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Keep News Local, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists

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NEWS RELEASE
Release time: immediate

New ways of working proposed by ITV are suggesting that local news is too expensive to keep operational but the CIoJ – the world’s oldest journalism Union – is worried that these changes will isolate the disadvantaged even more.

CIoJ General Secretary, Dominic Cooper, said: “Local news bulletins about the people and places we know, keeps us all part of the communities where we live and work. For the disabled, poor and elderly these slots are free and accessible and keep them in touch in a way that nothing else will.

“This Government has made a strong commitment to help the disadvantaged and MPs who know how important local news is to them should be lobbying media regulator Ofcom to register their protest against plans to cut the broadcaster’s regional and sub-regional news services from 27 to nine.”

ITV announced the plans in September as part of a five-year strategy, saying the move would save the broadcaster up to £40m a year, around a third of its £120m regional programming budget.

Mr Cooper said: “The CIoJ has written to Ofcom because we think these plans will slaughter any idea of public service broadcasting. It is ridiculous to imagine that people in the Westcountry and the West of England will bother to watch the news when a hospital they have never heard of is being closed or a police station staffed in a different way which does not affect them.

“Journalism is fundamentally a way of telling people what will affect their lives and for the same reason MPs hold surgeries in their constituencies. They know the exercise is expensive and time consuming but they realize the value of listening out for the child who pointed out the Emperor had no clothes.”

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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.

Institute condemns killing of Kenji Nagai

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Release time: immediate.

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) has condemned the murder of Japanese video reporter Kenji Nagai as he carried out his work in Burma.The Institute’s annual conference in London unanimously passed an emergency resolution after openly discussing video images which depict Nagai being deliberately shot in the chest at close range.

Japan’s Fuji Television said the footage, released by the opposition Democratic Voice of Burma, showed Nagai, 50, was killed intentionally, not by a stray bullet. Nagai worked for Tokyo-based APF News and died after years covering danger zones.

The resolution was bought by CIoJ Member Patrick Emek, who works as a freelance journalist on International Affairs.

“We strongly urge the Burmese government to show restraint in its actions against unarmed monks, men and women in their peaceful protest,” said Institute President, John Thorpe.“Cameramen and photographers are highly visible on the streets and while he would have been aware of the danger, it is never acceptable to use physical violence and murder to keep things secret.”The resolution expressing its outrage at Nagai’s murder from the oldest journalist organisation in the world will further pile pressure on a regime already facing international revulsion.

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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:

Actual wording of the motion:

“This conference expresses its outrage and condemns in the strongest possible terms the premeditated murder by the Burmese armed forces of Japanese video reporter Kenji Nagai whilst on journalistic duties on the streets of Rangoon. We strongly urge the Burmese government to show restraint in its actions against unarmed monks, men and women in their peaceful protest.”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.

Passing the profit-gap buck

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Release time: immediate

The Chartered Institute of Journalists condemns ITV plans to reduce its regional news output as a buck-passing exercise brought about by a dip in profits caused by the phone-in crisis earlier in the year.

However, no matter what the cause, if this is not a breach of the legal requirements of their public service broadcasting obligations it is certainly an abrogation of their responsibilities towards the regional needs of their audience.

Regional news is very often vital to those residents in local communities who rely on this local or regional news coverage to keep them informed about issues in their area. Often, as in the case of the recent spate of floods, local television news is a vital source of emergency information.

“Good quality regional television news is not produced by further diluting the essential local element. To create larger and larger geographical areas for coverage is to deny the viewer a service to which they have become used and can only damage the public perception of local television journalism. The viewer and local newsmen deserve better than that. We hope that Ofcom will take a similar view. Certainly that is what we are campaigning for,” said Paul Leighton, Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division.

The proposal that a credible news coverage can still be produced without having regional bulletins is nonsense. For instance, the Yorkshire TV area covers a region stretching from the North of Norfolk to North Yorkshire and local news programmes cater for the disparate needs of communities within that vast region A ‘one size fits all’ approach is certainly no answer to local needs.

While the Institute has no doubt that the quality of the news items will be maintained – since the professionalism of those journalists is not under question – the current depth of coverage will not be continued.

Another factor, which the Institute believes enters the equation, is the effect that a reduction of competition would have on other broadcasters. Journalists know that the presence of a competitor sharpens reaction and smartens up presentation. No matter how professional a broadcasting newsroom is, the knowledge that there is no competitor to beat does affect the approach the news coverage – maybe fewer staff and less equipment assigned to stories or fewer stories covered.

With interim profits in the region of £151 million there can be no real reason for this move other than to recover some of the reported loss of £21 million in profits from phone-ins, due to the public’s lack of confidence since the scandals earlier in the year.

“It would be ironic if Ofcom were to allow ITV to reduce a service that the public can rely on, to fund the profit gap brought about by the collapse of the networks phone-in competitions, on which they could not rely,” said Institute General Secretary, Dominic Cooper. “Because those scandals, recently brought to light, questioned the integrity of wider editorial judgement, this proposed move is cynical and ill-timed”

When delivering his first set of interim figures for the network, Michael Grade said he was taking a “zero tolerance” approach to those in the TV industry responsible for an “apparent and casual contempt towards viewers”. Presumably his first port of call will be those in his own network who seek to treat their own viewers with contempt by reducing this service while trying to convince them that the service will not be affected.

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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.

FREE AL-HAJ , DEMANDS JOURNALISTS’ INSTITUTE

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Saturday 8 September 2007

Bush’s “hidden agenda” against Al-Jazeera condemned

The Council of the Chartered Institute of Journalists agreed an emergency motion at its meeting today, Saturday, September 8, objecting strongly to the illegal imprisonment without trial of “colleague journalist Sami al-Haj”, and requesting his immediate release. Sudan-born al-Haj has been held illegally by the Americans for over five years at their island prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Institute requests that the Americans either free al-Haj – and pay him “substantial compensation” for his illegal imprisonment – or else that they charge him with any crimes he is alleged to have committed and bring him rapidly to an impartial civil court so he can be tried for these alleged crimes.

The resolution has been sent to US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the US Ambassador in London.

Comments CIoJ general secretary Dominic Cooper, “The continued imprisonment of Mr. al-Haj is a complete disgrace. The Institute understands that his only ‘offence’ is that he was doing his job as a cameraman of the Arab television channel Al-Jazeera, when he was arrested on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border by the Pakistani authorities acting as agents of the USA. He was then transported to the US where he has been imprisoned without charge and without trial at Guantanamo Bay.

“This is at best an infringement of his civil liberties and at worst kidnap and illegal imprisonment, which are both crimes. Those responsible for the arrest, kidnap and illegal imprisonment of Mr. al-Haj should be tried for their crimes in an impartial civil court or at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“If, as a spokesman for the Pentagon claims, Mr. al-Haj was an unlawful enemy combatant, the US authorities should produce whatever evidence they have and let him be tried by a civil court. But let them get on with it. A wait of over five years to be charged is quite unacceptable.”

The institute, the oldest and most senior professional organisation of journalists in the world, stands for freedom of the media and for freedom of speech. It is horrified that the USA, which used to be held as a bastion of freedom and of free speech, should illegally kidnap and imprison a journalist for no better reason that that he worked for its “bête noir”, the Qatar-based television channel, Al-Jazeera.

“President Bush has a hidden agenda against Al-Jazeera,” says the chairman of the Institute’s international division, John Szemerey. “The Americans have bombed its offices in Kabul and Baghdad, and shot or illegally imprisoned several of its journalists in Iraq and elsewhere.

“The Institute will not stand idly by while journalists are attacked, imprisoned, kidnapped or killed.

“Let the US government behave in a civil and democratic way. Is it afraid of the truth getting out? Is that why it objects to Al-Jazeera broadcasting the views of people representing all sections of the community? If it cannot respect international law, it should expect the consequences.”

Adds Szemerey: “If the US behaves like this, it cannot blame others for acting similarly. The US used to criticise other countries and governments for not behaving democratically and justly. Now it is behaving worse than many of those it admonished.”

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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

Chartered Institute of Journalists backs Fowler over BBC appointments

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Friday 3rd August 2007

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) strongly endorses the criticisms voiced today (August 3) by The Rt Hon Lord Fowler, House of Lords Select Committee Chairman, of the way in which the Chairman of the BBC is appointed.

John Thorpe, President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, welcomes Lord Fowler’s comments on the importance of retaining the BBC’s independence, in light of recent concerns that the BBC is coming under increasing political pressure from the Government..

“We welcome Lord Fowler’s robust statement on the need to take BBC appointments out of the Government’s hands,” says Thorpe. “The BBC’s independence must be sacrosanct, yet there is widespread concern that New Labour is now trying to exercise greater control over the Corporation’s news output.

“BBC News is the benchmark by which so many other media organisations and news outlets worldwide are judged. The new BBC Trust has a golden opportunity to demonstrate its political impartiality and independence. Anything that helps restore faith in the Corporation at this time is welcomed by the Institute.”

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Institute welcomes the release of Alan Johnston

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JULY 4, another date that I hope will  stay fresh in the minds of journalists around the world for a very long time. Many had doubts Alan Johnston’s release from his Hell-hole in captivity in Gaza would come anytime soon. It’s happened and it is time for rejoicing but we should not forget those who have played their part behind the scenes quietly working towards the day the talented BBC journalist would once again be free to report.

The identities of those “movers and shakers” will be the subject of much speculation – some may never be known –  but in my view a special tribute has to be paid to Hammas, the group that now controls Gaza. From all the early evidence coming out of the Middle East following Alan’s journey to freedom, it is clear that it was pressure put on the terrorists by the Hammas leaders that means Alan Johnston is now a free man. Alan  has been in our prayers since he was snatched and we members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists wish him well and are certain he will soon be back doing what he’s good at – factual reporting.

John Thorpe, MBE, President CIoJ.

WAS BUSH CONSIDERING A WAR CRIME?

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Thursday 17 May : Release time immediate

Journalists support Al Jazeera demand for information

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) gives full support to the Al Jazeera request that the British authorities clarify the Daily Mirror report that the Americans were considering bombing the head office and studios of Al Jazeera until dissuaded by British prime minister Tony Blair.

Al Jazeera has issued a demand for “clarification on the Daily Mirror report on the alleged memo discussing bombing Al Jazeera”, following the jailing of civil servant David Keogh and parliamentary researcher Leo O’Connor for leaking the four page memo that revealed the disagreement between the US and UK governments on the Americans’ proposed bombing of Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera submitted an application early last year, under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, for the disclosure of the contents of the memo, but the request was denied.

“If the President of the USA is willing to consider committing a war crime in order to silence voices with different views from his own, that is news,” says the chairman of the CIoJ’s international division, John Szemerey. “It is in the public interest that this should be known by the world at large.”

The Mirror had published a leaked report in November 2005 of a discussion between George W. Bush and Tony Blair. In that report President Bush is supposed to have raised the possible bombing of the offices of Al Jazeera in Doha, Qatar, and elsewhere.

“Had the Americans deliberately bombed the offices of Al Jazeera, that would have been against the Geneva convention and a clear war crime,” says Szemerey. “The failure of the authorities to deny the leaked report raises many questions.

“The implication is that the report is correct, and that Bush wanted to bomb Al Jazeera because he did not like its reporting of the Iraqi war and the so-called war on terror. If so, that would be an utter disgrace and a frontal attack on the freedom of the press.

“If the report is true, it raises doubts about what the Americans claim were its accidental bombings of the Al Jazeera offices in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.”

The Chartered Institute of Journalists would understand if the British Government did not wish to confirm the accuracy of the leaked memorandum reporting the conversation if there were comments or details affecting national security in the memo.

“But in that case,” continues Szemerey, “in view of the seriousness of the allegations that Bush wanted to bomb Al Jazeera, if the report is not true let Tony Blair issue a categorical denial and clarify if the matter was discussed, let alone mentioned.

“If Blair gives a categorical denial, hand on heart, we would of course believe him, for Tony Blair is an honorable man.”

ends+

NOTE:
The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) was founded in 1884 as the National Association of Journalists, receiving its Royal Charter from Queen Victoria in 1890, when its name was changed to the Institute of Journalists (IoJ). The NUJ began as a breakaway from the IoJ in 1907. In 1990, to celebrate its Charter Centenary and at the suggestion of the Privy Council, the Institute’s name was changed again to the Chartered Institute of Journalists. Membership of its trade union component, the Institute of Journalists (Trade Union), is barred to any journalist with hire-and-fire responsibilities over other journalists, unlike the NUJ (which is open to certain classes of employers, such as agency proprietors). Though most are located in the United Kingdom, the CIoJ has members in more than thirty countries worldwide.

NUJ does not speak for British journalism

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Saturday 21st April : Release time immediate

Britain’s senior professional organisation for journalists, the Council of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, expressed its dismay on Saturday, 21st April, at several unprofessional political motions agreed at last week-end’s annual delegate meeting of the National Union of Journalists.

“The Institute has been approached by a number of organisations and newspapers asking if we share the same views as the NUJ on this matter,” said Dominic Cooper, CIoJ General Secretary. “We do not and never will do.”

“The statements made by the NUJ are a matter for that organisation and do not reflect the views of all British journalists or this Institute. Journalism is reporting facts, reporting what happens in the world,” said Dominic Cooper, CIoJ General Secretary. “It is not about taking a political stand and calling for boycotts.”

One of the NUJ’s motions called on its journalist members to boycott Israel.

“While journalists may hold their own personal opinions on contentious issues such as the Middle East, it is not appropriate for the NUJ to encourage a blanket boycott because they do not like a particular government,” commented Cooper.

“The NUJ’s position on this is totally unacceptable to the Institute. Professional journalists report facts and events. We in the CIoJ do not give instructions to our members about what to say or what not to say.”

The Institute’s Council agreed the following statement at its meeting on Saturday, 21st April, 2007:

“In view of the partisan and political motions passed at the recent NUJ annual conference, the Chartered Institute of Journalists wishes to make clear that:

1 There is more than one organisation for working journalists in the United Kingdom

2 Though individual journalists should be free to hold and support political views, as a matter of principle the CIoJ does not do so

3 In support of its non-political status, the CIoJ does not affiliate to or support any political party, the TUC or any other organisation with political aims, except where those aims are devoted to improving the status and working conditions of professional journalists

4 The CIoJ deprecates any attempt to involve its membership in international boycotts and similar actions that could call into question the reporting objectivity that forms the basis of professional journalism throughout the world

5 It further deprecates the impression given that the standards of British journalism are lower than in other countries

6 The CIoJ, a friendly and efficient organisation, welcomes membership applications from all working journalists sharing similar principles and aspirations.

ends

NOTE:

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) was founded in 1884 as the National Association of Journalists, receiving its Royal Charter from Queen Victoria in 1890, when its name was changed to the Institute of Journalists (IoJ). The NUJ began as a breakaway from the IoJ in 1907. In 1990, to celebrate its Charter Centenary and at the suggestion of the Privy Council, the Institute’s name was changed again to the Chartered Institute of Journalists. Membership of its trade union component, the Institute of Journalists (Trade Union), is barred to any journalist with hire-and-fire responsibilities over other journalists, unlike the NUJ (which is open to certain classes of employers, such as agency proprietors). Though most are located in the United Kingdom, the CIoJ has members in more than thirty countries worldwide.

PRESS CONTACT: Dominic Cooper, General Secretary, CIoJ, 020 7252 1187.

Journalists urge PRs to ‘get wise’ to Press card situation

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NEWS RELEASE

Tuesday 12th March : Release time immediate

The Chartered Institute of Journalists is asking exhibition and conference press office organisers to ‘get wise’ to the structure of journalism and press cards by appreciating there is more than one guarantee of professional bona fides.

“Time after time we get instances of exhibition and conference PRs stipulating possession of a NUJ card as evidence for accreditation but that is only one of at least four Press cards that vouch for the holder’s standing. Sometimes it leads to arguments and time wasting as organisers who do not know the situation in our profession – or worse, ‘jobsworths’ who can’t appreciate the invalidity of their instructions – decline to accept evidence in the shape of these other cards,” Dominic Cooper, general secretary of the CIoJ said.

“The Chartered Institute is the senior professional body in journalism and is governed by a Royal Charter that stipulates the conduct of our members. As many of our members are specialist journalists with a germane interest in the subject covered by the event, these ‘little local difficulties’ created by people ignorant of the true situation are annoying and, sometimes, counter productive,” he said.

The CIoJ’s Professional Practices Board (PPB) has written to Trevor Foley, Chief Executive Association of Event Organisers, asking him to point out to its members the variety of credentials in a bid to make life easier for all parties. PPB chairman, Robin Morgan, said: “It is surprising how many exhibition and conference web sites refer to just one card whereas ours and the National Newsgathers Card are just as valid. It is time for these PR and marketing people to get wise to the true situation and not create avoidable misunderstandings. We hope our gentle approach will do the trick.”

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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.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.

Daily Express Political Editor elected Vice-President

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Monday 11th March : Release time immediate

Macer Hall, Political Editor of the Daily Express, has been elected Vice-President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

Hall, aged 40, pledged to preserve the Institute’s “timeless journalistic values of impartiality, independence and freedom of speech” while helping the Institute to adapt to changes in the media and journalistic profession.

A Londoner who undertook his NCTJ training at Highbury College in Portsmouth, he went on to work as a reporter on a variety of regional and national newspapers, including the Cambridge Evening News, the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Sunday Telegraph, as well as the National News Agency and the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4.

“The independence of the Chartered Institute of Journalists is something I cherish”, he said.

Hall will serve two years as Vice-President of the Institute before succeeding to the Presidency in 2009.

John Thorpe MBE, the Institute’s new President, said he was “absolutely delighted that members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists have voted Macer Hall into the Vice-Presidency of the Institute. His insights into the world of Westminster and the national political scene will be of great advantage to the Institute, and I look forward to working with him to deepen the Institute’s influence in the corridors of power.”

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