Mediabeak on the rise in PCC complaints - online access fuels rise in PCC complaints
As Mediabeak reported yesterday, the number of complaints handled by the PCC in the last year has continued to rise but what lies behind the increase? Are we faced with a less responsible press or a more vigilant audience and accesible complaints procedures?
While complaints about the press have increased, this is as much due to the accessibility and transparency of the process as it is about the misbehaviour of the press. The PCC is tasked with policing the online environment and has now also got jurisdiction over audio-visual online content (via a remit extension granted early in 2007 - that saw its first case in August last year)
With complaints reaching record levels Mediabeak was interested to ascertain the split between online and print generated complaints. The PCC has swiftly and kindly provided the following information:
55% of complainants provided online versions of articles, compared to 45% who provided the hard copies.
This statistic is interesting not in relation to the basis for the complaint but for what it tells us about where the complained of story originates from. Consistent with a trend in online news readership being greater than print, more complainants link to online articles as the originating source of their complaint than hard copy print versions. This can be further explained by two factors: first, that more people access, source, browse or stumble upon news via the internet and second, once posted, the majority of stories remain available directly or via archive online. Whereas in the past someone may have passed on an outrageous story they had read in a paper as 'hearsay' such hearsay is now replaced by an online search that allows an infinitely wide audience of people to directly access and see that which may have offended the originating person.
So while some may say its a bad thing complaints continue to rise, the other side of the argument is that such increase is good in that is shows that the press and readership are increasing interaction and feedback through a regulatory system that works. The PCC and its effectiveness may have been maligned in the past by individuals who thought they did not have sufficient protection or compensation from the press but as a self-regulatory body it is becoming more visible, relevant and effecitve. So an increase in complaints is actually a good thing in that is shows that self-regulation can work.