Why Join the UK’s First Independent Press Regulator?
News publishers, large and small, up and down the country are facing considerable challenges. Creating sustainable business models, ensuring ethical standards of journalism and providing a product that the public can trust – these issues are top of mind for editors and publishers as they negotiate the new digital world.
Martin Childs, business partner at shropshirelive.com, describes trust as a cornerstone of his business model: ‘Bringing our readers content that they can trust is a crucial factor in delivering local news. The world of media is changing fast. Whilst it’s important that we have high standards across national mainstream media, local outlets like ourselves should not be overlooked in performing their role to inform and serve local communities with content that can be trusted.
‘By being a member of IMPRESS, we are now the only news publisher in Shropshire to be regulated by the UK’s only officially recognised press regulator. We like to think of ourselves as a fresh and alternative media outlet for our county that lives and breathes in its community. By joining IMPRESS, we have shown our commitment to being a forward-thinking media operation.’
Daniel Ionescu, publisher of Stonebow Media and founding editor of The Lincolnite, also welcomed the news that IMPRESS has been recognised. He said: ‘Stonebow Media is delighted to be part of the first recognised press regulator in the UK. It's a great opportunity for small and larger publishers to back this independent scheme that will help uphold journalistic standards in Britain and hopefully raise them for some publications which have yet to join a recognised regulator.’
Those publishers which sign up to the IMPRESS scheme will benefit because their readers will be able to hold them accountable when they get things wrong and trust them to get things right. This trust builds when complaints are resolved effectively and independently. Any publisher signed up to the IMPRESS scheme will be able to resolve complaints about breaches of the standards code and arbitrate legal disputes, protecting them from high court costs.
If a complaint does end up in court, a new law means that the judge is unlikely to award exemplary damages against a publisher who is a member of a recognised regulator. The Government has launched a consultation on whether to implement further benefits for regulated publishers, in the form of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. The aim of Section 40 is to encourage independent regulation and improve access to justice.
Daniel Ionescu agrees: ‘We do not believe that commencing Section 40 would be detrimental to the local press. To the contrary, it would ensure that local publications have a protective framework against malicious libel claims thanks to the IMPRESS arbitration scheme.’
For those publishers who are already signed up to IMPRESS, being regulated by an independent body is paramount. Martin Childs again: ‘Being part of IMPRESS not only gives validation that this regulator meets all the strict criteria set out, but makes us proud to be a part of a body that believes in true independent regulation.’