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The media, and journalists collectively or individually, self-regulate their work when they acknowledge ethics should govern it, and therefore follow ethical rules and procedures.

In the UK, the doctrine of press freedom has made governments reluctant to impose any statutory regulation of ethics – e.g. financial penalty for unethical conduct, or punitive restraint on publication – on the newspaper and magazine sectors. These fund their own organization to adjudicate on complaints about their journalism. From 1953 it was the Press Council. Since 1991 it has been the Press Complaints Commission. This system, despite much controversy, has endured, modified itself and is now securely established.

Among the advantages of such a self-regulatory system, in addition to the inherent protection from state interference in the press, are that it ...

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