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Journalists’ Institute protests at BBC’s executive bonuses

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NEWS RELEASE
Release time:11 July 2008

Big pay rises and bonus’s for top BBC executives have been condemned as “unprincipled, unjustified and utterly insensitive” by the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

The Institute – whose broadcasting members include household names like Kate Adie and James Alexander Gordon – was outraged at huge rises in pay packages at a time when many BBC employees face redundancy under the guise of modernisation.

The chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division, Paul Leighton – a former BBC Radio 2 newsreader- said: “Hundreds of BBC staff have had their lives turned upside down as they try and work out what is happening in the BBC. And while they are waiting to find out the kind of future they face, the pay package for one BBC Director has risen by more than £100,000.”

And he added: “Although bonuses for top executives were capped at 10 per cent of salaries, some have picked up more than £20,000 on top of their salary.”

The Institute said the protest is not simply about the Corporation’s financial “insensitivity” at a time of job losses. “We are concerned that cuts in news will undermine the BBC’s ability to provide quality Public Service Broadcasting which is why they are funded through the Licence Fee.

CIoJ General Secretary, Dominic Cooper, said “To cut jobs and put standards at risk in this way, while paying huge salaries to the bureaucrats, is a betrayal of the Corporation’s historic role and a smack in the face for loyal staff.”

Editors note:

1.    The Chartered Institute of Journalists is the oldest organisation representing journalists in the world. It has been protecting the interests of journalists and journalism for more than 120 years.

2. Interviews are available with Paul Leighton or Dominic Cooper by contacting the CIoJ on 0207-252-1187.

TAX CREDITS BEST OPTION FOR PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTERS

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NEWS RELEASE
Release time: Embargoed 00.01 Monday 19 May 2008

TAX credits should be considered to support vital Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) claims the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ).

With just a month before the consultation closes on Ofcom’s second review of PSB, CIoJ general secretary Dominic Cooper said: “Government urgently need to look for ways to support PSB, because although people don’t know that phrase, they value the local news and regional programmes it provides.

“Broadcasters need incentive to maintain their PSB commitment at this crucial time. Our suggestion is that TV and Radio companies are allowed to offset the cost of news gathering and presenting against their tax bills.

“Government stepped in to help the struggling film industry because they recognised the value for employment at home and for coverage of British talent around the world. I see no difference to the way they can provide support to Public Service Broadcasting.”

In the Consultation document, Ofcom recognise that commercial stations are going to have great difficulty funding news and regional programmes. In April, ITV also said it was considering handing back its licence because providing PSB is becoming untenable.

Mr Cooper said: “Our primary concern is maintaining quality in news and regional programming which should be accessible to the majority. There are people who are never going to afford subscription services or learn how to use new systems, when they are happy with the old.”

Research by Ofcom’s consultants, Oliver and Ohibaum, acknowledge the future models for PSB they have envisaged, are not clear as broadcasters head from analogue into the digital information age.

“The water is being muddied with talk of taking from the BBC licence fee, but this is not helpful when we need some stability. The BBC remains a respected national and international institution at a time of flux, so why tamper with it?” added Mr Cooper.

“We are now writing again to all MPs to ask them to drive forward this proposal as an interim way to support full access to vital information. Change is fine but not if the channels of information are put in jeopardy.”

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Note to Editors

Phase one of Ofcom’s second Public Service Broadcasting Review closes at 5pm on 19th June 2008 and is available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/psb_review

Dominic Cooper is available for interview and can be contacted on 020 7252 1187 or 07803 507366, email dc@cioj.co.uk

The Government introduced a new tax relief for the production of British films, in Chapter 3 of the Finance Act 2006 which received Royal Assent on 19 July 2006 and in SI 1050/2007 (The Corporation Tax (Taxation of Films) (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2007 (PDF 117K)

According to the UK Film Council, films that cost up to £20 million, the Film Production Company (FPC) can claim an enhanced deduction of 100% with a payable cash element of 25% of UK qualifying film production expenditure. For films that cost over £20 million, the FPC can claim an enhanced deduction of 80% with a payable cash element of 20% of UK qualifying film production expenditure. http://www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/taxrelief

The UK now has a government unit to deal with the corporation tax affairs of companies which are eligible for film tax relief. The unit, which is part of HM Revenue & Customs, works mostly with special purpose vehicles established to make a single film. The Manchester Film Tax Credit Unit can be contacted at RandD.Manchester@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk or tel: +44 (0)161 288 6118.

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.

Issued by Liz Justice, CIOJ Media Relations Manager, 07780 661926

CIoJ welcomes al-Haj’s release and the end of six years’ illegal imprisonment

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NEWS RELEASE
Release time immediate

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) welcomes the long overdue release of Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj from detention without charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Al-Haj, who was born in Sudan, was suddenly released by the Americans with two other Sudanese nationals early yesterday morning and flown to Khartoum. He will first be taken to hospital for a full medical check-up, and then he will be reunited with his wife and son. He has not seen his son since he was a baby.

The CIoJ has objected strongly to the Americans’ illegal detention of Sami al-Haj, “a fellow journalist who was only doing his job”, according to John Szemerey, chairman of the CIoJ’s international division, who has repeatedly called on the US Government to release the Al Jazeera cameraman.

“Detaining someone who is a terrorist or a danger is one thing, but detaining someone for over six years and never finding anything with which to charge them is both illegal and immoral, as even the US Supreme Court has ruled,” said CIoJ General Secretary Dominic Cooper.

Al Jazeera is indignant that the Americans never informed it about al-Haj’s imprisonment and detention at Guantanamo Bay, although they knew clearly that he was an Al Jazeera cameraman. US military and civil officials also refused to respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for information about Sami al-Haj.

“He was doing nothing but his job,” says Al Jazeera managing director Wadah Khanfar.

“As far as we are aware,” comments Cooper, “the only accusation against al-Haj was that he worked for the Qatari television station Al Jazeera. This is no more a crime than working for CNN or Fox News. His release is long overdue.”

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Notes:

  1. Sami al-Haj had been arrested in December 2001 when trying to cross legally from Pakistan into Afghanistan with an Al Jazeera colleague reporter, covering the American defeat of the Taliban. He was then handed over to the Americans, who first took him to the Bagram air base in Afghanistan and then flew him to Guantanamo Bay. Much of his time in Guantanamo has been spent in solitary confinement. His health has deteriorated seriously during his imprisonment, but no independent doctors were allowed to see him.
  2. It is understood from Release, which has tried to take on the legal representation of Sami al-Haj, that the Americans used different means of interrogation and extortion to get al-Haj to admit to having direct links with Al Queda and also to incriminate Al Jazeera, that it was acting on behalf of Al Queda.
  3. When al-Haj refused to admit either, he was offered his freedom if he agreed to be an American spy within Al Jazeera. This he refused also.
  4. Al Haj had been the only journalist in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, where he had been held by the Americans as an enemy combatant, without clear charges and without being brought to court.
  5. He had been on hunger strike for well over a year in protest against his treatment, and he had been force fed by the Americans for 16 months. He was so weak on arrival in Sudan that he could not walk and had to be taken to hospital straight away.
  6. The Council of the CIoJ agreed a resolution last September deploring the illegal detention of Sami al-Haj and sent that to the US Ambassador in London and to the media. There was no reaction from the ambassador, so Dominic Cooper, CIoJ General Secretary, sent a letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, demanding al-Haj’s immediate release, or that he be charged with whatever crime the Americans alleged that he had committed.
  7. 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 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

Reuters cameraman films Israeli tank shooting him

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NEWS RELEASE
20 April 2008: Release time immediate

Video courtesy of Reuters

The Chartered Institute of Journalists supports the call for a full investigation into the killing of Reuters’ cameraman, Fadel Shana, on April 16.

Shana, 23, was among a group of journalists who had been filming Israeli tanks which had been advancing into the Gaza strip when one of the tanks opened fire on the group, killing Shana instantly.  His soundman, Wafa Abu Mizyed, was wounded and remembers nothing of the attack

Reuters’ news editor-in-chief, David Schlesinger, immediately called for an investigation into the incident.

“We support David Schlesinger’s call for a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding this attack,” said Institute General Secretary, Dominic Cooper. “The Reuters film crew had just arrived in a vehicle clearly marked “TV” and “Press”, so it is difficult to see just how this could have happened by mistake.”

After the killing a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, told Reuters, “In our operations we try to be as surgical as possible and make every effort not to see innocent people caught up in the fighting.”

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Notes to editor

1. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also called for a public and exhaustive investigation into the incident.  In a press release the CPJ points out that “at least eight journalists have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza since 2001.  Seven of them were killed in attacks by Israeli Defence Forces, according to CPJ research.”  The previous killing occurred in July 2007, also in the Gaza strip, when Israeli tanks killed Imad Ghanem, a camerman for the Hamas-affiliated satellite TV channel Al Aqsa, who was filming paramedics transferring victims of an Israeli tank attack.

2. 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 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

Motorshow plans invite problems for professional journalists

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NEWS RELEASE

12 March 2008: Release time immediate

Plans to allow 500 members of the public to attend the London Motor Show Press Day could interfere with the work of the bona fide press, warns the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ).

For example professional journalists could find themselves vying for places at press conferences and product launches alongside anyone willing to pay £100 for a press day ticket.

“Press day should be just that,” said Graham Whyte, Chairman of the Institute’s Motoring Press Group. “And I have no doubt that press officers on duty that day will find the general public just as much of a distraction as will members of the press corps.”

The Institute is also concerned about the likely number of amateur newshounds – so called citizen journalists – who, with no understanding of the professional etiquette observed by genuine journalists will potentially get in the way, absorb resources, and restrict access to key products and personnel.

Moreover, there is a possibility that some members of the public will attempt to masquerade as journalists in order to obtain copies of expensive and ‘collectable’ press packs with a view to later selling them on Internet auction sites. Another concern is the extra monitoring necessary in order to ensure that the right information is received by the right people, all of which will be time-consuming and expensive.

“Space is already at a premium, and some, smaller, manufacturers with limited space will find it difficult to deal with the bona fide press because of the extra volume of people allowed in on the day,” said Dominic Cooper, CIoJ General Secretary.

ENDS+

Press contact:Dominic Cooper, tel. 020 7252 1187, email dc@cioj.co.uk

Chartered Institute of Journalists, 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.

CIoJ brands Prince Harry report ‘reckless opportunism’

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NEWS RELEASE

3 March 2008: Release time immediate

JOURNALISTS’ INSTITUTE PRAISES BRITISH EDITORS FOR STICKING TO PRINCE HARRY EMBARGO – AND DENOUNCES AMERICA’S DRUDGE REPORT FOR “RECKLESS LEAK”

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ), had branded the Drudge Report’s leaking of Prince Harry’s action in Afghanistan as “not journalism, simply reckless opportunism.”

John Thorpe, President of the CIoJ, said: “The Drudge Report has done a great disservice to journalism by increasing the risk to Prince Harry and his comrades.

“Professional journalists behave responsibly, and in this case the embargo was agreed for perfectly sensible reasons. Journalists and editors have willingly agreed to news back-outs where life is at stake, such as with kidnappings, and this agreement with the MoD was responsible self-discipline.

“There was no question of censorship – the MoD provided full facilities to cover his posting on the front line – and the arrangements were perfectly sensible, given the additional threat to servicemen’s lives from the Taliban should the news leak.”

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ), the world’s oldest-established professional association for journalists, has praised the Society of Editors for its role in persuading the British media to agree to a voluntary D-Notice embargo on news of Prince Harry’s deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

However, in a strong warning about the “hidden dangers” of the internet, the CIoJ roundly condemned the Drudge Report, the US-based website which leaked the news.

Although Drudge was not party to the embargo any professional journalist must have been aware that there was a good reason as to why the story had not yet broken.  Not only that, the sensitivity of the information would have been obvious, as would the potential dangers of breaking the news.

“The breaking of that embargo by Matt Drudge was not, in our view, journalism but was simple reckless opportunism to earn a quick buck without thought to the possible consequences. His behaviour shows what dangers we face from irresponsible and unprofessional news reporting that comes via the internet.

“The British press is often subjected to criticism – sometimes justifiably – but in this case its behaviour has been exemplary and in stark contrast to those who obviously don’t care in the slightest about the consequences of their actions,” added Mr Thorpe

The CIoJ was formed in 1884 as the National Association of Journalists and was granted a Royal Charter in 1890. For over a century it has been working to uphold high journalistic standards and to promote journalistic integrity.

-Ends

Institute remembers journalist colleagues who died in the Munich air crash

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: 6 February 2008

The Chartered Institute of Journalists remembers the lost lives of journalists colleagues who died in the Munich air crash in 1958.

While the world knows all too well about the many footballers that died on the fateful flight, not many are aware of the journalists that died, too. They were:

Alf Clarke, Manchester Evening Chronicle

Don Davies, Manchester Guardian

George Follows, Daily Herald

Tom Jackson, Manchester Evening News

Archie Ledbrooke, Daily Mirror

Henry Rose, Daily Express

Eric Thompson, Daily Mail

Frank Swift, News of the World

Of a press corps of nine journalists who accompanied the team back from Munich, eight died when the plane crashed. The sole surviving journalist was Frank Taylor, Northern Correspondent for the News Chronicle, who died in 2002, aged 80.

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.

Chinese blogger killed

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: 11 January 2008

WOULD-BE citizen journalists should be aware that it often takes the eye of a trained and experienced professional journalist to recognise potential dangers and make strategic withdrawal when innocous situations suddenly become very serious.

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has issued a warning after a Chinese man was beaten to death as he used his mobile phone to film a confrontation between city inspectors and villagers in the Hubei provence, in central China.

After this shocking experience, the CIoJ are now calling on organisations that encourage their readership or viewers to rush out and provide material to think very carefully about whether they will take responsibility if similar attacks happen.

“What is more likely to happen is that these organisations will look at the ground, shuffle their feet and mumble protestations that it is nothing to do with them,” said Dominic Cooper, General Secretary.

“Citizen Journalists would do well to recognise that they will be entirely on their own should anything happen to them while trying to gather material for an outfit that will neither pay them for it, ensure they are trained, or provide any safety guidance or equipment.

“A number of years ago we warned that it was only a matter of time before someone was hurt, possibly killed, and now, tragically, that prophecy has come true. It is time for organisations that encourage this practice to warn of the potential dangers and take their duty of care more seriously.”

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Press contact:Dominic Cooper, tel.< ><>, email dc@cioj.co.uk

Chartered Institute of Journalists, 2 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, London SE16 2XU. Website www.ioj.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.

Source:
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/01/11/china.blogger/index.html

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MAKE 2008 A FREE NEW YEAR FOR SAMI AL-HAJ

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: January 2008

CIOJ challenges Condoleeza Rice to prove USA respects its own Constitution

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) requests that the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice free our professional colleague, Sami al-Haj.

The US authorities have held Sudanese national, al-Haj “illegally” for almost six years without charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Cameraman, Al-Haj and reporter Abdelhaq Sadah covered the American and Afghan defeat of the Taliban for Qatari-based Al Jazeera TV News in December 2001. They needed to follow the action into Afghanistan, and applied to cross the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Although Sadah was allowed through, Pakistani border guards – acting on behalf of the USA – arrested al-Haj and handed him over to the Americans. His name was on an intelligence list of persons suspected of having links with a-Queda.

The Americans flew al-Haj from Pakistan to their island prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they interrogated him about his work, and how Al Jazeera operates. They offered al-Haj his freedom if he would spy for them on Al Jazeera but he refused.

Despite the failure to charge al-Haj with any crime, he has been imprisoned in the American “concentration camp” since June 2002, deprived of most facilities normally accorded to prisoners, and forbidden contact with his family.

The CIoJ took Sami al-Haj’s case to the US Ambassador in London in October but the ambassador did not reply. The institute is now taking its plea directly to the US Secretary of State.

Dominic Cooper, the CIoJ’s General Secretary, writes:

“We ask you to release al-Haj immediately, fly him to whichever country he wishes to go, and pay him substantial compensation for his illegal detention and for the urgent medical care that he needs.

“Alternatively, the US must charge al-Haj with the crime it believes he has committed and bring his case rapidly before an independent and objective civil court of law.”

Under the United States Constitution, the presumption of innocence is enlivened by the requirement that the government prove the charges against the defendant BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.

As al-Haj has not been charged with any crime or found guilty by a court of law, he is clearly innocent. This case, and the Americans’ treatment of prisoners of different nationalities in its Guantanamo Bay prison, is a touchstone of America’s democratic credentials.

“The USA claims to be a democratic country,” continues Cooper. “If it wishes to be taken seriously it must respect its own Constitutional law.”

All of the evidence against al-Haj is classified. In US law, the presumption of innocence is widely held to follow from the 5th, 6th and 14th amendments.

“As far as we are aware,” says Cooper, “the only accusation against al-Haj is that he worked for Al Jazeera. This is no more a crime than working for CNN or Fox News.”

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.

Distasteful cartoons no licence for murder

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: immediate

A death sentence on two Swedish journalists by Muslim extremists is condemned by the Chartered Institute of Journalists in a statement issued today. The journalists, artist Lars Vilks and editor Ulf Johansson drew and published a “distasteful” cartoon in the Nerikes Alehanda regional newspaper.

The cartoon depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a dog. It was published, claims the editor, to draw attention to threats to freedom of expression in Sweden.

It sparked angry reactions among Muslims, in particular in the Arab world. A death sentence on the two Swedes responsible was announced on September 15 on an Islamic website. A terrorist claiming to be leader of the “Islamic State of Iraq” called for the murder of Vilks and Johansson and offered a cash reward. The Islamic State of Iraq group is understood to be connected to insurgency groups in Iraq, including the local chapter of Al Qaeda.

“Distasteful cartoons are no licence for murder,” said the CIoJ.  “While the cartoon was unnecessarily offensive – no responsible editor should publish a drawing or article insulting the head or symbol of a religion revered by millions – it is totally unacceptable for anyone to solicit the death of an artist or editor for publishing a cartoon which he considers insulting.”

“Toleration and freedom of speech are inseparable twins,” said CIoJ President John Thorpe. “Freedom of the media and freedom of expression are essential for a tolerant democratic society and we must accept each other’s right to have different opinions.  If people disagree strongly, let them speak out. But in no circumstances is disagreement an excuse for violence.”

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.