22nd December 2022
2022 in Review: A message from our CEO, Ed Procter

2022 in Review: A message from our CEO, Ed Procter

Ed Procter, CEO of Impress, reflects on the key milestones of 2022, including the Standards Code review, the News Literacy Report and what’s in store for 2023.

As 2022 draws to a close it’s time to reflect on the year that’s been and what lies ahead for Impress and the wider news industry in 2023.

In many ways, it has been a challenging year. The war in Ukraine, cost of living crisis, environmental protests, strikes and political comings and goings have kept journalists busy, and pages filled in news publications throughout the UK. Political instability has led to a stuttering media reform programme. The Online Safety Bill, which promised much for those concerned about the integrity of our news and information ecosystem, has been watered down considerably, to focus only on illegal and harmful content.  Another area of contention is the Government’s proposed National Security Bill, which won’t be on the wish lists of many journalists this Christmas, with reporters facing the chilling risk of prosecution if they fail to disclose confidential sources.

There are however, two reasons for journalists and news publishers to be cheerful. Firstly, the attention given to tackle SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), where the rich and powerful use their wealth to censor, intimidate and silence criticism, is welcome. Secondly, the creation of a Digital Markets Unit (DMU), within the Competition and Markets Authority, will potentially see news publishers being paid by platforms for their news content. The big question for 2023 is whether these laudable initiatives will be designed to support and protect all those engaged in high quality public interest journalism, not just the big commercial players in the market.

In terms of our work, this year Impress has continued to fly the flag for better, more accountable journalism, buoyed by the arrival of our new Chair Richard Ayre, with his wealth of experience in public interest journalism, editorial standards and regulation. We completed a comprehensive review of our Standards Code to ensure that it remains fit for purpose for the future of digital journalism. We hope that those of you who participated in the review process and more recent training sessions found them to be useful as we prepare for the launch of the revised Code in early 2023. Our annual report highlighted some of the impressive stories covered this year by independent titles such as Amargh I, Newham Voices, Shetland News, Shropshire Live and The Whitstable Whistler. I was delighted to welcome publishers such as Prospect Magazine, Bylines Scotland and Queer AF to our regulatory scheme this year as our network continues to grow, and to see the collective reach of Impress regulated titles top the 20 million mark.

Our work programme for next year will draw heavily on the findings of our News Literacy Reportwhich revealed a striking link between low levels of trust in journalism amongst the public and a lack of knowledge about news values, standards and the role played by regulation in delivering high quality journalism. We anticipate the roll out of our colourful new brand which represents an aspiration to engage a wider community of journalists, publishers and content creators in a collective mission to publish with integrity. In March we will be appearing at the Publishing Show at the Excel Centre London, alongside several of our regulated publishers. We hope you will come to visit our stand and join our panel session.

I want to close by thanking all publishers, stakeholders and partners, along with the staff, board and committee members of Impress for your efforts in upholding high standards of public interest journalism this year. I hope you find time to switch off over the holiday period and wish you all a restful, peaceful and joyful festive season as we recharge our batteries for 2023.

Ed Procter

Chief Executive Officer