More power for working journalists, says Gen Sec

The General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Michelle Stanistreet, will be speaking at the Oxford Union tomorrow (Thursday 1 November), on the subject of Politics versus the Media.

She will be speaking against the proposition that This House Believes That British Politics is in the Pocket of the Media.

Stanistreet, who gave evidence on behalf of the NUJ to the Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press, will argue that journalists have an essential role to play in informing the public, facilitating debate and holding people in authority to account.

“Evidence about collusion between politicians and press barons, including the handling of News Corp’s bid to take control of BSkyB and, we believe, the BBC licence fee settlement, have raised many important questions. I will argue that it is not the relationship between politicians and the media that needs to change, but the relationship between the media owners and the journalists who work for them.

“The evidence I gave to the Leveson enquiry demonstrated very clearly that the unethical and criminal behaviour of some of the journalists who worked at the News of the World and other News Corp titles was a product of a culture of bullying in which the need to get a story at all costs overrode any normal professional or ethical concerns. This in turn was the direct result of News Corp denying the journalists any collective voice through an independent union – journalists who wanted to stand up to pressure had nowhere to turn,” said Stanistreet.

“I will argue that the answer is not to weaken but to strengthen journalists and the media, through effective independent regulation and the adoption of a conscience clause which will give journalists protection in their contracts of employment against being victimised for abiding by the NUJ Code of Conduct.”

Speaking in favour of the proposition will be:

  • Brian Cathcart – Founder of ‘Hacked Off’ campaign, Professor of Journalism at Kingston University, and advisor to Commons Media Select Committee
  • Roy Greenslade – Trustee of media ethics committee MediaWise, and member of Board of British Journalism Review
  • Mark Lewis – Media Lawyer

Speaking in opposition:

  • Michael Crick – Chief political correspondent at Channel 4 News
  • Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP – Chairman of Health Select Committee
  • Iain Overton – MD of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism
  • Michelle Stanistreet – General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists

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