A news council is an organization set up to look into complaints about journalism, such as inaccuracy and bias. The methods that are used vary substantially from one country to another.
News councils in Britain
Complaints against British newspapers
and magazines are heard by the Press Complaints Commission
, which is funded by a levy
on all newspapers and magazines. It does not hear complaints about journalism in other media. (See main article.)
News councils in the United States
The idea of a news council has met considerable resistance from U.S. journalists, many of whom fear that it could lead to government regulation of the press. Advocates of news councils often point to the Minnesota News Council
, which was started by the Minnesota Newspaper Association and inspired by a predecessor to Britain's Press Complaints Commission. The Minnesota News Council has been hearing complaints since 1971, using a panel made up of half people from news organizations and half from the public. About half of the complaints are upheld.
The Minnesota News Council says it gets about 40 % of its money from non-news companies, 20 % from news organizations, 30 % from foundations and 10 % from individuals. It seeks contributions from all sources except the government. It hears complaints about all news media, including broadcast and online news.
The Washington News Council, serving Washington state, was based on the Minnesota group. It held its first hearing in 1999. In 2005, the Washington and Minnesota groups said they would award $75,000 to each of two nonprofit groups interested in starting new news councils in other states.