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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Exclusion of media critics from Downing Street briefings sets dangerous precedent, warns Chartered Institute of Journalists

Press Release
Release date: 5 February 2020

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has condemned the government’s crass and immature bullying of journalists and warns that it needs to ‘grow up’ and show respect for media freedom.

Institute President, Janice Shillum, says: “Only authoritarian governments snarl at the media and retaliate against criticism with threats and petty restrictions. So it is of immense concern that Boris Johnson’s government is behaving this way towards its critics in the media. It is especially alarming when the Prime Minister is himself a journalist by profession and should know better.”

She adds: “These clumsy attempts at media manipulation and control are undignified and unbecoming in a country that likes to pride itself on setting high standards of democratic accountability. It is high time that the Prime Minister’s Chief Political Advisor, Dominic Cummings, and those responsible for the Government’s communications strategy, started showing more professionalism and better judgement in their dealings with the media.”

The Institute is the longest established professional association of journalists and has been tracking a growing pattern of harassment that varies from insults and boycotts to thinly veiled threats to curtail the security of BBC funding.

Recently Mr Cummings told an ITV news reporter that his questions in a live door-stepping encounter were inane. It would seem that the accusation of ‘inanity’ is becoming the government’s watchword in its treatment of professional media.”

The CIoJ points out the need for a healthy and respectful relationship between government and the media to underline the vital role that a free media plays as an essential pillar of democracy.