Muslims treated differently by newspapers, says press watchdog

Fleet Street regulator will issue guidance to editors on ‘difficult’ issue next year

Alan Moses, the outgoing chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation © Charlie Bibby/FT

Patricia Nilsson in London

December 30 2019

The portrayal of Islam and Muslims in the British press has been “the most difficult issue” facing the press watchdog in the past five years, according to its outgoing chief.“I speak for myself, but I have a suspicion that [Muslims] are from time to time written about in a way that [newspapers] would simply not write about Jews or Roman Catholics,” said Alan Moses, who is standing down after five years as chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation.His comments come two months ahead of Ipso’s plans to publish voluntary guidance for journalists when writing about Muslims, who make up roughly 5 per cent of Great Britain’s population, according to 2017 data from the Office for National Statistics.

The regulator has previously issued similar advice for journalists reporting on transsexual people and victims of sexual crime. The decision followed a home affairs select committee hearing last year on Islamophobia and Britain’s print media, during which Ipso was accused of not doing enough to tackle inflammatory and inaccurate writing. “A shock-jock Muslim story on the front page sells papers,” the former Conservative party chair Sayeeda Warsi told the committee at the time. “This is nothing new, we have been here before — some of the headlines we see now could have been written about the Jewish community in the 1930s and indeed were.”Ipso was founded in 2014, after calls for a tougher system of press self-regulation following the phone hacking scandal.

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