chapter  4
26 Pages

Press councils: Codes and analysis of codes in the European Union

The print media are subject to various codes of conduct setting out standards of journalistic ethics. Historically, the control of content of the print media has been carried out via journalist ethics codes. Some codes are internal to a media outlet, or specific to a publication, others adopted by professional associations of journalists or applied by a press council. Some publications, for example, rely on an in-house ombudsman applying a code (e.g. newspapers such as The Guardian, The Observer and The Independent on Sunday in the United Kingdom; El País and La Vanguardia in Spain; Politiken in Denmark; and a number of newspapers in the United States1). There is therefore a plethora of codes available for a study of EU print media2 but this chapter is confined to eight European countries in which there is a press council as the enforcement mechanism for accountability of the print media regarding newspapers within their authority. There is considerable international interest in the self-regulation of print media, as evidenced by the activity of organisations such as ONO (the Organisation of News Ombudsmen)3 and IPC (Independent Press Councils),4 and the adoption of mechanisms of media accountability in developing and transitional countries.