The Chartered Institute of Journalists has been responsible for accrediting many thousands of qualified journalists but has experienced in recent years a growing number of applications from people who can prove neither formal training nor provide evidence of material having been published in recognised outlets.
We have also seen a sharp rise in the number of spurious organisations set up with the sole purpose of selling Press cards as well as a number of companies who profit from compiling databases of so-called ‘journalists’. In both cases the organisations require no verification of employment or outlets and are willing to add applicant’s names to their registers in return for no more than a signed direct debit.
The Institute admits that such databases do not in themselves provide proof of formal accreditation but it is concerned that they do provide a readily accessible stepping-stone to full accreditation, with no questions asked. In many cases, the mere fact of being so registered could result in the receipt of press-calls and perhaps admit to sensitive locations people who pose a threat to National Security.
The value to a terrorist of being able to reconnoitre target buildings or achieve close proximity to senior government staff and even Cabinet ministers, should not be underestimated.
The Chartered Institute of Journalists encourages bonafide journalists to carry a recognised Press card and adopts a more rigorous accreditation procedure when processing applications to avoid the possibility of them falling into the wrong hands.
Currently we issue an Institute press card to Full and Trainee members once they have been successfully admitted to membership, during the process of which their credentials are carefully checked. We are also a gatekeeper for the National Press Card, which is recognised by the Police and authorities in the UK, and can issue the card to our members.
Recently, we have issued a new specially-designed international press card to our members.
The new card incorporates important security features such as holographic foil blocking, signature strip and laminated card holder photo and details, which gives better and improved protection not only to journalists but also to those checking the credentials of reporters in emergencies. These measures not only make the card more secure, but also make it more difficult to forge. Anyone scrutinising the card for authenticity will immediately be able to notice signs of tampering.
In a further unique feature, the new Institute card comes with multi-language inserts that can be changed to cater for different destinations.
Details of the card have been forwarded to embassies and major international organisations who request press credentials before allowing reporters or media people access to events or press briefings.