CIoJ Press releases

Institute supports Press Gazette petition on sources

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE DATE: 15 September 2014

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The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) has pledged its support for the Press Gazette’s petition on protection of journalists’ sources.

“It is vital that all journalists get behind this campaign,” said Paul Leighton, CIoJ President, “because the protection of sources goes right to the heart of our work. If we cannot protect those who come forward with information we will rapidly see a decline in willing informants.

“It is shocking that police are allowed to smash the protection of journalists’ source rights in this way. It is clearly a gaping hole in the law. PACE regulations are the most appropriate means by which to access journalistic material, where a production order would have to go before a judge.

“The police need to immediately justify their actions in regard to Mr Newton Dunn’s information, and then give full details of how many times they have used RIPA to circumvent the rules regarding protected journalists’ material. If they can’t, or won’t, there is clearly something to hide.”

Sign the petition here – http://www.change.org/p/interception-of-communications-commissioner-sir-anthony-may-please-take-action-to-ensure-the-regulation-of-investigatory-powers-act-is-not-used-by-public-authorities-to-secretly-obtain-journalists-phone-records-and-identify-confidential-sources?recruiter=151617490&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

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Notes for Editors:

  • More than 500,000 RIPA authorisations will be given this year. So far the police have refused to confirm how many of their requests have involved journalists.
  • The petition comes in the wake of criticism after police used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to secure details of calls to and from journalists during the Plebgate affair. No prosecutions were brought. Four police officers lost their jobs.
  • Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

 

Scottish courts to deny journalists access to information

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RELEASE DATE: 3 September 2014

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) has criticised a decision by courts in Scotland to withhold details from journalists before cases start.

The Institute claims the ruling goes against long-standing principles of open justice.

The Scottish Lord Justice General, Brian Gill, announced the decision in a circular to journalists last month.

In the past, journalists in Scotland have been able to see complaints and indictments for note-taking purposes before cases begin in court.

But Lord Gill reviewed the arrangements because of ‘significant concerns’ about revealing sensitive and personal data under the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998.

He said: ‘The current practice gives journalists an opportunity to attend and report on noteworthy cases. But it is now clear that the information being disclosed is excessive for this purpose.’

The decision means journalists will be unable to report the charges faced by an accused person, often at indictment level, before they reach court. Cases may be missed entirely if they call in court with no prior notice.

CIoJ Scottish representative, Campbell Thomas, said: “It’s absurd that journalists are being prevented from seeing information that is going to be made freely available in court anyway.

“It has already been established under the DPA that in current cases, the clerk will normally release information to the media if it’s been given in open court, unless there are any unfair implications for an individual.

“Up to now, the unfairness test has only been used when deciding whether to release information on cases after they had finished some time ago.’

Thomas added: ‘Lord Gill’s ruling goes against the century-old common law rule of open justice, where justice must be seen to be done. It will hinder journalists’ ability to cover court cases thoroughly and accurately on behalf of the public.

“We also do not believe it is acceptable for Lord Gill to mention the risks of the media breaching the Contempt of Court Act. This will create a chilling effect.

“It is up to editors to decide which pre-trial details to publish, and accept the consequences if they get it wrong. It is wrong of Lord Gill to introduce the hint of prior restraint.

“The decision sets a dangerous precedent in a democratic society.”

The CIoJ also believes that the decision goes against the spirit of transparency and accessibility for reporting set out in the 2012 Court of Appeal ruling involving the Guardian and Westminster Magistrates Court.

The court decided that journalists covering court hearings should be able to see case material to aid that coverage.

But the ruling does not apply to Scotland.

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Notes for Editors:

Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

Support for Press claims over Harris

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DATE: 20 June 2014

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The Chartered Institute of Journalists has backed the two national newspapers who blame post Leveson paranoia for the police initially refusing to confirm Rolf Harris was being investigated.

Dominic Cooper for CIoJ said: “These actions are exactly what we warned and feared would transpire in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry. The biggest losers in this instance could be the additional victims of a sexual predator.

“Hacked Off and their acolytes have championed celebrity protection from the media and it would appear that on this occasion they largely achieved it courtesy of the police.

“Is this really what the public want or deserve? Do they want journalists fearful of putting allegations in the public domain? Are they now happy that during this trial a further 12 alleged victims came forward which means more cost to the public purse.”

Harris was placed on police bail in November 2012 after being interviewed under caution as part of Operation Yewtree, looking at all sexual abuse reports involving celebrities in the wake of the Jimmy Savile allegations, but the police protected his name. Again, when Harris was formally arrested on 28 March 2013, police did not identify him – leaving journalists unable to stand up the story.

Although Harris’ name did appear on social media the press did not dare report it until The Sun broke the pattern on 19 April 2013.

Mr Cooper added: “We do not want the excellent job newspapers do, scrutinising the actions of the rich and powerful, blocked by legal and political power walls.”

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Notes for Editors:

  • The Sun says: “To their shame the Metropolitan police, revelling in the new culture of secrecy launched by Lord Justice Leveson’s abject inquiry, refused to identify him… even after his name was put to them for confirmation… . It may be too much to hope that the celebrities backing Hacked Off’s tribal war on the tabloids would ever pause to think what they’re doing. But let them not pretend, as they do, that Leveson’s recommendations have anything but grave consequences for our press and our democracy.”
  • In a second editorial in the Daily Mail entitled Secrecy betrays Justice they also raise the celebrity legal terriers which fired off aggressive threatening legal letters to newspapers – citing the Leveson inquiry – which argued there was no public interest in reporting he was under investigation for historic sex attacks.

The Mail argues that “disturbingly, post-Leveson, there are many examples of police holding, arresting and even charging suspects in secret”, adding: “This chilling practice is not only an affront to open justice and the hallmark of totalitarian regimes. It also hands a gift to predators like Harris who depend upon their frightened victims believing they are on their own.”

  • Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

 

Press ban amounts to a gagging order

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RELEASE DATE: 20 June 2014

Attempts to ban parish councillors from speaking directly to the press are an outrageous attack on democracy, a journalists’ organisation has warned.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is telling its members to adopt a new media policy which would prevent councillors from speaking to reporters without the written consent of the whole authority. The guidance also urges councils to adopt rules banning journalists from contacting councillors directly, with all contact made through the council clerk.

Amanda Brodie, chairman of the Professional Practices Board of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, said: “This is an outrageous attack on freedom of speech and democracy. The requirement to get written consent from the entire council before even giving a simple quote to a reporter, will make it impossible for journalists to do their jobs properly.

“Any organisation which spends public money must be transparent in its dealings, and co-operation with the press is a vital part of that process. These guidelines amount to a gagging order on councillors and simply must not be tolerated.

“Parish councils are the bedrock of local reporting and councillors must be free to approach journalists with concerns they may have, without fear of being disciplined for doing so.

“What we have been seeing in so many other sectors of public life recently is the whittling away at access to information, which leads to sanitised and often distorted reporting of the facts.

“This is death by a thousand cuts for our democracy and must be challenged – we are delighted that Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced his support for press freedom by opposing this move.”

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Notes for Editors:

 

Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

 

 

 

Public reminded of the good power of the Press

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RELEASE DATE: 12 June 2014

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Details of how media organisations have protected centuries of legal tradition of open justice are a stark reminder of the positive power of the Press.

By scuppering an attempt by legal officials to hold the first ever completely secret criminal trial, the Press has made sure that the public will know who is on trial, opening arguments and the result of the case.

Appeal Court Judges, Lord Justice Gross, Mr Justice Simon and Mr Justice Burnett today agreed that although the “core” of the terrorism trial could be partly heard in secret, parts must be in public.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had claimed they may have to abandon the prosecution if judges did not ban the press and the public from every part of the proceedings. But media group lawyers raised concerns with the Court of Appeal and today judges agreed saying that they had “grave concerns” about the cumulative effect of anonymising defendants and holding the hearings in secret.

Dominic Cooper for the CIoJ said: “With all the flak that is being thrown at the journalistic profession, people should be reassured, and perhaps acknowledge, that the efforts of the Press are the only reason we know about this case in the first place.

“If anyone needed it, this case is a sharp reminder of the power of the Press being used for the good of the people; and the Press carrying out their duty as the eyes and ears for the public.

“The debate about this case can now be had and that is reassuring.”

Ends

 

Notes for Editors:

  • The two defendants were arrested in October 2013 in circumstances that were widely reported at the time. Mr Incedal is charged with preparing for acts of terrorism contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006 and a further allegation of collecting information useful to terrorism. Mr Rarmoul-Bouhadjar is charged with collecting information useful to terrorism and possession of false identity documents.
  • Lord Justice Gross said: “Open justice is both a fundamental principle of the common law and a means of ensuring public confidence in our legal system. Exceptions are rare and must be justified on the facts. Any such exceptions must be necessary and proportionate. No more than the minimum departure from open justice will be countenanced.”

“For the [secret intelligence] agencies to operate effectively, at least much of their work is secret and must remain so as a matter of necessity. From time to time, tensions between the principle of open justice and the needs of national security will be inevitable.

“We add only this. We express grave concern as to the cumulative effects of holding a criminal trial in camera and anonymising the defendants. We find it difficult to conceive of a situation where both departures from open justice will be justified. Suffice to say, we are not persuaded of any such justification in the present case.”

  • Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

European Parliament student journalist video competition winners

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RELEASE DATE: 11 April 2014

Journalism student Video Winners celebrate

Competition winner Dan Brown, James Euinton, Helen Barker, Nadine Forshaw, Ellen Millard and Ben Hatton.

l-r: Dan Brown, James Euinton, Helen Barker, Nadine Forshaw, Ellen Millard and Ben Hatton.

Journalism Students Ben Hatton and Ellen Millard have won first prize in the European Student Video Competition with their short documentary Land of Opportunity.

The two Winchester University students will be joined by the other finalists for the European Parliament competition to mark the impact of 40 years of Great Britain in Europe at a party in Europe House in London on 25 May.

Land of Opportunity explored what it is like for immigrants coming to the UK ahead of the highly anticipated lifting of restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanians.

The judging panel of professional journalists and producers commented that Ben and Ellen had made a “good selection of immigrant workers with well told back stories.” They had also “provide a nice combination of press headlines with the vox pops” and “had bought the personal stories to life.”

Second prize was awarded to Nadine Forshaw whose work, Eastleigh, explored how politicians and the media can impact on the views of local mainly white residents. Judges were impressed with her well told story and her analysis of “prejudice around EU in an English town with limited multi cultural plurality”.

Students Helen Barker, Dan Brown and James Euinton won third prize with Coming to Boston. Judges said this had an interesting regional focus and pointed out that EU agricultural immigrants in Lincolnshire contribute to taxes and the video was “well set up visually, with an engaging down to earth voiceover”.

All the winners have been invited to Election Night at Europe House in Westminster, 25 May 2014 where the videos will be shown. Ellen and Ben will also attend an all expenses behind the scenes visit to Brussels later in the year.

 

Notes

  1. Students from across Britain had the opportunity to submit a three to five minute video capturing some aspect of the 40 years since the UK joined the European Union.
  1. The Judges were Press Association’s head of video content, Jim Grice; Professor Tim Crook, Professor of Broadcast Journalism at City of Birmingham University and a senior lecturer in media law at Goldsmiths; Anna Averkiou, media trainer and former producer and reporter with the BBC, TV-am, CNN and MBC; and, Michael Green, a BAFTA award nominee. They were looking for quality of content, technical ability and overall presentation, and, are perfectly placed to know if the modern students can cut the mustard in a real newsroom.

 

The dark side of political power and Press regulation

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RELEASE DATE: 9 April 2014

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The Chartered Institute of Journalists has called for an independent inquiry into allegations that advisors to the Culture Secretary tried to browbeat a Telegraph journalist investigating her expenses.

Marie Miller’s resignation this morning should not make the issue go away. It highlights the “utter hypocrisy” of politicians rejecting self-regulation of the press, while sitting in judgement on the expense claims of fellow MPs.

Institute President Paul Leighton said: “Throughout the arguments about Leveson’s proposals for a press regulated by statute, journalists were told that their fight to retain self-regulation of the media was akin to “wanting to mark their own homework” and the press should instead be regulated by law.

“Now we find Members of Parliament defending their own – in this case Culture Secretary Maria Miller – over their expense claims and watering down the findings of the independent body set up to oversee MPs expenses. Does she think that by resigning that she can wash her hands of the story?”

Earlier this year Kathryn Hudson, Parliament’s standards commissioner, said Culture Secretary Maria Miller should hand back £45,000 in over-claimed allowances for a house in south-west London. However MPs on the Commons standards committee overruled the commissioner and said Mrs Miller would have to repay just £5,800 and apologise for her “attitude” during the inquiry.

Leighton added: “It is a truly bad day for democracy when Special Advisers at Westminster apparently seek to suppress legitimate journalistic investigation by making not very subtle references to a Minister’s role in piloting controversial legislation about press regulation through the Commons.

“It is hard to believe that a Minister who had already endeavoured to undermine inquiries into her expense claims was not aware of what was being done on her behalf by her staff.

“This is a striking illustration of why neither politicians or Government should play any part in regulating the activities of the vast majority of responsible journalists. The Daily Telegraph asked fair and reasonable questions about the behaviour of a leading member of the Government and was met with obfuscation and what can only be interpreted as ‘veiled threats’.

“Only an independent inquiry will help allay public concern about this matter and ensure that this sort of behaviour does not become the norm.”

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Notes for Editors:

Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

 

 

Council rapped for defying publicity code

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RELEASE DATE: 8 April 2014

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A North London local authority has been rapped on the knuckles by a Government department for continuing to publish its in-house newspaper fortnightly, following a complaint by the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

Brandon Lewis MP told Waltham Forest Council to stop publishing the Waltham Forest News twice a month, which it has been doing for years, in contravention of Government guidelines aimed at protecting local papers from unfair tax-payer funded competition.

Because many authorities ignored the guidelines, the Code has now been made law under the Local Audit and Accountability Bill which came into force on March 30 this year.

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has waged a six-year campaign against this and other councils’ policy of non-compliance with the code.

Waltham Forest resident and CIOJ member Janice Shillum Bhend has been spearheading the Institute’s campaign. She was recently told by the editor of the council’s Waltham Forest News that they would continue to publish fortnightly until they got a letter from the Government telling them to stick to quarterly publication as set out in the new law.

This prompted Ms Shillum Bhend to report the matter to the Department for Communities and Local Government, which resulted in the letter being issued.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted that our campaign is about to force Waltham Forest council to toe the line at last and stop wasting residents’ money on publishing WFN fortnightly against Government guidelines.”

In a letter to Waltham Forest’s Councillor Christopher Robbins, Mr Lewis said: “It has been suggested that your council might not be complying with the Publicity Code. I can see no reason for any council not to comply – non-compliance would, I believe, invariably involve an unacceptable waste of taxpayers’ money and council resources. I would suggest therefore that you take steps to ensure that your council is in compete compliance with the provisions of the Code. ”

ENDS

 

Note to editors:

A copy of Brandon Lewis’ letter is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/300008/140401_Waltham_Forest.pdf

 

 

Website access policy is ‘an attack on democracy’

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RELEASE DATE:  19 March 2014

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Allowing the police to publish directly onto a newspaper’s website is an attack both on democracy and the media profession as a whole, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

Speaking after local police in Torquay were allowed to post directly onto the Herald Express website, Amanda Brodie, chairman of the CIOJ’s Professional Practices Board, described the practice as ‘wholly unacceptable.’

“It is not the job of newspapers to be a mouthpiece for the police or any other body – their job is to hold them to account, not cosy up to them in this way,” she said.

“Who is scrutinising and making the judgements over this content? It’s not an impartial, professional journalist acting as the eyes and ears of the public – it’s the chief of police. The first thing totalitarian states do to consolidate absolute power is seize control of the newspapers and TV stations. That is what’s happening here – by stealth, and under a parliamentary democracy.

She added: “This policy will undermine the trust people have in the impartiality of their local papers. No local authority or commercial organisation should be allowed such access to the pages of our newspapers – it opens the door to bias and manipulation of news content.

“Publisher David Montgomery has attempted to defend his decision by saying that he has to ‘provide a gateway for community institutions.’ But this is not the local WI report – it is a powerful state-funded organisation which at national level has breached public trust in many areas and has been subject to little redress.

“This headlong-rush to cut costs by championing user-generated copy is costing journalists their jobs and has long-term consequences for the future of both the media industry and democracy as a whole.”

ENDS

 

 

Note to editors:

Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

 

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has a new President

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RELEASE DATE:  3 March 2014

Paul Leighton is the new President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

PLeighton

Paul trained as a reporter at the Birmingham Post, after graduating in Politics with Economics from the University of Nottingham.

But radio captured his heart after joining BBC Radio Derby as reporter in 1972 , and he ran BBC studios in Matlock and Chesterfield – covering Derbyshire County Council and its then maverick leader David Bookbinder.

Paul’s continued interest in news and politics saw him work as a stringer for Telegraph and the Guardian and as a political Columnist for the Derby Trader Group before joining BBC Radio 4 in 1979.

He went on to lecture and develop staff at the BBC Journalist Training Unit at Broadcasting House, London and after twenty years with the Corporation he left to join Chiltern Radio Group becoming News editor for commercial stations in Dunstable, Bedford, Milton Keynes and St Albans.

He rejoined BBC Radio2 in 1995 and worked there as newsreader until 2000 when took up appointment as Head of News for Mix96 Radio in Aylesbury and Swan FM in High Wycombe.

More recently he has been a lecturer and freelance journalist and broadcaster in the West Country and he lives in Bristol.

He has for many years been Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division and was previously President from 1990-91.

Welcoming his new post Paul said: “I will continue the fight by the CIoJ in defending journalists and journalism against politicians’ attempts to stifle press freedom and undermine serious investigative reporting.

“The Institute needs to re-double its efforts to raise its public profile and ensure that we are always consulted over legislation or regulations that threaten the profession.”

He is also committed to encourage a revival of people’s interest in professional bodies after watching the development of criminal proceedings against journalists.

The CIoJ has always held its members to the highest ethics and many journalists had no idea what was being carried out by some publishers at national level. This point was made by Lord Justice Leveson and seems to have been ignored by every politician who has been held up to scrutiny.

“For that reason and for people to have confidence in journalists I will be fighting for us to renew contacts with our grassroots membership, and ensure that we are not perceived to be – an entirely London-centric organisation.

And he added: “It goes without saying that we must continue to expand our membership, since, although we have always “punched above our weight”, with all the threats to public funding affecting the BBC and the ongoing fight with regulation, there is greater strength in numbers.”

Paul takes over from former President Charlie Harris who died of cancer earlier this year.

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Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth. Website: www.cioj.co.uk