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j o u r n a l i s t s | march/april 2010


Reflecting on post-election media prospects

INSIDE: BBC under threat:

Radio stations and website cuts


Is there a living out there?


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Contents Cover story

14 Bad news from the ballot box

What faces the media after the election


elcome to your new-look magazine. I hope you like the new design and the new features we have. Producing a magazine for journalists is a tricky thing. You’re all professionals and have all got opinions and preferences for what you want to see in your union’s publication. I’m sure I’ll appreciate that even more when I get reactions to this edition! My aim is to make the Journalist interesting, informative, and attractive, and to ensure that it reflects the diversity of the union’s membership and the important work the union does. The Journalist is the one union communication that reaches everyone at home and it’s therefore vital that we present our news, campaigns and issues effectively. We are lucky in having some excellent new columnists including Raymond Snoddy and Michael Cross who bring expert and lively views on the media and technology. And we are very glad that the inimitable Steve Bell, without whose work life would be much duller, has created a brand new cartoon strip. In this issue we also have great contributions from many other people. As a new editor, I’ve changed many things in the Journalist and I hope to develop more new aspects going forward. We also want to make the Journalist online a lively point for comment and debate, as I mention on the letters pages. I hope you find it a magazine you want to read.

Christine Buckley Editor Editor Christine Buckley Design Advertising Landmark Publishing Print Warners Distribution Packpost


NUJ 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP

Manchester office Glasgow office Dublin office Cover picture Howard Sooley


03 Axe falling at the BBC

Unions unite to fight closures

05 Challenging the BNP

Media workers target far right party

08 Uncertainty in Manchester

Evening news bought by Trinity Mirror

09 Photographers’ show of strength

New branch and anti terrorist stands

Features 12 Local news

What hope for the future

18 E-freelancing

How to make a living


17 Unspun: a view from PR 22 Workplace reps 24 Technology 30 Training courses

Arts with Attitude + competition Pages 20-21

Raymond Snoddy Page 23

Letters and Steve Bell Pages 26-27

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BBC faces backlash over cuts and closures

Exit: services and budget cuts


he BBC has triggered a storm of protest from unions and the public over plans to close two radio stations, halve the size of its website and cut its online budget by a quarter. The cuts are part of a drive to save £600 million. But they come amid growing political concern over the BBC’s strength and have been seen as an attempt to stave off some attacks from a future government. The NUJ and other unions have warned the broadcaster that they will oppose the cuts. The BBC plans to close its Radio 6 Music and

Asian Network radio stations and to transfer programmes and services elsewhere. It will cut both the budget and staff of its online operation and on its halved website will have more links to non BBC sites. The NUJ is to rally other unions to oppose the cuts. Jeremy Dear, general secretary, said that the BBC had put itself on a collision course with the unions and also licence-payers across the country. He said: “BBC management’s strategy of desperate, hopeful self-sacrifice is fundamentally flawed. Far from convincing an incoming government or commercial rivals that the BBC should now be left well alone, their self-harming approach will only encourage commercial media operations to demand more cuts. “He added: “We cannot stand by and watch staff and outstanding public service content sacrificed to satisfy the demands of Rupert Murdoch and other commercial interests.” The union has seen an increase in requests for membership from BBC staff in the wake of speculation about cuts that preceded the announcement in early March. Jeremy Dear column, Page 11

in brief... telegraph rise Telegraph Media Group journalists won a pay rise and £500 bonus thanks to a deal struck by the union. Under the terms of a three-year agreement negotiated by the NUJ, editorial staff receieved a 1.5 per cent pay increase earlier this year at a time when many companies are trying to freeze pay levels. The deal saw journalists at the Telegraph win a rise of two per cent last year.

BBC management strategy is desperate and flawed

social media campaigns for radio 6 music


ocial media and star names kicked off a massive fight to save Radio 6. The surge of interest triggered hopes that the BBC Trust could be forced to overturn the decision to shut the station. Radio 6 has more than 700,000 listeners a week. Facebook groups, online petitions and Twitter protests attracted more

than 150,000 supporters within days of the announcement. Singers such as David Bowie, Jarvis Cocker and Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis and radio presenters condemned the decision to shut the station that is regarded as important for showcasing new talent. A protest song on YouTube by Dan Bull says: “You need to appeal to the people that feel John Peel, and

Honouring Michael Foot


ichael Foot, the former Labour Party leader who died on March 3rd aged 96, was an NUJ member of honour. He had been a distinguished editor of Tribune, and was a founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. A member of the union since 1937, he was also the wartime editor of the London Evening Standard and a columnist with the Daily Herald. NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “His career as a journalist was a distinguished and brave one, and his integrity and commitment to a diverse and free press was an inspiration to many.”

want to keep it real…” Online campaigning could prove crucial in winning a reprieve for the station that was launched in 2002 and is due to close in 2012. Facebook: Save BBC 6 Music 6musicasiannet/1000/ Save-6Music

nuj in wales The NUJ is strengthening its presence in Wales, with the parttime share of an office in Cardiff with Bectu. Use of the office and a conference room will give the union’s Welsh council a focal point and enable officers visiting Wales to work more effectively. iow complaint The union has written to the Isle of Wight’s coroner’s court after a journalist was denied access. The decision was denounced as ‘a serious attack on democracy and the public’s right to know’. NUJ member Simon Perry, who runs VentnorBlog about life on the island, reports that he was ordered to leave the court by the coroner’s officer. pcc pledge The PCC has promised to listen to the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It was criticised for failing to act on stories which appear discriminating at an event hosted by Bristol media charity Mediawise. This followed controversy over the description by Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir of gay singer Stephen Gately’s death. world service apology Peter Horrocks, the BBC’s head of global news, apologised for the corporation’s approach to a ‘have your say’ item on proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda. NUJ members raised serious concerns about the decision to run a World Service website debate under the headline “Should homosexuals face execution?”

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in brief... damages win Veteran NUJ photographer Andrew Handley won more than £5,000 in damages and his police record has been scrapped after help from the NUJ. He was handcuffed, arrested and detained for eight hours for trying to take pictures of a car accident in Milton Keynes. ft archive row Freelance organiser John Toner is to hold talks with Financial Times management after the newspaper made its entire archive available online without permission from freelance contributors. John said he will question the FT on how it will obtain permission for the use of freelance work, and what are its proposals for payment for this use? libel reforms Nearly 20,000 people so far have signed the petition for UK libel reform at supporting the campaign convened by Index on Censorship with English PEN, the international writers’ association, and Sense About Science. The campaign shares the NUJ’s view that freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate. board saved The union welcomed the government decision not to allow Daily Mail and General Trust to scrap an independent editorial board for the Nottingham Evening Post, the paper that was the focus of a historic three year strike by the NUJ. sponsor clash Journalists at RTE are calling on management to drop plans to have a radio drivetime programme funded by sponsorship. They see the proposal as a threat to the Irish broadcaster’s public service ethos. nec selections NUJ members in the south east of England have selected David Rotchelle to join Jim Boumelha, Philip Hendry and Andrew Smith in representing the region on the union’s national executive council.

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Commission attacked over noW phone case


he NUJ has backed calls for reform of the Press Complaints Commission as a report from the International Federation of Journalists condemned the failure of the PCC to tackle adequately the News of the World phone-hacking case. The ‘Calling to Account’ report by the IFJ says freedom of the press is best protected when there is a strong and respected system of self-regulation. It says when the credibility of self-regulation is weakened by unethical behaviour, calls for legal restraint and statutory controls inevitably increase. The NUJ has campaigned for many years for reform of the PCC. Among the key reforms that the union believes vital are: •Commission membership must be properly representative of the general public and working journalists •A revised code should reflect public concern at inaccuracy rather than allow evasion of

responsibility, as happens frequently •The code must provide for proper enforcement, and there must be effective sanctions •Complaints must be permitted from the public, rather than just those who can show they’ve been directly harmed •A conscience clause must enable journalists to uphold the code despite pressure. The union also welcomed the report of the parliamentary Culture Media and Sport committee on Press Standards, Privacy and Libel. Professor Chris Frost, who chairs the union’s Ethics Council, said: “We agree with the committee that self regulation is the right way to defend press freedom yet provide the public with an outlet for complaints. But, like the committee, we have long had specific criticism of the PCC. We especially welcome the proposal to make press standards a stronger remit of the PCC’s work.”

Code must provide for proper enforcement and there must be effective sanctions

IFJ report: ‘Calling to Account’

pRessinG poliTicians to BaCk strong regional itv neWs


ll would-be MPs are being pressed to pledge commitment to ITV regional news amid uncertainty over the sale of some regional news operations. The NUJ has written to all prospective parliamentary candidates urging them to say that if elected they will “ensure that the future of local news on ITV will be protected, including finding long-term funding solutions that will maintain and strengthen investment in quality programmes.” The union is also encouraging media workers and others concerned about the future of regional news to press parliamentary candidates on the issue.

Amid the crisis in funding for regional news, the Government set out plans to pilot independently funded news consortia in Scotland, Wales, and one English region. But deals with bidders are not due to be signed until May and the Conservatives have said that they will scrap the schemes.

Crozier delivered from royal mail to itv


dam Crozier will start as ITV chief executive on April 26th. For the last seven years he has been chief executive of Royal Mail, overseeing 60,000 job cuts and encountering the worst industrial relations for years. Previously he was chief executive of the Football Association and before that he worked at Saatchi and Saatchi. Crozier, who has no broadcasting experience, will work under chairman Archie Norman, ITV chairman. Mr Norman is a close friend of Allan Leighton, a former Royal Mail chairman. SHAUN BOTTERILL /ALLSPORT

8/3/10 23:11:06

news Union guide to confronting far-right party


new NUJ website highlights the important role that journalists and the union can play in opposing the rise of fascism and the BNP. Information on what the BNP actually stands for, with detailed facts and arguments to counter the far-right organisations’ unfounded claims can be found on www. Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said: “Challenging the fascist politics of hate is a job for every fair-minded person in our society, not just a task for committed activists. NUJ members are proud to play our part in exposing the myths on which modern Nazis seek to gain power. “Those journalists who may still believe that the rise of the BNP doesn’t affect them should consider the experience of Dominic Kennedy, investigations editor of The Times. He was brutally manhandled by BNP security guards who expelled him from a press conference for the unspeakable crime of saying things their leaders didn’t like. “Strange behaviour from an organisation which claims it wants to ‘remove legal curbs on freedom of speech’. BNP leader Nick Griffin even praised his “stormtroopers” by saying of their thuggery: ‘That’s not the actions of a snivelling PC party, but of an organisation that has had enough of being lied about.’ “That’s the true face of the BNP’s ‘freedom of expression’ policy”.

Media workers join in election drive against the BNP Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images


edia workers have joined forces to mount a major campaign against the BNP ahead of the general election. The NUJ and Bectu are working with other organisations, such as Unite Against Facism, and prominent journalists to highlight the danger of “normalising” the BNP by allowing them the same access and treatment as the mainstream political parties. At the recent launch of Expose the BNP campaigners pledged to challenge the BNP at every opportunty and expose the truth about their beliefs and their members and supporters. The launch was attended by Peter Hain, the Welsh Secretary; Mehdi Hasan, senior politics editor at the New Statesman; Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism; Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary; and Pat Styles, from Bectu. Michelle told a packed meeting at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London: “We can’t allow a comfort zone to the perpetrators of hate speech intended to degrade, intimidate or incite violent or prejudicial action against people. With democratic rights come responsibilities – responsibilities not to perpetrate hate speech, an acceptance of the human rights of all citizens. “Equally we can’t run away from the BNP’s ideas. Instead we must vigorously challenge them.” Michelle likened the appearance by Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, on the BBC’s Question Time to the exposure on a similar programme that propelled Jean-Marie Le Pen

Outcry: Griffin at the BBC

towards a much higher public profile. She said that after his appearance Le Pen described the experience as “the hour that changed everything”. Mehdi Hasan warned that allowing the BNP to be seen as in any way normal was dangerous. He said normal treatment must be challenged and that such challenges can deliver high-profile successes. He cited Radio One’s apology after two BNP supporters appeared on a phone-in chat show and were given what many listeners thought was an easy and friendly ride. Expose the BNP, which has been coordinated by FT FoC David Crouch, plans a series of initiatives in the run-up to the election.



FT chapel saves Chinese journalists’ jobs


our Chinese journalists working on a Financial Times website have seen threats of redundancy withdrawn after the paper’s chapel warned that it would ballot for industrial action. The newspaper had said that the specialist journalists who work on the FTChinese website had to return to China on half their current

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salaries or else accept redundancy. Two of the four Chinese journalists are British citizens, and they all work on terms and conditions inferior to other journalists at the FT. The chapel voted unanimously to say: “We condemn the outrageous treatment of journalists on

FTChinese. We demand no redundancies on FTChinese and that the journalists be placed on the same terms and conditions as the rest of FT editorial We will ballot for industrial action if these demands are not met.” David Crouch, FoC at the newspaper, said: “We are pleased that our employer has realised just how

unfair and unacceptable were its proposals for our Chinese colleagues. We look forward to talking with management about securing the future of our Chinese journalists at the Financial Times on proper terms and conditions.”

We will ballot for industrial action if these demands are not met

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news in brief... death toll More than 130 journalists were killed last year according to the International Federation of Journalists. Reporters and photographers fell in war zones but lives were also lost in dangerous countries for journalists such as Russia. The worst incident was the killing of 32 journalists and media staff in the Philippines in November. afghan ban The United States’ envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan has said he is concerned about new restrictions on media reporting. The Afghan government banned live coverage of militant assaults arguing they could help militants during attacks. Richard Holbrooke said the US would raise the measures with the Afghan government. garda warning Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, is pressing the Gardai not to persist in an investigation following news that they have sought notes from Evening Herald newspaper journalists in relation to the publication of correspondence between former minister of state Trevor Sargent and the Gardai. Mr Dooley said, “We would fully respect the right of Evening Herald journalists to protect their sources. “ burma jailing Ngwe Soe Lin, a journalist with the Democratic Voice of Burma, has received a 13-year sentence after being arrested last year under Electronics and Immigration Acts. Ngwe Soe Lin played a key role in recording the lives of children left orphaned by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Ngwe Soe Linn is the second DVB journalist to be given a jail term within recent months. mexican murder The body of a Mexican journalist kidnapped in 2007 was cut into pieces and burned in a barrel, a state attorney general’s office has said. Rodolfo Rincon Taracena was killed because of articles he wrote about small-scale drug-dealing for the Tabasco Hoy newspaper, authorities for the southern state of Tabasco said.

Manchester united to defend journalists’ jobs


UJ members in Manchester and the north west are joining forces following the sale of the Manchester Evening News to Trinity Mirror in a £45 million deal. More than 100 journalists at the group decided to form a single chapel to strengthen their position. Journalists are worried that the sale could lead to job cuts, the removal of reporters from the communities they serve and pose a threat to media diversity. Guardian Media Group said it was selling the title that led to the creation of the London-based Guardian to strengthen the position of the national paper. Under the sale, MEN’s operations will move to Oldham, severing the historic links with Manchester. In a joint statement Judy Gordon, MEN MoC, and MEN Weeklies MoC Bethan Dorsett said: “A strong, united chapel made up of over 100 journalists can take positive action to prevent any job losses or other damaging changes that our new owners may want to implement at a later stage.” When the decision to sell the titles to Trinity Mirror was announced, the NUJ warned that it had implications for the future ownership of local media across the UK, as major publishers weighed their chances of swallowing up what remains of independent publishing in Britain.

Trinity Mirror already publishes the Liverpool Post and Echo titles, in addition to a substantial stable of weekly papers across Cheshire and Merseyside. The Manchester Guardian was founded in 1821, but later moved to London and removed Manchester from its title. Life is local, or is it? Page 12

Radio Foyle saved from closure


adio Foyle, the Derry-based station has been saved following a broad campaign spearheaded by the NUJ and backed by community leaders. Radio Foyle will now be developed rather than closed. NUJ deputy general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “We are pleased that BBC management has now listened to its journalists and the local community. Our members look forward to

continuing to provide the service which leaders right across the community, and most importantly Radio Foyle’s enthusiastic audience, have shown so clearly that they value.” BBC managers have promised to ‘refresh’ the station’s schedule with a new morning breakfast show, an extended lunchtime magazine programme and a new afternoon entertainment show.

Uniting to unionise MediaCity


erry Hicks, one of the candidates in the election for general secretary of Unite, is urging media unions to back a campaign by construction workers to unionise the giant MediaCity construction site, in Salford Quays, near Manchester. MediaCity is the complex which next year will house five of the BBC’s Londonbased departments. Union activists are trying

to unionise the construction site workforce, and then to make the trade unions effective. They say that there are around 300 electricians working on the site at present. But Mr Hicks believes that although there is formal union recognition, employers and contractors are trying to ensure that unions cannot gain a foothold and cannot become an effective force. He said: “If those media

unions whose members will be moving into MediaCity, were to combine they could make a public demand of BBC management that they insist that contractors commit to real and verifiable union recognition.” Mr Hicks said that a joint effort could “put a stamp on MediaCity saying built by union labour, run by union labour”. The NUJ is backing the

campaign. Chris Morley, northern organiser, said: “We want the right of unions to organise on the site, a living wage and respect for employment rights for all. We will raise the concerns about union recognition with BBC management.”

YouTube video of Jerry Hicks meeting electricians at watch?v=o8_HYRCJ62M

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NUJ APPLE ONLINE STORE Visit the NUJ Apple Online Store for the latest range of Macs, all with Mac OS X Snow Leopard, the world’s most advanced operating system that is intuitive to use, secure and compatible with the latest version of Microsoft Exchange. Configure your ideal Mac with faster processors, more memory or even pre-installed software – an exclusive service to the Online Store Members receive special pricing on a wide range of products including: • savings of up to £130 on the precision-engineered, powerful MacBook Pro. Available in 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch models • save as much as £80 on the latest iMac. Available with 21.5-inch and 27-inch displays • A highly cost effective server solution for only £775.50 – Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server • the powerful, highly customisable Mac Pro – quad core Intel Xeon processors, up to 4TB Hard Drive. NUJ members save 7% • the world’s thinnest notebook, MacBook Air now more powerful and even more affordable • 10% off any full versions of Apple software products including the new Aperture 3, iWork or Final Cut Studio.

All prices displayed on the NUJ Online Store include the discount. With free delivery on all Macs there has never been a better time to upgrade to the latest Mac. To get more information and buy, visit your members area of or call 0800 0391212 stating that you are an NUJ member.

Note this offer is not available in Apple Retail Stores

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gary cook


ournalists working for Trinity Mirror in North Wales have won recognition. The deal covers more than 50 journalists on several titles in North Wales. It is one of several wins for union members seeking formal working arrangements with managers. Editorial staff at a Cumbrian weekly newspaper have also taken the first step towards collective negotiations by gaining NUJ recognition. Staff at the Workington-based Times & Star, part of the independent CN Group, joined the union and formed a chapel last summer amid concerns over pay and conditions. Meanwhile, journalists at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health have overwhelmingly supported a ballot for union recognition. Once a recognition agreement is signed, talks will start on a house agreement.

photograph: Gary Cook

Job fears at Johnston Press over ‘content management’

wins in wales and cumbria

Do as I say and not as I do: Johnston Press campaigns on employment

Extra stress and additional workloads


undreds of journalists at the Johnston Press group are ready to take industrial action over the company’s plans to bring in ‘content management’ systems. The regional press group is bringing in the Atex system that enables reporters to write straight into templated pages and send some stories straight to page, cutting out the subbing process. But journalists are concerned about the threat to jobs from the new system, the increased stress it triggers and the threat to accuracy and quality. The latest unrest follows job cuts throughout the newspaper group over the past couple of years. The union is to meet with Johnston Press managers in the Midlands and the north of England following an overwhelming vote in

favour of industrial action in a consultative ballot. Some 87 per cent said that they would take action over the changes to working practices and to combat the possibility of future compulsory redundancies. At the newspaper group’s Blackpool Gazette and Herald journalists have begun industrial action in a similar dispute over proposals to change working arrangements and a failure to guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies. Journalists are refusing to take part in training relating to the new system. Chris Morley, NUJ northern organiser, said: “We have seen what has happened elsewhere when Johnston Press attempted to implement its content management system without proper staff consultation. Rushed implementation has led to extra stress and additional workloads.” Jenny Lennox, NUJ assistant organiser, added: “This issue is about protecting jobs in the newspaper industry. Our members are also deeply concerned to protect the production of quality journalism: that means ensuring that the information which newspapers and publishers provide to local communities has been subjected to a rigorous checking process so that the highest professional standards are maintained.” It is expected that disputes will spread to the group’s Scottish titles. Atex has been introduced at other Johnston Press publications although there have been a number of issues which have had to be resolved through dispute procedures.

Free Liliany

Gaza: filmaker detained



UJ members and other campaigners marked International Women’s Day with a protest outside the Colombian Embassy in London against the continued detention of human rights activist Liliany Obando. The protest also called for the release of all Colombia’s political prisoners. Liliany, who has campaigned against the murder of Colombian trade unionists, has been imprisoned since August 2008. Justice for Colombia says that hundreds of trade unionists, human rights activists, students and others face years without trial in Colombia just for criticising the regime.


British freelance journalist has been detained by security officials in Gaza, Paul Martin, a documentary filmaker, was detained on February 16th as he was beginning to give evidence at a military tribunal. He was told that he was suspected of security offences and would be held for 15 days. That period was extended for a further 15 days in an action that has raised fears for the safety of all foreign correspondents in Gaza. Paul had just begun to give evidence on

behalf of a Gaza man accused of collaborating with Israel when the prosecutor intervened and ordered police to arrest him. Eyewitness reports say he was roughly treated as he was taken from the court. Paul, who has produced reports in the past for the BBC and The Times, is accused of harming Gaza’s security. He was due to speak on behalf of Mohammed Abu Muailik, with whom he has been working on a documentary and who has been in detention since June.

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Photographers decide to branch out philip wolmuth


ondon photographers have formed a new branch of the union after years of coming together to campaign on issues affecting them. The London Photographers’ branch is chaired by Jess Hurd, the award winning photo journalist, and is open to any staff, freelance or agency photographer or camera operator working or living in London. Jess, an NUJ member since 1996, has worked through PhotoForum – a platform and networking group – to fight on issues such as copyright, and police stop and search and surveillence. She said: “It all came out of Photo-Forum really which was set up so that photographers could share their work and their experiences. We felt there was a need for a dedicated branch.” Jess was elected to chair the branch just days after coming back from Haiti and recording harrowing scenes of the earthquake. Along with campaigning against police search tactics and for the right to take pictures in public places, the branch aims to tackle other key issues such as the decline in the commission market, the fall in rates and library percentages, and job cuts. It will also start a mentoring scheme so that photographers, video camera users and others can share their skills. NUJ President Pete Murray said: “This new branch is a really exciting development, bringing together those who have for many years campaigned hard for the rights of photographers. The branch will boost the effectiveness of that work and give it the profile it deserves in the industry and in the union”.

Centre stage: Jess Hurd in Trafalgar Square

Meetings will be held at 6pm on the last Tuesday of every month at the NUJ’s headquarters in London. Members wishing to transfer into the new branch should contact the NUJ membership department


flash campaign: fight for human rights


undreds of photographers lit up Trafalgar Square with flashes in January in a protest against police stop and search tactics and the practice by some businesses to stop photography of public places. The move was the latest initiative in the Photographer Not A Terrorist (PNAT

in twitter circles) campaign. The protest came as NUJ member Pennie Quinton scored a victory for media freedom when the European Court of Human Rights upheld her complaint against the use of terror laws to stop and search people without grounds for suspicion.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 to stop and search people without grounds for suspicion violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Pennie was one of two people stopped from filming near an arms fair in London in 2003.

Minister done in by tape


eep your notes and recordings. That’s the valuable professional lesson from the forced resignation of Irish defence Minister Willie O’Dea after the Limerick Leader newspaper produced the transcript of an interview with staff journalist and NUJ activist Mike Dwane. Mike interviewed Mr O’Dea at a local election launch on March 9 2009, recording the exchange. During the interview the minister accused Maurice Quinlivan of Sinn Féin of being associated with the running of a brothel. Mr Quinlivan sued the minister and the case was eventually settled, with Mr O’Dea

paying an undisclosed sum to the successful candidate. In a sworn affidavit Mr O’Dea denied making the libelous comments, incorrectly blaming the journalist for misquoting him. The newspaper contacted Mr O’Dea and provided him with a transcript, forcing him to correct the sworn affidavit. The minister claimed he forgot making the brothel comment. In a fairly bizarre episode, the Fíanna Fáil/Green government won a motion of confidence in the defence minister on February 17th but the following day he was forced to resign. Central to the resignation was

in brief... ITV back in black ITV has returned to profit, making £25m for 2009. In 2008 the broadcaster made a loss of £2.7 billion. Advertising revenue last year fell 9 per cent to £1.29bn and total sales for the group fell 7 per cent to £1.88bn. ITV cut 1,200 staff last year and said that it would not rule out further cuts this year. It is trying to make £40m in “off-screen” savings this year. Last year the broadcaster slashed investment in regional programming from £112m to £68m. fall at mirror Trinity Mirror, which made £68 million of cost cuts last year, reported a a 41 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £72.7m for 2009. The company which cut 1,700 jobs in 2009, implemented a pay freeze and closed or sold 30 regional titles. The owner of the Daily Mirror intends to make £20m in cost cuts this year. Across its regional newspaper division, which has more than 120 titles, advertising revenue fell 29.5 per cent. Trinity Mirror said that total group revenue fell 12.4 per cent to £763.3 million. Pearson profits up Pearson, the publishing group which owns the Financial Times, reported pre-tax profits of £761m for 2009, up 13 per cent from the previous year. But adjusted operating profit for FT Publishing, the division that includes the FT and a share in the Economist, fell 47 per cent.

publication and broadcast of the interview by the Limerick Leader. The Green Party was convulsed and Mr O’Dea was forced to step down. Strangely the Green leader John Gormley explained that he had been expecting the article to effectively vindicate the minister, a claim that puzzled the editorial staff in Limerick. In resigning the minister denied wrongdoing but said his continued membership of cabinet would be a distraction from the business of governing the country. What Mr O’Dea failed to do was apologise for misrepresenting Mike in his original affidavit. Mike is an officer of the Leader chapel and well-known as a delegate to NUJ conferences representing Ireland South West branch. theJournalist | 09

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Viner awards develop diversity in the media

Marvin Farquharson accepts his award from the BBC’s Clive Myrie and Mishal Husain. Photograph Jason Harris


arvin Farquharson would have had no chance of taking an MA in Broadcast Journalism if it wasn’t for the union’s George Viner memorial fund. The fund, dedicated to the memory of a former NUJ education officer, offers bursaries and support for ethnic minority student journalists and aims to boost diversity in the media. This year five students won the awards and celebrated them at a ceremony attended by Clive Myrie, the BBC’s long-standing and award winning foreign correspondent and now news

The opportunities I now have would not have been possible without the George Viner memorial fund

presenter, and Mishal Husain, the BBC news presenter and former foreign correspondent. Marvin, who is studying his MA at City University in London, said that opportunities were not easy because of his family’s finances. He said: “Not having to worry about finance and being able to concentrate on my studies has helped me and my family. The opportunities I now have would not have been possible without the George Viner memorial fund.” The other winners were Heather Clancy, who is taking an MA in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire; Maz Farookhi who is studying an MA in TV and Current Affairs Journalism at City University; Shajan Miah, who is on an NCTJ fast track magazine journalism course at Harlow College; and Ayshah Tull who is studying broadcast journalism at City University. Clive told the awards ceremony that when he wanted to go into journalism black people just weren’t seen on the television except for Trevor McDonald. He said that for some time as a foreign correspondent interviewees would be surprised when he asked the questions, expecting him instead to be operating the camera.

Students form chapel


tudent journalists in Wales plan to set up a union chapel at Swansea University. The move follows a meeting attended by 25 contributors to the university magazine Waterfront. They were keen to join the NUJ under its special student membership arrangements. The editor of Waterfront is to join the NUJ as a full member. Students were welcome participants at last November’s annual delegate meeting of the NUJ.

phyllis marks 50 years


hyllis Oberman, FCIPR, has been elected a Life Member of the National Union of Journalists. This marks 50 years continuous membership, mostly as a member of the Press and PR Branch. She first became an NUJ member in the early 1950s when she started work as a junior reporter

in the London office of The Times of Ceylon. On beginning a public relations career in 1959 she joined the recently formed Press and PR Branch where she later served on the Committee until 1966. Phyllis is a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Public Relations and a member of PRI – the public relations consultants.

Accolade for the last industrial correspondent


lan Jones, the Press Association’s veteran and remarkably youthful industrial correspondent, has won a lifetime achievement award from the Work Foundation, the research group that focuses on employment issues. Now virtually the sole survivor of the national media’s sometimes infamous group of industrial correspondents, Alan is regarded by many as the last national beacon of good, knowledgeable and fair reporting of work and employment issues. Will Hutton, chief executive of the Work Foundation, said that Alan, who has worked for PA for 28 years, now makes up for the nationals’ lack of in-house knowledge with his informed and prolific output. A staunch NUJ member Alan is popular and highly regarded. He is considered as a consummate professional by trade unions and the other industry groups with which he deals. And Alan is no stranger to awards, having been a central figure in the presentation of the industrial correpondents’ group’s golden bollock award. The award, which polite people at the TUC termed the golden orb, celebrated the most inaccurate industrial story of the year. Alan avoided that particular accolade every year – except once during the Gate Gormet dispute when he accidentally referred to a Sikh temple as a mosque. Alan’s daughter Sian, who works at the Communication Workers’ Union, has just been elected secretary of the press and PR branch.

Sian Jones page 17

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up front

General Secretary Jeremy Dear unscambles the debates over the BBC and PCC



t’s that time in the political cycle when BBC-bashing is in vogue – and inevitably, the BBC top-brass joins in. The latest proposals to axe 6Music, the Asian Network, halve the size of the website and share programmes across BBC Local Radio, coming on the back of hundreds of job cuts in newsgathering online news and in the World Service over recent years, are designed to appease the BBC’s political enemies and commercial rivals. They will satisfy neither of those constituencies. There are many things licence fee payers, and BBC journalists, want cut – inflated executive pay, tiers of pointless management, excessive expenses claims. Programmes and web content are not among them. It’s no surprise commercial rivals attack the BBC; after all they stand to gain from the corporation being reduced in size. It’s no surprise politicians jump on the bandwagon. The BBC’s management should not join in. If BBC bosses are not prepared to stand up for public service broadcasting, the union is. Watching politicians and media owners squabble over ethical journalism is like watching two bald men fight over a comb – pointless. The unseemly sight of the Press Complaints Commission’s latest appeasement of the commercial interests of its paymasters was a frightening spectacle, not least because it gave those who would legislate to muzzle a free press the excuse to go on the attack. Privacy laws, statutory controls, MPs deciding the limits of taste and decency are a

If BBC bosses are not prepared to stand up for public service broadcasting the union is

chilling thought – but each time the press acts to excess with no discernible public interest such ideas gain traction. Can you imagine the outcry if MPs, bankers, local councils, the England football captain or even trade unionists were found to have failed on such a colossal scale? There would be thundering editorials demanding action and dismissals. Not so when it is their own. The PCC provides the whitewash, editors provide the restraint – and we carry on as if nothing has happened. But with each and every untrue story or breach of the PCC code, carrying on as before becomes less tenable. Self-regulation should not be an excuse for no regulation. The PCC’s inaction has weakened its credibility and threatens us all.


e believe passionately in self-regulation. However, if we are to defend it, we have to make it work. That means rebuilding public trust and confidence. It means an end to the corruption and abuse of power this episode represents. The case for reform of the PCC is now unanswerable. That means protection for journalists who refuse to breach the PCC code, effective sanctions for those who consistently and recklessly flout the code and a PCC with proper representation of working journalists and not just editors. But as media we have to become not less confident but more ethical. We need more than ever strong investigative journalism and greater freedom of information. There’s nothing wrong with subterfuge when it is in the overwhelming public interest. There is when its sole aim is commercial. As the International Federation of Journalists excellent report in to this latest scandal says, the time has come for partisans of self-regulation to demonstrate the value of journalism as a public good”. Hear, hear…

For all the latest updates from the General Secretary visit his blog at: theJournalist | 11


8/3/10 20:21:35

Dan Sabbagh looks at the prospects for local news as it faces unprecedented challenges

s hester Evening New

Courtesy of Manc

Life is local, or is it?


ithout the Manchester Evening News, The Guardian would probably not be here today. For more than 80 years of the two newspapers’ joint ownership it was the MEN that generated the profits that allowed The Guardian to move to London and invest in journalism – a clear demonstration of the financial balance of power in journalism. Local news made all the money; national newspapers, in a fiercely competitive market, spent it. Until now. There is no clearer illustration of the crisis facing local journalism than the recent sale of the Manchester Evening News (and several other related titles) by the Guardian Media Group to Trinity Mirror for £7.4 million. Five years ago, the MEN and its sister titles generated a healthy profit of £34.4 million, but the recession, the rise of Google, and declining sales, means that this year the title and its

bedfellows will make “a small loss”. Everywhere local journalism appears to be on the retreat. ITV wants to walk away from its regional news services and big city newspapers are being squeezed, while smaller radio stations and small town newspapers are feeling the commercial pressure. And while the recession may pass, new competitive challenges facing local media won’t easily go away. “Local press was not going to work for us, with just 4 per cent of the market,” says Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of the Guardian Media Group. “Job advertising, for example, was down 70 per cent at the height of the recession, and while some of that advertising will come back, not all of it will”. With classified advertising migrating to various websites, whether AutoTrader for cars, or for jobs, Ms McCall felt the Guardian Media Group had little choice but to give up, and sell out to the market leader. The MEN’s head office will be merged with Trinity Mirror’s at Oldham, taking journalists out of the centre of the city they are supposed to be covering. This is a rationalisation that, for once, is not about boosting profit margins, but sheer survival. Trinity’s greater size, with about 30 per cent of the market, is the only way a major title like the MEN can be sure of sustaining itself. Amid such pressures, there is little doubt that local media has to reinvent itself, but such is the pressure that at times employers are focusing on using cheap labour to do it. Rob Lawson, who edits the Sunderland Echo, an evening title with a sale of about 36,000, is proud of the fact that his title publishes one of the few remaining ‘football pinks’ – a Saturday afternoon sports paper that hits the streets about 5.30pm, minutes after Saturday’s final whistle. Like many

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2086 - TP227 NUJ AD



Page 1

local news editors, Mr Lawson is using digital media to reinvent the title – and this January set up a special transfer deadline online news feed, supplying a feed across the Johnston Press group, which publishes the Echo. The transfer service was put together with the help of cheap labour from students from the University of Sunderland. “The students were very happy to do it. If we didn’t have them, we couldn’t have provided the service we did. And we were able to use our specialist sports writers to provide expert commentary,” Mr Lawson added. The service was a hit with readers, but as they benefit from the newspaper’s digital efforts, there is no revenue gain to match the extra investment in content. Plus, where journalists are developing multi-media skills, they often have to do so at the same time as continuing with traditional work in print.


ublishers, in short, need also to discover new business models. Johnston Press itself is trialling a paid-for online service, charging £5 a month for online access to the digital efforts from titles such as the Whitby Gazette and the Worksop Guardian. There is widespread scepticism as to whether consumers are prepared to pay for news online, but optimists believe that in any event, local newspapers have to re-invent their operations. Roger Parry, a former chairman of Johnston Press, and an adviser to the Conservative party on local media, says that local press, or radio stations, have to turn into multimedia companies covering online, print, radio and even television, as happens in Canada. North Bay, Northern Ontario, supports a local TV station, TVCogeco, on a population of 50,000. The service is a requirement of Canada’s media laws, and there Mr Parry says the ice hockey correspondent is expected to “blog, appear on local radio and produce a daily show for local television”. With the Conservatives promising to relax local cross-media ownership rules, that kind of innovation is theoretically possible, but to work in the UK it will may well require the help of unpaid volunteers (part of Parry’s proposal) and mergers between the remaining players to develop. Yet, it may be too easy to be gloomy. Local media in Britain remains, by and large, a profitable activity, even if local titles may not make the money they once did. Although some newspapers have closed, only a very few have been affected. A veteran publisher such as Sir Ray Tindle, whose Tindle group owns over 200 small town titles, says that “only eight are running at a loss” and adds “I won’t need to close any of them”. Indeed, unlike big city titles, the newspapers based in smaller towns (Tindle has titles in places like Tenby and Aberystwyth) are showing more resilience because, in Sir Ray’s words “the local butcher still wants to reach people in the same place”. The impact of the current financial crisis for the local media is likely to be mean more concentration of ownership – but more importantly will require owners to be more innovative. Whatever develops, there is little doubt that the future of the industry depends on finding more ways to reach the public, and getting consumers and advertisers to find new ways to pay for the content they get. The task has never been more urgent.


Dan Sabbagh is a freelance journalist specialising in

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media. He blogs at

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Heads, w David Hencke examines what the UK general election will mean for the media and jobs in journalism. It’s not looking good...


eneral election day will be bad news for journalists, already reeling from massive job cuts, big reductions in the diversity of local print media, and a lack of resources to mount successful investigative journalism. Whatever party gets into power the combination of a slow stuttering economic recovery and the determination of all political parties to impose big public spending cuts, and an already bad news story is about to become a lot worse. In England the three main parties have similar views on the need to curb the finances of the BBC, which has already anticipated this by imposing large job cuts. The only difference between them is the scale of the cut backs. And decisions taken in Whitehall will impact on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, because the BBC is a UK institution. Labour is determined to top slice the revenue raised by the BBC from the licence payer – it already has a programme to use what it calls the surplus from the digital TV changeover – to fund newspaper and media groups to run new large scale regional news services when ITV opts out of providing its already reduced input. And nor is the BBC Trust, set up by Labour, certain to survive. Ben Bradshaw, the culture secretary, raised the possibility of its disappearance soon after being appointed to his new job. The present Digital Economy Bill will also direct the BBC and Channel Four to invest more in online services, possibly at the expense of new programming. But if Labour is likely to curb BBC finances –probably pressing for more outsourcing and privatisation – it is nothing compared to the agenda planned by the Tories. Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, is close to Cameron and a favourite briefer for Conservative Intelligence, the off-shoot of Tory donor Lord Ashcroft-funded Conservative Home website, which charges people up to £2500 a year for an inside track into Tory thinking. He has already committed the Tories to scrapping the BBC 14 | theJournalist

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s, we lose.... Trust and there is no question that the Tories want to curb BBC finances, even if David Cameron has committed himself to maintaining the licence fee funding for the BBC, despite Murdoch’s dislike of it. Privately, the Tories are not so keen. Greg Dyke, the former BBC director general, has been commissioned to produce a report on BBC funding and there are suspicions that he could recommend scrapping the licence fee. And I am told Tim Yeo, who was culture secretary under Iain Duncan Smith, actively explored a form of privatisation for the BBC involving offering shares to licence payers to turn it into a commercial organisation. The Tories are committed to scrapping Labour’s plan for news and TV consortia to run 24-hour regional TV news and are doing everything they can to stop the bidders getting their way. Former Tory MP Archie Norman, chair of ITV, had recent meetings with Jeremy Hunt on this very matter. In a public speech in January, Hunt made his views crystal clear: “The contracts are not due to be signed until May. Anyone looking to sign one should understand that we’ll do all we can to legally unpick them if David Cameron enters Number 10. And if they haven’t been signed, we won’t be doing so.”


he Tory solution is familiar. More deregulation, including reversing Labour’s plans to give Ofcom, the regulator, more powers and a bigger role, and scrapping cross-media rules which prevent groups having a multi media monopoly in big cities and regions. As he put it in the same speech:” This will allow local media operators to follow viewers, as they increasingly switch platform at a moment’s notice, whether from TV to radio to mobile or to online. It will allow a consistent and strong new offering to advertisers: go with us and we will reach consumers in a defined geographical area whichever platform they use.” Given print monopolies’ determination to go for profit rather than service, this is not a good omen. He also hinted that he wanted to curb on-line provision on Channel Four and BBC to give more room for the private sector. This is something that James Murdoch is known to be passionate about since he wants to charge for access to the News International newspaper websites including The Times and The Sun. The professionalism of the BBC’s free website is an obvious barrier. The Liberal Democrats’ position could be crucial if there is either a hung Parliament or a minority Tory or Labour government later this year.

Recently Don Foster, their shadow culture secretary, updated policy with a long statement on the arts. The Lib Dems have traditionally supported the BBC but the latest statement, issued last month, shows they have now qualified that position. While supporting funding by the licence payer, he goes on to say: “The BBC should not be immune, however, from the need for savings across the public sector and must take measures to ensure that public money is not wasted. We also believe that the BBC must be more sensitive to the difficulties faced by commercial media providers. The BBC must avoid damaging and unnecessary entries into new markets and

joint union fightback Unions are to spearhead a campaign to fight massive job losses in the media and public sector. The recently formed Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG), which includes the NUJ, the Fire Brigades Union, the Public and Commercial Services Union, and the RMT rail union have decided that industrial action is needed to fight cuts in public spending. Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, put down a motion at a recent TUCG conference demanding the repeal of antitrade union legislation and calling for an internet-based campaign to fight job losses. The motion stated: “Conference condemns successive and continuing job cuts across media companies as an attack on high quality public service journalism, which erodes the public’s right to know and undermines UK civil society and democracy itself.” It concluded: “Conference therefore undertakes to build a high-profile, determined campaign to repeal anti union legislation – regarding industrial action,

solidarity for workers on strike, union ballots – and to challenge these laws, by breaking them if necessary. “Conference further calls for the creation of an information network – using e-publications and social networking sites among other media – to help build the trade union case for a fight back against

unemployment and to co-ordinate trade union resistance.” Other unions calling for co-ordinated action include PCS and the RMT. The RMT want a special conference to plan action in England, Wales and Scotland. At the conference, anger was expressed over the treatment of truck drivers and compromising safety to save money by the United Road Transport union and over the privatisation of prison and probation services by the Napo, the probation officers’ union, and the Prison Officers Association.

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work in partnership with other providers to share technology, resources and expertise.” So they will be backing some cut backs. They would also scrap the BBC Trust replacing it with a new body. Interestingly the Liberal Democrats alone propose devoting some state start up funding for new and creative media industries, one of the few suggestions by a political party which would create more jobs. Both Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalists do not have major media policies – beyond support for Welsh Language broadcasting and greater devolution of services. The SNP have looked at setting up a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation post independence. But to do this will be both expensive and tricky. A Scottish TV licence would have to be higher than the present UK one – and would raise less money for Scottish programmes than currently provided by the BBC. So not surprisingly, don’t expect this to be highlighted in a SNP manifesto. But the major change for the media in the next five years may not come from party manifestos – but more from what

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Jeremy Hunt, Shadow Culture Secretary

happens in the market place –with the growth of the internet. Here, what happens when Murdoch starts his controversial charging policy for online sites could be crucial. Other players are watching the new media market as well, including the equally controversial Lord Ashcroft, who has already dipped his toes into publishing and political websites and is said to be planning a major expansion in cyberspace.

The contracts are not due to be signed until May. We’ll do all we can to legally unpick them

Together we can make a difference Ten reasons why you should be in the National Union of Journalists • Protection at work • Commitment to improving the pay and conditions of journalists • Free legal advice service • The leading trade union in the fight for employment rights • Expert advice on copyright issues • Skilled representation at all levels • Your own national press card • Strong health and safety policies • A champion in the fight for press and broadcasting freedom • Major provider of training for journalists

Who should join the NUJ? Journalists including photographers, creative artists working editorially in newspapers, magazines, books, broadcasting, public relations and information, and electronic media; or as advertising and fashion photographers, advertising copywriters and editorial computer systems workers. We also welcome student journalists. If you have any questions please contact the membership department on Tel: 0845 4500373 or email putting ‘Membership Enquiry’ into the subject field.

Application forms available at

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THE VIEW FROM INSIDE PR Name: Sian Jones Job description: Press officer with the Communication Workers Union and secretary of the NUJ Press and PR branch

Accuracy, timeliness and Crozier


don’t really go in for the ‘PR, dahling’ Ab-Fab air kissing style of public relations. Working in a fairly no-nonsense trade union press office there’s not much need for that. The most important thing in my job is being accurate, or is it being on-time? Preferably both, of course.

Crozier to go to ITV Timing wasn’t something that was exactly, erm, managed when the news broke in January that Adam Crozier is leaving Royal Mail to go to ITV. It wasn’t the Royal Mail that broke the news. Neither, as it happened, was it ITV. In fact, it appeared as a snap on Sky before any other news channel. Now, you would have thought that ITV would have had this story sewn up! Surely they could have given themselves an exclusive on it? Even the Royal Mail press office was taken by surprise, it seemed. My friendly contact there answered my questions by saying: “Yes, so we’ve heard. We’ll have a statement in the next half an hour.” The Crozier story led to a flurry of calls for me from journalists after all the basic information that was missing: When was he going to leave? Who did we think was going to replace him? What do people think about him and what will he be remembered for? And, most

interestingly from my ITV contacts, what will it be like for us working under him? Of course we did our trade union bit emphasising the importance for the public service ethos of Royal Mail and the need to successfully sign off a modernisation deal before Mr Crozier leaves for the world of TV. We managed to fill in some of the blanks regarding his remuneration and £2million bonus whilst also pointing out that 60,000 jobs have been cut under his leadership. You might want to bear that in mind, colleagues at ITV.

PR moment of the month PR moment of the month has to go to Gordon Brown. Some 4.2million people tuned into ITV to watch his chat with Piers Morgan in an interview which really could have gone either way for him, given his track record (think YouTube). The newspaper dissecting was fairly predictable with the Mail calling it “excruciating” while the Times and Guardian gave it front page space with muted praise. Joe Public seems to like the prime minister a bit more after the chat show treatment. Now, if ever there’s a case to be made for PR, it’s Gordon Brown. Some people are just made for media, but the PM isn’t one of them. I quite like him for that, in a kind

of reverse-psychology sort of way: he’s bad at PR therefore he must be genuine. But this clearly doesn’t wash with the public in general who want a bit more effort to be put into the presentation of politics (if they’re going to take an interest in it). Don’t just come up with complicated economic recovery plans, tell me how you felt when your daughter died. It’s a tricky business, but Gordon had one of his best PR moments to date.

Coming up Planning ahead, I think it’ll be interesting to see how pay deals are presented this year. We’ve got a few big ones in the pipeline with companies including BT, Royal Mail and O2. There will be an absolute figure, but there’s plenty of room for interpretation when it comes to deals. Call it spin if you like, but it’s done by both sides in a similar way to negotiations. There’s also the inevitable scramble before the election – to get policies into manifestos and complete as much parliamentary business as possible before the election is called. The PR challenges are many and varied. For my colleagues in political and related organisations’ press offices, the next weeks will be exciting, demanding and completely draining. Accuracy and timeliness will be crucial.

theJournalist | 17


8/3/10 20:39:46

Internet bidding sites offer a global market place, with all the good and bad that brings. Kim Farnell tries to find a way to make them work

Under the hammer


ake money from writing! Work from the comfort of your own home. You too can earn a living or make a secondary income by becoming a freelance writer! Only in the online world will you see jobs posted with descriptions like: Pay is $0.85 per hour, anyone higher will be rejected. The article should only take 5 to 10 minutes to write, depending on your typing speed. I need help writing, editing and publishing my memory. Compensation: commiserate with experience. It’s enough to make most freelances decide they’d rather update their Facebook page. With the world seemingly revolving around the internet, coupled with the recession, everyone’s looking for new ways to make money. A freelance bidding site is not only a potentially lucrative global market place, it’s also an alternative reality with its own language and conventions. The level of competition makes bidding cut throat and services soon become commodities. Almost every professional pales with shock when they see how little some people are willing to sell their services for. The point of these sites is to connect clients with freelances looking for projects and writing projects, form a huge proportion of those offered. Jobs are listed, usually in an auction style format, and subscribers compete to win the project. Once you’ve paid your subscription, you can upload your profile – effectively a CV with samples – and bid on projects. Usually, you can’t see the other bids. If you’re awarded a project, you pay the site a percentage of your earnings. The sites offer a variety of associated services including, arbitration to resolve disputes, tests to demonstrate skills and feedback ratings. There’s no doubting the popularity of these sites. Guru, the biggest site, saw its total membership grow to 906,979 in July 2009 – up 15 per cent from the same month in 2008. Elance received 131,000 new applications from freelancers in

The reality is that the low bids often come from Americans either desperate for cash or writing as a hobby

the first half of 2009, a 40 per cent increase compared with the previous year. And Elance estimates that 40 per cent of its projects are done across international borders. Most of the successful bidding sites are oriented towards a US market. Online advertising promotes these sites as a great place for teenagers to find work and somewhere for small businesses to outsource at bargain basement prices. The joys of ‘working from home’ compete with the ‘fact’ that anyone can make an income from freelance writing. Vague, and even impossible, projects appear on multiple sites for rock bottom payments. The internet has trained people to look for free and the shroud of anonymity allows some to claim skills they don’t have. The myth is that as a few dollars an hour can be enough in a country where the average wage is low, it isn’t unreasonable to pay freelances from countries such as India and Pakistan pennies for their work. The reality is that the low bids often come from Americans either desperate for cash or writing as a hobby. The mentality that the West is doing Indian and Eastern European workers a big favour by deigning to offer them low paid work, is coupled with the attitude that you can’t really trust the workers there. This is why one site, Odesk, is proud of its proprietary software that enables the client to monitor workers. Screenshots and webcam images are updated every ten minutes and ‘productivity’ is monitored by keyboard and mouse clicks. Another, Rentacoder, offers the option to buyers to require the freelance to put up 10% or more of the total project payment, which is forfeited if delivery is late. But if it’s all so terrible, why bother? The appalling rates offered and the doubtful practices of some of the clients who use these sites were the inspiration for Kathy Kehrli’s popular blog Screw You! (http:// Kathy, from Pennsylvania, who has only ever worked online, stands by her assertion, ‘If you stand up for something under the guise of anonymity, you’re really not standing up for anything at all.’ It’s true that only a small percentage of freelances make enough money to take these sites seriously. On Elance, the

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feature top 100 providers in earnings account for 1 per cent of active providers and make 27 per cent of the earnings. Some of the top earners are companies that churn out web content at a phenomenal rate, often outsourcing themselves. However, a sizeable percentage is individuals who make $5,000 to $10,000 a month. There are clients who will pay a decent rate. In fact, some smaller projects advertised are testers for large jobs that can keep a freelance in work for months. The trick is being able to sort through the dross quickly to find the gems lurking there. At the least, you need to check the boards regularly. One advantage of finding work in this way is that jobs tend to be awarded fast and paid for quickly. The downside of that is that not logging on for a couple of days can mean you miss the ideal project. The painful process of weeding out jobs that are worthwhile is made easier when you realise how many red flags appear in projects advertised by those who want to pay pennies. ‘It’s an easy job for someone who knows what they’re doing’ appeared in an internet marketer’s guide to employing cheap writers a few years ago. Since then it’s appeared on every job board. Similarly, anyone who feels they have to ask for a native English speaker or emphasise the fact that they don’t want plagiarism, is usually seeking bargain basement search engine optimisation fodder.” Another huge plus is the variety of work. With quality at a premium, experienced writers are able to expand their portfolios by taking on projects that they might not have even considered in the real world. Despite all the secrecy around who’s bidding what and who they really are, writers are adept at working out who the competition is and making contact. Informal networks spring up all the time and writers recommend each other to clients. And those clients are happy to pass on their recommendations. There are good projects and good clients – but they take time and diligence to find. Just like in the real world…

The main sites Most projects are based on extremely low hourly rates rates with very few projects offering above $5-10 per hour. With over 52,000 subscribers in the writing, editing and translation category, Guru is the most popular and least friendly of the bidding sites. Subscriptions have to be paid quarterly ($75) and there is only very limited access for Guru’s free subscription plan. Guru also has a reputation for offering more quality projects and higher average rates than any other site. Primarily for software developers and IT specialists, Rentacoder has 5,000 subscribers registered as writers. Eighty five per cent of Rentacoder’s clients are from the United States, Canada, Australia and United Kingdom with 50 per cent of its workers from India, Pakistan, Eastern Europe and Russia. Extremely low rates and popular for students who want to pay to get their homework done. One of the biggest sites with nearly 25,000 subscribers listed in the writing and translation category, Elance demands a simple admission test and also verifies your phone number. It has a lively forum for subscribers and stricter terms of service than other sites, prohibiting adult content work and homework projects. Subscribers police the site themselves Although based in Sweden, Freelancer (formerly Getafreelancer) primarily connects American clients with Indian, Pakistani and Filipino writers. Over half a million subscribers fight for jobs that attract some of the lowest rates on the Internet. No subscription charges to bid on up to 30 projects makes it a popular site for first timers who fancy themselves as writers.

Kim Farnell is a freelance writer and editor.

Case study

Montanalady Kelly Anderson: ‘I’ve never met some of my best clients’


elly Andersson from Montana, US, has been a freelance writer since 1987 and since 1996 almost all of her work has been online. Working under the username of “Montanalady”, she has made $17,500 on Elance alone over the last two years. ‘I prefer the small-town rural life – working online allows me to live where I want and work with clients all over the country and internationally.’ With a portfolio ranging from web content writing, legal topics, government reports, reviews and business writing, Kelly now focuses increasingly on editing, because she enjoys it more. Most of her income is derived from repeat

clients with whom she’s worked for years. ‘Some of my best clients are people I’ve never met! They’ve ranged from non-profit organizations in California to federal agencies with offices in Boise, Idaho, and Washington, DC to magazines in Germany and corporations in Canada.’ Kelly likes the challenge of juggling several jobs at once, and thrives on the variety and the deadline pressure. But she also recognises the drawbacks of working this way. “It dismays me to see the thousands of online sources now ‘selling’ people on the idea that being a freelance writer is within their reach. It’s easy! You can do it!

Make extra money in your spare time! “Much of this is just marketing nonsense, and people buy into this, thinking they’re going to earn a comfortable income by writing ‘articles’ for online directories. “The markets are flooded with wannabe writers, people who can’t spell their way out of a wet paper sack, who unfortunately sell unmitigated drivel, reinforcing their belief that they can be ‘writers,’ and reinforcing the beliefs of the gullible buyers that ‘articles’ for their websites can be had for a dollar apiece. “I hope in 10 or 20 years we can look back and laugh and say, Hey! You remember that ‘internet marketing article’ craze?” theJournalist | 19

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Arts with attitude Some of the best things to see and do with a bit of political bite For listings email:


Acoustic antidote Where: The Grosvenor, 17 Sidney Road, London SW9 0TP. Time: 7.30pm-11pm. Last Sunday of month Price: £5 if working, £4 if not.

Festival fever It may only be Spring but festival time will be upon us before we know it. Here are a few of the best coming up.

around the Northern Quarter and also features a massive outdoor stage in the heart of Manchester’s City Centre, Piccadilly Gardens.

Camden Crawl, London – 1-2 May. The three day festival stretches for over a mile of the famous indie stomping ground of Camden, north London, opening the doors of over 30 venues to some 150 bands, handpicked by esteemed DJs, promoters, media and record labels.

Download, Donington Park Festival, Derbyshire – 11-13 June. Donington celebrates 30 years by announcing AC/DC as this year’s headliners. Other acts confirmed are Aerosmith, Rage Against The Machine, The Crooked Vultures, Stone Temple Pilots, Deftones, Megadeth and Motorhead.

Hungry Pigeon, North Quarter Music & Arts Festival – 28-30 May. Manchester’s city centre Northern Quarter is hoping to follow its successful 2009 festival with live music from 200 bands, live art, poetry, short films, art exhibitions and busking. Spread over 20 venues

The tragic story of a badly burned girl injured in a bombing incident in Afghanistan reached the heart of London photo-journalist Guy Smallman. In between making a living searching for news around the world, Guy met seven-year old Noria Barkat in a hospital after she lost her mother and saw two of her sisters injured in an attack. “She was in so much pain,” says Guy. “Her family, who weren’t from the village bombed, were visiting Noria’s grandma on the day of a battle between the Americans and the Taliban. “It’s a tragic story and when I put the recorded interviews together for a TV report I could hear Noria crying in the background. “A charity found a surgeon in Pakistan to do skin grafts for her injuries, but her family didn’t have the money to pay. I wanted to help and got together with the landlord of The Grosvenor pub in Stockwell, south London to put on a benefit gig for Noria.” That first gig, under the title Acoustic Insurgency, featured Attila the Stockbroker, Captain Hotknives, Steve White and the Protest Family and Vic Lambrusco. On the last Sunday of each month Guy aims to offer a blinding line-up of political folk music, comedy and spoken word. Renowned folk artist Robb Johnson headlined February’s event, where they raised funds for TUC Aid for Haiti and Haiti Action (see back page advert). “I have promoted live music events for over 20 years,” said Guy. “The biggest was the ‘Rage against Racism’ festival in Brockwell Park in 1994. Headlined by the Levellers and Manic Street

RockNess, Loch Ness, Clune Farm, Inverness – 11-13 June. The Strokes, 2 Many DJs, Friendly Fires are confirmed and for the first time, BBC Radio 1 is the festival’s official partner and the station’s hottest names, Annie Mac, Soulwax and Rob

Preachers it was attended by over 100,000 people. Although I enjoy organising stuff like this I never wanted a career in the music business as I find the industry very cut throat and the people unbelievably pretentious. ”Acoustic Insurgency is a slight departure from the rock and punk events I have previously put on. I suffer from almost constant tinnitus so decided to start doing events that were a bit kinder to the ears. The state of my ears is partly work related from explosions and concussion grenades in conflict zones but mostly down to my addiction to loud rock bands like New Model Army. ”The March 28th event will also be a benefit for TUC Aid to Haiti, headlined by folk legend Leon Rosselson. London based photographer Jess Hurd donated an image from her recent assignment to the disaster zone for the publicity material. We will also be showing some slides of her work from Haiti on the night. I have little doubt her images will spawn a lot of donations. ”All NUJ members are warmly invited to come along and check out Acoustic Insurgency. Anyone showing up with a valid NUJ card or a copy of the Journalist magazine will be admitted for a discount. We also run a fund raising raffle at each event and some pretty good items have been donated to the next one. London Freelance Branch member Phil Sutcliffe won no less than three prizes at the January event.” April’s gig will be a benefit for Reel News, an alternative media project run by NUJ member Shaun Dey. They produce a dvd of short films every two months geared towards social, environmental and trade union struggles.

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Arts Da Bank – will host their own arenas. Glastonbury Festival – 23-27 June has finally received the backing of Mendip District Council. The new licence covers the festival from 2010 to 2016 (although there will be no festival in 2012, which will be a fallow year). This year’s headliners are the biggest band in the world, U2, who will play the Pyramid stage. Rumours also circulate of a modest revival of the Left Field. Trouble is, Glastonbury is completely sold out but there will be returns, so check

Ronzo; art for the City

Other events Striking The Balance Friday May 7th, 7.30pm, Set against the turbulent backdrop of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, three working women take on the might of a discriminatory establishment in a struggle for equal pay. Tickets: Free but must be reserved in advance – 0151 243 2557 or email The Picket, Jordan Street, Liverpool Joanne O’Brien’s winning portrait

Visual Arts The National Portrait Gallery In February the National Portrait Gallery named a portrait of the writer Margaret Forster by NUJ member Joanne O’Brien as Photograph of the Month. Joanne was a founder member of Format Photographers (19832003), Britain’s first all-women’s photographic agency, and the portrait is part of a display celebrating their work until July 11th. On March 25th, the gallery hosts a talk on Format by Maggie Murray and Michael Ann Mullen. McCullin – Shaped by War Acclaimed photographer Don McCullin with the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester presents the largest ever UK exhibition about his life and work to mark his 75th year and includes his most iconic war images, contemporary landscapes and personal perspective on more recent events. Shaped by War runs until June 13 and is accompanied by a book published by Jonathan Cape (£25). Museum North is open seven days


a week from 10am – 6pm with free admission. The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Trafford Park, Manchester. Further exhibitions of Shaped By War are planned at Victoria Art Gallery, Bath 11 September – 21 November. Imperial War Museum, London 7 October 2011 – 30 January 2012. Credit cruncher London based street artist and vandal extraordinaire, Ronzo, has spread around the city his latest sculpture, ‘Pity of London’. The limited edition series of street sculptures celebrates the recent announcement of the long awaited end to the UK recession. Like the Griffins of old, these sculptures have been cemented into the streets of London’s financial district as markers, this time not as a geographical boundary, but a social one representing the end of the worst recession in a generation. Each sculpture is a silver Credit Crunch Monster, leaving lasting teeth marks in our once shiny pound.

2 tiC FRee tO Ket Wi S n

do you want to go to one of europe’s coolest festivals, for free? thanks to Battersea and Wandsworth tuc, we have two tickets to give away for Spain’s Benicassim festival, where you can see the Prodigy, dizzee Rascal, Kasabian, the Specials, and PiL among others. Just answer the questions below and write a few words about the nuJ. We’ll use the best of your thoughts in new recruitment material and we’ll send the winner two tickets to see the bands and, hopefully, soak up the sun on the weekend of 15th-18th July 1) Who is president of the NUJ? 2) When was the union founded? 3) Name two of the union’s current campaigns? 4) In 25 words or less please say why the NUJ is important to you:

Answers please to:

Spain’s Benicassim festival theJournalist | 21

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Your reps

Matt Hurst: “Union representation in journalism is quite unique”


On the Mersey beat Stephanie Power meets Matt Hurst, father of the chapel at the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo Workplace reps are the union’s lifeblood, the first port of call for people needing help. In a new series we profile the people on the ground.


t’s 3.30pm on a Wednesday and Matt Hurst, Wirral reporter for the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, has just finished his shift. Today he’s covered the closure of seven wards at Arrowe Park Hospital, in Upton, following an outbreak of norovovirus, and has reported on a Wirral man who stabbed his wife 500 times and has just been given the right to appeal his 20-year sentence. Matt is 29 and became FoC in February 2009 after his newsroom was hit by Trinity Mirror Merseyside’s first round of redundancies, when 43 editorial staff left. There’s since been a second wave, with the newsroom now reduced by nearly a third. Who would he want to be a union rep in this climate? “It’s an easy thing to talk about redundancies with friends and colleagues but to actually do something is quite different.” The climate in the industry that also motivated him to become a rep: “Union representation in journalism

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is quite unique, you are trying to defend an industry against commercial pressure – it’s a constant battle between demand for commercial success and the quasipublic service aspect of the job.” Matt says it’s difficult to appreciate the responsibility until you take it on: “We’ve been in the biggest editorial change for a decade. We’ve got 90 members and all these people are looking to you to do something.” “You feel a responsibility and hope you can do what you need to. When you do achieve a measure of success, that’s where the reward is really.” Being available to members is a vital role for a union rep at the Post and Echo. So is keeping those lines of communication open with the employer. Matt has also been recruiting more members, although union density is already at about 90 per cent. But he wanted to make clear that the NUJ “wasn’t just a case of people coming to me expecting me to sort out all their problems and then disappear into the wind. We are all in this together as a collective and we are only as strong as a combined force.” Matt enjoys the union role because he believes the people who work on the

Being available to members is a vital role for a union rep at the Post and Echo

paper are committed to journalism as a vocation. It’s not just about securing a wage but about defending journalism itself. Staff have become frustrated with the frequent changes in direction at the paper. “I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen, from your biggest media barons to local papers. Digital media was going to be the great white knight but it hasn’t worked out that way. At the moment, newspapers aren’t able to make the shift to the internet pay.” He cites the use of video at Trinity Mirror Merseyside – “We all had training on smart phones and were told video is the next big thing. On every job we had to take video as well as taking notes and general reporting duties. It takes a long time to edit a video, even if you’re good at it. From a reporter’s point of view it was obvious that it justdidn’t make sense in terms of the time available. Now they’ve decided to abandon the videogathering part of the job, in effect, and using that as a justification for not needing as much editorial staff.” The chapel has passed a motion of no confidence in management. Morale in the newsroom is low. Matt says: “No-one likes to feel they are filling space between adverts. Its good when you feel like you are helping people, the readers. It’s still a good job, it’s an enjoyable job. I don’t cry on the way into work. But it’s difficult. There’s no getting away from that.”

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on media

Raymond Snoddy tries his hand at the new social media



hildren used to be essential for programming video recorders. Now they are vital for keeping journalists of a certain age up to speed with the latest technology and social networking. At the lottery-winning end of the spectrum there is Tom Hadfield, the lad of former Sunday Times news editor Greg, who aged 12 dreamed up Soccernet, which was bought by ESPN/ Disney for £25 million. At the more mundane level the offspring come in handy for avoiding the public perception, that you have retired – or worse. Until recently the social media surge was something to be analysed and dissected with particular reference to its effect on the traditional media. Actually take part? You’ve got to be joking. Voluntarily give up your privacy and expose yourself in public, quite apart from the visceral distrust of public boastfulness. Emails are fine and if I want to speak to a friend I’ll pick up the Goddamn phone. Then the small conspiracy started. In a startling pincer movement the offspring – Oliver the interactive advertising specialist and Julia the journalist – took unilateral action. A blog site was created and rights to my own domain purchased from some American geezer. Mild harrumph. Next my profile appeared on LinkedIn complete with colour pic. Further harrumphs. Ok guys. Fair enough, but no Twitter. No intention of joining the Stephen Fry ranks telling people about breakfast or whether it is a nice day. NO Twitter. Naturally it was only a matter of

Actually take part? No way. You’ve got to be joking

days before my Twitter account was up and running. Time to retreat into the final redoubt. Absolutely no Facebook. Four hundred million may have signed up but there is no compelling reason to join them. Don’t they know about the woman who lost a senior job in the media when her interviewers baulked at Facebook boasts of sexual predations in the office. The mentally acute will have noticed an emerging pattern. First the good news, Dad. You have a fan club on Facebook. And the bad news? There are only four members! Impotent rage rather than mere harrumphs. So what has it amounted to? After writing a couple of blogs, subliminal unease set in. When a freelance journalist is trying to sell work, where is the logic in giving it away? The argument that it will gain traction, attention and that good things will flow doesn’t seem to pass muster. A sponsored blog would be a very different thing. LinkedIn will not transform your life but it can be surprisingly useful. Faced with unreasonable demands for extra quotes on a Sunday afternoon, emergency emails were dispatched to relevant LinkedIn contacts and the job was done within the hour. Twitter? Ah Twitter has become a minor love affair. You can draw attention to articles just written, poke a stick through the bars, and get instant – sometimes regrettably sharp – responses and occasionally indulge in self-pitying rants about the fate of QPR. Sometimes a hack without a newspaper can even break a story or two. The simple message is that all journalists have got to engage with an unstoppable communication force that will one day define this age. As Peter Horrocks, BBC head of global news, put it somewhat imperiously, if you can’t find a way of using new information sources like social media it might be better to do something else. But it definitely helps to have offspring. If you haven’t got any – borrow or adopt.

For all the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy go to theJournalist | 23


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Michael Cross on the latest trends and kit


s there any phrase more heartsinking to journalists than search engine optimisation (SEO)? At best, it conjures up visions of lifeless headlines and copy stuffed with irrelevant “key words”. At worst it is the nightmare of journalists being replaced by virtual copy factories paying contributors $6 an article. (Yes, really.) But there’s another way of looking at the skill. Adjusting your writing to fit the needs of web search engines is no more un-journalistic than adjusting your writing to fit traditional constraints like intro word counts and narrow column measures. These are admired professional skills – especially by flabby broadsheet types like me. For beginners, SEO means producing web copy so that search engines (by which bosses usually mean Google) place it high in their ranking of findings. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s more to it that stuffing articles with words like “Britney”. The secret Google algorithm bases its choice on a basket factors like the trustworthiness of top-

VOICE RECORDERS: OLYMPUS LS-11 First, a confession. When people ask me what technology is best for recording interviews, I growl “Teeline Mark 1”. In truth, for several years I’ve been carrying a digital voice recorder to especially sensitive or many-sided interviews. OK, I seldom listen to the recording, let alone transcribe, but at least I know it’s is there if I lose my notebook or find I can’t read my erratic scrawl. Basic digital recorders are now so cheap – £35 will get you a good model from Olympus or Sony – and reliable that I can’t imagine any reporter leaving the office without one. (Or, more usually, picking up the phone: Maplins does a stick-on phone mic for £4.99.)

Much boils down to the five Ws, who did what, where, why and when

But if you need more features, higher quality and more capacity, it’s possible to spend more, much more on a digital recorder. I’ve been trying out Olympus’s top-range LS-11 At £339.99, it isn’t a journalist’s impulse buy. What you get for the money is a device that is capable of recording broadcast or podcast-quality audio as well as being a quick and handy interview-catcher. Externally, the LS-11 very different beast to my trusty little VN-480. For a start, it’s twice the size and considerably heavier thanks to a metal case and stereo speakers. However the controls are familiar and intuitive – I recorded my first interview without even opening the daunting 84-page instruction book. I particularly liked the large red indicator on the “record” button, which, along with the twin recordlevel indicators provide reassurance that it’s running.

level domain (a mainstream newspaper will score over a start-up site) and links to other sites. You can keep up with current thinking at Experts say that journalists can and should resist demands for 20 per cent of an article to consist of keywords. “There’s a lot of fuss about key-word density,” says SEO copy specialist Karyn Fleeting, a former Sunday Telegraph journalist who now runs Harrogate-based Tinderbox Media, “but there’s no gospel, no clear cut right or wrong way.” Rather, she advises, just stick to the rules of good news writing. “If you’re a good journalist, providing SEO-optimised copy is no big deal, especially compared with the other new things we’ve had to adapt to recently.” I agree. Much of SEO writing boils down to following the rules we all learned about the five Ws – who did what, where, why and when. OK, so the practice may mean the end of literary dropped intros and self-indulgent gonzo interviews that get around to mentioning the subject only in the last par. But is that such a bad thing?

Playback quality through the builtin speakers, is sensational, especially when recording with the “low cut” filter which cuts out the annoying drone of air conditioners (though not of press officers). Less useful, except perhaps for showing off, is the remote control. What you’re really paying for, though, is the technology to create recordings in high-quality transferable digital formats, including Windows Media Audio and MP3, and to store them on a removable SD card as well as the gizmo’s own 8-gigabyte memory. In English, this means you can pack away 15 hours of sound at the highest digital quality – or more than 2,000 hours of dictaphonequality mono. I can’t imagine wanting any more from a recording device. So long as someone else is buying.

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Pete Murray is president of the NUJ. He is a senior broadcast journalist at BBC Scotland in Glasgow

THE NUJ AND ME  What made you become a journalist? One single thing? Reading “Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell, probably.

What other job might you have done? In between pulling pints in pubs, cleaning bathrooms on oil rigs and starting out as a journalist, I worked as an adult literacy tutor, then history teacher. So I’d probably be in education somewhere.

When did you join the NUJ and why? Pretty well the day I got my first job in journalism, in 1985. It was during the Wapping strike at News International and my first branch meeting was addressed by Tony Dubbins and Brenda Dean from the printers’ unions. They seemed such celebrities, so it felt like I was playing in the first division. But really, I joined the NUJ because I’d joined a union in every job I had before then.

Are many of your friends and family in a union? My big sister is in the University and College Union. She’s been a workplace activist for ages – a real battler! Almost all of my workmates in the newsroom at BBC Scotland are in the NUJ or BECTU.

What is the worst place you’ve worked in? I worked in a bar in Glasgow briefly. A guy wielding a sword raided the till and smashed the place up. Then I had to work a stag night when they put on a stripper. I quit afterwards. The place is demolished now, thankfully.

I don’t want to offend anyone I’ve worked with in newsrooms around the place, but my (all too short) spell with Newsbeat at Radio 1 in the mid90s. It was all about tight writing and high production values. Plus, I got to interview Henry Rollins! Inspiration: Orwell

And the worst ones?

What advice would you give to someone starting in journalism? Build up as much expertise as you can in different software applications or

Margaret Thatcher and all her successors, who’ve sent millions of people to the dole queues, smashed working class communities and taken Britain to war to try to rescue their political fortunes.

Ian Mackaye from the Washington DC hardcore band, Fugazi; Rosa Luxembourg; Malcolm X; Chris Boardman; George Orwell; and my granny Murray, to tell stories and because she used to make the best roast potatoes in the world – ever.

Becoming president – getting the chance to speak out on behalf of this uniquely diverse and committed organisation of workers.

When I was at primary school I saw the 1968 student uprising in France on TV and it looked really exciting. Years later when I got tear-gassed while covering riots in Senegal, I realised it wouldn’t have been fun all the way!

Who is your biggest hero?

Which six people (alive or dead) would you invite for a dinner party?

And in the union?

What was your earliest political thought?

Learn everything you can about copyright, devote some time every working day to forward planning; and keep your receipts.

And villain

I’ve had a couple of genuine scoops in my work, but the one that always stands out is getting the first print interview with Alan Johnston (for the Journalist) after he was released from three months as a hostage in Gaza.

An interview with a visual artist – I won’t say who – quite soon after I started as a journalist. I hadn’t done my homework and asked some really crass questions. He was rightly offended.

What advice would you give a new freelance?

I was brought up in the punk rock era, so the “no more heroes” ethic runs deep. But: my Mum and Dad – for staying together and encouraging us despite everything me and my brothers and sisters have thrown at them.

And the best?

What’s been your best moment in your career?

technical equipment, as well as all the basics, of course: shorthand, keyboard skills, newsgathering and the law. But most of all – be inquisitive and always have a supplementary question…

Scoop: Johnston

What are your hopes for journalism in the next five years? That the industry will start to recover and these waves of redundancies will recede.

And your fears? That it won’t; that they won’t.

What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months? For British troops to leave Afghanistan.

How would you like to be remembered? As the father of a Nobel prize winner – no pressure, kids! theJournalist | 25


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letters... tim ellis

copyright perils? Like most freelance journalists I have seen my work published both in print and online for a single fee. Since publishers tend to buy copyright, the fact that copy goes online makes little difference to freelance payments. You could argue this is unfair, that journalists should be paid per use. However, while the internet may mean freelancers’ work is re-used free of charge, it has also increased the freelance work available. Swings and roundabouts. I’m now on staff at a magazine where – like most magazines – costs are cut to the bone. Looking at the drastic reduction in commissioned photography we use it seems to me that our photographer colleagues’ charging practices reduce their earning potential. If we could buy copyright of commissioned photography for a reasonable cost, we would do so. Yes, it would be used online. Yes, it may be reused in the magazine. But it would be commissioned – a photographer would be paid. As it is, we either use no photography or rely on mediocre shots from agencies charging one-off membership fees. Wouldn’t it make more sense for photographers to change their charging structure and actually make some money? Ann Shuttleworth Practice editor, Nursing Times

Election debates need to reflect devolution As a former broadcaster with experience in Wales and Northern Ireland I feel a UK-wide television debate for the general election involving only Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg is undemocratic. These debates do not take into account the devolved nature of governance. The proposals would undermine the fairness of the general election giving viewers a completely distorted view of their choice. Since 2007 Plaid Cymru and the SNP are parties of government. Their voices should be heard too. In Northern Ireland only the Conservatives are standing candidates. What is the relevance of a debate with the other two parties if people cannot pass judgment on what they have seen in the ballot box? It worth noting that in Canada, another devolved country, there are five leaders who take part in debates including Bloc Quebecois that only stands in Quebec, and the Green party,

who only had one seat at the last election. Broadcasters have a duty to be fair and impartial. It would give a completely distorted view of the devolved nature of politics if viewers were only presented with a choice of the three London-based party leaders. Ioan Bellin PR Member of Cardiff and South Wales East Branch

Campaigning for the BBC gets results The coverage in the January/February 2010 edition of The Journalist of the broadcasting debates at the 2009 delegate conference (Union will fight for a better BBC) fails to reflect that the campaign against top slicing of the licence fee has been a success. Despite support from Ofcom, Lord Carter in his ‘Digital Britain’ report and from culture secretary Ben Bradshaw, in mid November it emerged that the proposals had been kicked into the long grass – shelved until after the general election – and are unlikely to be taken up by the Conservative Party.

vote for men or the old argument that if branches couldn’t nominate the usual suspect they wouldn’t find anyone else to stand. But in the end maybe the council underestimated the fact that even in a union that has a strong tradition of supporting equality, the need to hold on to power runs deep. We urge women to stand for NEC and other positions. Some branches have now included gender balance in their standing orders – we urge other branches to do the same and to encourage women to come forward – why not have this debate at a meeting? Otherwise the NEC will continue to look like an episode of Mad Men – just without the cigarettes. Lena Calvert NUJ Equality Officer

New group covers one in six members So campaigning can be successful, which is not to say that the future of the BBC is now secure. No matter which political party wins the election we, with our campaigning partners in the trade union movement and civil society, will have to keep up the pressure. Granville Williams Upton, West Yorkshire

We need more women elected In a union with 40 per cent women membership, the current 28-seat national executive council has 2.5 seats held by women. That’s why the Equality Council took motion 57 to the annual delegate meeting instructing branches to make gender-balanced nominations for the NEC and other elected positions. We rejected reserved seats, as we’re not a minority group! If women get on a ballot they have every chance to get elected – recent national ballots demonstrate that. Our motion was defeated. It didn’t help that some delegates told conference it would mean they couldn’t

A significant event at Southport ADM was the launch of NUJ 60+, the union’s newest organization which potentially covers one in six members. We have called it NUJ 60+ to make clear that you don’t have to be retired to join – just over 60. The idea is to use the latent energy and experience of older members to further the cause of better pensions and proper support in old age. This, of course, is in the interests of younger NUJ members who will enjoy the fruits of our work when their turn comes. NUJ 60+ members face an uncertain future. State pensions are inadequate, work pensions under attack, and official ‘retirement’ages going up. Many will still be working well beyond 60 as demonstrated by Katharine Whitehorn, who honored us by launching NUJ 60+, and who is still writing and broadcasting in her eighties. Since the launch, we have sent out a bulletin describing progress and plan to encourage branches to set up their own local NUJ 60+ groups. We are announcing ourselves soon on the NUJ website and the next national meeting

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* @

is set for September 9th at Headland House. Please contact me for more details Pat Healy Chair NUJ Pensioners Committee

Media mustn’t only focus on business Last month many in the broadcasting unions and the wider labour movement marked the death of Jack Amos, a kindly man with a steely passion for justice and for standards in the media. After last year’s TUC, Jack wrote angrily of the demise of the role of industrial correspondents in the national media and the lack of publicity given to the labour and trade union movement. “We now have in the print media but also in broadcasting whole sections dedicated to business, yet hardly anything on the labour movement,” he pointed out. “Without specialist correspondents, who will now report

those views in the media? The media should not be confined to the views of the owners and we should make every effort to get our voice heard.” While Jack’s complaint was aimed particularly at the London-based media, his passionate cry for fair coverage of the concerns of working people and their organisations deserve the support of everyone prepared to stand up for journalism. Eddie Barrett Press & PR Branch

Editorial/advertising divide is ‘essential’ There were many interesting points in Vivien Sandt’s article in the last issue of the Journalist on new online media, what the union’s response should be, and the opportunities it presents. It was a welcome piece, because there is always the danger that every new form of media is seen as “the end of civilization as we know it”. One phrase in her article, though, concerned me as a union member. Vivien wrote “even the hallowed


Please keep letters to 200 words

editorial/advertising divide is becoming non-existent.” That divide is there because there is a difference between journalism and producing advertising copy. Journalists have always faced pressure to tailor their copy to suit commercial pressures. One of the union’s purposes is to resist that pressure, and make sure the divide remains. Thus readers know when they are reading editorial content and when reading advertisements. At worst, they can trust any wrong call to be a genuine mistake, not an advertisement slipped in. The divide is not “hallowed”; it is essential. Anton McCabe Omagh; Treasurer, Derry and North West Ireland Branch

Email your letters to: Post them to: The Editor, The Journalist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP

The Journalist online The Journalist reaches you just six times a year. That’s not frequently enough to reflect the continuous initiatives and policy debates in the union; nor is it to hear your responses to important news events. So, we aim to make the Journalist online a place where all can share their opinions and concerns in a comment and debate section. It offers immediacy and interaction. Please offer mini features and viewpoints for this to journalist@nuj. The Journalist online is part of the NUJ’s main website – but with its own identity as a forum for debate and opinion within the union. But these printed letters pages also remain a very important arena for your views and comments and we welcome all contributions. Please keep them concise – no more than 200 words – so we can include as many different opinions and comment as possible. Editor the Journalist

steve bell

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‘The feelings of colleagues and students went way beyond a high regard – they truly loved him’

‘His commitment to his union mirrored his social commitment, his sense of fairness and justice’

Damian O’Brien

Joe Barrett

Moving memorial in Dublin

A life’s work in Harlow


arm tributes were paid to leading NUJ member Damian O’Brien at a memorial service in Newman University Church, Dublin, following his tragic death in December. Damian, 37, went missing on November 27th and his body was found in the Grand canal on December 11th. Clerk of the Fáilte Ireland chapel and a committee member of Dublin Press and PR branch, Damian had completed an NUJ officer training course on the morning of the day he went missing. News of his disappearance shocked union members, who played a prominent part in the search for Damian, which attracted nationwide attention. The Irish Executive Council’s Cathaoirleach (chair) Norma Prendeville, Leas Cathaoirleach (vice chair) Gerry Curran and Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley joined NUJ chapel members in a Fáilte Ireland guard of honour at Damian’s funeral in Co Cork. Damien was hugely regarded for his work in promoting the development of contemporary culture and the arts within the Irish tourism industry. Dublin’s Lord Mayor Emer Costello was among the attendance at the January memorial service, at

which Séamus outlined Damien’s contribution to the NUJ and to the arts in Ireland. He said that as a chapel officer Damian was noted for promoting cross-union initiatives. Recalling Damian’s involvement in the office training course, Séamus said Damian’s intelligence, his wit and common sense informed the discussions. But for many people their abiding memory of Damian was his tour de force performances in the role-playing workshops. He played the role of a new employee refusing to join the union. Every time the NUJ rep tried to recruit him Damian found another reason not to join the union. He played the nightmare recruit perfectly but Seamus said: “In real life Damian was no reluctant recruit. His commitment to his union mirrored his social commitment, his sense of fairness and justice, and his belief in service to others.” The unique service in University Church Dublin brought together a cross-section of Irish society, with tributes from the internationally acclaimed Hugh Lane Gallery, Opera Ireland and the Georgian Society. The strong emphasis on classical music and opera reflected Damian’s passion for music.


founder member of the West Essex and East Herts NUJ branch, Joe Barrett has died at the age of 80. Joe lived and worked for more than 50 years in Harlow after arriving from a Norfolk evening paper in 1954. He became sports editor and a general sub editor on the town’s innovative and then independent Harlow Citizen newspaper, which was later taken over by the London-based Guardian/Gazette group. Joe soon became involved with the Citizen’s NUJ chapel and was founder treasurer of the then thriving West Essex and East Herts branch of the NUJ, a post he held for many years. His years at the Harlow Citizen were the happiest of his career. The paper played a crucial role in building a sense of community in what was then a very new town. And Joe enjoyed being part of the team at the Citizen as the newspaper gained a strong reputation for accurate and balanced reporting and was read by almost every household. The newspaper won national awards for its design and content. Joe first became interested in a career in journalism at Wisbech Grammar School, Norfolk, where he was sports editor of the school magazine. He submitted reports to

the local paper and when he came out of national service in the RAF, he decided journalism was the job for him. His assignments in Norfolk included covering the great floods around The Wash in 1953 – which he managed to do on his bicycle. For the last 19 years of his career, Joe taught journalism at Harlow College, and joined the lecturers’ union Natfhe. Fellow lecturer Mike Wagstaff said: “Joe was a fine journalist and teacher but, despite his great talents, he was completely unassuming. The feelings of colleagues and students went way beyond a high regard – they truly loved him.” After his retirement, Joe raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Harlow canal boat project which was set up to provide riverbased activities for people with disabilities. He also gave his time as a part-time youth worker until he was 70. Joe leaves a widow, Mag, a former journalist whom he met when they both did calls at Epping police station, and four sons and eight grandchildren.

28 | theJournalist


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Who, what and where?

The NUJ has four offices – the head office in London, and ones in Manchester, Glasgow and Dublin.

UK, Broadcasting

Irish Office

National Organiser Sue Harris Assistant organiser Laura Davison Email:

For general enquires, including press cards and membership queries and please contact


Spencer House Spencer Row, Off Store Street Dublin 1 Tel: 00 353 (0)1 8170340/8170341 Fax: 00 353 (0)1 8170359 Email:

At each office, officials can provide advice and information to help with problems at work and, if necessary, represent you in dealings with your employer. London Office Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP Tel: 020 7278 7916 Fax: 020 7837 8143 Email: General Secretary Jeremy Dear Email: Deputy General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet Email:

Publishing Agencies, books, new media, newspapers, magazines and public relations in southern England and Wales. Head of Publishing: Barry Fitzpatrick National Organiser: Fiona Swarbrick Assistant Organisers: David Ayrton, Jenny Lennox, Don McGlew Email:

UK, Freelances National organiser: John Toner Assistant organiser: Pamela Moreton Email:

Equality Officer Lena Calvert Email:

education & training Education & Training Officer Linda King Training Co-ordinator Deirdre Heinrich Email:

legal Legal Officer Roy Mincoff

COMMUNICATIONS: Senior Campaigns and Communications and Officer Rod Alexander Email:

The Journalist Editor Christine Buckley Email:

Northern and Midland Office 5th Floor Arthur House Chorlton Street Manchester M1 3FH Tel: 0161 237 5020 Fax: 0161 237 5266 Organiser Chris Morley Assistant organiser Lawrence Shaw Email:

Secretary Seamus Dooley Organiser Nicola Coleman Assistant organiser Ian McGuinness Email:

Other contacts The Ethics Hotline For union information on ethical and professional issues. Tel: 0845 450 0864 Email: For reporting the BNP: Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, Second Floor, Vi & Garner Smith House, 23, Orford Road, London E17 9NL Tel: 020 8521 5932 Email: Journalists’ Charity Requests for financial help are considered from all needy past and present journalists and their dependents. The charity has sheltered housing accommodation for retired journalists and offers a wide range of residential, nursing, respite care and care for those suffering from mental frailty. Email: Tel: 01306 887511 or visit

Glasgow office 3rd Floor 114 Union St Glasgow G1 3QQ Tel: 0141 248 6648/7748 Fax: 0141 248 2473 Organiser Paul Holleran Assistant organiser Fiona Davidson Email:

theJournalist | 29


8/3/10 18:26:54

professional Training courses


Sat 20 Mar

Writing your first Book




Wed 24 Mar

Setting up a Blog Introduction




Sat 27 Mar

Getting Started as a Freelance




Tue/Wed 20/21 Apr

Video Blogging for Print Journalist Introduction




Thur/Fri 22/23 Apr

Sub-Editing Introduction




Mon 26 Apr

Freedom of Information Act




Tue/Wed 27/28 Apr

Advanced News Skills




Thur 6 May

Understanding Business and Large Companies




Fri 7 May

Understanding the Economy




Tue/Wed 18/19 May

Adobe Indesign CS3




Tue/Wed 25/26 May

Build your own Website




Thur/Fri 3/4 June

Writing for the Web




Thur 10 June

Understanding Business and Large Companies




Fri 11 June

Understanding the Economy




Tues/Wed 22/23 June

Adobe InDesign CS3




Thur/Fri 1/2 July

Intro Sub-Editing




Mon/Tuesday 19/20 July

Build you own Website




Thursday 5 Aug

Understanding Business and Large Companies




Fri 6 Aug

Understanding the Economy




Mon/Tue 9/10 Aug

Writing for the Web




Tue/Wed 7/8 Sep

Adobe InDesign CS3




Thur/Fri 23/24 Sep

Writing for the Web




Thur/Fri 30/Sep/1 Oct

Intro – Sub-Editing




Thur/Fri 7/8 Oct

Multimedia Storytelling




You can view course outlines at under the courses section and then click on the professional training courses button.


Non Members

To book a place on any of these courses or if you would like some advice or have any questions, please email or telephone 020 7843 3730.


NUJ training

20 March – 8 October 2010 London

The NUJ offers a wide variety of short courses in professional subjects. Whether you want to learn the best way to video blog or sell your services as a freelancer, you can get to grips with the techniques you need over one or two days. The courses will help you increase and refresh your skills whether you’re at the start of your career or further along the professional path. They will increase your technical skills, improve your writing and editing and also offer you a chance to change direction completely. Skills are vitally important at any time but they are especially needed at a time when uncertainty and massive change is the name of the game across the industry. The union also offers training for our representatives to enable them to negotiate, get fully up to speed with employment law and get the best deal for our members. These courses are free. New courses are regularly added so keep an eye on to see what’s available.

Lost Your Job? If you’ve lost a staff job you could be entitled to a free professional course. Courses must be booked within three months of you losing your job and are offered free at the union’s discretion and are subject to availability.

*For Students and members in their first year of employment

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Training testimonial

Feature writing course Jonathan Rayner To begin at the beginning: don’t begin at the beginning. Remember the other cardinal rules, too: mimosa plants and rhinoceroses, brainstorms in a teacup, finding an Irish ghost, packing a compass. That’s set the scene. Now we can tell the readers what we’re really writing about in the second… …or maybe third paragraph. It’s a review of the NUJ’s two-day feature writing course. The course tutor is journalist and screenwriter Brendan Foley and the paragraphs above are packed with his gnomic utterances. Except on closer inspection, they are more practical than gnomic. Go for contrast in your writing, Foley says, with long and short sentences, a mix of the sensitive and the thick-skinned, the narrative voice and the colloquial. Think aromatic and delicate mimosas and then think rhinos, he says, with their locomotive chests and wateryeyed butchness. The entire course was an aerobic workout for writers. A feature does not start with the intro. Brainstorm over a cup of tea – or sleep on it. Find your own Pooka, an Irish ghost, to read over your shoulder. Pack a compass, the key paragraph that says where you are going and stops you straying from the path. That’s the theory, but does it work? Foley brought in examples of published features for the group to analyse and also invited us to present one of our own. That was scary: my pulse was stuck on fast forward throughout. Worth two days of your time and the fee? Definitely. Is Foley a good tutor? Yes, of course. Or as he might have put it to the group: Granny sucks eggs shock. Jonathan Rayner is a news reporter for Law Society Gazette.

Other Courses Investigative Journalism Workshop: Saturday, March 20 at 2pm: Award-winning Guardian reporter Paul Lewis will be run this free workshop aimed at younger journalists who want to learn investigative techniques and find better ways of “selling” their ideas to sceptical news editors. Paul’s coverage of the G20 protests in London won him the Bevins Prize for outstanding journalism. He was also runner-up for the Paul Foot Award and has previously been nominated for Young Journalist Of The Year. Venue: BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio meeting room, Priory Place, Coventry, CV1 5SQ Places strictly limited to 20. Email: Getting ready to retire? The union is holding its first preretirement seminar on Tuesday 23rd March at 6.30pm in Headland House. It will be run by IFS, the NUJ’s independent financial advisers. Issues will include pensions and tax free lump sums. Members who wish to attend should email by Friday 19th March. We will also hold seminars on Redundancy and Mid Life Crisis-Is it? If you are interested, please contact Don McGlew on the same email. Awards The European Parliament Prize for Journalism For journalists who have covered major issues at a European level or promoted a better understanding of the EU institutions and/or EU policies. Four categories – written press, radio, TV and internet. Each winner will receive €5,000. Deadline for submissions is 31 March 2010. Individuals or teams up to 5 people are eligible. The contributions must have been published or broadcast between 1 May 2009 and 31 March 2010. Application forms available at: • Stories on Umbria Journalism award Deadline: 21 March 2010 Categories: articles or radio/TV programmes on Umbria published or broadcast in 2009 Contact: shorturl/SEQHI/

classified The rate is £5 a line – but for NUJ MEMBERS ONLY we offer THREE for the price of two, and FIVE for the price of three. The semi-display rate is £8 a column centimetre. All ads prepaid; cheques made out to NUJ please.


Annual Travel Insurance Prices from £29.75*

0844 482 0677

Please call Quoting NUJ U.K Call centre.

Provided by AIS Direct. AIS Direct are a trading style of Rock Insurance Services Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), FSA number 300317. * Terms and Conditions apply. Prices based on Individual European Annual Economy for ages up to 54 years and cover is correct at 02/06/2009

Life members' converted barn on edge of Bodmin moor. Sleeps four plus cot. Central heating. Close to Cornwall's historic gardens and both coasts. Good pub.


Stunning 1937 three bed house with sea glimpses around corner from blue flag beaches for holiday or weekend lets. Special NUJ rates. or

Advertising agency wanted The Journalist, the magazine of the National Union of Journalists, is looking for an agency that is keen to bring in advertisers for our 35,000-strong audience. Our readership includes some of the most influential and discerning professionals in Britain, Ireland, mainland Europe and beyond.

Expressions of interest please to by April 16th.

Dreamweaver, Online Publishing, Building Your Own Website and Blogging are just some of the media skills training courses that NUJ Training is running in Wales this year.


Subsidised by the NUJ, the courses are superb value at around half the rate of commercially provided training. Not only this, excellent funding opportunities are potentially available. For example: ■ a huge 80% bursary for freelances on up to three NUJ courses ■ up to £2,500 for those on notice of or made redundant within the last six months ■ up to 70% match funding for companies. Places are limited so book today to take advantage of this terrific opportunity to get the highest quality training at the best value ever.

NUJ TRAINING WALES helping you to meet your learning needs

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Financial advice for hacks from a hack and qualified financial adviser. Contact Nigel Bolitho of BV Services, authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. E-mail: phone 01954 251521 fax 01954 252420

To book or to find out more, email, tel: 01291 671485 or go to

theJournalist | 31

23/2/10 18:44:45 8/3/10 20:59:11

The TUC Aid Haiti Earthquake Appeal is providing humanitarian support for the victims in cooperation with our Haitian sister trade union, the CTH. Money is being sent through the International Trade Union Confederation to its affiliates in the Dominican Republic. Later, funds will be used by Haitian trade unions for reconstruction and rehabilitation.

You can contribute online at or by sending a cheque to TUC Aid Haiti Appeal, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS

theJournalist | 00


8/3/10 18:29:30

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