The Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS) is an independent press regulator in the UK and in 2016 was the first to be recognised by the Press Recognition Panel as fully compliant with the recommendations of the Leveson Report.
On 26 March 2019, IMPRESS was reconfirmed as the UK's approved, independent press regulator by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP), which clarified that "This means that, amongst other things, IMPRESS is independent of the print and online publishers it regulates, is appropriately funded, and has systems in place to protect the public."
IMPRESS's membership consists of a variety of independent local, investigative and special interest news publications across the UK. No national newspaper has signed up to the new regulator; most continue to be members of the unrecognised IPSO.
IMPRESS is at the vanguard of a new, positive future for news publishers, ensuring quality independent journalism flourishes in a digital age. We help to build understanding and trust between journalists and the public - and provide the public with trusted sources of news.
On 25 October 2016, IMPRESS became the UK's first officially recognised press regulator after its application for Royal Charter recognition was granted. The recognition was backed by campaign groups such as Hacked Off, and by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), but opposed by all of the major national and regional print newspapers.
The government declined to implement Section 40, with the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley describing it as a threat to a “vibrant free local press”.
IMPRESS has been rejected by all the big national titles plus most of the regional papers. IPSO, with the help of the News Media Association – which represents many of the largest IPSO members - requested a 'judicial review' on the grounds that “That is not what Leveson or those drafting the Charter intended.” On 12 October 2017, the High Court rejected the arguments. In April 2018, the News Media Association (NMA) appealed against the Press Regulation Panel's decision to award IMPRESS the status of recognised regulator. In January 2019, the NMA abandoned its appeal against a Judicial Review ruling made by the High Court in October 2017. In a judgement published on 12 October 2017, the Court had rejected the NMA's arguments.
IMPRESS is at present the only regulatory body recognised by the Press Recognition Panel. However, the Government has declined to bring Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act into effect, so the advantage of membership in terms of cost shifting are negated. The Conservative and Unionist Manifesto for the UK/2017 General Election pledged to repeal Section 40, but this has not been done, so there remains a possibility that Section 40 may be activated.
IMPRESS arbitrators are appointed by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
In July 2017, in its first libel arbitration case, it ordered Byline Media to pay freelance journalist Dennis Rice £2,500 over tweets about him. In May 2018, it ordered the blog Evolve Politics to pay £900 in damages over an article wrongly claiming a Sky News broadcaster attended a Presidents Club dinner.
In September 2017, an IMPRESS internal review concluded that some of its senior board members - Heaward, Emma Jones (former editor of Smash Hits magazine and deputy editor of The Sun's showbiz column "Bizarre") and Máire Messenger Davies (Emerita Professor of media studies at University of Ulster) - breached its own standards by appearing to be biased against a number of newspapers; it recommended they step down from the Board. IMPRESS subsequently created a sub-committee excluding the three, to deal with any complaints relating to larger media companies. In November 2017, Jones and Messenger Davies were recused from the investigation of complaints about the IMPRESS-regulated blog The Canary and its reporting on BBC politics editor Laura Kuenssberg after they shared tweets attacking her. In December 2017, it ruled that The Canary had breached its standards code by making false claims about Kuenssberg. In November 2017, founder member the Caerphilly Observer quit IMPRESS due to concerns over transparency.
In February 2018, Max Mosley initiated legal action using data protection laws against The Sun for its reporting on his funding ties to IMPRESS. Further controversy over Mosley in March 2018 led to members considering their ties to the regulator.
In July 2018, IMPRESS extended the scope of its arbitration scheme to include civil claims for breaches of the Data Protection Act. By this time it was regulating 109 titles and had received five applications for arbitration and published two arbitration awards, relating to Evolve Politics and Byline Media.
In November 2018, IMPRESS ruled against the blog Skwawkbox for breaching standards in its reporting on Wes Streeting MP. The complaint upheld was that the publishers did not take all reasonable steps to ensure accuracy, because Streeting had only been given four hours to respond to the blog's enquiry. The panel did not make a judgment on the factual accuracy of the Skwawkbox article, stating that "The Committee was not in a position to test the veracity of the evidence provided by the Publisher".
Mann/KCL smears dismissed
On Thursday 28 January 2021, it was announced that a report titled “Antisemitism and the alternative media” authored by Dr Daniel Allington and Tanvi Joshi of Kings College London was published; this was reported on by the Jewish Chronicle on 28 January 2021 in an article titled "Report: Corbynite sites feature far-right tropes”. The article byline stated “The Canary and Skwawkbox, two of the websites most closely linked to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, have been found to promote “heavily negative coverage of Jewish issues” to audiences that are “associated with antisemitism”, a damning new government report has found.” The article went on to say that the study had been “carried out by King’s College London for the Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism Lord John Mann” and that the report would be sent out to government ministers the following week.
IMPRESS then launched its own initiated preliminary investigation into the concerns levelled at Skwawkbox and The Canary and a Regulatory Committee was convened to decide whether the published material fell within the regulatory remit of IMPRESS and against its Standards Code. The relevant clause is 4.3 Discrimination:
- Publishers must not incite hatred against any group on the basis of that group’s age, disability, mental health, gender reassignment or identity, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation or another characteristic that makes that group vulnerable to discrimination.
On 24 November 2021, IMPRESS published its report (364/2021) which concluded that, of the material in remit, none of it reached the threshold which would engage the discrimination clause and, therefore, further investigation would be unjustified. The matter was therefore dismissed.
IMPRESS currently regulates a total of 107 publishers publishing 182 publications across the UK.
The following publications have joined IMPRESS:
- Bath Echo
- Bedford Independent
- Brixton Blog
- Brixton Bugle
- The Canary
- The Conversation UK
- Evolve Politics
- Formby Reporter
- Gedling Eye
- Hillbers News
- Isle of Wight Observer
- Left Foot Forward
- Lincolnshire Business magazine
- Liverpool Reporter
- Mersey Reporter
- My Turriff
- New Internationalist
- Novara Media
- Plant Based News
- Shetland News
- Shropshire Live
- South Molton News
- Southport Reporter
- Star and Crescent
- The Ferret
- The Lincolnite
- The Week In
- View Magazine
- Waltham Forest Echo
- Your Harlow
- Your Thurrock
|Document:IMPRESS dismisses Mann's smears of antisemitism against Skwawkbox and The Canary||Article||25 November 2021||Steve Walker||Mr Mann, or Lord Mann as he likes to be called according to his Twitter handle, has a long record of enmity toward Skwawkbox and the left media, which have highlighted his own actions and his own displays of contempt toward Gypsy Roma and Traveller people, which caused them deep hurt and even led to him being interviewed by police.|
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