Early results from a survey looking at how journalists go about their everyday work – including double-checking information – has so far produced little regular referencing of practice guidance provided by the Press Complaints Commission.
The short survey – still available for completing – is being conducted by a student at Strathclyde University, as part of a masters degree in journalism.
The results will prove timely, since next month a Cross Party Group at the Scottish Parliament is hosting a debate about the PCC, to include its chair, Baroness Buscombe, and The Scotsman editor, John McLellan.
Says student, Ben Cottin: “Early results are putting accuracy as the most important aspect considered when working on a story but that double-checking information is not systematic, even on subjects journalists are not familiar with.
“Journalists are mainly relying on their experience, principles and judgement when faced with an ethical decision to make and very rarely refer to the PCC's Code of Practice. They also mainly judge the PCC as limited in action and toothless but better than nothing. Almost half of them are aware of the Code's content but could not cite any of it or tell if adherence to it is part of their contracts.”