The Press Complaints Commission has published new guidance for newspapers and magazines on the prominence they should give to corrections, clarifications and apologies on their websites.

The Editors' Code of Practice has previously required that "due prominence" is given to upheld adjudications, but how this is defined online has been unclear until now. In print, it generally requires publishing an item on the same page as the offending article, earlier in the paper or in a designated corrections column.

The PCC said it was important that the online placement of corrections was discussed during the negotiation between editors, complainants and the commission.

Articles that are the subject of an upheld complaint should either be removed from the archive or replaced by the PCC adjudication, or left in place with a prominent link to the upheld adjudication.

The correction or adjudication should appear in the relevant section of the site where the original article appeared and should link back to the original article, assuming it is still online.

If an article is amended, then steps should be taken to amend the URL if it contains any words that have been the subject of the complaint.

Corrections or apologies that appear on the original article should be clearly marked as such, and any significant amendments that have been made to the text of an article should be made clear to readers.

The PCC also said it was important that online corrections and apologies were searchable in the same way as any other article. It said the existence of a paywall "should be taken into account" - but did not provide any further guidance on this. 

PCC director Stephen Abell said: "As with offline publication, the test for the commission will be whether the requirement by the Editors’ Code for 'due prominence' is met.

"The online environment is fast-moving, and there are a wide range of differing practices regarding publication. The PCC's guidance is intended to provide a sensible framework for both editors and the PCC, within which appropriate decisions about prominence can be taken."

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