‘You’ve Been Rumbled!’ is a segment where we expose those hindering the fight against intolerance and discrimination in Europe.
This month’s ‘You’ve Been Rumbled!’ pick is an ongoing case. The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the independent regulator for most newspaper and magazine industry in the UK, has been called out for failing to protect minorities from press discrimination. Get The Trolls Out!'’s partner the Media Diversity Institute teamed up with Hacked Off to write an open letter to IPSO calling for an end to #RacismInThePress.
The letter, which you can read in full here, includes several examples of discriminatory language and narratives used in the British press, such as Rod Liddle’s column in the Sunday Times last year, which called for “British Islamists” to “blow themselves up – somewhere a decent distance away from where the rest of us live. Tower Hamlets, for example.” The letter further sheds light on the fact that over the span of one year, IPSO has received 8,000 complaints, but only upheld one.
The letter has amassed more than one hundred signatures from parliamentarians, freedom of expression organisations and influential academics and high profile public figures, including Baroness Warsi and David Lammy MP and Olivia Coleman. A further 5,000 concerned citizens have signed the letter, with the number rising daily. It is clear that the letter and the discrimination it has exposed has struck a chord with the British public. IPSO has as it’s mission to protect individual rights and it is clear they have failed.
On February 28th, IPSO chairman Sir Alan Moses published a statement in response to the open letter. Sir Alan Moses states that “the real issue, with which the letter fails to grapple, is how to strike a balance between the freedom of a journalist or newspaper to offend a group while protecting individuals” and that “IPSO rejects the accusation that it condones religious and race-based hate or in any way approves of offensive attacks on groups on the grounds of their beliefs or identity.” The response fails to differentiate between offensive and abusive content; the open letter refers to the latter, and does not seek to limit freedom of expression. Moreover, the response seems to imply that IPSO has been active in dealing with complaints on this issue, which is simply untrue. 1 out of 8,000 complaints being upheld in one year is not ‘striking a balance.’
A blog post was also published on IPSO’s website on March 1st, citing the open letter. It was comprised of the same lackluster response as the statement and made clear that IPSO has no intention of acting on the issue. MDI and Hacked Off, along with the over 5,000 signatories, do not accept this response. Action needs to be taken and IPSO needs to come with solutions to stop this #RacismInThePress.
MDI monitors the British media for hate speech as part of the Get The Trolls Out! project and will continue to do so, reporting incidents to IPSO whenever necessary. Follow along with this case through the hashtag #RacismInThePress on Twitter, as well as updates on MDI’s and Hacked Off’s websites.