HSE backs Institute over safety

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Tuesday 18th December : Release time immediate

Britain’s journalists must be provided with adequate safety equipment when covering dangerous stories, the Health and Safety Executive has ruled.

It means newspaper offices should provide items like hardened hats, stab-proof jackets and even armoured footwear to reporters and photographers – both staff and commissioned freelances – covering riots and other public disturbances, or when going into ‘sink’ estates where their safety may be threatened by unruly elements.

The ruling, given to the Chartered Institute of Journalists, is to be forwarded to the Newspaper Society and the Newspaper Publishers’ Association by the HSE at the request of the Institute.

It is a significant triumph for the Institute which launched a campaign and published a safety precautions brochure called ‘Revolting Britain’ earlier this year. The brochure, which gives advice to those covering stories where violence can be expected, has been widely distributed and some copies are still available from its head office.

The chairman of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board, Robin Morgan, said: “This is a very significant ruling that means journalists must be given as much personal protection as the police and other emergency services are given when they have to cover violent events. The Health and Safety Executive have made it very clear that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide this clothing, not only to their staff but also to freelances whom they commission to cover these events.

Dominic Cooper, the Institute’s general secretary said: “The Institute has been very concerned at the lack of care exhibited by some newspaper proprietors in safeguarding their journalists in dangerous situations. The most protection we have heard of in some offices is the presence of plastic hard hats – usually filched from a local building site.

“But this ruling makes it plain that hardened hats, stab-proof waistcoats and safety footwear have to be provided under the terms of the Health and Safety at Work legislation.

“The riots in Birmingham nearly two years ago demonstrated the potential dangers when several journalists were injured by flying bricks but the whole issue has been studiously ignored by the employers.

“We approached the Newspaper Society earlier this year and were met with supreme indifference. The NPS said frankly that it was not their responsibility to remind their members of their responsibilities in this direction. We hope individual employers will now take a more responsible attitude.”

Mr Morgan said: “We now want to see every newspaper office in the United Kingdom holding a stock of large, medium and small sizes of equipment, ready for use when trouble breaks out. It is part of a journalist’s job, in a democratic society, to report these events from as close to the scene as possible and we don’t want to see injuries sustained because a recalcitrant employer has been too stingy to invest in protective clothing. We are not saying that reporters and photographers have to be clothed like Robocops but good protection can be provided by equipment that looks like conventional attire and does not attract attention.”


Press contact:

Dominic Cooper, tel. 020 7252 1187, email

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

Notes for Editors:

1. 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.


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News release

10th October, 2006

Members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists stood in a minute’s silence this morning (Tuesday, 10th October) in memory of the murdered Russian journalist, Anna Politikovskaya, at the opening of the Institute’s annual general meeting and annual conference in Malta.

Later, members proposed a strong motion deploring the reporter’s murder because the authorities did not like and were embarrassed by her investigative journalism in Chechnya, Beslan and elsewhere.

The motion requests the assistance of the British government, the European Parliament and the European Commission to bring pressure on the Russian Government “to do all it can to bring those responsible to swift justice and to create conditions that enable journalists to work without fear of their lives”.

Considerable anger was expressed at the friendship of British prime minister Tony Blair with Russian president Putin, who it was felt was responsible for the murder. But it was felt that he would have more influence on the Russians than the Russian Ambassador, who probably would not even see the protest if the Institute complained to the Russian embassy.

Ms. Politikovskaya, a distinguished journalist who wrote for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, had already been attacked and threatened several times for fearlessly writing what was going on in sensitive parts of Russia. She had been jailed, forced into temporary exile in Austria and poisoned, and militants had tried to break into a car her daughter was driving.

If Russia wished to be taken seriously in the modern world said several members, it would need to treat journalists differently and allow freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The speed with which it caught the perpetrators of this murder would be a good indication as to whether it was ready to be admitted to the civilized world.

– ENDS –

For further information e-mail or phone John Szemerey, tel. +356 2158 3434


Issued on behalf of the Chartered nstitutte of Journalists, London SE16 2XU


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News release

6th October, 2006.

The streets of St. Paul’s Bay will be buzzing with senior British journalists next week. The journos will be attending the annual conference and annual general meeting of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, the senior professional organization for journalists in the world.

The Chartered Institute is returning to Malta after 35 years. It last held its AGM and annual conference in Malta in 1971, the year Britain decided to join the European Community. Its members are mostly senior journalists and experienced media people.

The conference, at the Grand Hotel Mercure San Antonio, St. Paul’s Bay, will be officially opened at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, 10th October, by the Past President of Malta, Prof. Dr. Guido de Marco.

Prof. de Marco is President of the Strickland Foundation which fosters the freedom of journalism and supports the Arts generally. The Foundation is one of the sponsors of the CIOJ conference.



The Chartered Institute holds it annual general meeting abroad every second year to make it easier for members living outside Britain to attend. The last overseas conference, in October 2004, was in Berlin, Germany.

This year’s conference will start with a series of working meetings of the Institute’s council, divisions and charities on Monday, 9th October. The main AGM and conference start on Tuesday, 10th October, and will continue till midday on Thursday, 12th October.

In addition to Prof. de Marco, guest speakers will include the British High Commissioner, Nick Archer, and the Malta Minister for Tourism and Culture, the hon. Francis Zammit Dimech.

The programme includes debates on the safety of journalists in hazardous situations and on ageism in journalism.

A lively social programme has been organized for conference participants by the Malta Tourism Authority, which is also a sponsor of the conference. The programme includes two half days of sightseeing, a tasting of Maltese wines in Valletta and a formal gala dinner at the historic Medina Restaurant in Mdina.

——- ENDS ——–

For further information, phone or e-mail John SZEMEREY or Ken BROOKES Tel: 2158 3434 (at the Grand Hotel Mercure San Antonio)

E-mail: or

Press release issued on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, London SE16 2XU


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News release

25th September, 2006

Annual conference of Chartered Institute of Journalists

Strong criticisms is expected of proprietors and editors next week for taking unnecessary risks with the lives and safety of staff journalists and photographers.

Members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists will be holding their annual conference and AGM in Malta from 9 – 12 October. The conference – at the Grand Hotel Mercure San Antonio – is open to all members of the Institute. It is not limited to delegates from divisions and branches.

This is the second time that the CIOJ will have held its annual conference in Malta. The last time was in 1971. The Institute, which has many overseas members, alternates AGMs in England one year and overseas the next.

The four-day annual conference includes two formal Annual General Meetings – of the professional body, the Chartered Institute of Journalists, and the trade union Institute of Journalists (TU), which is only for employed members. The first will be chaired by the CIOJ President, Sangita Shah, and the second by Robin Morgan, chairman of the CIOJ Professional Practices Board.

Two half days have been set aside for debating resolutions submitted by divisions, branches or by individual members.

In addition there will be discussions of topics of major interest to journalists. One of these topics is “Personal safety for journalists in hazardous conditions”, to be proposed by the CIOJ’s Brussels representative, John Szemerey, who is also a member of the board of the International News Safety Institute (INSI).

“I want members to realise that dangerous situations are not limited to distant overseas assignments,” says Szemerey. “Terrorist outrages, horrible accidents and demonstrations turning nasty can happen anywhere. For our own safety we must be prepared and know how to react, what to do and what not to do.

“One of our young members had just got off that No. 30 bus that was blown up in Tavistock Square, Lonodon, last year. It can happen to anyone, anywhere.

“Editors and proprietors must be made to realise that it is their responsibility to ensure that their reporting staff (journalists, photographers, etc.) need basic safety training and that they must have safety equipment available, which they can put on if necessary.

“When there is a riot, violence or worse, journalists, news photographers, TV reporters and cameramen will be there to report, photograph or film what is happening. Safety training and safety equipment can make the difference between life and death. “

Members are known to feel strongly that many proprietors and editors are neglecting their responsibility to staff by not preparing them for violent and gruesome events.

The programme also includes receptions and sight-seeing, organised by the Malta Tourism Authority, and a gala dinner at the historic Bacchus Restaurant in the ancient city of Mdina.

Malta Air is the official carrier for the conference, and it offers conference participants a special low return fare to Malta from anywhere on its network.

— ENDS —

For further information, please e-mail John Szemerey, Hon. Press Officer to the CIOJ 2006 Annual Conference and AGM, at:

Or phone or e-mail Dom Cooper, General Secretary of the CIOJ, at 020 7252 1187 or

Chartered Institute launches new group with Africa focus

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Release time: 27 June 2006

The Chartered Institute of Journalists, the world’s oldest professional body for professional communicators, has launched an Africa Writers’ Group to aid informed commentary on African issues.

Announcing the launch at the Institute’s London Docklands offices, current CIoJ President, Kenyan-born Sangita Shah said: “This initiative will strengthen the Institute’s presence in Africa, as well as providing a co-ordinated voice for African affairs in the UK. We will bring together experienced writers on Africa, together with travel writers, economists, representatives of NGOs and businessmen, and facilitate the visit to Africa of groups of leading journalists who want to find out more about the continent’s development.”

Immediate Past President Stuart Notholt has been appointed to head up the new group. Notholt has over twenty years experience of business, study and work in all parts of the African continent, and will shortly be leading a party of businessmen to Uganda.

“Many members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, whether they are writers on travel, current affairs or business matters, have a keen interest in Africa,” he said. “Additionally, the Institute has a long tradition of welcoming members from Africa to its membership. The Africa Writers’ Group will provide a forum for these specialists and experts in their various fields to come together.”

Another important theme, says Notholt, is to support the Institute’s on-going work in the field of press safety. “Parts of Africa are among the most dangerous in the world for journalists, whether local or foreign. With the exception of Iraq, more journalists have been killed in Congo in the past five years than in any other country.” The Institute has also been in the forefront of highlighting the suppression of press freedoms in Zimbabwe. In 2003 the Institute awarded British journalism’s highest award the Chartered Institute of Journalists Gold Medal collectively to the independent journalists of Zimbabwe, as a way of highlighting both their courage and the pressures they are under.

“Africa generally gets a bad press,” said Notholt. “Sometimes, of course, this is warranted, but we want to use the Africa Writers’ Group to present a more balanced and informed opinion.”

Full membership of the CIoJ Africa Writers’ Group is available to all members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists. Informal affiliate membership may be available to others working in the field of African development.

– Ends

Ministries told to communicate

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11th October 2005

Regular information essential

Government departments were criticized for putting a stop to regular press briefings at the Annual General Meeting of the Chartered Institute of Journalists in London on Saturday 8 October.

“Lobby correspondents were OK,” said accredited Westminster journalist Martin Posner. “They had their special private briefings.

“But specialist correspondents are no longer kept abreast of developments. The DTI have stopped special briefings, so it is much harder to follow specialist subjects.”

Institute members therefore approved an emergency resolution to request all ministries to ensure that their websites were “sufficiently comprehensive and updated at all times”, to include latest developments and statistics.



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11th October 2005

The US Government’s behaviour towards the media is “unacceptable”, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists – the world’s oldest professional association for journalists.

At their annual general meeting in London on the weekend of 8th/9th October, members of the Institute slated the Bush Administration for “stifling opposition to their neocon policies.”

The attitude of President Bush towards the journalistic profession is “highly reminiscent of that of his predecessor, Richard Nixon, who was obsessed with the idea that the press were out to get him.”

In a wide-ranging debate on press freedom, delegate after delegate criticised the growing intolerance of the media shown by the Administration, which regularly “leans on editors to suppress news about the effects of its policies”, especially the war in Iraq. What right does the Administration have to tell the media not to show pictures of the American dead? “The ‘no body bags’ policy is censorship, pure and simple.”

There was also criticism of the US Army for its “irresponsible” attitude to journalists in war zones. “Eighteen media people have been killed in Iraq by US forces since the invasion of that country in 2003”, said John Szemerey, the Institute’s Brussels representative and a former information officer for the European Commission. “Most of those deaths were totally unnecessary and could easily have been avoided.”

But the American attitude to journalists, “especially if they have dark faces”, is “careless, if not callous”, said Szemerey.

The Bush Administration was not the only government to come in for heavy flak at the institute’s AGM. The Blair Government was also slated for offering money to the NUJ [National Union of Journalists] to promote the Government’s policy towards Africa This was seen as a case of “politicians paying journalists for propaganda” and contrary to the Chartered Institute of Journalists’ code of ethics. The NUJ was criticised even more heavily for having accepted the money.

A resolution was passed by the AGM calling on the US Administration, and other governments, to “respect different opinions, protect and encourage a free press at home, and behave responsibly towards journalists and media personnel in zones of conflict, especially where its troops are involved.”


Consternation over media’s use of “amateur snappers”

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11th October 2005

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has warned of the potential for “confusion and mayhem” should television companies continue to encourage members of the public to attend and photograph news incidents.

Since the July bombs in London it has become common practice for the BBC and other media organisations to use amateur photographs and video footage, and several news organisations have openly advertised to encourage non-professionals to cover such incidents.

Most recently, there have been reports that extra police had to be dispatched to Liverpool Street station to deal with more than 30 members of the public who had congregated to take photographs of a police incident, mostly with their mobile phones.

“It won’t be long before the police begin to widen their cordons around incidents in an efforts to keep at bay phone-wielding mobs,” said Robin Morgan, chairman of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board. “This will make it even more hard for professional photographers to do their job.”

The Institute’s annual general meeting, held in London at the weekend, agreed a resolution condemning the terms of use issued by television companies which insist that the contributors indemnify the organisation against any legal action resulting from the use of their material, as well as expecting them to provide it for no payment. The meeting also condemned the practice of soliciting contributions from non-professionals, which “cheapens the profession” as a whole.


Journalists’ institute urges safety to be top priority

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11th October 2005

Members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists at their annual general meeting in London at the weekend, urged employers to make safety their top priority when sending journalists to cover public order incidents.

Institute members relayed first-hand experience of incidents where photographers had been deliberately targeted by members of the public.

“It is no longer acceptable for employers to be ignorant about the sharp end of the job,” said photo-journalist and Chairman of the Institute’s Photographic Division, Paul Stewart. “In today’s environment we are finding attacks on journalists becoming more prevalent, and organisations should take more responsibility for their staff when sending them into potentially explosive situations.”

The AGM voted to remind news organisations that to send their staff into dangerous situations without adequate training or protection may be considered to be in contravention of health and safety regulations.

“For the sake of a few hundred pounds a kevlar stab-proof vest could be provided, which could save lives and a lot more expense should a journalist become injured,” said Barry Beattie, Chairman of the Institute’s Freelance Division. “Violent incidents can flare without any warning on seemingly quiet jobs, and protective vests should be considered part of every journalist’s basic working equipment these days.”



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3rd March 2005

Sangita Shah inaugurated as third female President, and first Asian, in 120-year history of Chartered Institute of Journalists

BBC veteran Wheeler praises Shah as “new face of British journalism”

Sangita Shah, the new President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, pledged that the Institute would fight harder than ever before to protect its members’ rights in an “increasingly ruthless” media industry.

Speaking at her Presidential inauguration last Friday (25 Feb) at the Guildhall, London, Shah said that the Institute must continue to perform “its joint role as a professional association, upholding and enhancing standards and ethics, and as a certificated trade union, fully independent and beholden to no political or other master.”

The Institute must redouble its efforts, she said, “to protect our skilled professional journalists from the mercy of employers who opportunistically capitalise on an ever-growing capacity of freelance journalists prepared to work at sub-market rates.”

In some cases this opportunism can even lead to physical danger for journalists, Shah said, with media organisations sending inexperienced freelances into war zones without adequate protection or training.

The Institute was well placed, Shah added, to play a pivotal role in changing public perceptions of the journalistic profession. “All too often we are perceived as lowly creatures dressed in dirty raincoats rummaging through dustbins in search of dirt and gossip. We’re just up from the estate agents… if we are lucky!”

“We as an Institute, who pride ourselves in upholding the highest standards of journalism, have an obligation to influence and inform the debate.”

Acknowledging the reforms that have taken place in the Chartered Institute of Journalists in recent years, including the introduction of direct elections to the governing Council in place of regional representation, and changes to the organisation’s management and internal structures, she emphasised the need to marry modernisation with “ensuring that we preserve the Institute’s history and values.”

She also paid tribute to past Presidents, “colourful personalities who have enhanced and enriched the Institute.”

Guest of honour at the Presidential Handover, veteran BBC journalist Charles Wheeler said how pleased he was to see Sangita Shah taking up the reins in the Institute. In his 60 years in journalism, he said, “women have gradually displaced men and have shown themselves willing to do all the things men used to do.”

The BBC had always had more female journalists than other media organisations, he said, but it was only in recent years that women had been able to “break through the glass ceiling” and take on the top jobs in the Corporation.