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Friday 20 October 2017

'Editors must fight fake news' - Naughten

Minister Denis Naughten
Minister Denis Naughten

Maintaining a high standard in press coverage and continuing the fight against fake news is a key priority for the Government, the Minister for Communications has said.

Denis Naughten was speaking at the launch of the annual report of the Press Council of Ireland.

According to the report, the Office of the Press Ombudsman received 261 complaints in 2016, down from 278 in the previous year. These related to articles published in national and local newspapers, magazines and online-only news publications.

The Press Ombudsman made 23 decisions, down from 34 the previous year, and nine complaints were upheld.

Mr Naughten said the council's model had worked well and was a way of ensuring the press maintained high standards as well as protecting the privacy and dignity of individuals while promoting the right of freedom of expression.

Sensitive

The minister also said the Government was considering how best to ensure the maintenance of standards on online social media sites.

Press Ombudsman Peter Feeney said 2016 proved that editors of Irish publications were "more sensitive" and are reaching for higher standards of journalism.

He said they were more willing to resolve most of the complaints that were made.

"Member publications are providing a service to their readers which is largely compliant with the requirements found in the Code of Practice," he said.

Press Council chair Sean Donlon said he welcomed the review of the Defamation Act and that the suggested reforms by the council "would result in the possibility of lesser financial court settlements and more frequent use by complainants of the machinery of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council".

He described the handling of complaints as "fair, fast and free".

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