Making a complaint about a newspaper or magazine
Ireland has a free press. This means, the Government does not censor or control the articles or stories the press choose to print. However, there are professional standards and behaviors that the print media must comply with. These professional standards and behaviors are set out in a Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals and enforced by the Office of the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council of Ireland.
The Office of the Press Ombudsman provides an independent forum for resolving complaints by the public against the press, quickly and free of charge, without having to go to court. If you have been directly and personally affected by a breach of the Code of Practice, you can make a complaint to the Press Ombudsman.
Making a complaint
What can I complain about?
You can make a complaint to the Press Ombudsman about any article you read in any Irish newspaper (including Irish editions of UK newspapers) or Irish magazine that you feel breaches the code. This applies to national, provincial and regional newspapers. You can also make a complaint about the behaviour of a journalist which you feel breaches the code.
The Press Ombudsman can only deal with complaints about articles or incidents where you lodge your complaint within 3 months of the publication or incident.
To make a complaint, the article or behaviour must be in breach of the professional standards and behaviours set out in the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals. In addition, you must be directly affected by and involved in the article or behavior in question. The Press Ombudsman will not deal with the complaint if legal proceedings have been initiated.
What should I do first?
You must first make your complaint to the editor of the newspaper or magazine in question, explaining why you think the code has been breached. If you do not get a response within a reasonable amount of time (about 2 weeks) or if you are not happy with the response, you can make a complaint to the Press Ombudsman.
How do I complain to the Press Ombudsman?
You must lodge your complaint with the Press Ombudsman within 3 months of the date of publication of the article or occurrence of the incident. If you have been in contact with the editor of the newspaper or magazine but have not been able to resolve the matter, you should submit your complaint in writing to the Press Ombudsman without delay.
Your complaint to the Press Ombudsman should contain the following:
- Your contact details.
- A summary of your complaint, indicating which part(s) of the Code of Practice you feel has been breached and why.
- A dated cutting of the article if the complaint is about an article. If you are making your complaint by email or on-line, you must send a hard copy of the article within 7 days or as an attachment (or link) to the email.
- Copies of any correspondence between you and the editor of the newspaper or magazine.
If you are unsure about how to make your complaint you can contact the Office of the Press Ombudsman.
What happens next?
If your complaint is accepted, the Press Ombudsman sends a copy of your complaint to the editor of the publication and tries to resolve your complaint by a process of conciliation. This may take up to 6 weeks.
If agreement cannot be reached, the Press Ombudsman will carry out a more detailed examination of your case and make a decision. Where your case is considered to have some significance or to be complex it may be referred to the Press Council of Ireland for a decision.
If the decision is in your favour, the newspaper or magazine is required to publish the decision. The decision is also published on the Press Ombudsman’s website.
There is more information on the complaints procedure on the Press Ombudsman's website.
Can I appeal a decision?
You can appeal a decision to the Press Council of Ireland. You must lodge your appeal within 2 weeks of the decision. You must state the grounds and show reasonable cause for your appeal, such as the availability of significant new information.