Union is this week meeting with management at the newspaper in the wake of its HSBC tax scandal coverage
Chief political commentator Peter Oborne last week resigned from his post after the paper’s coverage of the HSBC tax scandal. He claims due prominence was not given to the story because HSBC advertises with the paper. It also emerged that journalists were then pulled off stories that were critical of the bank.
The NUJ is due to meet management later this week to talk about pay and will now raise questions about proposed new guidelines on relations between advertising and editorial and the protection of journalistic integrity; it will then met the union’s chapel to discuss the negotiations.
The Telegraph said it would now be drawing up guidelines that will “define clearly and openly how our editorial and commercial staff will co-operate in an increasingly competitive media industry, particularly in digital publishing, an area whose journalistic and commercial importance can only grow”.
NUJ national organiser Laura Davison said: “It’s pretty shocking that these don’t already exist. Any guidelines drawn up must as a minimum be done in consultation. The starting point should not be one of co-operation with commercial but the protection of editorial integrity and a mechanism for journalists to speak out if they are under pressure.
“This should include the insertion of a conscience clause in their contracts. Journalists need to be protected and enabled to do the job they came into the industry to do without fear or favour, regardless of ownership ”
Professor Chris Frost, chair of the NUJ’s ethics council, said it also highlighted a failure of the new press regulator IPSO; its code does not cover conflicts of journalism and commercial pressures.
The NUJ’s code of conduct says journalists should “resist threats or any other inducements to influence, distort or suppress information” and “does not by way of statement, voice or appearance endorse by advertisement any commercial product or service save for the promotion of her/his own work or of the medium by which she/he is employed”.
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