The publication of Australian Press Council Adjudication 1468: a failure to meet ‘due prominence’ requirements


Correspondence to: Robert John Donovan, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer Control, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845, Australia.



The Australian Press Council, the print media self-regulation body in Australia that receives and adjudicates complaints by the public, states that upheld adjudications are to be published with ‘due prominence’. The Council defines ‘due prominence’ as publishing the adjudication such that it is ‘likely to be read by those who saw the offending material’. In 2010 the Council upheld a complaint about misleading material that occurred on the front page of a newspaper. The complaint included that the misleading front page material triggered a large number of insulting letters about the person in that story which the newspaper published the following day. The newspaper published the upheld adjudication (no. 1468) on the letters page even though the primary offending material occurred on the front page. Rather than seek re-publication in a more prominent location, the Australian Press Council accepted the newspaper's placement as satisfying their ‘due prominence’ requirement.

Given the apparent inconsistency between publication of the adjudication on the letters page and the ‘likely to be read by’ definition of due prominence, we provided 100 adult newspaper readers with brief details of the upheld complaint and the definition of due prominence and asked where in the paper the adjudication should be published. Contrary to the Council's acceptance of the location of the newspaper's publication of the adjudication, the vast majority of newspaper readers (88%) responded with the front page (62%) or the first three pages (26%). This discrepancy is discussed in the context of the efficacy of self-regulation and the ethical standards of bodies charged with ethical governance. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.