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10 May 2018

NMA Seeks Meeting with Lord Kerslake

News Media Association chairman David Dinsmore wrote to Lord Kerslake after publication of the report to request a meeting to discuss the findings on media behaviour in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bomb attack.

Mr Dinsmore notes that it was unclear from the report whether the complaints were about behaviour by the UK press, or broadcasters, social media or international media and calls for evidence of the allegations.

In the letter Mr Dinsmore said: “We appreciate that [the report findings] relate to the wider media including broadcasters, social media and international media.” He continued: “The extreme types of behaviour described would undoubtedly lead to disciplinary procedures and dismissal and is certainly not something that I recognise from newspaper employees, or indeed other UK media.”

He continued: “The media plays a critical and crucial role in reporting terrible events like those in Manchester and it is essential to the functioning of society that the full scope of events is covered, from the human tragedy to the geopolitical ramifications. It is the very definition of the public interest.

“Every member of our industry is acutely aware how challenging it is for those suddenly thrown by circumstance into the public eye, often while they are dealing with tragedy. We work hard to report accurately and sympathetically, respecting the feelings of those most directly affected.”

The letter points out that the majority of NMA members have signed up to the IPSO and all adhere to the Editors’ Code of Practice. Mr Dinsmore notes: “I understand IPSO received one complaint following the Manchester Arena attack. This does not point towards press intrusion or failings on a scale indicated by your report.”

Mr Dinsmore urges Lord Kerslake to “take the matter up with the appropriate regulator (IPSO for the press or Ofcom for broadcast media) and encourage families who have experienced the type of behaviour described to make a complaint to IPSO or Ofcom so that they can be fully investigated.”

He also highlights the Manchester Evening News’ outstanding coverage: “We also recognise that there was welcome praise for the Manchester Evening News’s exceptional coverage of the attack, which saw £2.5 million raised for victims through its We Stand Together campaign. We note that Andy Burnham, Mayor for Greater Manchester, commended the media’s role in helping to unite citizens during a time of uncertainty and to celebrate the city’s resilience.”

In his response, Lord Kerslake said he would be happy to meet and would look to arrange a date to do so.