Camp for Climate Action has stated that media will only be permitted on site between 11 am and noon; that they must be accompanied and identified with a flag; must stick with the tour; that some journalists will not be allowed on site and that a “black-list” will be operated. Sympathetic journalists will be given longer access.
In his letter, Mr Toner warned them: “You should be aware that journalists of all political views and none are united in their abhorrence of restrictions on media access, and that you risk alienating even 'sympathetic' journalists by your behaviour.
“I am sure your organisation believes in openness and transparency, and that you would criticise public bodies who fall short of those aspirations. Your stated intention to avoid openness imitates the behaviour of those organisations you criticise.
“Alternatively, by allowing the media more open access you will impress all journalists, and even those you consider hostile to your aims will have something positive to report about the event.”
access whilst respecting participants' right to privacy; a balancing act
between the desire to reach a wide audience through the mainstream media,
and the need to respect many participants’ wishes to avoid the media
Events similar to the camp have in the past had a zero-access policy with
regards to the mainstream media. The one-hour media tour at last year’s
camp was a major step for many camp participants, and our decision to
additionally allow some journalists to live with us on the site this year
is yet another leap. Some participants are ready for even further access,
others feel passionately that the camp should be a media-free zone. The
policy as it stands is a compromise between these positions, agreed
democratically at the final open camp planning meeting in London in July.
This was one of many democratic decisions to place restrictions on the
nature of the camp, including restrictions on the police entering, the
presence of profit-making stalls, and noise late at night. Journalists
shouldn't feel singled out, as they haven't been. It is also important to
be clear that we are not restricting media access to only ‘sympathetic’
journalists. Finally, the camp is not public space – it is a community of
people living together, if temporarily. It is an open space, as in open to
people to participate, not a free space where anything goes.
The policy is not designed to control the media message or prevent
critical coverage, but to allow camp life to unfold without the continuous
pressure of media attention. We have always been clear that media work
comes second to the key aims and activities of the camp – educating
ourselves through workshops, creating a self-managed and sustainable
community, and taking direct action – much of which happens more fully and
productively without a media presence.
However, we also believe that engaging with the media is essential to
fully communicate what the camp is about to as wide an audience as
possible, and the media team are working hard to facilitate this process.
Please be aware that we are facing multiple opposing requests and
constraints, and please bear with us as we attempt to negotiate these
While there are many sympathetic journalists, there are far to many cases of treacherous reporting from journalists misrepresenting and setting up people for a fall - even among the more 'respectable' or liberal media. I've been a victim of this myself. The NUJ needs to understand the mistrust that this builds. That journalists are allowed on is a big step for many. It is a managed solution that allow those who are not being part of the media to avoid it - is that a freedom we are to be forced to surrender?
There are many who do not want their faces filmed, from fear of state oppression to trauma of being filmed while being abused as a child. What of their needs and rights?
While I do not agree with the entirety of the camp policy on permitting journalists, for instance 'embedded' journalists (I hate the concept, and dont want them there in the first place), the policy at the organizing meeting was well discussed out and aimed at meeting everyones concerns. Have you, the NUJ, familiarized yourself with this discussion and the reason behind it.
The tone of your letter was not conciliatory but arrogant; it approached us as if we were denying you some fundamental right. It smacks of protectionism, but you are not so fast to protect others at the same time. The media has no inalienable right, certainly not when so much of the media is illiberal and quick to produce misinformed stores. What of the rights of the camp and those attending to ensure that they are not misrepresented?
In general I support the NUJ, but not when the make unreasonable demands for its own purposes. That will only serve to alienate those who have backed up your fights for a free press in the past. Please take the time to read and respond to our concerns. You do us no one any favours by attacking us without attempting to understanding the policies we have adopted.
Freedom To Protest
It is quite normal for the media to be subjected to restrictions on access to all kinds of events and those organising the climate camp have gone out of it's way to facilitate access in such a way as to be as convenient as possible to all those involved, both the media and the participants of the camp.
As others have already pointed out, the camp is not a public space, it is people homes and workplace and the media would not expect unrestricted access to such places under other circumstances. Additionally, this years provision for media access goes much further than last year so it's strange to hear these complaints at this stage.
While I have (and expressed) concerns about some elements of the media policy, I respect the process that led to it's formation and agreement. As a journalist I'm disapointed by the references to 'black lists' and 'sympathetic journos' but I've listened to the reasoning and the compromises inherent in trying to take into account everyones needs and opinions. However, I'm equally disapointed and concerned at seeing my union apparently issuing statements in the name of the membership without a similar level of democractic consultation.
another NUJ member
these are the conditions that people have agreed to for the duration of the camp.
the problem with the mainstream media of course is that they are not part of that agreement (and would not agree to it I imagine) and so they have a seperate policy.
easy, it's all about trust (and honesty).
that said, just 'cos someone says they are indymedia shouldn't count for anything. Judge people by their actions. If someone is clearly taking photos or filming people without asking permission at the camp then you have every right to challenge them.