Press Gazette's letter to Lord Leveson: Don't forget the vast majority of hard-working honest journalists


The following is a copy of the covering letter I have sent to Lord Leveson, along with the relevant pages from Press Gazette.

Dear Lord Leveson,
I’m editor of Press Gazette, the UK’s only monthly magazine for journalists.
I don’t know any journalists who haven’t felt ashamed about  the shabby practices which have been unearthed by your inquiry.
But at the same time, the picture of British journalism you have been presented with is unrecognisable to most journalists.
I hope you can take the time to look through the 12 pages of this month’s Press Gazette magazine which carry the ‘Proud to be a journalist’ logo.
This is just a tiny snapshot – but I can assure you it is indicative of the honest work in the public interest which the vast majority of Britain’s journalists are engaged in.
Last month Press Gazette asked its 24,000 Twitter followers for reasons why they are Proud to be a Journalist. Their responses are published across pages 16,17,18 and 19 and give you some insight into what motivates journalists working across national and regional newspapers, consumer magazines, business publishing and broadcasting.
The vast majority of Britain’s journalists work very hard for comparatively little money because, yes the job is fun, but also because they passionately believed in the ethical grounding for what they are doing.
Here are a couple of examples:
Antonia Hoyle, journalist: “Today a woman I interviewed said that the finished feature helped her come to terms with her illness.”
Carys Shepworth, Bridgend Reporter, Wales Online: “Exposing those who abuse power and giving a platform to those who have none.”
There are around 100 more of these.
On pages 20 and 21 former ‘paparazzo’ photographer Nick Stern talks about the ethical considerations which are made behind the lens of those in the press pack.
“We are there as impartial observers to record in a dignified manner and in a way that no reasonable celebrity or member of the public could have an issue with.”
Perhaps most powerfully, on pages 22-24, is the report from John Dale about the real journalism in the public interest which goes on at one of our best local weekly newspapers – the Essex Chronicle. You would find a similar story at hundreds of other newsrooms.
And finally, on page 26, we report on the investigation by Sun chief feature writer Oliver Harvey to track down former famine victim Birhan Woldu in Ethiopia, sparking a campaign which would help raise £3m for Africa.
In making your recommendations, please consider the vast majority of journalists who do work in the public interest in increasingly tough economic circumstances.
Thousands of British journalists have lost their jobs in recent years in the face of the economic downturn and technological change.
While crooked journalists should be shown no quarter, the vast majority of honest journalists need your support.
Ordinary journalists need stronger protection from pressure to behave unethically and for having the courage to blow the whistle on those who do break the rules.
And any reforms must not erode the competitive edge of an industry which is already under extreme commercial pressure.
Dominic Ponsford
Press Gazette

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