Instruction for the Press Ombudsman Office
Amended on May 13, 2019
The Press Ombudsman (PO) shall provide advice and assistance to individuals feeling offended by something that has been published in a newspaper, in other periodicals or on the Internet. PO shall address deviations from good journalistic practice, either on his/her own initiative or by following a complaint and whenever applicable, submit such cases for review by the Press Council and, by participating in public debate, further advocate the cause of good journalistic practice.
With regard to Internet, PO´s mandate includes the following delimitations:
a) The review applies to Internet publications by companies represented in the Joint Committee of Press Associations, alternatively having filed for membership of the Ethical Press System.
b) The review applies to such Internet publications that are defined in the 1st chapter, 3rd paragraph, 2nd section of the Fundamental Law of Freedom of Expression (YGL), and the 1st chapter, 4th paragraph, 1st section (YGL), provided that they are distributed in the manner referred to under section 2a) or c).
c) The review also applies to accounts in Social Media, provided that the account is controlled by the company or, when applicable, is covered by section a) as per above.
d) The review is only applicable for Internet publications that can be controlled and supervised by the Publisher.
A complaint to PO should be made in writing, on paper or by e-mail. In the case of Internet publications, a printout of the published material should be enclosed.
PO shall act promptly in order to resolve disputes caused by adverse publicity between the complainant and the publisher, through mediation and advice at an early stage of the dispute. When appropriate, PO, through direct contacts with the Publisher in question, shall seek to obtain a correction or an opportunity for the complainant to respond.
Section 1 shall also apply to disputes relating to Internet publications submitted to under Article 1.
When deciding if a case should be submitted to the Press Council, PO shall primarily consider whether the following requirements have been met:
- The complaint must prove to have a sound cause.
- The complaint must be of significance, both with regard to ethical principles as well as to the alleged damage caused by the publication.
- The complaint must refer to a relatively current publication.
A complaint non-compliant with the above-mentioned requirements shall be dismissed. In that context it should be considered whether a correction or a response to the publication in question has been published. Unless otherwise justified, complaints to PO may be taken up for review only if they refer to articles or Internet publications published within three months prior to the date of the complaint.
PO shall keep the chairman of the Press Council informed on a regular basis regarding the daily operations and current affairs.
Complaints submitted by a third party will require a Power of Attorney by the Injured Party before the case is submitted to the Press Council.
A complaint subject to dismissal of the PO may be submitted to the Press Council within the time frame of one month, under the condition that the Injured Party is directly affected by the publication. A complaint from an Injured Party not directly affected by the publication in question may not be submitted to the Press Council.
The Publisher of a newspaper or Internet publication subject to review is expected, upon PO’s demand, to make available a sufficient number of copies of the issue in which the article appeared or, when possible, a printout of the Internet publication.
In addition to the duties of the Press Ombudsman outlined in Article 1-5, the Ombudsman shall, to a feasible extent, provide the general public with information and advice concerning the professional ethics of the press. Information and advice shall be provided free of charge.
PO shall contribute to the general understanding of matters related to ethics of journalism. This should include public appearances and lectures as well as articles, for publications in journals of both specialized and generic nature and, when requested, lectures at educational institutions for journalists.
The person appointed as Press Ombudsman should have a thorough knowledge of press ethics and related issues. Journalistic experience should also be taken into account.
PO shall be appointed by a committee made up of the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman, the chairman of the Swedish Bar Association and the chairman of the Joint Committee of Press Associations. He/she shall be employed by the Press Ombudsman Foundation, administered and financed by the National Press Club, the Swedish Union of Journalists, the Swedish Media Publishers’ Association and the Magazine Publishers’ Association.
Conditions of employment and compensation shall be established in a separate agreement between PO and the Foundation. The term of office shall be three years. Unless notice is given by the Foundation no later than one year before the expiration of the term of office, or by the PO no later than six months before the expiration of the term of office, it shall be automatically renewed for a further three-year period. The same period of notice as applied to the first term of office shall apply to each new term of office.
PO may not undertake duties outside of those defined in Article 8 without the knowledge and consent of the Foundation.
Any decisions regarding changes of the Instruction shall be taken by the Joint Committee of Press Associations.