Complaining to Telegraph titles under IPSO – a 12 step guide
By Mike Jempson
So you think you have a valid complaint about an article in the Daily or Sunday Telegraph?
1. First – don’t bother to write, you will just be referred to their online Complaints page.
2. If you have a computer and an internet connection you can go onto their site www.telegraph.co.uk but the COMPLAINTS section is not easy to find. It is not on their home page. Instead you must scroll right down to the bottom page (quite a distance) and work out which link to go for.
3. You won’t find it in NEWS, or COMMENT or LETTERS or MY TELEGRAPH or TELEGRAPH JOURNALISTS or TERMS & CONDITIONS. Try CONTACT US instead.
4. Then, ignoring all else, hit CONTACT THE TELEGRAPH.
5. Next, scroll down on CONTACT TELEGRAPH MEDIA GROUP and to EDITORIAL (4th item) which takes you to TELEGRAPH MEDIA GROUP: EDITORIAL.
6. Now read through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Q4 says ‘I wish to make a serious complaint about an editorial article.’ (which is statement not a question) and refers you to their COMPLAINTS FORM but also suggests you could write to them instead (but see above).
7. By now you should have reached the EDITORIAL COMPLAINTS page which does contain a COMPLAINTS FORM, but first you are referred to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) website where you must read and inwardly digest the Editor’s Code of Practice (you will need to remember the meaning of each clause since you must later identify which clause/s you are complaining under).
9. Returning to the Telegraph site you are now referred to their COMPLAINTS POLICY which you must read before completing the COMPLAINTS FORM. Please note it only deals with print and online editorial content (but not taste, decency or due impartiality – although they reserve the right not to deal with your complaint if they deem it ‘abusive or gratuitously offensive’).
You have 4 months from initial publication to complaint (12 if the item remains accessible online). They promise to acknowledge it within 5 days and deal with it within 28. If you are not satisfied you can take it to IPSO.
The Telegraph Media Group also reserves ‘the right to amend the policy as required’ and points out that your complaint ‘will be considered against the published policy on the date of receipt of your complaint’ (so not as it was on the date of the publication of the offending article).
10. If by now you have not given up the will to live, you may now return to the EDITORIAL COMPLAINTS page, where you discover in paragraph 6 that spelling and grammar do not constitute serious complaints (even at the Telegraph) and you must report them via the CONTACT US FORM (see 8 above).
11. In case you want to check whether your complaint will be treated as valid, it might be worth returning to the FAQ on TELEGRAPH MEDIA GROUP: EDITORIAL (see 5 above) and reading beyond Q4.
In answer to Q5. you are told that if you want to comment on an article in the online edition you should register with WWW.TELEGRAPH.CO.UK and join MY TELEGRAPH. Armed with a profile you will then be able to comment online, or use you Twitter, Facebook or Disqus account instead.
Q6. is about objecting to a comment under an online version of an article, in which case you should use the REPORT button alongside the offending item. (Except there isn’t one.) And Q7 says that if you want to comment about an article in the printed version you should click the link to the CONTACT US FORM (see above).
12. Still got a ‘serious complaint’? Go back to the EDITORIAL COMPLAINTS FORM (see 7 above, but avoid the temptation to do a Tristram Shandy and keep looping back through the process outlined thenceforth) and fill in the form. But before you do, remember to scan in any documents that support your claims. You haven’t got a scanner? Perhaps you had better write to them, after all.
Better still, perhaps you should write to IPSO instead and let them contact the Telegraph for you.
Director, The MediaWise Trust