Sun on Sunday launches with a Readers' Champion

27 February 2012

The Sun on Sunday hit the newsstands yesterday with a promise to hold itself to high standards of trust following the controversial demise of its predecessor, the News of the World.

As part of this pledge, it also unveiled its 'Readers' Champion' — a position created to "strengthen that connection [with readers]".

The short announcement on page two of the paper states: "The Sun tries to report accurately but mistakes can be made. The Sun's Readers' Champion will strive to correct them."

Readers are invited to email requests for corrections to, or to send them to the Sun's offices by post.

Whether the paper will follow the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror by also printing its corrections on the inside cover remains to be seen.

It is also unclear whether the Readers' Champion's remit covers the daily editions of the Sun as well as the Sunday paper. This morning's edition doesn't contain the same invitation to readers, so we've emailed the 'champion' to clarify.

However the new post was prominently featured in one of the paper's inaugural editorials. It's Sun Says column promised:

"As we launch the seven day Sun, we want to strengthen that connection [with readers] with a new independent Sun Readers' Champion to accept feedback and correct significant errors.

"Our journalists must abide by the Press Complaints Commission's editors code, the industry standard for ethical behaviour, and the News Corporation standards of business conduct.

"We will hold our journalists to the standards we expect of them. After all a newspaper which holds the powerful to account must do the same with itself.

"You will be able to trust our journalists to abide by the values of decency as they gather news."

Full Fact has itself argued that readers' editors can play an important role in a more effective system of press regulation, and we welcome the move by the Sun. Several papers - the Independent, Telegraph and TImes among them - do not currently offer their readers an independent editor to deal with complaints, and we would encourage them to follow suit.

However as we pointed out to the Leveson Inquiry earlier this month, readers' editors aren't a panacea, and there needs to be a second tier of independent regulation to arbitrate in disputes.

We have in the past, for example, disagreed with the paper's representatives over what it considers to be a proper correction.

Nevertheless, the Sun on Sunday deserves praise for placing accuracy at the heart of its agenda, and we will work hard with the paper to ensure that the standards it has set itself are met.

Update (27/02/2012): We've now heard back from the Sun who have confirmed that the Reader's Champion will have the power to look at stories in any edition of the paper, not only those printed on a Sunday.

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