The Financial Times stands for an independent press, free of economic and political interference. We therefore support efforts to create a more robust system of independent regulation for the industry in the wake of the Leveson inquiry.
After careful consideration, the FT has decided to put in place a system which is accountable, credible, robust and highly adaptable to meet the pace of change in our industry. We believe this approach is consistent with our record of journalistic excellence and integrity, and it builds on our already strong system of governance designed to maintain the highest possible ethical standards.
The FT has established a track record for treading its own path at a time of wrenching change in the news business. We have consistently taken decisions which have marked a break with established industry practice when it is the right thing to do for our readers and business.
Our approach reflects the FT’s standing as an increasingly digital news operation with a global footprint. More than three-quarters of our readers are now outside the UK. Our main competitors are global news organisations, each of which applies its own system of independent regulation. There is no industry standard.
The FT has been a longstanding member of the Press Complaints Commission, which is due to expire shortly. Readers will therefore no longer have recourse to the PCC as an independent service for dealing with complaints. In its place, we will set up a new mechanism to handle reader complaints in the event that they feel our internal procedures fail to provide an adequate response or redress.
Two points are relevant here. First, our record at the PCC in recent years shows that in the overwhelming majority of cases the FT has been exonerated from criticism. Second, the FT is always willing to deal with complaints expeditiously and, if warranted, publish a clarification, correction or apology.
Nevertheless, we recognise that we need to provide additional reassurances in the post-PCC world. We will therefore be creating a new position of editorial complaints commissioner. The remit and reporting line will be set out in a public advertisement in due course. The successful candidate will be appointed by a three-person committee and will be independent of the editor.
In addition, the FT will continue to provide platforms for readers to comment on articles and participate in discussion with our reporters and commentators. We believe our conversation with readers around the world is important. Understanding what they need and value is vital to our success as a news organisation.
The FT will continue to engage with our peers in the industry. Every newspaper and news group must make their own choice regarding regulation. At this point, we have decided to plot our own course. We are committed to best practice and determined to uphold the high standards that have served the FT and our readers so well over the past 126 years.