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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

CIoJ brands Prince Harry report ‘reckless opportunism’


3 March 2008: Release time immediate


The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ), had branded the Drudge Report’s leaking of Prince Harry’s action in Afghanistan as “not journalism, simply reckless opportunism.”

John Thorpe, President of the CIoJ, said: “The Drudge Report has done a great disservice to journalism by increasing the risk to Prince Harry and his comrades.

“Professional journalists behave responsibly, and in this case the embargo was agreed for perfectly sensible reasons. Journalists and editors have willingly agreed to news back-outs where life is at stake, such as with kidnappings, and this agreement with the MoD was responsible self-discipline.

“There was no question of censorship – the MoD provided full facilities to cover his posting on the front line – and the arrangements were perfectly sensible, given the additional threat to servicemen’s lives from the Taliban should the news leak.”

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ), the world’s oldest-established professional association for journalists, has praised the Society of Editors for its role in persuading the British media to agree to a voluntary D-Notice embargo on news of Prince Harry’s deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

However, in a strong warning about the “hidden dangers” of the internet, the CIoJ roundly condemned the Drudge Report, the US-based website which leaked the news.

Although Drudge was not party to the embargo any professional journalist must have been aware that there was a good reason as to why the story had not yet broken.  Not only that, the sensitivity of the information would have been obvious, as would the potential dangers of breaking the news.

“The breaking of that embargo by Matt Drudge was not, in our view, journalism but was simple reckless opportunism to earn a quick buck without thought to the possible consequences. His behaviour shows what dangers we face from irresponsible and unprofessional news reporting that comes via the internet.

“The British press is often subjected to criticism – sometimes justifiably – but in this case its behaviour has been exemplary and in stark contrast to those who obviously don’t care in the slightest about the consequences of their actions,” added Mr Thorpe

The CIoJ was formed in 1884 as the National Association of Journalists and was granted a Royal Charter in 1890. For over a century it has been working to uphold high journalistic standards and to promote journalistic integrity.