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Hyperlocal paper which quit government-backed watchdog joins IPSO

The press watchdog has signed up four new member publishers – including a hyperlocal newspaper which quit a rival regulator four months ago.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has announced independent publisher Iliffe Media has agreed to observe its Editors’ Code of Practice, as well as hyperlocal titles the Caerphilly Observer, West Bridgford Wire and Thurrock Independent.

In October, the Observer resigned from Impress, which is so far the only press regulator to have received official Royal Charter backing.

While most of the local press industry signed-up to IPSO, the Observer was one of a number of hyperlocal publications which initially chose to join Impress.

Richard Gurner with Caerphilly Observer

Richard Gurner, pictured, editor and publisher of the Observer, said: “Being a member of an established press regulator ensures our journalism is kept to a high standard. It is very important to us that our readers have an independent body to go to if they are unhappy with what we do.”

“Being an independent publication, we were particularly impressed with IPSO’s offer to help us set up a robust complaints procedure in addition to its continuous advice helping journalists to report on a range of issues.”

Iliffe purchased 13 regional newspapers from Johnston Press in 2017, and has also founded new titles the Cambridge Independent and Bishop’s Stortford Independent in the last 18 months.

Managing director Richard Parkinson said: “Although Iliffe Media Ltd was formed in 2015, our newspapers and our publishing heritage date back hundreds of years.

“Trust is at the heart of our business and maintaining high standards of journalism is key to preserving this trust. Joining IPSO underlines the importance of this, along with the importance of freedom of expression and accountability for it.”

The new members also agree to abide by IPSO’s rulings on complaints, and to submit annual statements reporting their approach to ensuring editorial standards.

On joining IPSO, Independent publisher and managing editor Neil Speight said it was “important that newspapers can be held to account”, while Wire editor Patrick Gamble said it would allow his title to “demonstrate that we take our responsibilities as a publisher seriously”.

IPSO chairman Sir Alan Moses said: “The public deserve the assurance of robust regulation so I’m delighted that Iliffe Media, West Bridgford Wire, Thurrock Independent and Caerphilly Observer have all joined IPSO.

“It’s wonderful to have local independent publishers on board and demonstrates that IPSO membership is a mark of quality, responsible journalism.”