Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Media practices, Phone Hacking, Lord Leveson, NUJ, Press Complaints

Apparently, during Lord Leveson’s inquiry into media practices, culture and ethics – including ‘phone hacking’ - John Hendy QC, counsel for the National Union of Journalists, enjoyed a rare moment to quiz Rupert Murdoch, News International’s media mogul.
    Hendy asked Murdoch about testimony from a journalist working for News International newspapers who had experienced bullying.
   Murdoch replied: “Why didn’t she resign?”
   Lord Leveson himself had to point out: “I think the problem with that might be that she needs a job.”

Conscience clause
Leveson publishes his findings in London tomorrow (Thursday, 29 November). But I think it’s worth recording the NUJ’s position on a number of issues affecting the UK media and its relationship with the public, police and politicians.
   One of the most interesting calls supported by NUJ members is for a ‘conscience clause’ to safeguard journalists who object to being made to act unethically in the pursuit of a story.
   Proposals from Lords Black and Hunt apparently rule out a conscience clause.

Workplace chapel
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, also told NUJ members today (Wednesday, 28 November): “It is significant that the unfolding scandal at News International happened in a workplace where the NUJ has been effectively blocked by Rupert Murdoch, where journalists working across the titles have been denied the collective representation of an independent trade union for a generation.”
   Hence, the NUJ reminded Lord Leveson that an NUJ workplace chapel is not simply a vehicle for putting together pay claims and campaigning for better terms and conditions but is also the locus where journalists can raise concern about ethics, staff levels, bullying and editorial pressure.

NUJ members voted to scrap and replaced the current Press Complaints Commission. Lords Black and Hunt also apparently rule out the working involvement of active journalists in a PCC Mark II.
   Their Lordships apparently also suggested this new body should determine who gets a press card. “A system that could withdraw an individual journalists’ press card – and livelihood – would transfer accountability from the publisher to the journalist,” says Stanistreet.
“This would be akin to the licensing of journalists.”

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, November 2012

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