IMPRESS Publishes Draft Standards Code

The new draft Standards Code is published today and the final phase of consultation has opened. This follows an extensive consultative process including public polling, focus groups, expert roundtables and an analysis of over 50 codes from press councils around the world.

In line with international standards, the draft Code addresses the following issues:

  • Public Interest
  • Accuracy
  • Attribution
  • Children
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Justice
  • Privacy
  • Sources
  • Suicide
  • Transparency

Jonathan Heawood, IMPRESS CEO, said: “We have, for the first time in the UK and in line with what Lord Justice Leveson recommended, held a thorough and wide-ranging consultation into a new Standards Code. 

“We have had significant input from the public and from journalists. The Code is intended to be a practical working tool that enables journalists, editors and publishers to do their jobs. It should be easily understood by the public and enforceable through regulation. The Code has been designed for the era of digital publication, with full respect for transparency and public interest.”

Digital Publication
The Code is designed with the challenges of digital publication in mind. It will apply to publications regulated by IMPRESS regardless of medium or platform. It asks publishers to respect privacy settings on social media unless there is a public interest justification for overriding them (clause 7.2), not to lift content from social media or elsewhere without attribution (clause 2.1) and to give reasonable consideration to the request of a person who was previously identified as a child in a news story and now wishes their identity to be concealed (clause 3.3). These provisions and others are intended to help publishers, editors and journalists navigate the ethical minefield of news publishing in the digital era.

In response to growing concerns among journalists and audiences about the impact of paid-for content on editorial freedom, the draft Code asks publishers to make absolutely clear where content has been paid for financially or through a reciprocal arrangement and is controlled by a third party (clause 10.1) and to take all reasonable steps to declare significant conflicts of interest (clause 10.2).

Public Interest
The Code provides a clear definition of the public interest which reflects international best practice in this area. It requires publishers, when undertaking an action which may otherwise breach the Code, to make a note of their reason for believing that action is in the public interest.

The Standards Code is now in the final phase of consultation. IMPRESS is inviting submissions. Please respond to the consultation by clicking here.

The final consultation will close at 5pm on Thursday 29th September after which the Standards Code will be finalised and published with explanatory guidelines by the IMPRESS Board.