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The IMPRESS Standards Code is a modern Code that aims to assist journalists by promoting and supporting their work. It also aims to protect the public from invasive journalistic practices and unethical news reporting.

The Code is practical and responsive to emerging challenges in the digital era including issues like verifying the authenticity of sources and information and using content from social media.





Journalism plays a crucial role in 
society. Every day, journalists report 
significant events, policies and 
controversies, expose wrongdoing, 
challenge unfairness and satirise, 
amuse and entertain. Such power 
comes with responsibility. IMPRESS 
aims to ensure that journalists 
behave responsibly, while protecting 
their role to investigate and report 

All publishers regulated by IMPRESS 
agree to abide by the following 
rules, which together constitute the 
IMPRESS Standards Code. This Code 
seeks to balance the rights of the 
public, journalists and publishers. 
The Code should be read alongside 
the guidance, which provides 
information about what these rules 
mean in practice. 

This Code is intended to be:

(a) A practical working tool that 
enables journalists, editors and 
publishers to do their jobs;

(b) Easily understood by the public; 

(c) Effectively enforceable through 
IMPRESS’s powers and remedies 
as a regulator. 

Publishers will be held directly 
responsible for compliance with 
this Code, which applies to all 
content and newsgathering 
activities for which publishers are 
responsible under the terms of their 
Regulatory Scheme Agreement with 
IMPRESS, regardless of the medium 
or platform of publication. All 
references here to publishers apply 
equally to anyone acting under a 
publisher’s authority. All references 
here to journalists apply equally 
to anyone acting in a journalistic 

This Code is distinct from the law 
and publishers are separately 
responsible for ensuring that they 
comply with the law.

The IMPRESS Standards Code


In certain circumstances, there may 
be a public interest justification for a 
particular method of newsgathering 
or publication of an item of content 
that might otherwise breach the Code. 
Where a public interest exception may 
apply, this is identified in the relevant 
clause. A public interest means that 
the public has a legitimate stake in a 
story because of the contribution it 
makes to a matter of importance to 
society. Such interests include, but are 
not limited to, the following:

(a) The revelation or discussion 
of matters such as serious 
incompetence or unethical 
behaviour that affects the public; 

(b) Putting the record straight where an 
individual or organisation has misled 
the public on a matter of public 

(c) Revealing that a person or 
organisation may be failing to 
comply with any legal obligation 
they have; 

(d) The proper administration of 

(e) Open, fair and effective justice; 

(f) Public health and safety;

(g) National security; 

(h) The prevention and detection of 
crime; and 

(i) The discussion or analysis of artistic 
or cultural works.

The following provisions apply where 
a publisher is about to undertake 
an action that they think would 
otherwise breach the Code, but 
for which they believe they have 
a public interest justification. The 
action might be a particular method 
of newsgathering or publication 
of an item of content. Before 
undertaking the action, the publisher 
should, where practicable, make 
a contemporaneous note, which 
establishes why they believe that: 

(a) The action is in the public interest; 

(b) They could not have achieved the 
same result using measures that are 
compliant with the Code; 

(c) The action is likely to achieve the 
desired outcome; and 

(d) Any likely harm caused by the 
action does not outweigh the public 
interest in the action.

The IMPRESS Standards Code



1.1. Publishers must take all reasonable steps to ensure accuracy. 

1.2. Publishers must correct any significant inaccuracy with due 
prominence, which should normally be equal prominence, at 
the earliest opportunity. 

1.3. Publishers must always distinguish clearly between statements 
of fact, conjecture and opinion. 

1.4. Whilst free to be partisan, publishers must not misrepresent or 
distort the facts. 

The IMPRESS Standards Code


2.1. Publishers must take all reasonable steps to identify and credit 
the originator of any third party content. 

2.2. Publishers must correct any failure to credit the originator of 
any third party content with due prominence at the earliest 

The IMPRESS Standards Code


3.1. Except where there is an exceptional public interest, publishers 
must only interview, photograph, or otherwise record or publish 
the words, actions or images of a child under the age of 16 years 
with the consent of the child or a responsible adult and where this 
is not detrimental to the safety and wellbeing of the child. While a 
child should have every opportunity to express his or her wishes, 
journalists have a responsibility to consider carefully the age and 
capacity of the child to consent. Unless there is a detriment to the 
safety and wellbeing of a child, this provision does not apply to 
images of general scenes. 

3.2. Except where there is an exceptional public interest, publishers must 
not identify a child under the age of 16 years without the consent 
of the child or a responsible adult unless this is relevant to the story 
and not detrimental to the safety and wellbeing of the child. 

3.3. Publishers must give reasonable consideration to the request of 
a person who, when under the age of 16 years, was identified in 
their publication and now wishes the online version of the relevant 
article(s) to be anonymised.

The IMPRESS Standards Code


4.1. Publishers must not make prejudicial or pejorative reference to a 
person on the basis of that person’s age, disability, mental health, 
gender reassignment or identity, marital or civil partnership status, 
pregnancy, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation or another 
characteristic that makes that person vulnerable to discrimination. 

4.2. Publishers must not refer to a person’s disability, mental health, 
gender reassignment or identity, pregnancy, race, religion or sexual 
orientation unless this characteristic is relevant to the story. 

4.3. Publishers must not incite hatred against any group on the basis of 
that group’s age, disability, mental health, gender reassignment or 
identity, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy, race, religion, 
sex or sexual orientation or another characteristic that makes that 
group vulnerable to discrimination.

The IMPRESS Standards Code


5.1 Publishers must ensure that journalists do not engage in 

5.2 Except where justified by the public interest, publishers must 
ensure that journalists:

a. Do not engage in deception;

b. Always identify themselves as journalists and provide the name 
of their publication when making contact; and

c. Comply immediately with any reasonable request to desist from 
contacting, following or photographing a person.

The IMPRESS Standards Code


6.1 Publishers must not significantly impede or obstruct any 
criminal investigations or prejudice any criminal proceedings. 

6.2 Publishers must not directly or indirectly identify persons 
under the age of 18 who are or have been involved in criminal 
or family proceedings, except as permitted by law. 

6.3 Publishers must preserve the anonymity of victims of sexual 
offences, except as permitted by law or with the express 
consent of the person. 

6.4 Publishers must not make payments, or offer to make 
payments, to witnesses or defendants in criminal proceedings, 
except as permitted by law. 

The IMPRESS Standards Code


7.1 Except where justified by the public interest, publishers must respect 
people’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Such an expectation may 
be determined by factors that include, but are not limited to, the 

a. The nature of the information concerned, such as whether it 
relates to intimate, family, health or medical matters or personal 

b. The nature of the place concerned, such as a home, school or 

c. How the information concerned was held or communicated, such 
as in private correspondence or a personal diary;

d. The relevant attributes of the person, such as their age, occupation 
or public profile; and

e. Whether the person had voluntarily courted publicity on a relevant 
aspect of their private life.

7.2 Except where justified by the public interest, publishers must:

a. Not use covert means to gain or record information;

b. Respect privacy settings when reporting on social media content; and

c. Take all reasonable steps not to exacerbate grief or distress 
through intrusive newsgathering or reporting.

The IMPRESS Standards Code


8.1 Publishers must protect the anonymity of sources where 
confidentiality has been agreed and not waived by the source, 
except where the source has been manifestly dishonest. 

8.2 Publishers must take reasonable steps to ensure that 
journalists do not fabricate sources. 

8.3 Except where justified by an exceptional public interest, 
publishers must not pay public officials for information. 

The IMPRESS Standards Code


9.1 When reporting on suicide or self-harm, publishers must not 
provide excessive details of the method used or speculate on 
the motives.

The IMPRESS Standards Code


10.1 Publishers must clearly identify content that appears to 
be editorial but has been paid for, financially or through a 
reciprocal arrangement, by a third party. 

10.2 Publishers must ensure that significant conflicts of interest are 

10.3 Publishers must ensure that information about financial 
products is objectively presented and that any interests or 
conflicts of interest are effectively disclosed. 

10.4 Publishers must correct any failure to disclose significant 
conflicts of interest with due prominence at the earliest 


The IMPRESS Standards Code





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E: [email protected]S.PRESS