The Press Council of Ireland and the Office of the Press Ombudsman today (Thursday) launched their annual report for 2016.
The report highlighted that the Office of the Press Ombudsman received 261 complaints in 2016, down from 278 in the previous year. The complaints related to articles published in national and local newspapers, magazines and online-only news publications.
In 2016 the Press Ombudsman made 23 decisions, down from 34 the previous year. Nine complaints were upheld in 2016.
Speaking at the launch at the Maldron Hotel in Dublin, the Press Ombudsman, Peter Feeney, said, “Member publications are providing a service to their readers which is largely compliant with the requirements found in the Code of Practice”.
Seán Donlon, the chair of the Press Council, welcomed the review of the Defamation Act, which is currently taking place. He said that “reforms suggested by the Press Council and others would result in the possibility of lesser financial court settlements and more frequent use by complainants of the machinery of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council”. He described the complaints handling processes as “fair, fast and free”.
Guest speaker, Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, said that a model had been developed, which was neither based on statutory regulation nor self-regulation, and that this independent model had worked well and was a way of ensuring the press maintained high standards as well as protecting the privacy and dignity of individuals, whilst promoting the right of freedom of expression. He went on to say that the Government was considering how best to ensure the maintenance of standards in online social media sites and suggested that the example of the structures of the Press Council could provide a template.