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  1. Media Law
November 8, 2022updated 18 Nov 2022 10:22am

The Canary is Impress-regulated publisher with most upheld complaints

By Aisha Majid

The Canary was forced to accept it had breached its standards more times than any of the 200 other publishers in Impress’ network last year, according to the regulator’s 2021 annual report.

Despite this just three complaints were received by the site in the financial year between April 2021 and March 2022, according to a list that did not see any Impress member receive a substantial number of complaints.

All three complaints received by The Canary, where staff have this year overthrown its directors to become a co-op, were either partially or fully upheld. The Canary is the fifth biggest publication regulated by Impress, with an audience of 754,504 average monthly unique visitors at the time of the report putting it just behind left-wing rival Novara Media.

The complaints were not made to Impress but were instead reported by the publication to the regulator as part of member organisations’ annual reporting on their internal governance processes.

Based on the same self-reported information, investigative outlets Expose News and Byline Investigates topped the table for most corrections published with ten each.

They were followed by Oxford-based left-wing magazine New Internationalist, which reported it had published eight corrections.

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Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution

As with The Canary none of these corrections came about as a result of a complaint directed through Impress.

The data published in Impress’ 2021 annual report shows that publications covered by the Royal Charter approved regulator on the whole scored well for compliance in 2021 and 2022.

Of the 58 complaints publishers told Impress about, only 19 were upheld either fully or in part.

Sixty-six corrections were collectively published by the 200-strong network.

Of the 25 complaints received by Impress in the last financial year (some of which fell out of the scope of the scheme or related to publishers not  regulated by Impress), three were considered by the regulator. Of these, one relating to the Waltham Forest Echo was upheld (although the decision was made just after the period covered by the report in April this year).

Of the complaints adjudicated between April 2021 and March 2022, only one, concerning an article published on left-wing politics site Skwawkbox was upheld. The article was ruled to have inaccurately implied that former Health Secretary Matt Hancock had awarded NHS contracts to "Tory donors and cronies" and Skwawkbox was required to publish a correction. NOT 

Rival regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which regulates some 2,600 publications among them some of the UK’s biggest names in news such as The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Daily Mirror and The Times, received 14,355 complaints in 2021. Of these, 461 were investigated by the regulator as potentially in breach of the Editors’ Code, and 88 were upheld. Mail Online was found to have breached the code 15 times.

Newer Impress, the smaller of the UK’s two main regulators, tends to oversee small, independent publications, including hyperlocal sites and niche new media outlets such as Bellingcat.

Some 209 publications reaching 20% of the UK population are currently signed up to Impress according to the organisation’s annual report. It said membership grew 11% in the 2021/22 financial year with the local Bylines network, The Manchester Meteor and gal-dem among the newer members.

The report also found that there was a 40% decrease in complaints and a 60% decrease in complainants requesting that their complaints be escalated to Impress for investigation in 2021/22 compared to the previous 12 months.

"Regulated publishers are therefore working well to instil trust in the public through adherence to the requirements of our Standards Code and Regulatory Scheme, through using their own internal governance processes to resolve issues with readers," said the report.

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