Tomorrow will see the formal launch of the IMPRESS Project – a new kind of free speech organisation which aims to promote press freedom and ethical journalism. The project is developing plans for press regulation which is independent of politicians and press owners, affordable for small publishers and websites and accountable to the public.
The project aims to establish “the Independent Monitor for the Press” to regulate the press in compliance with the Leveson criteria. It is backed by a number of individuals with a background in free speech and free press campaigns. Its patron is former Sunday Times and Times editor, Sir Harold Evans. Its trustees are Lisa Appignanesi, Isabel Hilton and Alastair Mullis. The director of the project is Jonathan Heawood.
IMPRESS has published a prospectus to demonstrate how it can regulate the press in compliance with the Leveson criteria. Its “Aims and Objectives” are described as follows
The purpose of IMPRESS is to support the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards in journalism. IMPRESS stands up positively for press freedom. A ‘sunset clause’ in its Articles of Association would cause IMPRESS to dissolve itself if any future government modified the legal operating environment for press regulation so as to curtail press freedom. IMPRESS would also advocate strongly against the use of any other political mechanism to limit the freedom of the press or individual freedom of expression.
IMPRESS pursues its purpose through three core activities: complaints handling, arbitration and investigations. It also publishes and promotes research papers with analysis of relevant issues.
The prospectus deals with issues such as arbitration, investigations, remedies and funding. It summarises the aim of IMPRESS as being “to facilitate a positive relationship between news providers and their readers”. It announces its intention to “develop more detailed proposals for the regulator in consultation with the industry and the public over the coming months”.