Guardian Australia to remain out of Press Council, claims its internal regulation is ‘adequate’

Guardian AustraliaThe Guardian Australia has decided not to join print and online watchdog the Australian Press Council arguing that its own self regulation is “adequate and proportionate”.

The digital-only local operation, which launched in May 2013, had previously said it would not join the APC until it became “more established”. But Emily Wilson, editor of the Guardian Australia, has now told Mumbrella that she intends to remain outside the APC because she felt the masthead’s own internal processes were sufficient “for the time being”.

“In Australia, the Guardian is less than two years old and is digital only, and we are confident that its self regulation is adequate and proportionate for the time being,” said Wilson. “But we’re ruling nothing out for the future.”

The APC has previously indicated that it is open to the Guardian and other new overseas online players, such as the Daily Mail Australia, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post, joining the industry-funded self regulatory body. None have yet done so.

The Guardian’s position on press regulation and decision not to join the industry self regulator was first raised back in 2013, after a dispute over the website’s coverage between the media outlet and deputy federal Liberal leader Julie Bishop which saw it publish a lengthy clarification.

The Guardian has its own UK-based internal ombudsman on staff, known as the “readers’ editor”. Late last year, the Guardian, which publishes a print edition in the UK, said it would not join the UK’s new regulatory body IPSO which was set up after its predecessor body was discredited by its failure to effectively deal with the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

Readers in Australia who want to talk to the Guardian’s readers editor by telephone will only be able to do so between 9pm and midnight eastern, Monday to Friday.

The issue of membership of the Australian Press Council has been in the headlines in recent days after the APC denounced The Australian for repeatedly breaching confidentiality on rulings.

Editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell responded to the APC statement by vowing to try to remove his newspaper from what he called the “activism” of The Australian Press Council (APC) and urged publishers to “reconstruct” the print and online watchdog. The Australian’s publisher News Corp later clarified that there had been no change to its membership of the industry body. 

The new chair of the APC David Weisbrot begins his role on Monday replacing Julian Disney who has stood down after completing his term.

The APC’s membership includes the likes of Fairfax Media, News Corp Australia, Bauer Media and online publishers such as Private Media and Ninemsn. 

The only major print publisher not in the APC is the West Australian which removed itself in 2012 after the body moved to tighten rules and funding obligations around membership.

In 2013 the APC a spokesman for Julian Disney said they would be contacting them to invite them to join the organisation.

Nic Christensen 

Declaration: Mumbrella’s parent company Focal Attractions is a member of the Press Council. 


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.