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Why is a Press Card Necessary

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia:

“A press pass (alternatively referred to as a press card or a journalist pass) grants some type of special privilege to journalists. Some cards have recognised legal status; others merely indicate that the bearer is a practicing journalist”. 

This is the generally held view of a Press Card and it’s almost right.  There are a number of companies who sell completely unrecognised press ID cards and to quote from one of their websites: “Using the special advantages as a representative of the press. Is there a better argument? Get your coveted VIP status in the press industry now”. Possibly this is a good sales pitch, but it’s not really accurate.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Trotter of British Transport Police following the derailment at Ufton Nervet © Paul Stewart

In the UK, the Press Card grants you no special rights or privilege over any other member of the public.  What it is, is a form of introduction that is officially recognised by the National Police Chiefs Council on behalf of all UK police forces, The Ministry of Justice and through them, all government departments and other civil authorities.  Because of the stringent checks carried out by the UKPCA Gatekeepers and their members and the secure nature of the card, official bodies know that the card holder is a bona fide member of the media, with a legitimate right to be present and report the news.  Since 2006 Police media guidelines have acknowledged this and have specifically mentioned the UK National Press Card.

At major incidents, this helps police to identify legitimate news gatherers and following their guidelines, should mean they will facilitate reporting the news.  At public order events, it should also help them identify those who are genuinely reporting the news.

Picture by Jonathan Buckmaster 25/05/11. President Obama at Downing Street.