VICTIMS of media mistakes and hatchet jobs are being offered a new lifeline from a service which promises that it will hold to account unregulated news publishers.
The much-needed new service, called QC, will offer hope for anyone who feels they have been wronged by a news outlet which is not governed or held liable by existing regulators or codes of conduct.
It has been created by award-winning British journalist, Michael Leidig, who spent eight fruitless years seeking justice for a slur against his business by the now defunct online news site, BuzzFeed UK.
The wholly-false and damaging claims against his firm, Central European News, were also repeated by The Guardian – but his attempts to get a correction from the news provider were frustrated by its opaque and complex complaints procedures.
Now the respected journalist and businessman says QC will offer a quick, trustworthy and affordable option for members of the public who have been wronged by the media.
He said: “The high-minded Guardian is happy to lecture the rest of Fleet Street on the morals of the Press, yet it is not a member of either of the print media’s regulatory bodies.
“I only discovered that while I was trying to get corrections and clarifications to halt a relentless campaign to close down my business by commercial rivals.”
Following a lengthy quest for an apology from The Guardian, the publisher eventually advised Michael Leidig that it had carried out an internal investigation and would be taking no further action – spurring him to create and launch QC.
He added: “There was no apology, no correction, no offer of an enquiry. The whole thing was conducted in secret.
“I wasn’t allowed to offer up any of the 15,000 pages of documents I had gathered over eight years, they refused to consider my cast-iron computer expert evidence that proved my case, and I couldn’t see any statements or transcripts of their discussions.
“In short, they felt I’d had already had a very fair hanging, and now I’d had a trial to go with it. With the launch of QC there is now a challenge to this one-sided dialogue.”
In the UK, both TV and radio news is regulated by Ofcom. Newspapers and magazines are regulated by IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation and by IMPRESS. However, publishers have to opt in to be overseen by those regulators, and many publishers – including The Guardian – do not.
Leidig said QC’s goal is providing accountability and oversight of the media and he added: “QC will hold to account these unregulated media who believe themselves unaccountable. It will assess and then handle complaints for anyone who feels they have been dealt unjustly by any media who put themselves outside self-regulatory bodies.
“It doesn’t matter if the publishers refuse to cooperate with QC because the case and the evidence will be heard in their absence, and QC will publish the verdict. Quick, simple, transparent and at an infinitely lower cost than, say, a legal letter that will end up in the waste bin.
“QC will analyse the code of conduct of any unregulated media, we will match it against the story that is complained about, and within a few days, will offer an opinion which will go some way to quickly correcting injustices, or at least explaining how the media works to those unhappy with a story if we feel it did not breach the code.”
Currently in beta testing, QC owes its name to a quote attributed to Socrates – Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – which means who guards the guardians. Ironically, Socrates became one of the first victims of fake news when he was sentenced to death by Athenians over false claims made against him.
QC is not politically motivated. It is also not intimidated by big names. It will be scrupulously fair and will offer help with unregulated media from any branch of the UK market.
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