CIoJ Press releases

Weekend of violence proves need for greater safety awareness training for journalists

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News release

25 OCTOBER 2005

 

Attacks on journalists by rioters in Birmingham at the weekend have given the media industry a stark warning that it must take the safety of its journalists seriously and implement training and issue safety equipment as basic requirements, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

Journalists have always found themselves targets when covering incidents of public disorder but these situations have become more dangerous in recent times as more and more thugs are beginning to carry knives and bottles.

Recently, efforts have been made to train journalists who are sent to cover conflict zones and their employers are beginning to implement the issuing of safety equipment as standard. However, it is clear from the amount of recent attacks on journalists covering public disorder news stories on the domestic scene, that newspaper proprietors and local broadcast media can no longer ignore the safety of their staff.

At the weekend a number of news crews and journalists were deliberately targeted with one photographer being seriously assaulted by a mob. Only the quick thinking actions of someone nearby stopped his injuries from being more serious.

A recent report by the Association of Chief Police Officers claims that knife attacks in counties that are normally considered as benign rural areas have increased in the last couple of years – such as Lincolnshire (24 per cent) and Devon (41 per cent). The Institute contends that this is worrying proof that violent action is no longer an inner city, or sink estate, problem and journalists throughout the country could find themselves covering public unrest stories without adequate >safety first= training or protective clothing.

At its recent AGM, held on * October, members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists urged employers to make safety their top priority when sending journalists to cover public order incidents, and reminded them that to send their staff into dangerous situations without adequate training or protection may be considered to be in contravention of health and safety regulations.

Now is the time to act. Journalists at all levels need to have safety training and safety equipment should be available to all who cover incidents such as those we witnessed at the weekend.

 

Ends

 

Press contact: Dominic Cooper, tel. 0207 252 1187, email dc@cioj.co.uk

Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ), 2 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, London SE16 2XU. Website www.cioj.co.uk

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.

 

Ministries told to communicate

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NEWS RELEASE

11th October 2005

Regular information essential

Government departments were criticized for putting a stop to regular press briefings at the Annual General Meeting of the Chartered Institute of Journalists in London on Saturday 8 October.

“Lobby correspondents were OK,” said accredited Westminster journalist Martin Posner. “They had their special private briefings.

“But specialist correspondents are no longer kept abreast of developments. The DTI have stopped special briefings, so it is much harder to follow specialist subjects.”

Institute members therefore approved an emergency resolution to request all ministries to ensure that their websites were “sufficiently comprehensive and updated at all times”, to include latest developments and statistics.

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CENSURE FOR BUSH ADMINISTRATION AT CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISTS’ ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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NEWS RELEASE

11th October 2005

The US Government’s behaviour towards the media is “unacceptable”, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists – the world’s oldest professional association for journalists.

At their annual general meeting in London on the weekend of 8th/9th October, members of the Institute slated the Bush Administration for “stifling opposition to their neocon policies.”

The attitude of President Bush towards the journalistic profession is “highly reminiscent of that of his predecessor, Richard Nixon, who was obsessed with the idea that the press were out to get him.”

In a wide-ranging debate on press freedom, delegate after delegate criticised the growing intolerance of the media shown by the Administration, which regularly “leans on editors to suppress news about the effects of its policies”, especially the war in Iraq. What right does the Administration have to tell the media not to show pictures of the American dead? “The ‘no body bags’ policy is censorship, pure and simple.”

There was also criticism of the US Army for its “irresponsible” attitude to journalists in war zones. “Eighteen media people have been killed in Iraq by US forces since the invasion of that country in 2003”, said John Szemerey, the Institute’s Brussels representative and a former information officer for the European Commission. “Most of those deaths were totally unnecessary and could easily have been avoided.”

But the American attitude to journalists, “especially if they have dark faces”, is “careless, if not callous”, said Szemerey.

The Bush Administration was not the only government to come in for heavy flak at the institute’s AGM. The Blair Government was also slated for offering money to the NUJ [National Union of Journalists] to promote the Government’s policy towards Africa This was seen as a case of “politicians paying journalists for propaganda” and contrary to the Chartered Institute of Journalists’ code of ethics. The NUJ was criticised even more heavily for having accepted the money.

A resolution was passed by the AGM calling on the US Administration, and other governments, to “respect different opinions, protect and encourage a free press at home, and behave responsibly towards journalists and media personnel in zones of conflict, especially where its troops are involved.”

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Consternation over media’s use of “amateur snappers”

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NEWS RELEASE

11th October 2005

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has warned of the potential for “confusion and mayhem” should television companies continue to encourage members of the public to attend and photograph news incidents.

Since the July bombs in London it has become common practice for the BBC and other media organisations to use amateur photographs and video footage, and several news organisations have openly advertised to encourage non-professionals to cover such incidents.

Most recently, there have been reports that extra police had to be dispatched to Liverpool Street station to deal with more than 30 members of the public who had congregated to take photographs of a police incident, mostly with their mobile phones.

“It won’t be long before the police begin to widen their cordons around incidents in an efforts to keep at bay phone-wielding mobs,” said Robin Morgan, chairman of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board. “This will make it even more hard for professional photographers to do their job.”

The Institute’s annual general meeting, held in London at the weekend, agreed a resolution condemning the terms of use issued by television companies which insist that the contributors indemnify the organisation against any legal action resulting from the use of their material, as well as expecting them to provide it for no payment. The meeting also condemned the practice of soliciting contributions from non-professionals, which “cheapens the profession” as a whole.

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Journalists’ institute urges safety to be top priority

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NEWS RELEASE

11th October 2005

Members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists at their annual general meeting in London at the weekend, urged employers to make safety their top priority when sending journalists to cover public order incidents.

Institute members relayed first-hand experience of incidents where photographers had been deliberately targeted by members of the public.

“It is no longer acceptable for employers to be ignorant about the sharp end of the job,” said photo-journalist and Chairman of the Institute’s Photographic Division, Paul Stewart. “In today’s environment we are finding attacks on journalists becoming more prevalent, and organisations should take more responsibility for their staff when sending them into potentially explosive situations.”

The AGM voted to remind news organisations that to send their staff into dangerous situations without adequate training or protection may be considered to be in contravention of health and safety regulations.

“For the sake of a few hundred pounds a kevlar stab-proof vest could be provided, which could save lives and a lot more expense should a journalist become injured,” said Barry Beattie, Chairman of the Institute’s Freelance Division. “Violent incidents can flare without any warning on seemingly quiet jobs, and protective vests should be considered part of every journalist’s basic working equipment these days.”

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Institute praises media handling of London’s 9/11

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NEWS RELEASE

Friday 10th July 2005 : Release time immediate

 

Press coverage “sensitive and balanced”

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has expressed its heartfelt condolences to those families caught up in yesterday’s terrorist atrocities in London, and praised the media for its “sensitive and balanced” coverage of the day’s events.

The Institute’s general secretary Dominic Cooper said: “Once again, London has proved its ability to cope in tragic circumstances and praise should be given to the emergency services for their reaction to the situation and the level of service they were able to deliver in such conditions.

“The use of combined technology, together with the depth and speed of coverage delivered by journalists has once again demonstrated that British journalism is the best in the world. Reporters were quick to the scene and up-to-the-minute with all the latest developments in a situation where movement in the capital was extremely hampered.

“At a time when the general public has little understanding or sympathy for journalists, the profession as a whole should be congratulated for demonstrating, in a unequivocal manner, the quality of service it delivers, which very often goes unappreciated.”

 

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Press contact: Dominic Cooper, tel. 0207 252 1187, email dc@cioj.co.uk

Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ), 2 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, London SE16 2XU. Website www.cioj.co.uk

 

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.

 

 

 

NEW PRESIDENT RALLIES INSTITUTE TO RESIST “OPPORTUNISTIC” EMPLOYERS

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NEWS RELEASE

3rd March 2005

Sangita Shah inaugurated as third female President, and first Asian, in 120-year history of Chartered Institute of Journalists

BBC veteran Wheeler praises Shah as “new face of British journalism”

Sangita Shah, the new President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, pledged that the Institute would fight harder than ever before to protect its members’ rights in an “increasingly ruthless” media industry.

Speaking at her Presidential inauguration last Friday (25 Feb) at the Guildhall, London, Shah said that the Institute must continue to perform “its joint role as a professional association, upholding and enhancing standards and ethics, and as a certificated trade union, fully independent and beholden to no political or other master.”

The Institute must redouble its efforts, she said, “to protect our skilled professional journalists from the mercy of employers who opportunistically capitalise on an ever-growing capacity of freelance journalists prepared to work at sub-market rates.”

In some cases this opportunism can even lead to physical danger for journalists, Shah said, with media organisations sending inexperienced freelances into war zones without adequate protection or training.

The Institute was well placed, Shah added, to play a pivotal role in changing public perceptions of the journalistic profession. “All too often we are perceived as lowly creatures dressed in dirty raincoats rummaging through dustbins in search of dirt and gossip. We’re just up from the estate agents… if we are lucky!”

“We as an Institute, who pride ourselves in upholding the highest standards of journalism, have an obligation to influence and inform the debate.”

Acknowledging the reforms that have taken place in the Chartered Institute of Journalists in recent years, including the introduction of direct elections to the governing Council in place of regional representation, and changes to the organisation’s management and internal structures, she emphasised the need to marry modernisation with “ensuring that we preserve the Institute’s history and values.”

She also paid tribute to past Presidents, “colourful personalities who have enhanced and enriched the Institute.”

Guest of honour at the Presidential Handover, veteran BBC journalist Charles Wheeler said how pleased he was to see Sangita Shah taking up the reins in the Institute. In his 60 years in journalism, he said, “women have gradually displaced men and have shown themselves willing to do all the things men used to do.”

The BBC had always had more female journalists than other media organisations, he said, but it was only in recent years that women had been able to “break through the glass ceiling” and take on the top jobs in the Corporation.

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NEW INTERNATIONAL PRESS CARD

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NEWS RELEASE

2nd October 2004

Chartered Institute of Journalists launches tamper-proof international press card

The danger of terrorists and violent criminals obtaining or counterfeiting easily copied press cards has stimulated the Chartered Institute of Journalists to issue a new specially-designed international press card to its members.

This gives better and improved protection not only to journalists but also to those checking the credentials of reporters in emergencies. The card substantially reduces the possibility of improper persons being admitted to meetings or sites or buildings by showing forged press cards and pretending that they are from the media.

The new card incorporates important security features such as holographic foil blocking, signature strip and laminated card holder photo and details. These measures not only make the card more secure, but also make it more difficult to forge. Anyone scrutinising the card for authenticity will immediately be able to notice signs of tampering.

“With security now always a vital concern for journalists and newsgatherers, we are pleased to announce the launch of the Institute’s new International Card, which we believe is among the most secure available to pressmen anywhere,” said Institute President Stuart Notholt.

At the recent annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, which was held in Berlin, Aidan White, the General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), acknowledged that his own organisation’s press card – for many years perceived as the “official” international card – could not be seen as the only ID card for journalists.

Details of the card have been forwarded to embassies and major international organisations who request press credentials before allowing reporters or media people access to events or press briefings.

In a further unique feature, the new Institute card comes with multi-language inserts that can be changed to cater for different destinations.

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Journalists’ institute condemns actions of Australian police in masquerading as journalists

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NEWS RELEASE

26th July 2004

The CIoJ has written to the Australian High Commission, condemning the actions of Australian police who have masqueraded as journalists to aid undercover investigations into alleged criminal activity.

In the Institute’s view, this conduct puts journalists’ lives at risk on a daily basis. As reports of this incident spread, those journalists who find themselves investigating and filing stores from conflict zones throughout the world will be working in circumstances of heightened paranoia about the independence and objectivity of the media. In an already dangerous environment this could prove fatal.

It will also make it more difficult for Australian journalists to maintain credibility because this incident will cast a shadow over the legitimacy of their profession.

A truly independent and free press is the cornerstone of any thriving democracy. Any act that inhibits the free flow of information and hinders journalists in their work, should be condemned. This incident is one such act and the Australian police authorities should be reprimanded for their part in it.

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Journalists’ institute welcomes arrival of new Telegraph owners

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NEWS RELEASE

24th June 2004

The CIoJ welcomes the news that the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph have been purchased by the Barclay brothers.

In our view, this gives the Telegraph titles and their staffs strong hope of a secure future and drastically reduces the prospect of the newspapers being sold on again in a few years’ time, purely for profit.

Unlike some other potential buyers, the Barclays, owners of the Scotsman and the Spectator, have a solid background of media ownership and a good reputation in the industry.

The CIoJ has long held the policy view that too many newspaper titles in the hands of too few proprietors, is not in the public interest. The arrival of Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay on the Daily newspaper ownership scene is, therefore, highly desirable.

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