Friday, September 01, 2006

Press Complaints Commission

Double-click to enlargeThe immediate furore of the "Qanagate" affair has died down and attention moves elsewhere – that is the way of the world. But, as any old campaigner will tell you, that is when the work really starts.

Publishing the details and stoking up huge – and entirely justified – outrage at the behaviour of the media is one thing but, on its own, it means very little. Nothing has actually changed and, in fact, all we have seen, publicly at least, is the newspapers and agencies harden their positions and go into denial.

Furthermore, in the final analysis, nothing will change until and unless the players are forced into admitting they were wrong and are then forced to make changes.

Past the ten-day wonder phase, therefore, a campaign to achieve change takes on the aspect of trench warfare, pushing, probing and skirmishing, without any great dramatic breakthroughs which will grab the headlines.

To that effect, we prepared our report and, at the beginning of this week, submitted a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. Today we received a response (illustrated), which confirms that we have passed the first hurdle – the complaint has qualified for acceptance and the Commission has agreed to "look at it".

The complaint itself is directed at four newspapers, The Independent, the Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, but the Commission has indicated that it will, as requested, "widen the investigation" if it considers it necessary.

This is good news as far as it goes. But, these are early days yet and we have only passed the first hurdle. There are many more and the outcome is by no means certain. Nevertheless, this is by no means the only shot in our locker, and others are also taking up the cudgels.

We will keep you informed of developments.

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