13th March 2023
Increasing accountability: The importance of publishers admitting mistakes

Increasing accountability: The importance of publishers admitting mistakes

Freedom of the press is fundamental to society. But freedom of the press should not mean there is no accountability for mistakes.

Just as the majority of people in the world are law-abiding, so are vast swathes of the media – but when somebody does break the law or breach standards, the public should be assured proportionate action will be taken.

That is why, when Impress launched our latest Standards Code, we sought to make it abundantly clear to both our members as well as the public that any breach of The Code will result in repercussions.

In this latest blog, we look at how this can lead to an increase in accountability among the press and, subsequently, a stronger bond with the public.


When a publisher gets something wrong, they should be ready and willing to apologise and issue a correction.

After all, reporting accurate information is a fundamental part of journalism, so corrections should be implicit within that role.

In our new Code, we highlight that ‘significant inaccuracies’ will require correcting – but that publishers should also be ready and willing to rectify more minor slip-ups too.

Clarifications are also encouraged when new facts come to light that alter the accuracy of past stories.


We have all seen it before. A publisher releases a significant story that is plastered on their front pages, sits on the home page of their website and receives a great deal of engagement on social media, only for a complaint to be upheld against it.

What does said publisher then do? It buries the apology note where they likely hope no one will see it.

However, in the new Standards Code, we have taken steps to explicitly address this. We tell our members that corrections should be proportionate to the error and reflect the scope of the original story.

This can include pinning corrections to website homepages and social media profiles to ensure their audience has easy access to read and digest the new information.

This is the final instalment of Impress’s Code in Focus series, looking at how our new Standards Code can help improve the media landscape. You can read our previous blogs on Building Trust and Improving Safety.