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IMPRESS Launches First ‘Co-created’ Standards Code for Future of Publishing

New code combines core principles of journalism with facing challenges of a new age

IMPRESS, the UK’s newest press regulator, today launched its first standards code for publishers. The code is unique in being the first to be ‘co-created’ through an open process with journalists, publishers, a range of interested groups and the general public. This is the first time in the history of press regulation in the UK that the public has had the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the development of a Standards Code.

The IMPRESS Code is based on the core principles of protecting journalistic freedom, distilled from more than 50 similar codes from around the world that were studied in its development.

The Code was designed with the challenges of digital publication in mind.  It will apply to publications regulated by IMPRESS regardless of medium or platform.

IMPRESS consulted with a wide range of journalists and publishers to develop the Code including its own members. The Chair of the NUJ’s Ethics Committee gave detailed and constructive feedback and the NUJ itself made a submission to the consultation, as did the Society of Editors.

We set out to ensure that the IMPRESS Code was a practical working tool that enables journalists, editors and publishers to do their jobs.

The code tackles the increasing spread of misinformation through unverified sources on social media, including a clause on attribution which asks for the source of content to be clearly identified.

It also tackles online privacy, with a clause asking journalists to respect social media security settings, and to take additional care to respect children’s online privacy.

At its heart, it strengthens and clarifies the public interest definition, with an explicit protection of the right to hold the government to account.

Jonathan Heawood, CEO of IMPRESS, said:  “Our first standards code is the result of an open, engaging process with the public, journalists and civil society groups.  What we hope it has produced is a code fit for the future of publishing while building on the core principles of the past, protecting free speech and journalism while facing the challenges of a digital age.”

The consultation process included research among more than 2,000 members of the general public, finding out their priorities for a thriving press that benefits society.  It also included public workshops in London and Glasgow, involving people with diverse backgrounds and media preferences.

Jonathan Heawood, CEO of IMPRESS, added: “Recent times have demonstrated the importance of well-resourced and trusted journalism to society.  This code is about helping support that aim, producing a living document, a clear set of standards which journalists, publishers, the public and civil society groups have helped develop.  We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this process and look forward to a continued process of collaboration to keep the code updated and relevant as society and publishing evolves.”