No, don\’t think I like this

Journalists and photographers on publications will not be able to apply for a press card if their employer refuses to sign up to the Press Complaints Commission code of practice, under a kitemark proposal due to be voted on by the board of the body that issues accreditation this week.

Not at all. Far too close to trying to define who is worthy enough to be allowed to report the news and who is not. There are countries that have this formally established and I most certainly don\’t like that idea.

This is supposedly voluntary, private sector, and I still don\’t like it. Just don\’t like the idea of anyone at all getting to decide who is a journalist worth of reporting the news and who is not.

To take a trivial example. I once dug some information out of the Treasury (the number of people who had made donations to the tax authorities). Ended up being used in a piece in The Times. But while I was digging for it I was not a \”journalist\”. Had no paper behind me. No accreditation. No PCC cover.

You can look at this one way: Treasury treated me (knowing that I was merely a blogger) well, in that they got the information although rather more slowly I suspect than they would have done for someone more important. So, given that this scheme will not be compulsory, what will change?

Well, I think that it will be all too easy for press offices to say, OK, now that there is this scheme if you\’re not on it you don\’t get to come through the press office. Which I think would be a bad thing.

6 thoughts on “No, don\’t think I like this”

  1. Eh? Press cards already exist, and you already can’t get one if you’re a blogger. This is simply changing the definition of who can benefit from the privilege of a press card from “a completely arbitrary group of people” to “a slightly less arbitrary group of people, this time with some responsibilities in exchange for that privilege”.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    Yes john b, I think we all know what it means. The distinction will be between people who think this is a good thing and people who think it is a bad thing.

    Myself, every now and then I think that thin edges are attached to a wedge. Well, often really. But this matters in this case.

  3. How much good journalism is written by people with press passes?

    For example, look at the Kate and Gerry McCann interviews, and how soft they are. Tell me that the only reason they’re so soft is out of sympathy, and not because the interviewer knows that they won’t get another interview if they start asking more awkward questions.

    We know that deals are made with pop stars, movie stars on the same basis. Hollywood columnists won’t savage a movie if they want to get access to an exclusive interview, or mention certain things in the interview.

    Bloggers are detached from this. Those people have no power to influence what is written.

  4. I’ve written as a real journalist and a, probably unreal, blogger. I’ve never needed a press ‘card’. Being formally not allowed to have one is unlikely to change my life.

    “Press passes” to certain events, on the other hand, have proved reasonably useful. But you generally get those with an email from your editor.

  5. That august “issuing body” is the National Union Of Journalists who will hand out one to anyone who pays a subscription. You are expected to supply the fedora in the hatband of which you display the card yourself.
    During the years I had the card, no source, offical or unoffical ever asked to see it.

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