RELEASE DATE: 3 March 2014
Paul Leighton is the new President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.
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.
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