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Politkovskaya convictions welcomed

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE DATE: 23 May 2014

The conviction of five men for the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been welcomed by the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

Today two men have been given life sentences and three more convicted by a Moscow court for the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.  The three others convicted of the killing – two of whom are Makhmudov’s brothers – were given between 12 and 20 years in prison.

Last year former police officer, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for supplying the murder weapon.

Politkovskaya, a reporter for Novaya Gazeta, was shot dead while returning home after shopping for groceries. She reported extensively on human rights violations in the north Caucasus province of Chechnya and her reporting won international renown for her dogged investigation of Russian abuses in Chechnya.  But her pieces, which were highly critical of President Vladimir Putin, then serving his second term, and the Chechen leadership, angered many people in senior positions.

Recent journalist deaths have rightly focused attention in trouble spots in the Ukraine, Africa and Syria. However, Anna’s death highlights the dangers faced by many journalists who do not work from the frontline in conflict areas.

Death is the ultimate sacrifice for journalists working to uncover wrong doing. These convictions show that those who threaten and kill journalists can and will be caught and prosecuted.

Ends

 

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.

Leveson interview a farce

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE DATE: 14 October 2013

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ATTEMPTS by Parliament to get answers from Sir Brian Leveson on vital aspects of his report amounted to a farce, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

Sir Brian was called before the Culture Media and Sport Committee in Westminster last week, (Thursday October 10) to answer questions on press regulation from concerned MPs.

The CIoJ’s Professional Practices Board Chairman Amanda Brodie, who attended the meeting, said: “This committee put a series of very important questions to Sir Brian on press regulation, investigative journalism and the impact of his proposals on newspapers, especially the local Press, and of course on the royal charter plans.

“But often his replies amounted to declining to comment, or simply directing MPs back to his published report. It was obvious that the MPs around the table were increasingly frustrated with this, and we share that frustration.”

Committee chairman John Whittingdale said the Prime Minister had told him they were essentially “stuck” over the royal charter issue, and pressed Sir Brian for a view on it, which he declined to give on the basis that it would be wrong of him to comment on a politically controversial issue, adding: “This is your problem, not mine.”

Ms Brodie said: “The Leveson inquiry took 15 months to complete and cost £5m, yet vital questions still remain. Many of these were put to Sir Brian but essentially remain unanswered, even after a three-hour session. And the timing of the meeting was not good, coming just 24 hours before Maria Miller’s announcement on Friday about the royal charter, giving no time for any meaningful consideration of the issues raised.

“Frankly, the whole thing was a bit of a farce – it was too little, too late.”

 

ENDS

 

INSTITUTE BACKS PUBLICITY CODE CRACKDOWN

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INSTITUTE BACKS PUBLICITY CODE CRACKDOWN

NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE DATE: 18 July 2013

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GOVERNMENT proposals to limit the publication of local authority publications should be backed in full and made law as soon as possible, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ).

Commenting on the Local Authority and Accountability Bill, which was debated in the House of Lords yesterday, (Wednesday July 17) Amanda Brodie, chairman of the CIoJ’s Professional Practices Board, said: “We fully support Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in his attempts to limit the publication of local authority newspapers to no more than four times a year.

“We are astonished that the NUJ has come out against the proposed legislation, which is aimed at supporting local newspapers, and can only help to safeguard journalists’ jobs. This is not a political issue, as the NUJ seems intent to make it.

“We believe there is no viable alternative to backing the Code with legislation. Many LAs have continued to flout the guidelines, proving they are unwilling to comply voluntarily, and must now be forced to do so.

“The CIoJ has been campaigning vigorously for some time on this issue, and we were proud to be part of the process which led last year to this proposal to put the Publicity Code guidelines on the statute book. We lobbied MPs and made representations to Parliamentary inquiries on this subject.

“Our members have become increasingly concerned at the creeping impact of these town-hall ‘Pravdas’ on local newspapers. These council publications promote their own version of local authority ‘news’ which is often biased in its reporting, giving local residents a skewed version of the facts behind the way their local council is run, and failing to highlight any shortfall in standards.

“Only local media, which is independent of political or other influence, can hold local authorities to account for the way they handle taxpayers’ money. “

Some LAs claim that their own publications can be justified because local papers no longer have the high circulation figures they once did, so advertising in them is not cost-effective.

This is based on a false premise. All local newspapers now have a web presence and increasing use of the internet by all sections of the community means the effective audience of local papers is as high, if not higher, than it has ever been. In addition, many local papers are either free, or have free editions, which are delivered to virtually every home in the local area.

The CIoJ is also pleased that Lord Tope’s amendment, calling for an end to the requirement for councils to publish public notices in local papers, was yesterday (Wednesday) withdrawn.

Ms Brodie added: “Our local papers are an important part of the communities they serve, yet many are struggling to survive financially – they deserve to be supported in every possible way.”

ENDS

Note to editors:

  • Research by GfK for the Newspaper Society found that the reach of local newspapers was much greater than council websites: 67% of the respondents to that survey had read or looked at their local newspaper for at least a couple of minutes within the past seven days, compared with 9% who had viewed their council website. Some 34% of adults questioned had not accessed the internet at all in the last 12 months.

 

  • 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.

CIoJ calls for Hacked Off to be excluded from talks

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CIoJ calls for Hacked Off to be excluded from talks

NEWS RELEASE

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RELEASE DATE: 17 June 2013

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has called for Hacked Off to be excluded from talks to end the impasse over press regulation.

It welcomes the refusal of Hacked Off to take part in such talks, but has called on MPs to reject the group having any further formal role in the framing a new legal framework for regulation.

Talks should involve MPs and representatives of journalists and publishers, it said.

CIoJ president Charlie Harris said: “There should be no place at the table for a secretive, self-appointed organisation that has shown contempt for the democracy and the public’s elected representatives by refusing to answer questions from the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee about its financial backers.

“Hacked Off says its wants transparency and openness in the press.

“But it undermines its claim to the moral high ground by stubbornly refusing to be open and transparent about who backs it with cash and in other ways.

“It was a scandal that the cross-party proposals for a new press regulator were forged at a secret meeting of three senior members of the Coalition and opposition parties and four members of Hacked Off.

“At a time when the Coalition is promising to clean up the lobbying industry, Hacked Off’s privileged access to the corridors of power must be ended.”

The Institute broadly welcomes the suggestion that a respected senior media figure be asked to act as a mediator to hammer out a compromise between the rival proposals for regulatory reform, but wants representatives of journalists, not just publishers, to be included in the talks.

Ends

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.

Press contacts: CIoJ president Charlie Harris 07956 094640 / CIoJ general secretary Dominic Cooper 020 7252 1187

Journalists condemn closure of ERT

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Journalists condemn closure of ERT

NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE DATE: 12 June 2013

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The Chartered Institute of Journalists condemns the sudden closure of the news service of the Greek state broadcaster ERT as a blow against democracy.

Silencing broadcasters is one of the first actions of those staging coups against democratic regimes, it said.

And it congratulates ERT journalists on their determination to resist the Greek government’s action by refusing top leave the station’s HQ and continuing to broadcast via the internet.

CIoJ president Charlie Harris said: “We are appalled by the summary closure of ERT’s one-air services.

“Greece’s economic problems in no way justify silencing a national broadcaster. On the contrary: at a time of national crisis it is vital that the public has access to as many sources of news as possible.

“The Greek economics professor, Yanis Varoufakis, who described his government’s action as ‘totalitarian’ was right. It was, as he said, ‘a blow against democracy’, which is especially poignant in the country widely seen as the cradle of democracy, and which gave us that word.

“The Institute sends its best wishes to all the journalists at ERT who, it is reported, have worked unpaid since November.

“We wish them success in their fight to keep ERT’s news service running and to get it back on air – in the face of threats by the police to evict them from their offices and studios.

“And we note the heartening, massive show of support they are receiving from the Greek public.”

 

Protecting the independent press from unfair competition

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Protecting the independent press from unfair competition

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) has formally submitted evidence to the Publicity Code Enforcement consultation which closed on May 6.

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The CIoJ warmly endorsed the Government’s commitment to give greater force to the Publicity Code by putting compliance on a statutory basis, which will make it harder for English local authorities to set up in-house newspapers and diverting public advertising revenue away from local independent newspapers.

CIoJ General Secretary Dominic Cooper said: “Many local authority publications are falsely given sheep’s clothing as information carriers. The reality is that ruling parties have used taxpayers money to punch local and regional newspapers into submission in an attempt to stop their council from being put under the microscope.

“We are optimistic that this will reverse the negative trends that have left local people without the democratic right to have decisions made by local authorities challenged in an independent way.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is driving forward this fight against Town Hall Pravdas and his Department’s guidance specifically says: “A healthy free press is important in providing information to the public to hold their local authority to account.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government aims to deal with the issues raised by the CIoJ in this direct way rather than through competition law because the issue is more complex than that of a simple financial consideration.

CIoJ – Local Authority Publicity Code Enforcement – May 2013

Free offer to NUJ members

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Free offer to NUJ members

 

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The Chartered Institute of Journalists is offering free membership to NUJ members who oppose that union’s support for state regulation of the press.

CIoJ President Charlie Harris said that the NUJ’s position on Leveson amounted to an “insupportable attack on the integrity of its own members”, and that the Institute, which opposes any state involvement in the enforcement of editorial ethics, was offering like-for-like free membership to NUJ members until their NUJ subs are due for renewal.

Mr Harris said, “The NUJ is supporting statutory regulation of the press without consulting its members.

“The CIoJ, backed by its members, believes that restrictions on the press – however light-touch now – open the door to tough state interference in free speech under a future government.

“We have already seen several attempts to shut down embarrassing stories using Leveson as an excuse.

“The CIoJ’s position is clear: the allegations made against the media at the Leveson inquiry involved illegality – phone hacking, bribing of public officials, and interception of e-mails.

“This was a failure of law enforcement by the police, and others.

“We do not support state interference in a free press, however it is achieved, whether through legislation, statutory underpinning or a Royal Charter.”

Mr Harris said the Institute had seen an influx of NUJ defectors in recent months as a result of the contrast between the two unions’ stands on regulation.

“We are apolitical, and do not kowtow to political parties, the TUC, employers’ bodies or unaccountable pressure groups such as Hacked Off,” he said.

“We are run by our members to uphold their interests, promote journalism as a profession, uphold editorial standards, and protect the freedom of the media.”

“We cannot sit back and watch as the NUJ throws away 300 years of press freedom.”

Details of the offer to NUJ members can be obtained by e-mailing memberservices@cioj.co.uk or calling 020 7252 1187 or you may join the CIoJ here.

Sir Alastair Burnet Memorial Service

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The face of ITN’s News at Ten,  Sir Alastair Burnet, will have his memorial service  on 12 November 2012 at St Martin-in-the-Fields church, Trafalgar Square, London.

A former member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, (CIoJ) Sir Alastair guided the public in his calm authorative way through  some of the most defining events of our lifetime.

Always a man of warmth and intelligence, he had a steel like persuasion which established the daily half hour news bulletin as the normal in broadcasting. He also  transformed the fortunes when as editor of The Economist he used his well-honed skills to make complex messages accessible to everyone.

The memorial service will take place at 3pm followed by a reception in St Martin’s Hall. Former colleagues and friends who wish to attend should contact Head Office on 020 7252 1187.

 

Journalists killed in the line of duty remembered

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Two years ago the Sunday Times foreign correspondent Marie Colvin described her work as a foreign correspondent as ‘a hard calling’.

On October 22 this year we were back in the warm clasp of St Bride’s, Fleet Street – the journalist’s church – to remember the reporters, camera crews and support staff killed in the line of duty. Sadly, Marie Colvin was one of those tragic names.

A special Page, in the St Bride’s memorial book, was unveiled as a lasting tribute to Marie by the Duchess of Cornwall, followed by prayers for the 50 journalists worldwide killed this year bringing news from war zones and other trouble spots to the news pages, TV screens and radios in our living rooms.

Readings for the service were warmly delivered by James Hardy, Editor of The Times, Hugh Whittow, Editor of the Daily Express, Peter Preston, former Editor of the Guardian, and Kevin Beatty, Chief Executive of A&N Media, which owns the Northcliffe titles including the Daily Mail.

The night was particularly moving for the people who had worked with Marie and many openly wept to the choir’s moving renditions of Where have all the flowers gone? and Bridge over Troubled Waters.

On an evening shared with Panoroma’s programme about the dropping of Newsnight’s investigation into Jimmy Savile, it was certainly a poignant reminder of the true sacrifice of campaigning journalists.

Law alert

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There is a COMPLETE BAN on reporting future pre-trial proceedings of the Dale Cregan case.

The ban has been made under s4 of the Contempt of Court Act and SUPERCEDES the media’s usual right to report preliminary proceedings under the Magistrates Court Act 1980.

Also, TAKE GREAT CARE with backgrounders about Cregan and the murders of the two policewomen in Manchester last week.

The Judge has indicated ‘a real risk of prejudice’ with this case, and will be watching press coverage carefully.

  1. You CAN report the grief angles, funerals etc BUT not the crimes themselves.
  2. Close message boards relating to the Dale Cregan case, from NOW until after the trial.
  3. Make sure automatic ‘Related stories’ links do not refer to previous stories about Cregan.
  4. Do not run any stories or features about Cregan, his past, his alleged involvement in last week’s murders and other background information about him.
  5. You CANNOT report Cregan’s future remand hearings.
  6. Take great care with stories saying the trial is about to start.
  7. You can report the trial, unless the judge imposes further legal restrictions.