Statistics 2010


Looking at the statistics for 2010 is an interesting exercise. In some areas, there is a remarkable level of consistency between the figures for last year and those for 2009. For example, claims of inaccuracy or distortion remain the overwhelming cause of complaint - just over 87% of complaints with merit in both of the last two years have referred to such issues. Similarly, the proportion of complaints made against national newspapers has remained almost exactly the same: 50.3% in 2010, set against 51.5% in 2009.

In other ways, the statistics show that last year was rather different for the PCC. We did not see, for example, campaign-type complaints on the scale of 2009, when we received over 25,000 emails and letters about a single article. And the number of complaints about matters of taste and offensiveness also fell dramatically - from 196 in 2009 to 78 in 2010.

Yet overall, the key figures show that the PCC remains successful in obtaining redress for those who have been wronged by newspapers and magazines. It is important to set out that, while we received over 7,000 complaints, a large number of these could not be taken forward, generally because they fell outside our remit (for example, complaints about adverts) or because the complainant did not respond to us when we requested further information about their concerns. The figure also includes multiple cases where the PCC would make one ruling to cover a number of complaints.

The more telling statistic is that there were 1,687 cases that fell within the jurisdiction of the PCC and included enough information to make proper assessment possible. We considered all of those cases, and found - following investigation - that 750 raised likely breaches of the Editors' Code of Practice or, in other words, had merit. And in all but 18 cases, the PCC obtained suitable offers to remedy the concerns that had been raised. In those remaining 18 instances, the Commission formally ruled against newspapers or magazines which had breached the terms of the Code. Those rulings were published by the offending titles in full - as the Code requires - and are available for public view on the PCC's website in perpetuity. They provide crucial precedents for the future and form the basis of our educational work (PCC staff and representatives delivered seminars to representatives from over 60 newspapers and magazines in 2010). The PCC successfully mediated or ruled on 557 cases that related to privacy in 2010.

A statistical analysis also shows that the PCC's proactive, pre-publication work has substantially increased. Last year we issued desist requests on just over 100 occasions, enabling individuals to inform the media that they did not wish to speak to journalists (often about distressing matters). This was an increase on 2009's figure of 69 and perhaps refl ects greater knowledge about how this system can be best utilised.

More statistical information about a range of PCC activities is set out in this section of our annual report. You can read about: the importance of a speedy complaints service; the work we do to ensure that apologies are published with due prominence; the views of those who use our service and of the public at large.

But remember that statistics only tell one part of the story. Our section on the year's key rulings highlights benchmark decisions in areas as diverse as online privacy, suicide reporting, discrimination and financial journalism.

And our 'Year at a glance' calendar gives a further insight into the range and effectiveness of the Commission's day to day activities.