Journalism- the first casualty

Press release
Release date: 16 January 2018

The Chartered Institute of journalists is urging politicians not to make journalism the first casualty when campaigning against content they perceive to be offensive or disagreeable.

The Institute fears last week’s House of Lords vote to bully news publications to be regulated by a state approved media watchdog and recent political hounding of news advertisers and distributors are ‘democracy disabling strategies.’

Institute President Mark Croucher said: “Undermining the economic stability of news publications based on opposition to perceived content is unhelpful when the news media industry is facing a crisis of declining audience and revenue.”

Mr Croucher warned politicians to try to avoid making journalism the convenient scapegoat and shooting the messenger opportunity.

He condemned the amendment to the Data Protection Bill that seeks to make newspapers responsible for both parties’ costs of a legal action, whether newspapers win or lose unless they agree to be regulated by IMPRESS- a state approved media watchdog.

He said: “The vast majority of professional news publishers in the UK do not want to be regulated by a body that has been licensed by the state.  It’s also mostly funded by the family trust of a multi-millionaire with an axe to grind.”

The Institute fully agrees with the views of Lord Pannick QC who said during the debate that the amendment will “be a manifest breach of this country’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, because of the chilling effect that it would inevitably have on valuable investigative journalism.”

It supports the view of the Liberal-Democrat Lord Lester QC who said: “The rest of the free world that believes in free speech looks with amazement at these debates [on restricting press freedom].”

The Institute’s position is that existing media laws provide sufficient scrutiny and holding to account, and news publishers should be free to chose any regulator working to ethical standards and staffed by persons of integrity.

Most mainstream news publishers have chosen to be regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) that is funded by the industry rather than the taxpayer and meets most of the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.

Ends

 

Notes 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.

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