Impress, the press regulator launched in November 2013 as a rival to IPSO, has released a new draft "Standards Code" (the text of which is available at: http://impress.press/standards/code-consultation.html) (the draft Code).

The draft Code seems to be largely based on the existing Editors' Code of Practice, which is administered by IPSO, and many of its clauses ring familiar both in tone and content.  For example, both codes emphasise the need for accuracy and include specific clauses on harassment, discrimination and the right to privacy.  The similarity is not particularly surprising given that until now, Impress has adopted the Editors' Code.

However, there are some noticeable differences. The draft Code:

  • has no specific clause covering the following: financial journalism, protecting the identities of victims of sexual assault, intrusions into grief, reporting from hospitals or the use of "clandestine devices" (although, these latter three are somewhat covered by its privacy clause);
  • includes a more detailed definition of the "public interest";
  • introduces a new clause which requires publishers to ensure the "originator of any third party content" is properly identified and credited; and
  • places responsibility on "publishers" as opposed to "editors" and "the press", which are the focus of the Editors' Code.

The draft Code is available for public consultation until 29 September 2016, following which Impress's Code Committee will review and finalise the content in light of the submissions received.

In its current form, the draft Code certainly seems, at first blush, to be less comprehensive than the Editors' Code, though the real proof will be in how the code, in its final form, will be applied in practice by Impress. It will, in any event, only apply to the publishers regulated by Impress, of which 42 have so far applied (listed here http://impress.press/complaints/regulated-publishers.html).  Most of these are small or hyperlocal online publishers, with the majority of the national titles (with some notable exceptions) regulated by IPSO.