Press cards

UK MEDIA ORGANISATIONS WARN OF AMATEUR “PRESS PASS”

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Police forces and other organisations are warned today about a so-called “press pass” which is being sold by Demotix, the amateur journalists’ website.

UK Press Card Authority chair Mike Granatt said:

“The Demotix ‘press pass’ is nothing of the sort, despite the fact that it is designed to look like a genuine journalists’ identity document.

“The National Press Card is the card of professional journalists within the UK. All the major media organisations, associations and trades unions are part of the scheme. They include the BBC, SKY, ITN, the Newspaper Publishers Association, the NUJ, and the Newspaper Society.

(A full list of the 17 organisations and a copy of the card can be found at www.ukpresscardauthority.co.uk)

“We have worked hard over many years to establish the National Press Card as the ID for professional journalists. It is designed to assure the police and others that the holder is a professional newsgatherer, working full-time to serve the public.”

“Our concern is that the police and third parties might be misled by the Demotix card. Its intention is confirmed by Demotix’s advice on their website which suggests ‘…walking up to the authorities with swagger, then shove the press pass in their face along with ‘that’s right, I have access to this event’ grin on your face.’”

Granatt added: “No professional journalist would behave like that. And no-one should encourage anybody to try to bluster their way past a cordon or into an event with this hobbyists’ ‘press pass’.

“We will be contacting police forces across the country to alert them to the Demotix card.”

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Leading journalists’ organisation calls for tighter accreditation procedures

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NEWS RELEASE

24th July, 2002

The Chartered Institute of Journalists voices ‘grave concern’

As the anniversary of the tragic events in New York approaches, the Chartered Institute of Journalists is calling on the government to demand of the various organisations concerned that more rigorous accreditation procedures be adopted when processing applications for press cards to avoid the possibility of them falling into the wrong hands.

In addition, the Institute would like to see those companies who profit from compiling databases of so-called ‘journalists’ impose stricter qualifications for inclusion in their lists. At present many require no verification of employment or outlets and are willing to add applicant’s names to their registers in return for no more than a signed direct debit.

The Institute admits that such databases do not in themselves provide proof of formal accreditation but it is concerned that they do provide a readily accessible stepping-stone to full accreditation, with no questions asked. In many cases, the mere fact of being so registered could result in the receipt of press-calls and perhaps admit to sensitive locations people who pose a threat to National Security.

” We live in troubled times,” says Christopher Underwood, General Secretary of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, ” And it is a matter to us of grave concern that anyone with less-than-honest intent may easily gain recognition as a journalist and obtain all the privileges of press-card holders, including access to locations and events denied the general public. The value to a terrorist of being able to reconnoitre target buildings or achieve close proximity to senior government staff and even Cabinet ministers, should not be underestimated.”

The Chartered Institute of Journalists was established in 1884. Since that time it has been responsible for accrediting many thousands of qualified journalists but has experienced in recent years a growing number of applications from people who can prove neither formal training nor provide evidence of material having been published in recognised outlets.

As the oldest professional body of its kind anywhere in the world, and uniquely the holder of a Royal Charter, the Institute believes it has both the authority and experience to recommend urgent action from all responsible organisations and to insist the government take heed of its warning.

-Ends