Journalism is a great profession. What could be more important than exposing corruption and holding the powerful to account? A free press and professional journalism are two of the hallmarks of an open society.
But journalism is facing huge challenges. An army of people told the Leveson Inquiry about their appalling treatment at the hands of the press. Some of them were household names. Others were dragged into the spotlight after a family tragedy or a case of mistaken identity. All were badly let down by the press and the current system of press regulation. As a result of these failings, only 27% of people in the United Kingdom think newspapers are well run and a staggering 69% think the media is our most corrupt institution. That is a huge problem for society, and for journalism. People will not pay for news they cannot trust.
As journalists and free speech campaigners, we want to do something about this. That’s why we are launching a new kind of regulator, IMPRESS: the Independent Monitor for the Press, which will involve journalists and the public in the future of press regulation.
IMPRESS will provide a simple and effective system of regulation to resolve complaints and discourage unethical journalism with heavy fines.
IMPRESS will raise standards across the industry. Members of IMPRESS will display a kitemark of quality which will attract readers and advertisers.
IMPRESS will provide journalists with a whistleblowing hotline and an arbitration service to give them the confidence to pursue hard-hitting investigative stories.
IMPRESS will be open to print and online publications. Technology changes, but good standards do not. We will support journalists who want to get it right.
IMPRESS will host a public forum for people's views about journalism and press regulation. We will create space for listening and learning.
IMPRESS has been designed by journalists and free speech campaigners. We believe that standards should be set not by politicians or newspaper owners but by journalists and their public.
In Phase One of our project, we have been talking to journalists across the UK about how IMPRESS can work for them. They have told us about the challenges they face and they have welcomed our plans for a new kind of press regulator.
It is now time to launch Phase Two – and this is where we need your support. We need to commission the legal paperwork for IMPRESS. We need to recruit an Appointment Panel, and then a Board. We need to set up a pilot arbitration scheme to resolve claims against news publishers. And we need to keep talking to journalists and members of the public.
We need to show the major newspaper publishers that the public want a fresh start in press regulation.
With £50,000 we will be able to take the next important steps towards supporting the future of press freedom and professional journalism. Early supporters of The IMPRESS Project include authors, journalists and philanthropists such as Tom Astor, Betterworld, Sir Harold Evans, Michael Frayn, Terry Gilliam, David Hare, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, Ian McEwan, William Sieghart and Polly Toynbee. J.K. Rowling has now generously offered to match all donations received during this Indiegogo campaign up to a total of £25,000. We hope that you will follow their lead in supporting a new kind of press regulator.
For the first time now, we have an opportunity to create regulation that works for the press – and the public.