Press Union demise rumours scotched

WIDESPREAD reports that the Commonwealth Press Union is to close after 100 years have been denied by its executive committee chairman, Vyvyan Harmsworth.

The organisation – dedicated to championing press freedom and journalist training – will move its operation under the umbrella of the Commonwealth Press Training and Education Trust (CPTET). Executive Director, Lindsay Ross will be stepping down next month.

This major change comes exactly 100 years after the press union was first established.

Mr Harmsworth said the trust would assure the continuation of the press union, as it had charitable status and funding of more than Stg100,000. The switch to the new structure would take effect on December 31, and the press union’s London office would close.

Reports of the demise of the press union first surfaced on editorsweblog.org, written by B. Pecquerie.

Leadership of the reformed organisation will be taken by James MacManus, executive director of News International, based in London. He replaces Mr Harmsworth, who has been a trustee of the press union for more than 15 years.

In the Pacific Region, all the major newspapers of News Ltd and Fairfax are members of the Commonwealth Press Union, contributing thousands of dollars to the organisation to lobby governments around the world to either grant or maintain press freedoms, and champion the benefits of journalism training.

“My time as Chairman of the Executive has been most rewarding,” said Mr Harmsworth. “I have seen the CPU work on many fronts and its contribution to press freedom and self-regulation should not be underestimated. I retire in confidence that the organisation will continue past its centenary year with the full support of its members.”

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One Response to “Press Union demise rumours scotched”

  1. Bertrand Pecquerie, World Editors Forum Says:

    It would be good news that CPU would maintain its activities, but I cannot accept the term “rumors” regarding the information we provided on http://www.editorsweblog. org on 28 October.

    Here are the facts:
    – the CPU website has not been updated since 9 September 2008
    – the CPU magazine will disappear
    – there was no major CPU conference gathering editors from around the world since Sydney more than two years ago
    – the London office will disappear and a large majority of the staff will retire, resign or is being laid-off.
    – a lot of CPU offices shared with regional organisations will also disappear.

    If these facts are not true, please let us know: again, it would be good news!

    Can we say “it is a major change” as PANPA says or just “it is the end of the Commonwealth Press Union as we knew it since 1909”?

    I understand the first way is more diplomatic and that the British Foreign Office will never recognize such a disparition. But is it better to say that press organisations must prepare their digital future? CPU was the first victim and we must avoid new demises.

    Bertrand Pecquerie
    World Editors Forum Director

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