Despite innate competitive instincts, journalists must come together as a global industry to defend their own safety.
was the stark message from BBC chairman Michael Grade in a keynote
speech at the closing session of the International Press Institute
world congress in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
Grade, who revealed that
a third of the cost of the BBC's current Baghdad operation was the cost
of security for its news teams working there, declared: "These are
times when journalists need to set their competitive instincts aside.
Times when they need to come together as a global industry. Times – and
now is one of them – when they need to take a stand and show some
"Solidarity is a bit of an unfashionable word. But
solidarity is what is needed now. Solidarity with journalists under
threat around the globe."
Recalling that well over 500
journalists had been killed worldwide in the past 10 years, Grade
pointed out: "Many of these journalists were not killed because they
were in combat zones. They were killed because they were doing what
journalists ought to do – to speak truth to power. They did so, and
power took its revenge.
"Attacks like these are not just attacks
on journalists; they are attacks on the principle of free expression
itself…attacks on democracy.
"This is the context in which this
IPI congres has taken place – the mounting threat to free expression
posed by the apparent impunity with which inconvenient journalists can
be disposed of."
Grade urged the global media industry to:
collaborate on safety, spending what it takes to ensure safety, follow
the highest professional standards and keeping the media spotlight on
The BBC chairman said it was essential that safety
never becomes a competitive issue. He said the BBC held regular
meetings with its national and international competitors to share its
own safety information openly and freely and to learn from the
experience of others.
Over the last five years, he said, the amount BBC newsgathering spent on safety had roughly doubled.
Grade added: "A free press is a lot easier to defend when journalists follow the highest professional standards."