Trust back on track

2 August 2002 – After a six month hiatus during which lack of funding threatened to terminate the activities of The PressWise Trust, fresh funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation has put the Trust back on track.

The rescue package will allow PressWise to continue providing free advice to those with complaints about the print and broadcast media in the UK, and to explore new ways of keeping media ethics high on the public agenda. Over the coming months the Trust will be reviewing its plans for self-funding research and training units by exploring the potential for partnerships among new and existing media organisations.

The annual reports of the PCC and the BSC show that the number of complaints is on the increase. The imminent arrival of a single ‘lighter touch’ regulator (OfCom) for the broadcast media will bring fresh challenges to those with complaints. Meanwhile the concerns expressed by PressWise patron Polly Toynbee (‘This cult of intrusion and bullying is cheapening us all,’ The Guardian, Wednesday 24 July 2002, p.16) reflect a growing interest in media ethics here in the UK.

The Media Society and the Global Ethics Institute UK have held a series of consultations on the topic, the International Communications Forum is hoping to develop activities around media ethics in the UK, and an Institute of Communication Ethics is in the process of formation. Numerous academic institutions are also paying closer attention to the issue, and there are a variety of media NGOs for whom engagement in ethical issues has become important.

PressWise has been active in the field for a decade, and welcomes this upsurge in interest. We intend to work closely with like-minded organisations in the hope that a lasting forum can be created to encourage dialogue between the public and the media professionals.

Meanwhile the PressWise Refugee, Asylum-seekers and Media (RAM) project is set to continue, having received support under the Home Office Refugee Integration Unit Challenge Fund. It will work with refugee NGOs and the NUJ to improve media coverage and support self-help media initiatives.

And PressWise is continuing with its Suicide and Media project (recently featured in Ian Mayes Guardian Readers’ Editor column, Monday 29 July). A sensitivity-training package launched at the July meeting of the NUJ Ethics Council, will shortly be available on-line in partnership with Befrienders International. We hope it will be implemented at several international events this autumn.

In short, it is business as usual at PressWise.

Mike Jempson
Director, The PressWise Trust

(Bulletin No 70)

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