Saturday, 26 April 2014

Press Complaints Commission: it's OK to propose assaulting cyclists in a newspaper

A few days ago, we covered how the Western Daily Press -the "provincial" sibling to the evening post, printed an article advocating knocking cyclists off their bicycles if they were in the way.

Well, being a media outlet ourselves, we are never afraid to pick on our competitors, and complained to the press complaints commission.

After a couple of followup emails, we are pleased to announce that it is OK to print such articles -because it doesn't violate the Editor's Code of Practice.
The PCC considers complaints about specific allegations of breaches of the Editors’ Code of Practice. In order for us to consider your complaint, we do need you to explain how you believe that the Code has been breached.

You are correct to say that the police would be the appropriate authority to raise concerns about the incitement of violence; this is not a matter covered by the Clauses of the Code. If this is your concern, I would advise that you seek to raise it with the police.
Which raises the question: what happened in the great Matthew Parris "string them up" incident? Nothing:

The PCC said:
584 people complained about a comment piece article in The Times by Matthew Parris, published on 27 December 2007, headlined “What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated?”. The complainants were mostly cycling enthusiasts objecting to the suggestion that piano wire be strung acrosscountry lanes to decapitate cyclists, as a punishment for littering the countryside. The Commission said that the Code of Practice had not been breached, although it was pleased that Mr Parris had apologised for his comments.
This is interesting. There is a clause that says "The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.". but: cyclists aren't any of that group unless you actually state that they are a bunch of madly evangelical troublemakers whose inability to adapt to modern society is a sign of psychological issues. Restrict your descriptions to "a menace" or "a nuisance" ant its OK.

It also means this: the Western Daily Press can say what it wants about cyclists, and only needs to apologise if it cares to.

1 comment:

Mike said...

So it should be just fine to advocate shooting drivers too...