IMPRESS Board members brief parliamentarians

On 17 April 2018, IMPRESS Board members Walter Merricks and David Leigh were invited to speak before a group of twenty MPs and peers to provide an update on the independent press regulator, its regulatory activity and goals for the near future. The event was hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Media, chaired by Rosie Cooper, MP.

A variety of MPs and members of the House of Lords, from across the party lines attended the event – including representatives from Conservatives, Lib Dem, SNP, DUP and Labour.

David Leigh, award-winning Investigations Editor at the Guardian and IMPRESS Board member since December 2017, explained why he joined the first independent press regulator in the UK: Honest journalists want regulation. They like to be regulated, because they want to see journalism not only free but trusted. In reference to the IMPRESS Standards code and regulatory practice in this age he said:

IMPRESS is cutting-edge on learning how to deal with [fake news] and we encourage our members, who are all innovative online digital media, to deal with that.

Walter Merricks, Chair of the Board, started his presentation by addressing some “common misconceptions” about IMPRESS, regarding its funding and independence. He then offered an overview of IMPRESS’s membership:

We are joined by 98 publications we now regulate, from across the UK. These include a number of community news sites, investigative non-for-profits, political publications, and a range of specialist magazines. The majority of our members are digital first, and they see IMPRESS as part of their strategy for a sustainable future – worried as many of us are, in the decline of the sustainability of print publications.

Finally, the floor was opened to questions, which led to a rich discussion around several issues. Among these were:

  • The reality of and challenges to journalism in a digital age
  • The need to protect journalists and their work in this context
  • Ensuring that journalists – and their readers – have access to justice
  • The benefits of regulatory competition and IMPRESS’s role in it
  • Protections for journalists in the data protection bill
  • The challenges posed by Facebook