The SKWAWKBOX is regulated by IMPRESS, the UK’s only independent, Leveson-compliant press regulator. The Establishment media tried – and failed humiliatingly – to shut down IMPRESS via the courts, leaving IPSO – which the media transparency organisation Hacked Off called ‘the illusion of reform‘ – as the only regulator standing.
The large, mainly billionaire-owned press publications subscribe to IPSO, the intriguingly-named ‘Independent Press Standards Organisation’ – essentially self-regulation: until recently, the chair of IPSO was Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail.
Some months ago, the SKWAWKBOX lodged a complaint against the Daily Mail and the S*n about their ‘fake news’ allegations against this blog. The most surprising thing about IPSO’s decision to reject the complaint and support the two newspapers was the inordinate amount of time it took the organisation to reach it.
The decisions have just been published on the IPSO website – and already, right-wingers on social media have started to smear this the SKWAWKBOX based on them. The Murdoch Times also plans to publish an article on them tomorrow.
A Times journalist contacted this blog asking for comment in preparation for the article. Our response will not be published in full, so here it is in its entirety:
IPSO’s judgment was a disappointment but no surprise to us. A body for the oversight of the press that is run by the same publications it is meant to oversee is intrinsically problematic. The recent chair of that body has just celebrated 25 years with one of the publications we complained about. The Times’ sister publication, the Sun, retracted its story quickly and it’s a shame the Mail didn’t have the grace to do the same.
As for the ruling on the allegations of fake news regarding the D-notice article, our story was carefully written to convey the status of the reports accurately and to avoid inaccurate claims. The opinion of the author of the article that the reports felt credible has been treated by IPSO as equivalent to a statement of fact, when it clearly was not.
It’s a sad commentary on the state of mainstream journalism that the care and clarity of the article was ignored and indeed ridden over roughshod by a judgment that allowed two large publications to attack the Skwawkbox on the basis of allegations that were clearly straw men.
The judgment also ignored the fact that the Skwawkbox published a clear clarification very shortly after the original article. It appears that, according to IPSO, anything that later requires clarification merits description as ‘fake news’. By that standard, given the number of such clarifications that mainstream publications make every week, it appears that the mainstream press is the main source of fake news in this country.
That the ‘MSM’ is prepared to try to use this against the Skwawkbox shows the extent to which we are upsetting the Establishment status quo.
The content and angle of the Times article will not be known until it is published, but the social media attempts to smear this blog based on IPSO’s decisions have already started to appear, with even the Tory ‘joke-Momentum’ Activate claiming the judgments mean that IPSO has ‘confirmed’ that the SKWAWKBOX is ‘fake news’.
But the fact that the judgments are being used in this way – and so quickly – suggests three things.
First, that those defending the status quo will use the non-Leveson-compliant process to try to intimidate anyone from daring to complain – complain about the media to the organisation run by the media and when you lose, it can be used against you.
Second, that the Establishment really, really doesn’t like the SKWAWKBOX and other ‘new left media’ (NLM) threatening its power and the status quo it exists to defend. That the IPSO judgment is considered news shows how rapidly that threat has grown.
Third, that the Establishment fears the NLM – resorting to measures like using a far from neutral ‘judgment’ to attack the complainant does not imply confidence.
These latest attacks in reality do little more than underline the importance, to our society and democracy, of the independent, left-wing media that many feel represent the only way to obtain news and perspectives that are not controlled by vested interests.
So whether that’s the SKWAWKBOX or another outlet, please support your favourite independent left media. Their importance is only underlined by the attacks on them.
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