26 January 2015

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Dacre calls for register of licensed journalists

Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has called on the industry to create a register of all accredited journalists as part of a revamped system of media self-regulation.

Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on Press Standards, the country’s longest-serving national newspaper editor called for a single press card that would serve as a “kite mark for ethical journalism.”

He said such a register would be an effective means of ensuring newspaper companies sign-up for self-regulation.

Under his proposal, any that did not would find its journalists unable to gain accreditation and thereby barred from covering key events.

Said Paul:  “The key would be to make the cards available only to members of print newsgathering organisations or magazines who have signed up the new body and its code.

“The public at large would know journalists carrying such cards are bone fide operators committed to a set of standards and a body to who complaints can be made

“Reporters and photographers would use the cards as proof that they’re responsible journalists.”

Paul said that to make the system work, there would need to be a “universal agreement” that only acrcredied journalists should be admitted to government briefings, police press conference and even post-match interviews at football games.

His proposals will be seen as a potential alternative to statutory regulation of the industry by the government.

Senior ministers and inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson himself are believed to favour such a system.


  1. Charles

    I do think it’s a good idea to have proper accreditation for properly qualified journalists – would stop any old idiot (sorry, “citizen journalist”) gaining access to events and taking places meant for genuine members of the press, as seems to be happening at present.
    However, this line concerns me: “The key would be to make the cards available only to members of print newsgathering organisations or magazines who have signed up the new body and its code.”
    What about freelancers, or trained, qualified reporters who aren’t working for a newspaper or magazine – perhaps on a website or similar? They can be just as responsible as those employed by newspapers, if not more so, and it would be unfair to exclude them because some less genuine individuals have caused problems in the past.

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  2. Roy Greenslade, Brighton

    This is obviously a well-meant attempt to overcome the problem of some kind of statutory regulation or the slightly softer notion of a state-sponsored regulation framework. But it’s wholly impractical (as is a similar idea by Blair Jenkins).
    See my piece in Media Guardian
    and also Dan Sabbagh’s comment

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  3. Penn Reece, Kent

    What about once journos get their NCE then they are entitled to the card? This ensures they have media law knowledge and shorthand etc and anyone who is serious about journalism sticks this out! the blood sweat and not to mention cash for the NCTJ! The standard is high and the exams are tough. That will stop the so called bloggers calling themselves journalists and the BBC kids that get in through ‘ oh my friends dad gave me work experience and they just kept me on’

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  4. Len Sman

    I’m a senior, fully trained journo, so as a self-preservation measure, I like the idea.

    However, as a matter of principle, I am against limits on anyone being able to have their say, be they press or public.

    Above all, though, companies will probably refuse to sign-up to a scheme which a) obliges them to employ only accredited staff (costing them money) and, b) limits their ability to actually get rid of those same staff in favour of citizen journalists (costing them money). £s and Ps will still rule.

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  5. Snaphappy

    And of course the real point is on a regional level PSCO Plod in his divine wisdom will still ignore you and your card whoever it’s issued by.

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  6. Bob from Burnley

    All those implicated in the NoW phone hacking scandal, apart from the so-called ‘private investigators’, would presumably have qualified as bona fide journalists, so a licensing system would not have worked in their case.
    Also, it must be borne in mind that the Leveson inquiry is not about the ethics of the press as a whole, but the uncontrolled behaviour of a rogue element of the tabloid media which came to believe it was untouchable.
    No worthwhile journalist on, say, papers like The Yorkshire Post, The Scotsman, the Express and Star or the Manchester Evening News would have resorted to tactics used by NoW hacks.
    Let’s not forget that phone-hacking was confined to the feral fringes of the newspaper business, and never affected the mainstream.

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  7. Tog

    I regularly cover events and incidents where people calling themselves professional journalists and photojournalists pitch up. They’re usually weeded out by the simple expedient of a request for sight of a Press Card, occasionally after some prompting from me. Press Cards are not actually that easy for ‘outsiders’ to get hold of and if there are weaknesses in the gatekeeper system then I’m sure they could be tightened up without resorting to a whole new layer of bureaucracy, and cost. I wonder if Paul Dacre holds one…

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