Friday, 10 July 2009

Support for journalists who expose facts about fascists

Give the public the facts about the BNP and expose their racist views through robust, independent reporting - and organise to defend journalists who come under attack as a result.

That was the clear call from NUJ members across the industry at a special Reporting the BNP meeting organised by the union.

More than 50 members - including journalists from the Guardian, BBC, Financial Times, Thomson Reuters and local papers - came to express their determination to stop racist propaganda gaining hold through the media.

Three people joined the union on the night to attend the meeting.

Officials assured the gathering that members who uphold the NUJ’s Code of Conduct and refuse to be used to propagate racist propaganda will be given the full backing of the union.

A new website setting out key questions to ask BNP politicians, exposing myths about asylum and immigration, highlighting good journalistic practice in tackling racist propaganda, and bringing together information on far-right parties will be launched in the coming weeks.

Members under pressure to breach the Code of Conduct or facing ethical dilemmas have access to a hotline to seek professional advice.

The NUJ’s policy condemns racist and fascist views and states “the best way to combat such views is to oppose and expose them wherever and whenever they are expressed, rather than by seeking to deny their expression”.

The NUJ Code of Conduct states that journalists shall not handle racist material, and in addition the union has a set of guidelines on race reporting that include advice on reporting racist organisations.

The guidelines in full

But there was concern that journalists in the workplace lacked the information or the confidence to resist pressure to report the BNP uncritically, especially in the wake of job losses and low staffing levels on many newspapers.

The union pledged support to members prepared to take a stand against racism in their workplaces and to provide support for those targeted as a result of their exposés of the criminal activity of BNP councillors or candidates by far right website Redwatch which had a special page targeting "red journalists".

The Guardian on Redwatch

Other suggestions included staff taking action against their publications accepting ads from the BNP and pressing for a right of reply by anti-racists to BNP assertions.

Leaflets and posters setting out the NUJ’s guidelines will be distributed to workplaces across the UK and well-known journalists will be approached to back the union’s campaign against the media being used as a platform for racist or fascist propaganda.


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