NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet has dismissed Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s calls for a new press card system as impractical and ‘ridiculous”.
On Monday Dacre set out his vision for a new umbrella body that would have sole responsibility for issuing press cards, which would become an ‘essential kite mark for ethical, proper journalism”.
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He argued that such a system would be an effective means of ensuring all newspapers and magazines signed up to self-regulation by excluding non-card carrying members from access to bodies such as the Government, local authorities and the police.
It would replace current press card issuing bodies which include the NUJ.
At the Leveson Inquiry this afternoon Stanistreet said Dacre’s proposals were ‘ridiculous”. ‘I don’t think it would work in practice,’she said. ‘I don’t understand the premise behind it: why would the industry, why would the newspaper owners, be in a position to somehow guarantee things that don’t happen at the moment as a result of [being] the press card gatekeepers?
‘I think this is yet another example of how as an editor – a very high profile influential member of the industry – is trying to again pin the blame on individual journalists. They want a system in place that’s run by the industry and controlled by the industry.”
Under such a system, argued Stanistreet, blame would be directed toward the ordinary reporter and not the management that employs them.
‘It does absolutely nothing to move us forward from where we are today and it doesn’t tackle at all any of the issues about the culture, practice and ethics within the press,’she said.
‘It’s not at all a notion that we would support and I’ve seen since the widespread reaction to it, from many seasoned journalists and many academics in the industry, that’s it’s a ridiculous notion.
‘It would never work and, again, it doesn’t account for the fact that journalists operate in a culture that is imposed on them from above.
‘Under his [Dacre’s] model he would have all the power and none of the responsibility.”
Stanistreet warned it would also be a step toward the licensing of journalists, something the NUJ would ‘absolutely oppose and would damage press freedom within the UK”.
‘It’s not a practical model and it’s not a solution to the problems we’re all sharing here in this inquiry,’she said.
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