The NUJ is hoping Lord Justice Leveson has backed a conscience clause to safeguard journalists from being sacked if they object to to being told to act unethically in pursuit of a story.
The union won a fight to be regarded as a ‘core participant’ in the Leveson Inquiry, whose recommendations on press behaviour will be published tomorrow (Thursday).
In her evidence to Leveson, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet (pictured) gave examples of bullying of staff in some newsrooms.
Stanistreet said in a letter to NUJ members : “From the outset of the Leveson inquiry, we demanded a conscience clause to safeguard journalists who object to being made to act unethically in the pursuit of a story. The industry – both the Press Complaints Commission and the Society of Editors – has repeatedly refused to bring in a conscience clause, despite the Home Affairs Select Committee backing this NUJ’s campaign as long ago as 2003.
“We highlighted the vital role a trade union plays in any workplace, and how in journalism the NUJ plays a role in maintaining standards and standing up for ethical journalism, as well as the bread and butter industrial issues of pay and conditions.
"We explained to Lord Leveson that an NUJ workplace chapel is not simply the vehicle for putting together pay claims and campaigning for better terms and conditions it is also the place where members can raise issues of concern on ethical matters, on staffing levels, and on bullying and editorial pressure within their workplace.”
Stainstreet claims the NUJ's public support for statutory underpinning of a new system of press regulation has been "misrepresented" by those opposed to any kind of state involvement in the press.
She says in her letter: "The NUJ's position has been misrepresented and attacked in many quarters of the press - including in The Sun, which accused the union of trying to end free speech in the UK, and create a press akin to that in Zimbabwe or Iran. The NUJ has been accused of supporting state control of the press.
"The union does not back statutory regulation of the press. We support an independent system of regulation - independent from the industry and, crucially, from government."
The NUJ's stance has led to some members resigning in protest and others calling for the whole membership to be consulted over what the union's policy should be press regulation.
- Pic. Michelle Stanistreet (Jon Slattery)