IMPRESS Members Meet Culture Secretary

Hyperlocals highlight need for independent regulation

Five editor members of IMPRESS, the new independent press regulator and IMPRESS Chair Walter Merricks and CEO Jonathan Heawood, were invited to meet Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale, this week. 

The Secretary of State requested the meeting in order to understand more about the hyperlocal market, the role these publishers play in the broader media world, the challenges they face and why they are seeking regulation from IMPRESS.  Members stressed the need for support from a regulator to provide a low cost arbitration scheme, the reputational benefits of being properly regulated, and protection from libel costs threats when they are reporting tough stories.

IMPRESS member Daniel Ionescu, founding editor of The Lincolnite, said: “We appreciated the Minister’s time and his interest in this burgeoning market. With 500,000 monthly visitors and a reputation for breaking important local stories we consider ourselves a vital source of news for Lincoln and its surrounding area.

“At The Lincolnite we believe being regulated by an independent press regulator is vital to protect us when we report hard hitting news stories, so we were pleased to meet the Minister at the time he is considering when to implement these costs protections.  Also key to us are the credibility of being a member of an officially recognised regulator, the benefits of the external process for handling unresolved complaints and low cost arbitration.”

Walter Merricks, Chair of IMPRESS said: “These members represent a growing and active market of community-based local journalism.  We welcomed the opportunity for them to meet the Minister and assist in his understanding of it.”

IMPRESS members at the meeting were: