‘Accredited media’ not yet defined, Ministry of Justice tells Journalism.co.uk

UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw’s proposals to ‘lift the veil,’ and open family courts to the media, bring with them a range of issues, as discussed by the Telegraph’s Joshua Rozenberg.

One of which is the question of what defines the category of ‘accredited media’? Will it include online-only publications, for example?

Journalism.co.uk rang the Ministry of Justice to find out what will constitute ‘accredited media’. A spokesperson said it is currently ‘being decided’ and will be announced ‘once rules are finally agreed’. “It is part of the decision making process,” he said.

What’s the time-frame? Journalism.co.uk asked. Along with other parts of the proposal, final rules will be established by April 2009, the ministry spokesperson said.

As Rozenberg commented, this is a significant part of the proposals. Rozenberg wrote:

” … Mr Straw does not seem to have given enough thought to what constitutes the modern media.

“If I decide to write about legal affairs on my own website, am I a freelance journalist who should be allowed access to the courts or a blogger who should not? And who is to decide?

“Mr Straw’s officials pointed out that press seats at criminal trials are allocated by court officials. But those denied such seats can usually attend as members of the public. That option would not be available here.

“Journalism is not a profession, in the sense of an occupation with controlled entry such as law or architecture. Anyone can call himself or herself a journalist. It is therefore essential that the final decision on who may attend the family courts as a journalist is one for the courts themselves, not officials.”

(Hat tip to Jon Slattery, who also flagged up the issues on his blog.)

4 thoughts on “‘Accredited media’ not yet defined, Ministry of Justice tells Journalism.co.uk

  1. Elizabeth Robillard

    Hi. Some of us are working hard to reveal injustices in secret family courts and wish to help children in care homes and so on. If you have any para-legals or journalists – please note we would like for you to attend the opening of the family courts as promised by Jack Straw. As you know, the current process is to ignore families in need (baby P comes to mind) and take children from families where there is no problem, to ensure lengthy protracted legal proceedings so as to fatten the pockets of the family lawyers. We’d like some support please. Thank you for your time. Elizabeth Robillard

  2. Pingback: NY Blogger Three: issued press credentials but still pursuing legal action | Journalism.co.uk Editors' Blog

  3. Pingback: Open Justice - Access to ‘Accredited Media’ « Pink Tape

  4. Pingback: Open Justice - Access to ‘Accredited Media’ « Pink Tape

Leave a Reply