Shielding the Storytellers

With whistleblowing in the news again, we take a look at IMPRESS’s own scheme and how it protects its members.

Would the hacking scandal have been so widespread if a whistleblowing scheme had been in place at the time? It is arguable that with the availability of a confidential helpline to call, those journalists who felt pressured into hacking phones or reporting using hacked material might have been able to bring this to the attention of those in a position to have prevented it.    

Of course, having an avenue for employees and contributors to raise concerns in confidence and to receive feedback on any action taken is only part of the solution. News publishers also need to be committed to the highest standards of ethical journalism so that journalists who have worries feel able to do so openly and know that they will be taken seriously.  

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said, “Any journalist who feels under pressure to act in a way which seems to contravene professional practice or the law should be able to report it internally with the confidence that it will be dealt with. Equally journalists should have access to an external service to which they can report their concerns and receive advice and guidance.”

Jon Cunningham is development director at Public Concern at Work (PCAW) which runs the whistleblowing scheme on behalf of IMPRESS. He said: “Whistleblowing is a big challenge for many sectors, including news publishing. If the culture of the organisation is open and trusting with a whistleblowing scheme that is well publicised within the workforce it can act as an early warning system. This will ensure those with legitimate concerns are taken seriously and staff are not victimised.”

As part of its internal governance standards, IMPRESS asks its members to put in place a whistleblowing policy and it offers support to its members in developing one if required. In addition, IMPRESS provides its support for journalists to raise concerns through PCAW. 

Jon Cunningham said, “The PCAW scheme is a safety net for IMPRESS’s members. If journalists or contributors who work for an IMPRESS member find that their concerns are not being taken seriously or they simply want some guidance on how to take their issue forward, they can call the IMPRESS helpline for advice.”

IMPRESS whistleblowing helpline
0800 221 8548
c/o Public Concern at Work