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April 10, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:38am

Impress set to launch ‘publishers taskforce’ to build on Cairncross Review proposals

By James Walker

Alternative press regulator Impress is putting together a “publishers taskforce” to build on nine recommendations made by the Cairncross Review to help sustain the UK news industry in the digital age.

The charter-backed body has said it will pull together a team of independent publishers to work on how the proposals from Dame Francis Cairncross, put forward in February, should be implemented.

Among the review’s proposals was the creation of a new Institute for Public Interest News, an innovation fund, tax reliefs and the expansion of the Local Democracy Reporters scheme currently funded by the BBC.

The Impress taskforce has received a £21,000 grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which campaigns for political reform, to fund research and the project’s development over the next six months.

Impress said the trust would not have an active role in the taskforce, which it has invited its members and outside publishers to join, although it is not clear yet who will be involved.

The regulator has more than 120 member publications, most of which are hyperlocal titles. The vast majority of UK news media publishers are regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Impress chief executive Jonathan Heawood said: “Independent publishers all over the UK are busy holding the powerful to account and producing informative and entertaining journalism.

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“We want to draw on their creativity to ensure that the Cairncross recommendations turn into concrete actions. If we can get this right, we may see a new era of high-quality and diverse journalism in the public interest.”

Impress said its proposed taskforce would look to answer the following questions:

  • How can the Cairncross recommendations be implemented while protecting the freedom of the press?
  • How can subsidies be directed towards publications that are committed to high standards of journalism?
  • What kinds of support do small and start-up news publications need in order to thrive in the digital era?

Dame Cairncross concluded in her report that her recommendations were “designed to encourage new, sustainable journalism models to emerge” but warned that there would likely be “a further decline in the size of the UK’s news publishing sector – in journalists and in titles”.

Picture: Impress

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