The UK’s National Union of Journalists complained about a news story covering its members’ vote to strike, arguing it was inaccurate and without balance.
But, UK press guidelines don’t require balance in news stories, and the article, by the Cumberland News, wasn’t misleading, the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation ruled.
The Cumberland News‘ December 2018 print and online article, “Journalists vote to go on strike,” reported on the NUJ vote for a one-day strike. The NUJ was upset about the article saying it didn’t include information about why the strike occurred — like the NUJ being concerned about a pay claim, changes to travel expenses and resignation rules.
iMediaEthics wrote to the NUJ and the Cumberland News for their responses to the ruling. The NUJ’s spokesperson told iMediaEthics by e-mail, “The union remains disappointed the newspaper published such a distorted article but it is no surprise that IPSO failed to uphold the NUJ complaint. The IPSO code of practice is weak and deficient, it was drawn up by a code committee more concerned with protecting the industry than in quality journalism or high standards. The ruling on the NUJ complaint is the latest example that highlights IPSO’s lack of independence from the industry it is supposed to regulate.”
The NUJ complained to IPSO that the lack of context, the article’s publication of a statement from the paper’s parent company Newsquest, and lack of statement from the NUJ misled readers, IPSO reported. The Cumberland News stood by its reporting, and ultimately IPSO agreed.
IPSO found the article “was an accurate summary of the overarching reason for the strike action,” and “The inclusion of a statement from Newsquest in response to the strike action did not render the piece misleading in circumstances where the reason for the action had been accurately summarised.”