The current challenges journalists are facing while conducting police or a judicial reporting, the criminological terminology used, the profile of the "criminal" at the recording of the crime, and how the mentality of journalism will change to address prisoners and ex-prisoners, were discussed in the context of an online event organised by the Association of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Rights Protection (the Association).
The event was powered by NGO Oxygono and took place, on Wednesday, 17 June, 2020 with the title: "Police & Judicial Journalism - Legal & Social Impacts".
The guests were, Dr Sarah Lewis, Prison Reformer, Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, Dr Kaia Stern, Lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education/Director of Prison Studies Project, George Pavlidis, Academic/Chairman of the Committee on Journalistic Ethics, Yiannis Polychronis, Lawyer/ Vice President of the Association, Alexandros Clerides, Lawyer, Legal Advisor and Representative of the Association, with coordinator our Associate, Georgina Athanasiou, Lawyer/ President of the Board of Directors of Oxygono, who discussed through examples, aspects of journalistic coverage of police and judicial reporting that stem from the need for the proper use of legal terminology and the provisions of the Code of Journalistic Ethics.
The discussion was live streamed in City Channel, Oxygono and the Association's Facebook page and was attended by at least 6,500 people.
Dr. Sarah Lewis referred to the role of journalists can play in dealing with prisoners and rehabilitating prisoners, a very vulnerable part of our society. She said that it is important for the journalist to highlight the reformist nature of the sentence and not the punitive. It is important, she said, for journalists to shed light on the human stories of prisoners and ex-prisoners and to highlight their successes.
George Pavlidis agreed that the mentality of the media while dealing with suspects should be changed. The latter should not be treated as guilty and the media should give special weight to the importance of supporting former prisoners. He agreed that the terminology used should be changed and at the same time, he called the Bar Association to work with the Journalism Ethics Committee to prepare a guide for good journalistic behavior on issues related to police/ judicial reporting.
Alexandros Clerides stressed the importance of the change of mentality of all those involved in police and judicial reporting. He also stressed out that it is the state's moral obligation to provide appropriate protection measures for the prisoners and ex-prisoners.
With reference to the image of prisoners and detainees, Yiannis Polychronis emphasized the role and the possibility of journalists in highlighting the reintegration programs. He also stressed out that the punitive nature of the sentence should not be isolated in the reports, but the process of the reforming of each person instead.
In conclusion, George Pavlidis underlined that the Committee on Journalistic Ethics is in favor of the principle of self-regulation of journalists and it is clearly against the criminalisation of ethics.
He also noted that the Committee on Journalistic Ethics submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Interior and the competent bodies, which was adopted in the new bill of the Press Law which is being processed. He explained that the proposal concerns the creation of a secondary body where the Commission will refer journalists and the media that repeatedly violate the code of journalistic ethics.
You can watch the relevant video of the discussion here.