RELEASE DATE: 19 March 2014
Allowing the police to publish directly onto a newspaper’s website is an attack both on democracy and the media profession as a whole, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists.
Speaking after local police in Torquay were allowed to post directly onto the Herald Express website, Amanda Brodie, chairman of the CIOJ’s Professional Practices Board, described the practice as ‘wholly unacceptable.’
“It is not the job of newspapers to be a mouthpiece for the police or any other body – their job is to hold them to account, not cosy up to them in this way,” she said.
“Who is scrutinising and making the judgements over this content? It’s not an impartial, professional journalist acting as the eyes and ears of the public – it’s the chief of police. The first thing totalitarian states do to consolidate absolute power is seize control of the newspapers and TV stations. That is what’s happening here – by stealth, and under a parliamentary democracy.
She added: “This policy will undermine the trust people have in the impartiality of their local papers. No local authority or commercial organisation should be allowed such access to the pages of our newspapers – it opens the door to bias and manipulation of news content.
“Publisher David Montgomery has attempted to defend his decision by saying that he has to ‘provide a gateway for community institutions.’ But this is not the local WI report – it is a powerful state-funded organisation which at national level has breached public trust in many areas and has been subject to little redress.
“This headlong-rush to cut costs by championing user-generated copy is costing journalists their jobs and has long-term consequences for the future of both the media industry and democracy as a whole.”
Note 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 and the Commonwealth.