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first blog censured by the PCC - will you keep reading?

31 March 2010

On Tuesday it was reported that the Press Complaints Commission had made its first ever adjudication against a blog.  The blog in question was Rod Liddle’s piece which stated that “the overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community.” A complaint was made about this particular comment to the PCC.

The Spectator was unable to provide evidence to substantiate this factual statement, and so the PCC upheld the complaint.

What was interesting about the decision was that the Spectator argued that blogging is a conversational medium, often provocative, in which readers were able to disagree with the writer by responding on the same page. The Commission recognised this argument, but stated that a publisher still had to be able to substantiate the factual statements it published, and could not rely merely on publication of critical reaction to the piece by members of the public.

Even online, the PCC requires the orthodox press to check their facts before publishing. But we live in a world of social media, internet rumours and the 24-hour news cycle. Is regulation a “gold standard” which ensures that consumers will continue to come to orthodox publishers for their news and comment?

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