Investigating a non-complaint (or IANC)


The crazy world of acronyms

By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

We live in a world of acronyms where writing whole words is simply tiresome.

Examples include the old favourites BOGOF, SWALK and ROTFL.*1

But there are also newer examples, such as DFTBA, FUTAB and SMH.*2

I blame Twitter’s 140-character restriction where the ultimate goal now is to convey one’s entire message without using any words at all.

One of my colleagues is an acronym freak, but it rather defeats his object that no one understands them and he always has to explain himself.

There is a comprehensive modern acronym list on NetLingo, although I should issue an asterisk profanity warning at this point.

All this is a particularly convoluted build-up to the matter in hand today, an acronym that many people may not be familiar with, IPSO.

You could be forgiven for thinking that it goes with ‘facto’ to make, depending on your viewpoint, the Latin phrase ‘by the fact itself’ or an old Badly Drawn Boy lyric/documentary.

No, this IPSO is the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the body controversially set up by the newspaper industry to monitor itself after the demise of the PCC (sorry, force of habit, Press Complaints Commission).

One chap who knows all about it is Tory MP Brooks Newmark, who resigned as Minister For Civil Society last September when the Sunday Mirror exposed (LOL) the fact that he had sent an explicit photograph of himself to a ‘young female Tory Party activist’ after they had exchanged a series of Twitter messages.

The activist who caught out the 56-year-old honourable former member for Braintree (he’s not standing next month) was in fact a journalist for the Guido Fawkes political blog site who flogged the story that the Mirror gleefully published.

IPSO, recently, after a six-month gap, eventually published its findings into the case after its first high-profile investigation, ruling the Mirror had not breached the code of conduct and that publishing the story was in the public interest.

The finding was obviously correct – because I think we should all be concerned that a Government Minister was exchanging explicit messages regardless of their relevance to his role – and that subterfuge was necessary on this occasion to bring it to notice.

The interesting aspect is that IPSO – headed by former top judge Sir Alan Moses and supported by all major newspaper groups except the Guardian – ploughed on with its lengthy inquiry despite the fact that no one had made a complaint.

The press watchdog, no doubt growling that it wanted to show its critics it had teeth, decided to investigate the actual newsgathering techniques to see whether the Mirror was fulfilling its obligations to the Editors’ Code of Practice (the issue being whether or not the journalist had prior knowledge of Mr Newmark’s wrongdoings).

That it cleared the Mirror can be hailed as a victory for investigative journalism, but it does raise issues, most notably about whether there should have been this self-initiated probe at all.

The media commentator Roy Greenslade described IPSO’s investigation as ‘flawed’, but didn’t necessarily disagree with its findings.

It remains to be seen whether IPSO will carry out any more of these guerrilla raids, but the bottom line is that our politicians need to be held to account and sometimes the only way to do it is by undercover means.

We must celebrate and cherish our investigative journalists as being a vital check on people in high public office who fall below the standards expected of them – especially as we approach a general election that some commentators are dubbing the most important for a generation.

On that note…





*1: Buy One Get One Free; Sealed With A Loving Kiss; Rolling On The Floor Laughing

*2: Don’t Forget To Be Awesome; Feet Up Taking A Break; Shaking My Head

*3: As A Matter Of Fact; As Far As I’m Concerned; As I Said Earlier, Someday Soon Everything Will Be Acronyms; All Done, Bye Bye