News

Former IoJ Deputy General Secretary, Jim Paterson, dies

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Jim Paterson

Former Institute Deputy General Secretary, Jim Paterson, has died aged 88.

Members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists remember with great fondness, the 17 years’ service that Jim Paterson gave to the organisation as its Deputy General Secretary.

Above all, he will be remembered for his loyalty and dedication to the IoJ and his sheer mental and physical energy at chapter meetings and annual conference, where his mantra of ‘recruit – recruit – recruit’ is still remembered today.

Jim’s commitment to fighting the closed shop during the 1970s played no small part in bringing about change to the law on union membership. Similarly, his diplomacy and sound advice when handling disputes won him admiration among his peers.

He was a human dynamo who was equally loved by members and staff for his strength, kindness and boundless good humour.

Carter Ruck flash mob…

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Read more here:

http://tweetvite.com/event/gagcarterruck

CIoJ welcomes release of journalists

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cioj-armsTHE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISTS has welcomed the release of journalists Laura Long and Euna Lee from captivity and hard labour in North Korea.

“This is a positive step by the North Korean authorities,” said CIoJ President, Liz Justice, “and demonstrates recognition that the journalists’ mistake was genuine and was no threat to North Korea.

“However, this situation should be an example to all journalists of the potential risks when trying to get their story. It also serves as a reminder of the situations and circumstances that journalists encounter on a regular basis in order to keep the rest of us fully informed as to what is happening around the world.”

Having written to Kim Jong-un appealing for clemency, the CIoJ will write again congratulating this decision.

What price democracy? Audit Commission can’t answer…so who will?

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: 30 July 2009

The Audit Commission’s inquiry into local authority newspapers, ordered by the Government in its Digital Britain report, will not include an examination of their effect on traditional local newspapers.

Steve Bundred, chairman of the Commission, told the Chartered Institute of Journalists that it does not have the expertise to examine that contentious area.

Dominic Cooper, general secretary of the Institute said: “Although Digital Britain has encouraged an assessment to determine the value-for-council taxpayers’ money of these publications, this is only part of the equation. These council newspapers and magazines are more cover-up than cover-all and rarely, if ever, report anything other than council propaganda. What effect these publications have on democracy is just as important as how much taxpayer’s money they waste.

“We have seen how they have affected the performance of traditional local newspapers – leaving the public without independent scrutiny of local authority actions.”

Mr Bundred told the Institute: “The Commission is the champion of value for money in local public spending, and regulator of local public services. We plan to carry out research that examines the value achieved by council spending on communicating with the public and allows us to spread good practice and make recommendations about improving value for money in this area. This research would include council newsletters and newspapers, income derived from these newspapers, and spending on recruitment advertising.

“The Commission’s role and expertise do not lend themselves to examining the health of local newspapers or isolating the impacts of specific local authority practices on commercial bodies. This element of Digital Britain invitation appears better suited to regulators with a specific competition remit.”

Mr Cooper said: “While we welcome the inquiry because we believe it will show the exceptionally poor value for money that taxpayers get – only last week a council publication in Cornwall closed after 11 months at a cost of £700,000 to taxpayers – but unless their overall effects are studied the question still remains: What price democracy?

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For further information please contact:

Dominic Cooper: 020-7252-1187, or by e-mail at dc@cioj.co.uk;

Robin Morgan: 01226-203778, or by e-mail at robinmorgan@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.

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.”

End

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

No. 10 petition regarding photography restrictions

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Dear Colleagues,

There is a petition on the No 10 website calling on Brown to remove the draconian restrictions on taking photos in public places as they are open to abuse by the police. As the Institute knows, the law is regularly being abused by the police, against journalists, tourists and members of the public.

If you haven’t already done so please clock on the link below and sign this vital petition; it takes seconds. Don’t forget to append MCIJ or FCIJ to you name.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Photorestrict/

Charlie

CIoJ gives evidence to Office of Fair Trading on media mergers

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A daunting picture

The Chartered Institute of Journalists painted a daunting picture of the future when its team gave evidence to the Office of Fair Trading’s examination of proposals to loosen the media merger regulations.

Referring to a Channel 4 News interview on March 14 with Mr Roger Parry, leader of the recently-formed Local Media Alliance, the Chairman of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board, Robin Morgan, told the nine-strong OFT inquiry panel that the proposals would lead to a comprehensive development of websites to enable these publishers to effectively create local radio stations, as well as a similar challenge to regional television stations and, most frighteningly, the eventual abolition of all morning and evening newspapers and their replacement by weekly editions.

“Is that what Britain wants or needs? That interview was so ominous it should not have been shown before the Watershed!” Morgan said.

Disturbing proclamation

The Institute was invited to appear at the OFT’s off-Fleet Street headquarters, along with the National Union of Journalists, on March 20 – less than a week after Roger Parry’s disturbing proclamation. CIoJ General Secretary Dominic Cooper and Past-President Charlie Harris joined Robin Morgan to present the Institute’s case.

Just as disturbing to the Institute’s team was the fact that throughout the OFT’s discussion document on the media merger regime, not one mention was made of readers’ interests.

“The references to public interest appear to be confined to merger effects on advertising and the plurality of news sources but nowhere is the question of whether readers – the ultimate customers – will be better or worse served by a merger,” Morgan told the panel.

“This omission needs to be rectified. The Chartered Institute is asking that whether the rules are changed, or not, this opportunity is taken to introduce specific requirements whereby the company that is taking over is required to make a binding statement of intent detailing how it will preserve or enhance the editorial content of the taken over publication to safeguard content value to readers.

“Any sought-after change from this declared statement will have to be examined and approved by a competent Government authority, such as the OFT, the Competition Commission, or by a body set up for that purpose.”

The proposals from the Local Media Alliance are truly frightening and we told the OFT: “The Chartered Institute recognises that our industry faces a formidable crisis – but much of it is of its own making, or rather the making of a group of proprietors who now find themselves unable to pay the price of their past actions. Roger Parry admitted so in his interview.

Massive spending sprees

“It is significant that the Local Media Alliance is made up of companies that have been on massive spending sprees in the past decade with, seemingly, little or no thought to the consequences of an economy turning sour. They have resorted to wholesale redundancies, massive expenditure cuts, closing titles, closing branch offices, reducing coverage and centralising printing resources in many cases.

“These papers are still making trading profits. It is just that they cannot afford the hire purchase repayments.

“We have not seen the same drastic actions from what remain of the independently-owned regional and local media, which suggests they are managing to cope with the effects of the present recession in a better way – probably by sticking with the tried and trusted traditional remedies of newspapers dealing with troubled times.”

As an example of this the Institute’s representatives drew attention to a Martin Wainwright interview with Sir Ray Tindle, Chairman of the Tindle newspaper group, which appeared in The Guardian on November 17. (www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/nov/17/ray-tindle-local-press-newspapers).

Sir Ray has built up his stable of over 200 titles by buying out of revenues or reserves, and has not borrowed for that purpose. He has a firm policy of covering local news in depth – and as a result retains the support of his readers and produces a healthy group profit.

The Institute cautioned the OFT against being swayed by “the siren song of the techies” who see the Internet as the be-all-and-end-all of future news dissemination.

“The Internet and websites have their place but ‘in addition to and not instead of’ alternatives to traditional newspapers. There are good reasons for this belief. The Internet is not universal, nor will it be for many years to come in Britain. People on low or fixed incomes, such as pensioners or families in reduced circumstances cannot afford the high price of computers, nor the necessary broadband subscriptions.

“We believe that as much as 40 per cent of the British population falls into these categories. There are also many people who do not use the Internet as their prime source of news and in our estimation it may be that as much as 60 per cent of the British population still rely on newspapers as their prime source of news.

“A recent Ofcom survey found that 72 per cent of the elderly have no access to the Internet; 95 per cent of over-65s use other media as their prime source of news; and two-thirds of women are uncomfortable using the Internet.”
Local democracy

The OFT also wanted the Institute’s views about Local Authority newspapers. We made three points:

• We are, broadly against them as an alternative to our traditional newspapers, largely because of their lack of critical examination.
• We are in favour of national and local government and other public authorities being instructed to place more public interest advertising in the commercial press and, certainly, all job and contract adverts that are funded from the public purse.
• We are firmly against any direct government financial intervention to support commercial newspapers because of the real or imagined inferences of state control.

The full text of the CIoJ’s submission to the Office of Fair Trading, may be found at CIoJ submission to the OFT – March 2009 .

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.