Press watchdog publishes Travellers’ Times guidance for newspapers

18 November 2020
Press watchdog publishes Travellers’ Times guidance for newspapers

The main UK press regulator has published the Travellers’ Times guidance for newspaper journalists and editors reporting on Gypsy and Traveller stories.

The Travellers’ Times guidance, which can be seen on the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) website here, was produced by Travellers’ Times journalists in an attempt to improve the representation of Gypsy and Traveller people in the UK’s national and local newspapers.

IPSO state that: “Journalists are not obliged to follow these guidelines, which are separate to the Editors' Code of Practice but may find it useful to do so when reporting on sensitive and challenging issues.”

Mike Doherty, News Editor at the Travellers’ Times, said that the move by IPSO was a step forward.

“Fighting the negative and inaccurate reporting of Gypsy and Traveller people in the UK media over the past decades is often characterised by Gypsy and Traveller campaigners as two steps forward and one step back,” Mike Doherty said.

“No media regulators, state backed or voluntarily and industry backed, have ever really done Gypsy and Traveller people many favours, but this move by IPSO is definitely a step forward,” he added.

“The Travellers’ Times is regulated by IPSO and we will continue to use our position within the organisation to campaign for a stronger response to discrimination complaints from members of the public that challenge negative and often racist newspaper articles about Gypsy and Traveller people,” said Mike Doherty.

“We will also use our IPSO membership to urge newspaper editors to check out our website and our Travellers’ Times Magazine archive and find out that there is so much more positive news that could be published about the UK’s Gypsy and Traveller people, rather than the current endless litany about the conflict around unauthorised Traveller camps.”

IPSO is currently monitoring how it handles ‘clause 12’ discrimination complaints. Its most recent research shows that in the last three years, not one single article about Gypsies and Travellers in the vast majority of the UK’s national and local newspapers received more than nine complaints. In contrast, the TV regulator Ofcom received nearly 900 complaints about Ch4’s recent TV show ‘The Truth About Traveller Crime’, after a big push by Gypsy and Traveller organisations to encourage people to complain. Key complaints by the Traveller Movement are still being investigated by Ofcom.

“There are many ways that Gypsy and Traveller people can challenge negative and racist media and complaining through the regulators is one of them,” said Mike Doherty. “I don’t believe that the lack of complaints about racist Gypsy and Traveller articles to the press regulator means that there is no problem. Obviously there is a problem, and part of that problem is that Gypsy and Traveller people could do with training and support about how to effectively challenge the media when they see an article or a TV show that they believe is racist.”

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