17th July 2023
The Importance of Accurate Reporting (and what to do when you make a mistake)
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Accurate reporting is the backbone of a quality news environment. Without it, journalists cannot hope to carry out their duty to inform and educate the public on matters of public interest.

Every time accuracy is deprioritised by publishers or journalists, perhaps in pursuit of a sensational story or to be the first to publish, the public’s trust in the industry crumbles further.

Our News Literacy Report from 2022 found that 49% of the public did not trust the news media, with only 39% saying they had trust in journalists.

Other notable stats include that 73% felt journalists and publishers should be held accountable for publishing information that is untrue, and that 88% see accurate reporting as an important role for journalists to play – the third most important behind informing the public and being unbiased.

The Impress Standards Code, which was updated at the start of 2023, sets out the best possible practice for our member publications to follow.

Here, we take you on a crash course of how to ensure you report accurately and what to do if you slip up.

Be thorough

While it does not create an absolute duty to publish only indisputably true facts, our Standards Code does require publishers to take reasonable steps to verify the truth of the information.

On this front, key consideration must be given to; the significance of any possible inaccuracies and their likely consequences; the likely reliability of the source being used; the attempts made to corroborate a story; the urgency of publishing the story; whether reasonable attempts were made, before publication, to contact any individuals or organisations for whom publication could potentially cause serious reputational harm and whether they were offered an opportunity to respond.

For example, referencing statistics taken from a Government source would not require the publisher to double check each and every data point.

However, if a story depends on one anonymous account, extra care should be taken to verify the content before going to print or hitting publish.

This requirement extends to third party sources on the internet, while members should also exercise editorial oversight when employing Artificial Intelligence to create content.

Make corrections

Inevitably, some mistakes will be made, and that’s okay. But when errors arise it is crucial to be open and honest about it.

Our News Literacy Report found that 86% of the public thought admitting to mistakes was an important value for journalists to be guided by.

However, this was contrasted with just 46% who felt it WAS a value that journalists and publishers held dear.

While the seriousness of inaccuracies will vary depending on the level of impact the detail has on the story or an individual involved, a proportionate correction should be issued as soon as possible after being alerted to the mistake.

The speed at which a correction is made is also crucial. In the internet age, information can spread rapidly. If too much time is taken to correct a mistake, the misinformation may have already spread across social media and multiple other sites.


By signing up to Impress, our 200+ member publications agree to uphold these standards in their day-to-day operations.

However, if you feel an Impress member has breached our Code in any way, you can make a complaint by first getting in touch with the publisher and then with Impress if you are unsatisfied with the outcome.

About Impress 

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. 

Media enquiries

Louie Chandler: louie@impressorg.com / 02033076778