About us / Who we are
Our story

Impress is a champion for news that can be trusted.

We are here to make sure news providers can publish with integrity; and the public can engage in an ever-changing media landscape with confidence.

We set the highest regulatory standards for news, offer education to help people make informed choices, and provide resolution when disputes arise.   

Learn more about our story below.

Our history

Impress was established in 2015 to promote the integrity and freedom of the press, in response to the conclusions of the Leveson Inquiry. News publishers began to sign up to Impress and its Regulatory Scheme, which encourages the highest ethical standards in news reporting.

Impress was, and still is, funded by the Independent Press Regulation Trust (IPRT), which operates independently from government, political organisations, and commercial interests. Since its inception, Impress has been subject to high levels of due scrutiny to ensure we demonstrate a meaningful commitment to transparency, accountability, and the public interest.

In January 2016, Impress applied to the Press Recognition Panel (PRP) for recognition as an independent and effective regulator of the press under the terms of the Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press. The application process was rigorous and transparent, with Impress having to meet 29 points of criteria set by the Royal Charter.

On 25th October 2016, the PRP granted recognition to Impress at a meeting held in public. Impress became the first, and still only, press regulator to be recognised as independent and effective by the PRP. We ensure our standards are kept up to date by complying with ad hoc and cyclical reviews conducted by the PRP.

June 2017 saw Impress publish its first complaint adjudication and conducted its first investigation on its own initiative. In July, Impress published the first award under its Arbitration Scheme, which is operated in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. The scheme provides an affordable and speedy means by which members of the public can seek legal redress if they have an actionable legal claim against a publisher regulated by Impress. It also protects publishers from being drawn into costly legal proceedings.

The Impress Standards Code was formally incorporated into Impress’ Regulatory Scheme. This was the first press code in UK history to be co-created with the industry, the public, and civil society. Concurrently, the High Court upheld the legal status of Impress as the first approved self-regulatory body for the press in the UK.

Impress adopted a new code of conduct based on an internal review conducted the previous year, implementing a wide range of recommendations. This ensured the integrity, transparency and accountability of the organisation.

2018 also saw Impress’ 100th news title join the organisation, representing a growing consensus of independent media voluntarily joining the system of recognised self-regulation. That same year, Impress organised its inaugural Trust in Journalism Conference, under the theme ‘The Future of Independent News’. The success of this saw the conference continue for the next three years. After the Covid-19 pandemic put a temporary pause on these conferences, we hope to hold more in-person events again in the future.

In March 2019, the PRP completed its first cyclical review of Impress’ independence and effectiveness under the Recognition System. The PRP confirmed that Impress continued to meet all 29 of the recognition criteria set out in the Royal Charter on Self-Regulation for the Press.

Also this year, Impress convened the Independent Publishers Taskforce, with funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. This brought together Impress publishers and key industry stakeholders, with the goal of addressing the proposals of the Cairncross Review.

In September, Impress co-hosted a workshop with Reporters Without Borders. Aimed at practicing journalists, we consulted on international standards for journalism developed under the auspices of the Journalism Trust Initiative.

In February 2020, Impress announced the creation of the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF), a charity founded to promote public understanding of investigating, reporting and disseminating public interest news. PINF was founded with the goal of promoting citizenship by supporting public interest news providers and promoting high standards of ethical conduct and best practice in journalism. Over time, PINF became independent of Impress, and continues its work today.

In March 2020, Impress provided critical Covid-relief to the independent media sector by obtaining key worker status for all Impress-regulated journalists, hosting regular briefings, and supporting funding initiatives. Also this year, Impress expanded its decision-making competence by appointing eight experienced journalists and media law experts onto a supplementary regulatory committee, and oversaw the first review of its Standards Code.

In 2021, Impress engaged with over 85 key organisational, academic, and civil society stakeholders as part of its Code engagement programme. To accompany our Standards Code engagement, Impress also engaged in policy work, public, regulatory, and industry engagement, and established further services for our membership.

Impress published a downloadable 5-top-tips guide to using social media as a publisher. This was designed to help publishers consider the reputational, legal, and ethical issues that come with using social media in an official capacity. Impress also expanded its reach to the network and its members with its ‘Spotlight On’ interview series.

In April 2022, the IPRT agreed on a multi-year funding plan with Impress. This secured Impress’ continued independence on the basis of pursuing a sustainable business model for the future. In 2022, the PRP conducted its second cyclical review of Impress’ status as an approved regulator. The PRP confirmed that Impress continues to meet all 29 of the recognition criteria set out in the Royal Charter.

In November, Impress launched its groundbreaking News Literacy Report, based on research conducted with the University of Leeds and University of Derby. The report found universal support amongst the UK public for effective, independent press regulation.

In February 2023, Impress launched a rebranded website, a new digital platform for journalistic integrity and accountability.

In April, Impress launched a revised Standards Code, introducing new clauses to better reflect the current state of the media landscape, and protect journalists for the future. Improvements to the Accuracy, Privacy, Children, and Discrimination clauses has shown that we and our members will be holding ourselves to a higher standard, striving to be the best we can be, and in so doing, encourage others to raise standards too.

This year also saw the launch of the development of a new education programme centring on journalism ethics training. We aim to use teaching technologies and innovative online courses to build a programme which meets the needs of a new generation of journalists.