Balancing opposing sets of needs sounds like an impossible proposition. Nonetheless, achieving a balance that is acceptable to all parties on a topic that concerns them all is crucial. The media is no exception.
Balancing opposing sets of needs sounds like an impossible proposition. Nonetheless, achieving a balance that is acceptable to all parties on a topic that concerns them all is crucial. The media is no exception. To have an effective and worthwhile media requires the co-existence of three distinct groups. These are: the press, who must have freedom to report without bias or fear in order for a functional democracy to exist; the public, who have a right to be informed about people and acts which affect them; and the subjects of articles, who have rights to privacy and to not be harrassed, which are specially limited by the public interest in their positions or acts.
These three groups must be satisfied by one set of rules of engagement, so that each group can agree to hold themselves to it. Only then can the complex interaction between the media, the public, and the subjects of articles happen effectively and to the service of the public.
The National Press Council of Ireland and the Office of the Press Ombudsman has created a code of practice that represents an extraordinarily successful balance of the needs of all those concerned. Each group can justifiably welcome and applaud the code’s consideration of their individual needs.
The scale of this achievement cannot be overestimated. By setting out on such an endeavour, one risks jeopardising the very democracy of the country, as to fail to defend the press’s freedoms, or to otherwise unfairly shackle or inhibit them, is indefensible. The Press Council has not failed in this regard – on the contrary, they realise that by providing access to an independent press complaints mechanism, they can maintain the highest standards of Irish journalism and journalistic ethics.
For these reasons, Trinity News has become a member of the National Press Council of Ireland, unique among student publications. Incoming Freshers were told in the Publications Committee’s magazine that Trinity News was “amateur only in name” and with this announcement, Trinity News accordingly lists itself with 204 other Irish publications.
Trinity News is tasked by its readership with oversight of the College bodies and personas that affect the lives and work of those readers. In order to enjoy the privilege and responsibility of such scrutiny and vigilance, Trinity News must be ready to hold itself accountable. With its new membership of the Press Council, the newspaper promises its readers that it can and will “publish what it considers to be news, without fear or favour, and to comment upon it”.
Readers are encouraged to view the Code of Practice on the National Press Council’s website.