RELEASE TIME: IMMEDIATE, 17 JUNE 2009
THE Chartered Institute of Journalists believes that the election of BNP members to mainstream politics should be dealt with in the same even handed manner as all other political parties.
While the NUJ is holding a debate about the right way to handle the rise of parties like the BNP, the CIoJ believes that accurate reporting will undermine the strong support of such parties.
CIoJ President Liz Justice said: “It is not an option ignoring views of elected members because they don’t chime with your own political views.
“It is a reporter’s job to report – and a sub’s job to edit – without injecting personal feelings and prejudices into the story. The opinion writers’ job allows them to reflect their beliefs. It is not the job of a journalists’ trade union to dictate otherwise. That is why the Chartered Institute of Journalists is strictly non-political and urges its members to report the facts and let the readers (rightfully) make up their own minds.
The advent of the BNP should be treated no differently to any other political party by journalists dedicated to the concept attributed to Voltaire: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’
“The electing public can make good decisions based on accurate reporting. I am clear that CIoJ journalists should not treat any political party with polite disdain or use their own political stance to undermine fair reporting.
“These parties now have democratically elected members and they will also be newspaper readers. The best way forward for journalists is to treat them as any other contributor and interact in a challenging way. Journalists are in the perfect position to let the public know what they are voting for when the next elections come along.”