511/2022 - Unity News Network
Publication: Unity News Network
Date investigation published: 25/10/2022
Relevant clauses: Accuracy 1.1. 1.3 and 1.4 of the IMPRESS Standards Code
Outcome: Breach of Clauses 1.1, 1.3 and 1.4
Executive summary of case
1.1 The following summarises the outcome of an initiated investigation launched by IMPRESS on 9 May 2022.
1.2 A social media enquiry was made to IMPRESS from a concerned third party regarding a retweet, by former Southampton footballer Matt Le Tissier, of a post published by Unity News Network (“The Publisher”) via its official Twitter account on 5 April 2022 in relation to the Bucha massacre in Ukraine. IMPRESS does not actively monitor the social media content of its regulated publishers. However, considering the seriousness of the subject matter and the media attention surrounding Le Tissier’s retweet, the decision was made to undertake a wider examination of all the posts made from the Publisher’s official Twitter account between 1 March 2022 and 31 May 2022.
1.3 Through examination of these Tweets, the Executive determined that two key themes were prevalent in the subject matter of the Publisher’s social media output: reporting on the Covid-19 vaccine and the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The Executive proceeded to compile a selection of relevant Tweets and articles from the specified period for consideration. The Committee considered whether 13 Tweets and 2 articles were within IMPRESS’s regulatory remit.
1.4 The Committee was further tasked with deciding whether there is sufficient evidence to justify commencement of an investigation into the publisher on IMPRESS’ own initiative for potential breaches of the Code.
1.5 The Committee considered that 12 of the 15 published items fell within IMPRESS’s regulatory remit and should be investigated further.
1.6 The Publisher was informed of the Committee’s decision to proceed with the investigation and provided with questions in relation to the substantive matters raised by IMPRESS. The Publisher declined to respond to these questions and elected to give notice to end its Agreement with IMPRESS.
1.7 The reconvened Committee found that the Publisher breached clause 1 – Accuracy of the IMPRESS Standards Code in relation to 10 of the 12 items investigated. It further found that the Publisher had breached its obligations under its Agreement with IMPRESS.
1.8 The Committee agreed therefore that the proportionate remedy in this matter would be to end the Publisher’s regulatory scheme agreement with IMPRESS without notice.