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[BLOG] IMPRESS Standards Code: Transparency

IMPRESS and its members strive to build public trust in journalism. We think one of the pillars of trust is maintaining journalistic integrity through transparency.

The Code requires facts to be presented in an impartial way. So while our publishers may be partisan, the IMPRESS Code says that they must declare any conflicts of interest and clearly label all commercial content. The aim of the transparency clause is to protect the integrity of news articles. It also prevents journalists from gaining an unfair financial advantage from access to information that the public are not privy to.

IMPRESS Code Clause 10 on transparency states:

10.1 Publishers must clearly identify content that appears to be editorial but has been paid for, financially or through a reciprocal arrangement, by a third party.

10.2 Publishers must ensure that significant conflicts of interest are disclosed.

10.3 Publishers must ensure that information about financial products is objectively presented and that any interests or conflicts of interest are effectively disclosed.

This means publishers must make clear what is editorially independent content and what is content that has been influenced by, or may be perceived to have been influenced by, a sponsor. This includes identifying content that generates a benefit for a journalist or publisher and which could be perceived as influencing the perspective and content of an article, including its tone and the selection of facts.

IMPRESS Board Member, Martin Hickman, has written about this phenomenon in a blog post for IMPRESS:

What this changed dynamic means is that the public are sometimes unaware that what they are reading is not truly impartial, motivated purely by a desire to inform or entertain, but is there, at least in part, because of a commercial agenda: to sell them something.

If you believe that a publisher regulated by IMPRESS has breached our Standards Code transparency clause, code clause 10, you can complain to us here.