The new president of the Chartered Institute of Journalists has
pledged that it will fight harder than ever to protect its members’
rights in an “increasingly ruthless” media industry.
her inauguration on Friday at the Guildhall in London, Sangita Shah
said that the institute must continue to perform “its joint role as a
professional association, upholding and enhancing standards and ethics,
and as a certificated trade union, fully independent and beholden to no
political or other master”.
It must redouble its efforts, she
said, “to protect our skilled professional journalists from the mercy
of employers who opportunistically capitalise on an ever-growing
capacity of freelance journalists prepared to work at sub-market rates”.
some cases this opportunism can even lead to physical danger for
journalists, Shah said, with media organisations sending inexperienced
freelances into war zones without adequate protection or training.
The institute was well placed, Shah added, to play a pivotal role in changing public perceptions of the journalistic profession.
too often we are perceived as lowly creatures dressed in dirty
raincoats rummaging through dustbins in search of dirt and gossip.
We’re just up from the estate agentsâ€¦ if we are lucky!” she said “We as
an institute, who pride ourselves in upholding the highest standards of
journalism, have an obligation to influence and inform the
debate,” she added.