IMPRESS want to redefine
Photos and report by Madeleine
ON 20 January 2015, IMPRESS announced the
first members' names and made its charter submission, in its bid to be
recognised under a Royal Charter, at the London School of Economics and
Political Science. Madeleine Saghir attended this historic and very
important event for us. She has written this report about the organisation
and the event. We are also interested in your views on this very political
IMPRESS may become the first and only independent press regulator in the UK
and a bench mark for others to follow throughout the world. But what and who
is IMPRESS and why should our online newspaper join it?
According to the chairman of the association, Walter Merricks, IMPRESS aims
to be recognised as a "trusted mark in ethical journalism that attracts
innovative editors and reporters." IMPRESS want to raise the ethical
standards within journalism and to become the heart of a network for
publishers, journalists and academics.
The company calls for a reform of mediation for ethical issues involving
media reporting and complaints. In a press release following Lord Justice
Levenson's enquiry occasioned by the phone hacking scandals, IMPRESS stated
that it "would pursue its purpose through three core activities; complaints
handling, arbitration and investigations. It also publishes and promotes
research papers with analysis of relevant issues". There is a real need of
protection for publishers who cannot afford the high rates charged by IBSO
(International Business Standards Organisation). IMPRESS looks the most
promising organisation to tackle this matter.
There are a number of factors as to why press may face difficulties. There
is an everyday decline of people buying printed news, and an increase for
online sources; immediate information is changing all the time. This
immediate and constant information can be accessed digitally, which makes it
a challenging time for the press. The public do not directly pay for the
news they receive online. In fact, most of the money is going towards social
media platforms, and broadband. Merricks has said that the strategy of
IMPRESS, will be to work with hyperlocal and niche small organisations to
help them achieve the requite bench mark standard .
According to researchers (at Cardiff and Birmingham City University),
are more than 400 active hyperlocal websites in the UK, compared with 1,045
local papers." And according to Merricks, 72% of hyperlocal publishers
support IMPRESS. These are the publishers that need protection from the
risks they encounter.
IMPRESS will be allowing small websites to sign up for a lower cost than
IBSO. Currently, IMPRESS is proposing to charge a modest £50 per year.
Many local newspapers, such as ourselves, are in favour of IMPRESS, due to
the need of a fairer arbitration service. The argument of who is to blame
when an incorrect statement has been made is an issue that IMPRESS has taken
into consideration. It is usually the publisher, rather than the reporter
who is liable in most IBSO cases. But, it can be both. However, IMPRESS will
change this process of publisher rather than reporter, in order to make a
It is also difficult to sue national papers due to high money costs.
However, suing a small paper costs a lot less. It is factors such as this
that make the idea of an independent press regulator useful in creating
greater equality between big and small publishers. Moreover, Merricks has
said that:- "Members of the public are not expected to have a court case in
order to obtain justice." IMPRESS will also not be awarding people
However, a number of newspapers have concerns about these changes, and have
claimed that it cuts the right to freedom of speech and expression. Yet,
Merricks replied to these concerns by saying:- "We too stand for freedom of
expression, our doors and minds are open."
...Continued in other column...
IMPRESS are not funded by the public. Trusts such as the Andrew Wainwright
Reform Trust support them. J.K Rowling and Max Mosley also support IMPRESS.
Merricks has said that:- "(We) cannot allow ourselves to be in a position to
be moved if we offend the funder." Therefore, the trustees are
professionals. In 3 to 4 years, IMPRESS is expected to be 'self sustaining,'
which will allow small publishers to join at a modest cost.
"Only a year after being set up, the 'Hacked Off' pressure group had
reported in the national media that people still clearly lacked confidence
in the newly formed regulator called IPSO (Independent Press Standards
Organisation), which was set up at the end of the Leveson Inquiry, by the old
PCC (Press Complaints Commission). The old PCC had been slammed in the
findings of Lord Justice Leveson, and it closed in September 2014, and was
replaced by IPSO. So why would IMPRESS want to be formed, when IPSO is now
up and running…? Well, many within the industry have said that the findings
at the end of the inquiry had been "white washed over" by IPSO. Also, that
the new 'regulator' is just a rebranded PCC and that is why people have no
confidence in it. IPSO, which has the backing of the vast majority of the
UK's major newspaper and magazine publishers, has said it will not seek
recognition under a Royal Charter, but IMPRESS will!" said Patrick Trollope,
So why some of the media would be worried about IMPRESS getting a Royal
Charter? If the Royal Charter, if granted, it would also give IMPRESS huge
pulling power, making them the more dominant of the 2 regulators. It could
also mean its members are protected from paying claimants' legal costs under
a clause in the Crime and Courts Act, should that act be introduced, a
criteria set out in Lord Justice Leveson's 2012 report. If introduced, it
would heavily help small publishers, thus making more of the media follow
the regulator and the rules it enforces. It is hoped that this act will lead
to far more robust journalism, for the public good, but also penalise those
who do not follow the regulators rules; a kind of reward for good behaviour
approach. But parts of the media are feeling that it could mean UK
Government interference, which would be of major concern. On the positive
side, it would mean the vast amount of un-represented publishers would be
encouraged to come to the table, which, up to now, have had no incentive to
join a regulator. IMPRESS so far, is appealing to many small publishers due
to its far lower joining costs. Currently, we are 1 of the 12 new members
who have fully signed up, with over 30 others soon to follow. Most titles to
sign up to IMPRESS are local titles, like Port Talbot Magnet (Wales), the
Caerphilly Observer (Wales) and The Lincolnite (Lincolnshire). A list of
some of the new sign ups is at the end of this report. "It's interesting to
note that IPSO is mostly backed by the Murdoch titles and others major
newspaper and magazine publishers, but has very few small independent
publications represented." commented our Editor.
The other benefit of membership of IMPRESS will be to give publishers ways
to demonstrate the difference between fake news sites and real news sites.
This growth in fake news, especially online, is a growing problem that is
impacting on both standards and finances of those who are trying to follow
the rules, thus another incentive for those who have yet to join IMPRESS.
Plus, as we stated earlier in this report, publishers who are not signed up
could face "exemplary" damages, in libel cases, that could see many fake
news websites being shut down.
IMPRESS has also pointed out that few national titles, both magazine and
newspapers, are now sitting on the fence, waiting to see what happens next,
before joining either of them.
So we now ask, can this newcomer to UK's world of press regulation, IMPRESS,
impress the media and the public, unlike IPSO who have appear to have done
IMPRESS is not yet fully officially recognised, but will open in spring
2016. To find out more information about them, please visit them
We would like to hear from you, our readers, about us joining IMPRESS.
Please email your views on this topic, and about us joining to our news room
at:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com and let us know what you think. Also, if
you are one of the many publishers who have been sitting on the fence and
you want to join IMPRESS, please contact them for more information. We are
also willing to talk you through the sign up and help you work on meeting
the standards required.
Just to make it clear.
IMPRESS is about standards of news reporting, in the sense of accuracy of
the information being given out to the public and how we act in order to
obtain it. IMPRESS is not here to take complaints about grammar, spelling
and format. They are also not going to take on publishers on over paying
staff, unless it is part of an issue involving the reporting of a subject,
such as paying for witness information. This, in our view is extremely
important and we feel that all local online or offline newspapers and
magazines, hyper-news websites, local and other news reporting sites, which
fall under the criteria of the Crime and Courts Act, should adhere to these
ethical standards in their daily practice.
Please see the following links for more background on this topic:-
What it is...
regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK.
regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK.
site of the Leveson Inquiry.
London. Link to its press release about the event.
||A UK campaign
group. It was established in 2011, Hacked Off campaigns for a free
and accountable press.
||The NUJ's code
of conduct has set out the main principles of UK and Irish
journalism since 1936.
||A free online
information site. – Ok, not the best site for 100% facts, but it has
the basic information on it, about the old PCC.
||A news report
on the BBC Radio 4 website about IMPRESS.
More links can be found on our Facebook
Page, plus please do email us your thoughts or send them over on our