as the regulator finds its niche.

Sir Alan Moses, a former High Court judge, spoke at the Sheik Zayed Theatre at the London School of Economics on Thursday March 12 about the future of press regulation in the United Kingdom.

It was part of LSE’s Media Policy Project lecture series hosted by Dr. Damien Tambini.

Sir Moses began by comparing the newly formed press regulator to Britain’s ship-building industry.

“In those old days, the ships would be in the water and the Queen would be there to christen them in her name and break a bottle of Veuve Cliquot on its hull,” he said. “Last year, IPSO was launched but without the pomp and ceremony of a ship.”

Sir Moses heralded what he calls the first print journalism regulator, adding that 75 publishers owning 1,400 newspapers and websites have signed on to IPSO following the phone hacking scandal which led to the demise of the Press Complaints Commission.

He defended the use of self regulating body by saying it is a two-way communication system where the regulator works closely with the regulated.

“The ultimate goal is to get the political economy to understand the behaviour of the regulator,” said the former judge who was best known as the justice in the Soham murder trial.

Sir Moses was optimistic IPSO will become something more concrete in the future.

“It is arrogant to think that journalists are protected by the Editors’ Code of Conduct,” he said. “There is no real punishment. There is no statute that dictates a journalist can no longer call him or herself that if they are unethical and breach their code.

“I believe that it will take one court delivering a stiff compensatory ruling for some of the owners or the shareholders to agree to sign on to a completely independent regulatory body.”

Toward the end of the lecture, Sir Moses was peppered with questions about the apparent lack of direction from IPSO in its infancy since starting last year.

In one exchange with an audience member, Sir Moses pointed out there were several audience members who worked for IPSO who were dealing with complaints on a daily basis.

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