What more evidence do we need that current press regulations are not working? A look at the data shows that The Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express were sanctioned a total of 43 times between them in 2016 for publishing inaccurate content.
The information is available on the IPSO press regulator website and shows that these three right-wing Eurosceptic tabloids are by far the worst offenders when it comes to accuracy.
The Daily Mail was the worst of the lot in 2016, clocking up a total of 17 IPSO sanctions for inaccuracy. The Sun closely followed with 14 sanctions and the Daily Express with 12 sanctions.
Of the rest of the national dailies, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Telegraph were sanctioned 6 times each, the Daily Star 4 times and The Times on 3 occasions.
So between them, these seven publications have clocked up 62 offences in a single year.
Certain subjects were noticeably prominent among the offending articles. The Express was sanctioned 4 times for inaccurate articles about the EU and 4 times for articles on immigration. The Mail printed 5 inaccurate articles about celebrities and 4 on immigration. The Sun breached guidelines 6 times with articles on Muslims, immigration or the EU.
IPSO was established in 2014 as an independent regulator of the press but has been criticised for not imposing sufficient penalties when guidelines are breached. Offenders generally get away with printing a small correction notice months after the original offending article was published.
There has been very little evidence of serious or repeat offences receiving tougher punishment, meaning that papers can effectively get away with lying repeatedly at hardly any cost. The evidence shows this is exactly what some of them are doing.
We know full well that, if a criminal were to repeatedly offend 15 or so times within a single year, the first ones to proclaim loudly that the justice system was flawed would be the likes of The Sun and the Daily Mail.
So why do we tolerate such a flawed system of regulation for our national press?
Surely it’s time to make papers pay for lying to their readers rather than handing out token ineffective punishments. Some have suggested forcing papers to publish corrections in bold print on the front page. Others have suggested imposing fines to hit publications where it hurts.
Another idea could be to impose a ban on papers covering certain subjects for different periods of time if they can’t report truthfully and accurately on them. After all, if a paper has repeatedly demonstrated that it can’t handle a topic responsibly, why should it be allowed into a position where it can influence millions of people?
IPSO does have the power to impose tougher sanctions such as increased prominence of corrections notices or even fines for serious or repeat offences. It can be contacted here.
Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.