Eroding the Free Press
IPSO’s Guidance for Reporting on Islam and Muslims
In late 2018, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) announced that it had created “an informal working group” to help draft guidance for journalists on how to report on issues connected with Islam and Muslims. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this statement received little attention at the time. But a closer look at this process raised cause for concern. Against a broader backdrop, it is surely worth asking whether IPSO has fully considered the implications of its effort to produce ‘guidance’ for journalists in this area. Activist groups have long called for changes to the Editors’ Code of Practice, such that it would prohibit discrimination against groups of people – as well as individuals (at present, it rules out only the latter). Newspaper editors and journalists are clear that such a change–giving activists more power to complain “on behalf” of others–would make their jobs almost impossible; it would mark the effective end of a free press as hitherto constituted in the UK.