11th April 2024
Navigating Ethical Crossroads: How Impress Handles Your Complaints

In the age of digital media, the responsibility of news publishers should extend to the careful navigation of ethical standards of high-quality, reliable news. 

At Impress, we don’t just create standards, we live by them. Through our Standards Code and complaints procedure, we ensure an intricate balance between freedom of the press, accuracy, and protection of vulnerable individuals. 

Many of our complaints’ cases, ranging from issues of identifying minors involved in criminal proceedings to the responsibilities of publishers in verifying content accuracy, underscore the evolving landscape of media ethics and regulation. 

Reporting on Children 

Case: 570/2023 – A Complainant and The Stray Ferret 

This case highlighted that publishers must exercise caution when reporting on children who have been involved in criminal proceedings to avoid directly or indirectly identifying them. Reflecting upon this case, Impress also recognised the need to address and clarify the Code’s relationship with legal precedents and legislation. Here for instance, Impress referred to Section 49(1) Children and Young Persona Act (CYPA) 1933 to determine whether the children were identifiable in the article, whereas the publisher had applied a different legal test. 

Verifying Accuracy 

Case: 367/2021 – Michelle Edwards and Waltham Forest Echo 

This case highlighted that a publisher must take reasonable steps to verify the accuracy of their content where significant edits have been made to a freelancer’s copy. It also signalled the need for a mediation service, which would help with resolving internal disputes amicably between publishers and their contributors for instance. Impress has subsequently introduced its Mediation Scheme which is open to all media participants, including Impress-regulated publishers. 

Freedom of Expression 

Case: 574/2023 – Bob Seely and IW Observer 

This case highlighted that there is an overwhelming presumption in favour of freedom of expression when speculating about the suitability of a politician or a public official for holding public office. This means that it may be found that freedom of expression will outweigh a potential breach of the Discrimination clause which has occurred through such speculation. However, this would be determined on a case-by-case basis. 


As the news media landscape continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly evident that a nuanced understanding of journalistic standards and ethical news production is indispensable for news providers. By highlighting these cases, we not only emphasise areas for improvement but also reaffirm the significance of ethical journalism in fostering an informed and responsible discourse within society. 

What can you do next?

Join our mailing list and be the first to receive Impress Insights from industry experts who can help you stay informed about the multiple challenges and developments in the news industry, from the dangers of AI to addressing inequality in newsrooms and keep you up to date with developments across the globe in the news landscape.

Sign up to Impress Insights

    You can also follow us on our social media to stay connected:

    Join us in our mission to build a news ecosystem grounded in accuracy, transparency, and accountability.

    Your support is instrumental in enabling Impress to fulfil its mission of rebuilding trust in journalism and strengthening democracy. With your donation, you can contribute to promoting news literacy, launching educational initiatives, supporting independent publishers, and ensuring ethical integrity.

    Support Us

    Join the conversation on news and its production, unraveling how it shape our perspectives and affect our democratic participation in the society. Share your insights within your communities, question sources, and explore the impact of news on what we consume.

    Let’s be active participants in understanding the news cycle. Keep an eye out for the Impress trustmark – a commitment of reliable and accurate journalism adhering to high journalistic standards. Use #KnowTheNews to connect, and tag Impress when you see any violation of our Standards Code to encourage transparency and accountability.

    Together, let’s build a community that values informed discussions and empowers us to navigate the news landscape with trust.

    Impress Standards Code

    Our membership network of around 100 publishers and 200 publications represents a diverse range of communities and interests, enabling publishers, journalists and content creators to connect while benefitting from expert regulatory services, resources and support.

     

    We represent our members in our conversations with government, parliament and other stakeholders and they have access to a network of like-minded journalists and content creators.
    Learn more