Thursday 19 July 2007

BBC Editorial Crisis Highlights Case for Global Ethical Journalism

The International Federation of Journalists today called on media organisations across the industry to join a global campaign to reinforce ethical journalism following the news that the BBC, one of the world’s most trusted broadcasters, has committed serious breaches of its own editorial standards.

“There is a massive problem of falling standards across the media industry that needs to be addressed urgently,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “When an industry leader like the BBC stumbles, there can be little doubt that the crisis of quality is deep and wide spread.”

The BBC is facing a major internal review following a scandal over fake phone-ins and editorial breaches. The BBC has suspended all its TV and radio phone-related competitions after viewers were deliberately fooled over prizes and winners in a number of high-profile programmes. BBC Director General Mark Thompson plans to enforce mandatory training for the BBC’s 16,500 staff.

But the IFJ and its UK affiliate the National Union of Journalists say that training alone will not solve the quality crisis.

“Commercial pressure and insecure working conditions add to the pressure on people who have to make editorial judgements,” said Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary. “It’s time to end casualisation, short-term contracts and other employment pressures that compromise quality.”

The IFJ at its recent Congress in Moscow launched a global Ethical Journalism Initiative to confront falling public confidence in media standards. “Quality content and public trust is the key to survival in and age when technology and the Internet have turned the world of information upside down,” said White. “As the BBC case shows, ethical journalism and editorial standards can be reinforced in every newsroom and media.”

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