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Conference hears conscience clause is ethical journalism future

Striking South Yorkshire Times Editor Jim Oldfield addresses the Conway Hall meeting

Striking South Yorkshire Times Editor Jim Oldfield addresses the Conway Hall meeting  -  © Jess Hurd

11 June 2011

The Murdoch scandal has highlighted the need for real commitment to ethical journalism and the negotiation of a 'conscience clause' to protect journalists from unscrupulous employers.

That was the view of speakers at a successful NUJ meeting to consider the future of the media in the wake of the phone hacking and police bribery revelations.

John McDonnell MP, secretary of the NUJ parliamentary group, told the meeting:

"The NUJ was cleared out of Wapping and we lost the ability to stick up for journalists. We couldn't help journalists to stand up to the bullying and for the Code of Conduct."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, said the union needed industrial recognition at News International and elsewhere to help it fight for a conscience clause which would protect journalists from editorial pressure to slant their stories to reflect the wishes of proprietors.

Speakers stressed the importance of press freedom and ethical journalism as a right of the general public, rather than concepts exclusive to journalists.

The NUJ organised the meeting in London's Conway Hall to consider the prospects for media life after the closure of the News of the World and the eventual exposure of News International and Rupert Murdoch to general political criticism.

Speakers at the event included

  • John McDonnell MP
  • Professor Brian Cathcart, one of the founders of the 'Hacked Off' campaign for a public inquiry into phone hacking
  • Ann Field, Wapping dispute veteran and a leading figure in the media unions' campaign against Murdoch's control of the UK media
  • Mike Jempson, founder of Mediawise, which offers advice on media ethics and helps victims of media abuse
  • Martin Fitzpatrick, a member of the Irish Press Council and an expert on press regulation
  • Jim Oldfield, editor of the South Yorkshire Times who has just begun an indefinite strike in defence of quality journalism
  • Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary

Tags: , conscience clause, ethics, news of the world, future of media, regulation, quality journalism, press freedom, rupert murdoch, news international, hacked off, wapping, mediawise, irish press council, south yorkshire times