NUJ to recommend creation of Ombudsman role to Levenson Inquiry to represent aggrieved relatives
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has revealed that it is to call for the appointment of a special Ombudsman to work with relatives who wish to complain about media coverage.
The union, having offered to meet with organisations of Support After Murder and Manslaughter Northern Ireland following the publication of a report by the University of Ulster, said that it would recommend for an Ombudsman post to the Leveson Inquiry.
The Ombudsman would be proposed to represent aggrieved relatives as part of the replacement for the current structure of the Press Complaints Commission.
Revealing the proposal, NUJ Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said: “Journalists covering murder and manslaughter should always treat relatives, friends and colleagues with sensitivity. Throughout the Troubles reporters, photographers and editors have tried to demonstrate care and compassion in extremely harrowing circumstances. Certainly there may have been lapses of judgment but for NUJ members working on the ground covering the Troubles represented a daily challenge to act in the public interest while respecting the privacy of individuals.”
He continued: "The current inquiry represents an opportunity to see how we can improve and how journalism can become more accountable. We fully support the concept of a Press Ombudsman based on the model which has proved so successful in the Republic of Ireland. We do not believe that the current PCC model is capable of reform. A new regulatory body and the creation of an Office of Press Ombudsman is something we are exploring and we will be giving evidence on this point to Lord Leveson. We do not at this stage see the need for a separate Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. Part of the work of the new Ombudsman would be to draw up new guidelines and to work with the media and civic society – that might include guidelines on the type of issues raised. We would welcome the opportunity to meet SAMM NI and will be in contacting the organisation in the coming weeks.”