CIoJ Press releases

Arrest of journalists deplorable

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Release date: 3 July 2009

Statement

The CIoJ deplores the arrest by the Iranian Authorities of more than 30 journalists and the expulsion of some foreign reporters.   The Chartered Institute urges the immediate release of all  journalists arrested during the current political turmoil and the cancellation of the expulsion orders.

Dominic Cooper, General secretary, said: “Democracy cannot be served by gagging the messengers and if the Iranian authorities wish to project their state as a democracy on the world stage, freeing the press (and the press men and women) would be a better way of going about that quest.”

JOURNALISTS SHOULD NOT CENSOR NEWS

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE TIME: IMMEDIATE, 17 JUNE 2009

THE Chartered Institute of Journalists believes that the election of BNP members to mainstream politics should be dealt with in the same even handed manner as all other political parties.

While the NUJ is holding a debate about the right way to handle the rise of parties like the BNP, the CIoJ believes that accurate reporting will undermine the strong support of such parties.

CIoJ President Liz Justice said: “It is not an option ignoring views of elected members because they don’t chime with your own political views.

“It is a reporter’s job to report – and a sub’s job to edit – without injecting personal feelings and prejudices into the story. The opinion writers’ job allows them to reflect their beliefs. It is not the job of a journalists’ trade union to dictate otherwise. That is why the Chartered Institute of Journalists is strictly non-political and urges its members to report the facts and let the readers (rightfully) make up their own minds.

The advent of the BNP should be treated no differently to any other political party by journalists dedicated to the concept attributed to Voltaire: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’
“The electing public can make good decisions based on accurate reporting. I am clear that CIoJ journalists should not treat any political party with polite disdain or use their own political stance to undermine fair reporting.

“These parties now have democratically elected members and they will also be newspaper readers. The best way forward for journalists is to treat them as any other contributor and interact in a challenging way. Journalists are in the perfect position to let the public know what they are voting for when the next elections come along.”

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CIoJ urges Kim Jong-un to intervene

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE TIME: IMMEDIATE, Friday 12 June 2009

THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISTS (CIoJ) is writing to Kim Jong-un to ask him to intervene in the sentencing of two US journalists, Laura Long and Euna Lee, to 12 years hard labour in North Korea on Monday June 8.

Earlier this month Kim Jong-un, 26, was appointed to succeed his father Kim Jong-il as the head of the Korean Workers’ Party and head of state of North Korea and the CIoJ believe that he is in a position to review the length of the sentences.

CIoJ President Liz Justice said: “We are writing to ask Jong-un to show leniency and release the two women from a physically stringent sentence for what appears to be illegally crossing the border from China to a country which bans foreign journalists.

“We are not saying they did or did not break the North Korean law, but 12 years for trying and failing to cross the border is extremely harsh.”

The two reporters worked for a San Francisco TV production company which is owned by former US Vice President Al Gore. Many regard the sentence as indicative of an increase in hostility between the US and North Korean Governments.

“As the oldest professional journalist body in the world, we are making this very personal and professional approach because we understand that he was educated in Switzerland and will recognise that these journalists were on a path of discovery which posed no real threat to North Korea.

“We know that Jong-un is well respected and in our letter have pointed out that any positive action by him leading to the release of these journalists will be recognised as a mark of his enlightened approach in a country that many outsiders regard as austere and closed.”

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CIoJ warns that Human Rights Law should take precedence in protecting journalistic sources

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A LOCAL NORTHERN IRELAND court would be guilty of a “serious error” if it ordered journalist Suzanne Breen to disclose her sources, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) the oldest and most senior professional organisation of journalists in the world.

The court, presided by Belfast recorder Tom Burgess, is considering whether to order the Sunday Tribune’s northern editor, Suzanne Breen, to hand over information about the Real IRA murders of two British soldiers – Mark Quinsey, 32, from Birmingham, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London – in Northern Ireland in March. She had received a telephone call from the Real IRA, claiming responsibility for the murders, which she then reported in the Sunday Tribune.

“Confidentiality of sources is enshrined in European human rights law and which the UK accepted in the Human Rights Act 2006,” say the CIoJ and added: “There have already been several cases in which the European Court of Human Rights has overruled national decisions and ordered national courts to respect the confidentiality of journalists.”

The judge had given Breen’s legal team a week to find reasons why he should not require her to hand over her confidential information to the police. The case is scheduled to come back to the court on Friday this week, when the Recorder will give his final ruling.

It is clear, says the CIoJ that her legal team must spell out the meaning of Article 10 of the human rights convention. It should also give examples of legal precedent, where the European Court of Human Rights has interpreted the convention as meaning that national courts must respect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources and of information given in confidence to a journalist.

If the NI court still insists on the disclosure of confidential information and of sources, Ms. Breen must appeal, advises the CIoJ. Should the Appeal Court fail to overturn the lower court’s ruling that would be to the House of Lords.

She should also be prepared to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which – according to legal precedent – will very likely decide that she should not disclose her sources nor show her papers to the police.

The CIoJ’s view is supported by Ian Forrester QC, who was lead Counsel in an important case about the confidentiality of journalist sources last autumn. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found against the European Commission and the Belgian state in the case of Hans-Martin Tillack, a correspondent for the German news magazine Stern, in which he wrote a series of articles about fraud and mismanagement at the European institutions. The court ruled that Tillack could not be requested to disclose his sources.

British barrister Forrester, who now specializes in dealing with European human rights cases at the ECHR in Strasbourg, comments that he finds it “difficult” to reconcile the Northern Ireland court’s decision with the ECHR’s judgments “about Tillack and the earlier Belgian cases”

In any case, comments the CIoJ, while appeals are being considered or are under way Suzanne Breen should not disclose her sources to the police or to any court.

“Confidentiality of sources is sacrosanct for journalists,” says Liz Justice, President of the CIoJ. “People need to be sure that they can blow the whistle about wrongdoings and tell the truth to a journalist without fearing that their identity will be revealed. In this day and age it allows the public to get to the truth.

“This safeguard may be paramount for the life and safety of the journalist and their family. He or she may well be attacked and even murdered if people who spoke to him/her fear that their identity will be revealed.”

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Note to Editors

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

Liz Justice can be contacted on 07780 661926 and further information about the CIoJ is available at www.cioj.co.uk

FIGHT FOR THOSE WHO CAPTURE NEWS EVENTS ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY

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ON THE OCCASION of World Press Freedom Day, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) challenges the media industry to unite against police interference when professional press photographers attempt to record news events.

New Anti terrorism rules mean that press photographers now face jail for taking pictures of police or the armed forces. In addition to this, there has been an increasing record of attempts by the police to restrict what is recorded at public order incidents.

Incidents at the recent G20 summit highlight the vital role of photographers and cameramen who act as the public’s eyes and ears at these incidents.

For years our members have been stopped or hindered in their attempts to record incidents by Police either acting as moral arbitrators or, latterly, abusing anti-terrorism laws. Now, after a change in those terrorism laws, Press photographers can face jail for taking a picture that shows a policeman or member of the armed forces.

Although it may be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he or she is a professional news-gathering journalist carrying a National Press Card or other acceptable identification, the CIoJ believes this is not enough.

On World Press Freedom Day we are calling for the Police to recognize the law they uphold and accept that it is the right of photographers to take pictures in any public place. Britain should be leading the world in ensuring true democracy and open speech and not curtail the free press which is fundamental to our human rights.

A photographer carrying Press accreditation should be allowed to do his job in the same way as the police officer.

It is simply not acceptable to clear the matter up afterwards when cameras have been seized or photographers have spent hours in a police cell instead of filing the pictures which capture the news.

1. World Press Freedom Day (May 3) is a day to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

2. May 3 was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom – a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.

TLRC cuts: “specious nonsense”

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE DATE: 6 MARCH 2009

Plans by the Local Radio Company to produce local news for ten stations, from a central “hub” have been condemned by the Chartered Institute of Journalists as “shoddy and damaging cost-cutting”.

TLRC has begun a consultation exercise about the proposals – which would effect its ten southern stations as far afield as Hastings and Dorchester to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, and could see the loss of up to 12 jobs.

Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division Paul Leighton – formerly a Head of News at Aylesbury – described as “specious nonsense”, the Company’s claim that the move would “make the local news sound more closely integrated with the rest of the station’s output”.

He said “The growing use of “news-hubs” by independent radio stations as a form of cost-cutting undermines locally accountable editorial responsibility and can only damage genuinely local news coverage. What’s more it clearly runs counter to the intentions of Parliament when it first agreed to the establishment of independent local radio”.

The Institute – which has members throughout the independent sector and the BBC – is calling on OFCOM to investigate whether stations served by news-hubs are meeting the Format obligations to which they signed up, or are fulfilling their responsibility to provide a decent service of local news.

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Notes 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, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

ITV Staff Victims of Corporate Greed

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NEWS RELEASE

DATE: 4 March 2009

ITV Staff Victims of Corporate Greed

Plans by ITV to axe a further 600 jobs has been condemned as “a shameful betrayal” of staff by the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

The broadcaster has announced 600 staff will lose their jobs, a £65million cut in its Programme Budget and a scaling back of the regional web -TV service.

Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division, Paul Leighton, said “ITV is making its staff pay the price for management ineptitude and corporate greed. It is significant that the largest component of the broadcaster’s £2.7billion loss is due to the merger costs of Granada and Carlton. That expensive exercise was conducted without any thought for the consequences if market conditions turned sour.”

He added: “It is just too easy to blame everything on the drop in advertising revenue. Reducing genuinely local news output in favour of vast merged regional centres can only further undermine advertisers’ confidence as viewers switch off. What Bristolian would want a “local” television news service that now features Cornwall?”

The Institute has urged Members of Parliament to lobby ITV to re-think its proposals.

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Notes 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, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Chartered Institute condemns ‘shallow’ press report that insults journalists

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE DATE:  13 FEBRUARY 2009

The Media Standards Trust is today accused of ‘insulting’ thousands of professional British journalists and demonstrating a ‘shallow understanding’ of the newspaper industry through its controversial report on the situation in popular daily publications.

The Chartered Institute of Journalists, the world’s oldest  professional association of journalists, and its Professional Practices Board, accuse the 12-strong report team of ‘tarring all with the same brush’ while ignoring the true roles of journalists, journalism and the vast majority of newspapers in British society.

The chairman of its Professional Practices Board, Robin Morgan, said: “The report falls into the trap of assuming the popular daily tabloids – that many self-respecting journalists call the comics! – represent the true picture of the British newspaper industry and fails to recognise the reasons for their style and content. This has a bearing on the Press Complaints Commission’s adjudications in this particular area while ignoring the value and respect the PCC and its adjudications carry in the vast majority of published titles.”

The report repeats the ‘foul canard of linking all journalists with estate agents, politicians and Arthur Daley-type second hand car salesmen’ while ignoring the fact that the vast majority of British journalists working on regional and local newspapers, as well as magazines, are responsible and respected members of their communities.”

Mr Morgan said: “The make-up of the reporting panel is flawed by its lack of inclusion of true professional journalists from the wider field who have a much greater understanding of our industry.

“We have asked the Media Standards Trust to withdraw this report for further consideration – or make it plain that it does not represent the fuller picture of journalism in Britain today.”

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Notes 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, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Public Service Broadcasting Future offers new hope

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: 4 February 2009

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIOJ) cautiously welcomed Ofcom’s review of Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) for recognising that effective local and regional news needs to have an alternative supplier to the BBC.

But the oldest professional journalist organisation was less than convinced by the Government’s response in its Digital Britain report which can be seen at http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/broadcasting/5631.aspx

CIoJ General Secretary, Dominic Cooper said: “Ofcom’s report was refreshingly honest and took onboard the major contentions that the CIoJ had put in its submission, including not top slicing the BBC funding which would risk the quality of its PSB material.

“Frankly the Government’s response and its “way forward” seemed less convincing and glossed over the real issues of how we are going to get there, other than setting up a myriad of groups to look at specific issues.”

It was in the CIoJ submission that has a regulator, Ofcom could make suggestions, but it now needed the Government to take more direct control as the digital spectrum takes away the advertising funding which allowed commercial broadcasters to offer PSB.

“Interestingly Ofcom also questioned the long-term viability of the BBC and ITV sharing resources so that the commercial broadcaster can continue to provide regional news. It suggested that Channel 4 perhaps in conjunction with Channel 5 or the BBC World Service could offer an alternative news and current affairs source for regional and national news in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Thankfully Ofcom accepted the CIoJ view that given the uncertain future of regional news provision, there needs to be a parallel plan based on ‘independently funded consortia’ which gives a future for regional media delivering local news.”

In such a system Ofcom said that TV slots should be set aside to deliver regional news on the ITV network or, if it hands back its PSB licences, through Channel 4 or by using a new dedicated service within each region or nation.

Mr Cooper added:“For the first time Ofcom has a clear plan which offers real hope for the future and acknowledges the real concerns that the CIoJ has for maintaining PSB for people who are not going to be able to embrace the digital revolution.

“Our welcome is cautious because the subsequent report by Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Business,Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)set up many different groups, which are unlikely to offer a clear path to take forward Ofcom’s carefully researched issues.

“CIoJ will continue to fight for the need for Britain to retain an effective PSB service and will continue to press MPs and Ministers to focus on the citizen and the need for professional journalism in this challenging environment.”

Ofcom’s report can be seen at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/features/janpsb1

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Press contact: Liz Justice, CIoJ Press Office, 07780 661926.

The CIoJ’s submission to the Ofcom review may be viewed at: http://cioj.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/cioj-2nd-ofcom-psb-review-20081.pdf

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, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Wacky Jacqui’s hack attack

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE TIME:  12 February 2009

Control Orders which come into force on the 16th February will restrict the behaviour and movement of journalists and photographers carrying out their lawful jobs says the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ)

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith claims that the rules will impose restrictions on terror suspects who cannot be prosecuted in courts – without mentioning innocent people recording news events will also getting caught up in the scheme.

CIoJ General Secretary, Dominic Cooper, said: “This is the latest wacky scheme from Jacqui Smith who seems hell bent on pushing through as much restriction as possible on freedom of people trying to provide an alternative view to that of the Government.

”We have evidence of wide spread abuse of the anti-terrorism laws where news photographers are concerned. Photographers taking even the most innocent of pictures have been ordered to hand over their work and detained while they answer questions. This is totally unacceptable for people trying to cover news events with bonafide Press cards, which are approved by the police.

“Who is going to judge if the requests made are reasonable and who is going to compensate the news photographers who miss their shot because of they have been effectively handcuffed by an over exuberant policeman?”

“Creating a law does not make it sensible or democratic especially when people really don’t know how it will work in practice,” said Cooper.

Under the new Orders journalists can find that their computers are seized and that they become a “suspect” by trying to pursue a story that is remotely critical of rule breakers in Parliament or the Police.

“Under the existing rules we have seen Police raid the offices of an MP over alleged information leaks, and a local journalist being prosecuted at the Crown Court getting a last minute reprieve from the Judge.”

Photographers are now banned from taking pictures of Police Officers and that seems to follow on from months of the Police videoing Press photographers with the ‘excuse’ that public order situations may arise from their presence.

“What abuses will we see given these extra powers and the heightened level of paranoia contained in them?” demanded Cooper.

Notes:

Interim Control Orders, signed by the Home Secretary, must be referred to a judge within seven days for confirmation but cover:-

•Banning possession or use of specified articles or substances

Prohibiting the use of certain services, such as internet or phones

Restricting work or business

Restricting association or communication with certain individuals or any people

Restricting the person’s place of residence or who is allowed into the premises

Restricting movements within the UK or international travel

A specific 24-hour ban on movements

A requirement to give access to specified people to his home

A requirement to allow officials to search his home

A requirement to let officials remove items from premises for tests

A requirement to be monitored by electronic tagging or other means

A requirement to provide information to an official on demand

A requirement to report at a specified time and place