In view of our mission to promote the fair and accurate reporting of legal issues, we felt the Transparency Project ought to respond to the consultation by IMPRESS on its draft standards code for the press.

IMPRESS was established as an independent regulator – unlike IPSO (the Independent Press Standards Organisation),  which despite its title is not truly independent; rather it is a self-regulator, most of whose members have been appointed by the very media organisations whose conduct it claims to regulate. But although IMPRESS is genuinely independent, only relatively small news organisations have subscribed to it so far. That may change once it is recognised by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP), as it is currently applying to be (see, on this blog, IMPRESS – ‘blazing a trail for a fairer, better kind of press regulation’?)

As a regulator, IMPRESS claims to reflect much more closely what was recommended by the Leveson inquiry report back in 2012. One of the Leveson report recommendations was a public consultation on a standards code. IMPRESS set out to create what it calls on its website “A Code Fit for the New Media World”.  

In responding to the consultation, The Transparency Project largely approved the draft provisions, but we made some suggestions to strengthen the protection for children caught up in court proceedings, and to provide better guidance on how to comply with reporting restrictions imposed by the courts when hearing cases in open court or publishing judgments in cases heard in private, particularly to avoid the risk of “jigsaw identification” of anonymised parties. We also recommended as good practice that media reports of court cases should provide a link to or clear citation of any judgment in the case – something mainstream news publications seldom do at present.

You can read about the draft code consultation here.

Our full response can be read here.

UPDATE: 25 April 2017.

In October 2016 IMPRESS was approved by the PRP, who found that it was fully Leveson-compliant (see our subsequent post, Press regulation: what are we waiting for now?). 

IMPRESS have now launched their new Standards Code, and Guidance on their Standards Code, having considered the suggestions of all those who contributed to the consultation, including the Transparency Project. (For example, they appear to have taken on board some of our suggestions for the wording of clause 3 on Children.)

Key features of the new Code are said to be its provisions on public interest, source verification, and social media privacy. We will be writing in more detail about the new Code, and comparing it to that of the rival regulator, IPSO, in due course.

To mark the launch, Impress have created a colourful infographic.

You can download and read PDFs of the Impress Standards Code here, and the Guidance on The Impress Standards Code here.