I promised to consult widely on the Terms of Reference that the Readers’ Editor should work to. And I undertook to publish these once agreed.
I’ll not trot over old ground regarding self-regulation, accountability or transparency, but for the sake of new readers, the Belfast Telegraph has decided to appoint a Readers’ Editor to champion and channel the concerns of its readers.
The brief is essentially to raise readers’ concerns, particularly about accuracy and ethics, and to keep open lines of dialogue with the Editor and staff.
TERMS OF REFERENCE: READERS’ EDITOR
- To collate and investigate complaints from readers about this newspaper and its work
- To strive to ensure the maintenance of the highest standards of accuracy, balance and ethics in the Belfast Telegraph
- *To seek, and take account of, the views of journalists, managers and other employees where appropriate when investigating reader complaints
- To convey the views and feelings of the paper’s readership to the Editor, and to encourage a two-day debate
- To ensure that methods of contacting the Readers’ Editor are displayed in a reasonable fashion in the paper and on company’s website
- To write an independent regular column, usually on a weekly basis, keeping readers informed about relevant developments in both the paper and the newspaper industry generally
- To broker clarifications and other methods of correcting errors without prejudicing the paper’s response, or potential response, to legal action, contractual obligations, or matters being considered by the Press Complaints Commission or similar body
- To take up issues of serious concern as long as these matters are not in the considered view of the Readers’ Editor to be frivolous, vexatious, unreasonably motivated or deemed to have been previously exhausted
- To do all of the above without fear or favour and not to shy away from criticism of the Editor and staff where it is appropriate.
Meanwhile, another varied postbag this week, with issues raised ranging from GAA coverage, to accuracy in journalism, how much UK and Irish news we should cover, the nature and content of celebrity news and the photos on our website’s homepage.
Other things on your mind include the Telegraph’s relationship with nationalism and hardline unionism, the nature and amount of comment posted on our website and the amount of very local news — ie community news — in the paper.
Each of these — and more — will be the subject of further columns, but I need to agree the Terms of Reference first so that the rules surrounding the service are all settled.
In the meantime, please feel free to comment on any issue |that concerns you: by post, to 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB, or via the e-mail address below.