‘As part of IMPRESS, we will have more confidence’

IMPRESS welcomes first publishers to complete compliance process

Many publishers have told IMPRESS that they want to ‘get things right, first time’. They want to run challenging stories and investigations, but they don’t want to cause unnecessary harm in the process – or expose themselves to libel threats. That is why IMPRESS is the first press regulator to put publishers through a rigorous compliance process. Before we open our doors to complaints against any publisher, we first make sure that they have the systems in place to deal with things properly.

We caught up with Martin Childs at Shropshire Live, who told us about his experience of successfully completing the IMPRESS compliance process.

“Whilst it felt daunting to begin with, the IMPRESS team guided me through the procedure and the reality of it was very simple and straight-forward. One of the most helpful aspects is the model that IMPRESS has provided that publishers can adopt directly. This is exactly the sort of assistance that small media groups need. I’ve been asking my lawyers to produce a similar pack for the legal side of the business – it would be so useful.

“We really appreciated the one-to-one contact we had with Chris Elliott and Ed Procter – their experience and expertise was invaluable.”

Chris Elliott, Editorial Standards Adviser for IMPRESS, said: “As we take our founder members through our compliance processes we are learning that publishers need to set aside less than half a day to complete the forms – unless there are special circumstances such as an unusual company set up.

“Whilst we are more than happy for members to vary our model, it is important that they comply with our fundamental principles. We need to see a clear and transparent organisation structure as well as a clear complaints procedure and a whistleblowing policy, both of which are well publicised.

“Shropshire Live decided to adopt the IMPRESS model of policies and procedures but other members may already have an existing complaints procedure and in this case they can adapt it where necessary to comply with the our guidelines. We’ll help and support them through this process, we are on the end of the phone with as much support and guidance as they need."

Martin Childs believes that joining IMPRESS has given Shropshire Live the validation that it needs: “I would recommend IMPRESS to any news publication – it has given Shropshire Live the validation which we did not have before. The prospect of receiving a serious complaint against us was scary and threatening but now we have the backing of IMPRESS and we feel reassured to be part of it.

“We wanted to be part of an organisation that supported the smaller media independents.  We have always taken good care when we are writing or investigating stories to present an accurate picture, but the reality of being a small news organisation is that you can be vulnerable.  Now, as part of IMPRESS, we will have more confidence to investigate those stories which need to be uncovered.”