The NUJ’s general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, has claimed that Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s calls for a new press card system is impractical.
Media magazine Press Gazette reports that at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards yesterday, Stanistreet said of Dacre’s proposal: “I don’t think it would work in practice. I don’t understand the premise behind it: why would the industry, why would the newspaper owners, be in a position to somehow guarantee things that don’t happen at the moment as a result of [being] the press card gatekeepers?
“I think this is yet another example of how an editor – a very high-profile influential member of the industry – is trying to again pin the blame on individual journalists. They want a system in place that’s run by the industry and controlled by the industry.”
Stanistreet's comments follow Dacre's comments on Monday, when he told the Leveson Inquiry that signed-up members of a new press regulator which would replace the PPC, should be given press cards, with press events only to be made open to those with a card.
Press Gazette report that Stanistreet argued that under such a system, blame would be directed toward the ordinary reporter and not the management that employs them.
It quotes her as saying: “It does absolutely nothing to move us forward from where we are today and it doesn’t tackle at all any of the issues about the culture, practice and ethics within the press.
“It’s not at all a notion that we would support and I’ve seen since the widespread reaction to it, from many seasoned journalists and many academics in the industry, that’s it’s a ridiculous notion.
“It would never work and, again, it doesn’t account for the fact that journalists operate in a culture that is imposed on them from above.
“Under his [Dacre’s] model he would have all the power and none of the responsibility.”
Stanistreet, also warned that the plan would be a step toward the licensing of journalists, something the NUJ would “absolutely oppose and would damage press freedom within the UK”.
“It’s not a practical model and it’s not a solution to the problems we’re all sharing here in this inquiry.”
Meanwhile, yesterday Stanistreet told the Levenson Inquiry of a culture of newsroom bullying by managers looking for stories to be reported 'at all costs'.
“The range of issues the journalists have raised with me include, but are not restricted to – endemic bullying, huge pressure to deliver stories, overwhelming commercial pressures which are allowed to dictate what is published and the overweening power and control of editors over their journalists and of employers over their editors," commented Stanistreet.