I believe the Press Complaints Commission is being forced to deal with far too many complaints because newspapers are failing to publish corrections and apologies off their own back.
Here's just one example. In February this year, a football match between Ipswich and Middlesbrough was abandoned due to a frozen pitch.
Stories appeared in both the Daily Mail and The Sun claiming that there had been a riot involving 40 Middlesbrough fans after the abandonment.
This prompted one Boro fan, Stephen Wren, to complain to the two newspapers that the stories were "wrong in almost every element." There was no riot. They didn't reply.
So he wrote to them once more, explaining that the stories breached the editors' code of practice twice over: the stories were inaccurate and they had not corrected them.
Again, there was no reply. He explains what happened after that in a FansOnline posting:
"I formally complained to the PCC who, initially, tried to suggest I couldn't complain as I was not the person 'wronged' and that any complaint must come from the club (who they advised had not complained about the articles).
I stated that, as a fan of MFC who was present at the game, I was being tarnished by the false story and therefore I was an injured party in the case. The PCC relented and agreed to take the complaint forward.
After some back and forth communication between myself, the papers and the PCC it was agreed that the stories were not accurate and both papers removed the stories from their websites and databases. Additionally, I received a personal apology from each paper."
Let's deal with the third party business first. I am sometimes exercised by the failure of the PCC to take up third-party complaints but, in this instance, it does appear that the commission acted properly.
Despite the absence of any formal complaint from Middlesbrough (which, in my view, should have complained) it's clear that the PCC did pursue Stephen Wren's complaint. And it did succeed in negotiating the removal of the online article and secured letters of apology to him in which the papers supposedly explained the reasons for their "failure to make direct contact with the complainant."
It is annoying that the papers did not publish corrections and apologies in print. After all, their readers were misled and deserve to know the story was incorrect. But I'd guess that Mr Wren didn't push for that in the process of arbitration that led - in May this year - to the resolution of his complaint.
But what strikes me forcibly is that the newspapers should have dealt with the complaint without the need for Mr Wren to have gone to the PCC. They should have cleared up their own mess.
That's one of the reasons that I advocate in my submission to the Leveson inquiry the appointment of readers' editors by every paper. While I appreciate that papers are deluged with letters, emails and phone calls on a daily basis, it is surely their responsibility to deal with proper complaints.
Why did they not reply to Mr Wren? Why did they not act swiftly to take the stories down when they realised they were wrong? Why did they need the PCC to do the job? Why did they not publish corrections in print, thereby acting in the spirit of the ethical code they affect to work under?
This is but a small illustration of the reasons people get so upset about "the press." It doesn't involve hacking. It isn't about political bias. It's just one of those unfortunately all-too-typical routine examples of an inadequate response to poor journalism.
I also see it as a failure of self-regulation (not the PCC) in the sense that it shows how unwilling papers are to fulfil the requirements of the editors' code.
Its preamble simply states: "All members of the press have a duty to maintain the highest professional standards." Were these high standards?