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Carnegie UK Trust

Carnegie Report calls for new voluntary framework for the press

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By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

February 6, 2012 | 3 min read

A report published by today by the Carnegie UK Trust, written by broadcaster and media analyst Blair Jenkins, calls for a new ethical and editorial code for all journalists as the ‘key measure’ to support and encourage better news media in the digital age.

The report, entitled “Better Journalism in the Digital Age”, suggests that the system would be voluntary, with news outlets which join obtaining the benefits of press accreditation and recognition.

Jenkins, former head of news and current affairs at both BBC Scotland and STV, chair of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission, and now a Carnegie Fellow, said: “Journalism is based on trust and integrity and that needs to be reflected in a new industry-wide code of conduct. It should be inspiring and authentic for all journalists, but also sufficiently clear and reassuring for the public who depend upon those journalists for reliable news and information.

“The independent regulatory system proposed for the press would strike a new balance. You only get the many benefits of being a serious news operation if you also live up to the obligations. If you want the accreditation that gets you special access to the big stories, you have to sign up to decent and reasonable standards.”

The Carnegie report says that adoption of an industry wide code of conduct will ‘give much clearer guidance on the higher ethical and editorial standards expected’, with other suggestions in the report including maintenance or strengthening of public service broadcasting to ensure that not all news ventures are commercially driven; more emphasis on the training of journalists, including in the area of ethics; and civil society organisations offering help to fund new initiatives in journalism to ensure greater quality and diversity of news sources.

Martyn Evans, Carnegie UK Trust chief executive, said: “The Carnegie UK Trust has always been clear that this is about more than the media being accountable and working to minimum standards – important though these are – because journalism is a central pillar of a free democratic society.

“It’s about raising the ceiling and nurturing innovative journalism so that more media does not mean lower standards or poorer accountability. This issue is too important to be left to those who own and operate media organisations. We all have to help shape the future of news by making our voices heard and by supporting civil society and academia to invest in objective journalism.”

The report will be forwarded as a formal submission to the Leveson Inquiry.

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