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T H E
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U N I O N
J O U R N A L I S T S
WWW.NUJ.ORG.UK | APRIL/MAY 2011
FOR HE’S A...
Murdoch’s big birthday deal
Contents Cover feature
16 Murdoch marches on
News Corporation’s biggest deal
lection fever is gripping many of us at the moment. The NUJ has just elected a new general secretary and has made history in doing so. Michelle Stanistreet is the union’s ﬁrst ever woman leader. Michelle, the current deputy general secretary, will take over at a time of enormous challenge across the media industry with many jobs being cut and journalistic quality and output under unprecedented pressure. Our new general secretary succeeds Jeremy Dear who is leaving after 10 years in the job. On page 12 Paul Routledge quizzes Jeremy about his successes and regrets as he leaves the role for pastures further aﬁeld. On a wider election stage, council and assembly elections in Britain will provide an opportunity for people to give their verdict on the coalition government. These elections will also throw a spotlight on the quality and quantity of local news coverage – issues that the union has long been campaigning on. Local newspapers, which have suffered big budget cuts, are a vital part of the democratic process, and never more so than at election time.
Christine Buckley Editor
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04 Hague lobbied over the BBC
Campaign grows against sweeping cuts
05 Welsh language service fears
Coalition ﬁghts budget reduction
06 Sunday Tribune closure mourned
Journalists were renowned for tenacity
08 George Viner awards
Union helps tomorrow’s journalists
10 Anti-social networks?
Perils of mixing work and social media
12 The Dear departed
Interview with the NUJ general secretary
07 Jeremy Dear 15 Unspun: the view from inside PR 28 Training Courses 29 Technology
Arts with Attitude Pages 22-23
Raymond Snoddy Page 30
Letters and Steve Bell Pages 25-27
First woman leader for nuJ
he NUJ has elected its first woman general secretary. Michelle Stanistreet, the current deputy general secretary, will take over the role in July. Michelle was declared elected by the union’s ruling national executive council after the only other candidate, freelance Chris Youett, withdrew from the contest. She will be one of only a handful of women
to lead a union in the still male dominated world of trade unionism. Michelle, 36, has been deputy general secretary for three years after leaving her job as a feature writer for the Express to work for the union full-time. She has been active in the union throughout her career, having led a strike at the Express while MoC at the newspaper. She is a past president. An election for a new general secretary had been called after Jeremy Dear, the NUJ leader for 10 years, decided not to stand again for election. Jeremy, who had said that he would only do two terms, is leaving in June to travel in South America and do freelance journalism. Michelle said: “I am immensely proud to be elected to lead our union – and to be the first woman to have the opportunity to do so. I will repay the faith placed in me by working hard to build our union, speak up for members and stand up for journalism.” Jeremy Dear said: “The union is in the best possible hands. Michelle has been a fantastic deputy and has always fought resolutely to defend journalists and journalism. She will work tirelessly on behalf of all members and to ensure the NUJ is and remains the voice of journalists in the workplace and throughout the industry.”
I am immensely proud to be elected to lead our union – and to be the first woman to have the opportunity to do so
interns campaign heads towards the courts
he NUJ is preparing a number of legal cases to win back pay for unpaid interns. The action is part of a new push to end the exploitation of the young
and those seeking a break into journalism. The union is also preparing model letters for branches and chapels to tackle employers that routinely have unpaid interns or people doing proper work
rather than work experience. The letters will warn employers that they may face legal action if they persist. Branches and chapels will take up the cases because they recognise that those
Granada anchor GReaveS dieS
ob Greaves, a former television presenter for Granada television for more than 30 years, has died. Bob, a lifelong NUJ member, died at the age of 76 after a battle with cancer. The former newspaper journalist from Sale once estimated he had presented 12,000 live programmes for Granada. He fronted Granada Reports when it launched in 1973.
Bob was a natural in front of the camera and once famously managed to carry on speaking when an elephant goosed him while he was reporting from Chester zoo. He started his career at the Sale and Stretford Guardian. He also worked on the Nottingham Evening News and at the Manchester office of the Daily Mail. ITV GRANADA
doing the work won’t want to try to take on an employer, especially at the start of their careers. Former interns can contact interns@ londonfreelance.org Jeremy Dear, page 7
Ad revenue Boosts proFits At itv ITV reported pre-tax profits of £286m for 2010, helped partly by a jump in advertising revenue. In 2009 the broadcaster made £25 million. The company said its improved performance and reduced debt levels meant it would reinstate dividend payments later this year. trinity Mirror sees A slow reCovery Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mirror, has warned of the impact of a ‘slow and volatile’ recovery. The company, which also publishes many regional papers, said moves to slash costs sent underlying profits up 40 per cent to £101.5 million for 2010. But revenues fell 6.9 per cent on an underlying basis to £710.6 million and the group said costcutting would be offset by inﬂation and other factors. telegrAph BeneFits FroM print Merger Telegraph Media Group, owner of the Daily Telegraph, saw profits climb 11 per cent to £59 million last year, after improved advertising and continued cost savings from merging print and digital operations. The group said that if a one-off land sale boost was stripped out of 2009’s figures, profits last year would increased by 50 per cent. thousAnds vie For pCC lAy positions Three thousand people applied for three lay positions with the Press Complaints Commission. The £11,500 per year positions were advertised in newspapers. The PCC brought in an independent assessor to help sift the applications. suzAnne Breen The defamation case brought by Suzanne Breen against the NUJ following the publication in the September/October 2009 issue of The Journalist of a letter has been settled. The union immediately apologised to Ms Breen at the time and offered to publish a retraction. A formal apology in agreed terms was published in the following edition of The Journalist. theJournalist | 3
Hague urged to spare World Service from axe
in brief... Asian network wins reprieve The BBC’s Asian Network digital radio station was reprieved after persistent campaigning and a large number of complaints about the closure which was announced last year. The reprieve follows the scrapping of plans to close 6 Music. But the corporation warned that the station needed to do more to secure its future in the long term.
MPs ask Patten to look at workload Lord Patten, the new chair of the BBC Trust, has been asked by MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, to give up some outside interests to conduct his role ‘should that become necessary’. Economist Diane Coyle has been appointed vice chair. A former economics editor at the Independent, she is married to the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.
Johnston press appoints BBC Man Johnston Press has appointed the social media editor for BBC News as its head of digital content. Alex Gubbay has been responsible for the editorial integration of user-generated content and social media initiatives at the corporation. At Johnston Press he will be responsible for digital content strategy and develop the regional newspaper group’s news websites
Former Today editor Marsh goes Kevin Marsh, the former editor of the Today programme, has left the BBC after 33 years. Marsh, who said that he was ‘resigned to a lifelong association with the Hutton inquiry’, was latterly editor of the BBC College of Journalism. He took voluntary redundancy. Multimedia chief Clifton leaves Pete Clifton, the BBC’s head of editorial development for multimedia journalism, has been made redundant as part of the 25 per cent cut in BBC Online’s budget. Clifton, one of the most senior executives to go in the cuts, had been at the BBC for 15 years.
Local radio plays a crucial role in keeping local communities informed
he NUJ and politicians are increasing the pressure on William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, to spare the BBC World Service from sweeping cuts that were announced early in the year. The NUJ is urging members to lobby their MPs and join campaigns on social media. In January the BBC said it was cutting 650 jobs from the World Service, closing five language services and scaling back others. Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP for Chichester wrote to Mr Hague saying that the £28 million cuts ‘can and should be found from the Department for International Development budget’. He said this wouldn’t harm the Government’s commitment to increase aid because much of the World Service’s activity could be classed as worthy of aid under OECD rules. Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham, also wrote to Mr Hague, saying that the ‘core added value of Bush House is the community of foreign language experts’. Meanwhile the BBC is considering a range of dramatic cost-cutting measures including a massive scaling back of local radio services so that only breakfast and drive-time shows would be produced locally with all other programming coming from Radio 5 Live. BBC
staff fear this would mean the loss of at least 700 jobs and possible station closures. The NUJ has urged the BBC to ‘step back from the brink’ and protect the important role of local radio. General secretary Jeremy Dear said: “Local radio plays a crucial role in keeping local communities informed. These proposals would rip the heart out of local programming and effectively sound the death knell for local radio.” The corporation is also looking at scrapping overnight programmes on BBC1 and BBC2 and increasing the repeats of natural history shows and dramas repeated more often. It believes that about £150m a year could be saved if output between 10.35pm and 6am was cut on the main channels.
Pension deficit put at £1.6 billion
he current pension deficit at the BBC is £1.6 billion, director general Mark Thompson has said following an actuarial revaluation. Last year during a dispute between the BBC and the
NUJ and Bectu over changes to the pension scheme, the BBC had said that it thought the deficit was £2 billion. Last June a letter was sent to staff warning that a 2009 interim valuation showed that the BBC’s pension
scheme’s deficit had increased from £470m in 2008 to around £2 billion. In November the NUJ staged a two-day strike, which took key programmes such as Newsnight and Radio 4’s Today programme off the
air, to prevent the erosion of pension terms. Mr Thompson said that the pension deficit will reduce to about £1.1 billion because of changes agreed with the broadcasting unions.
Report claims £80m is being ‘wasted’
he BBC is wasting nearly £80m a year because poorly performing staff are being badly managed and thousands are wrongly receiving pay top-ups, according to an internal report. The report by the corporation’s
‘people department’ was made as part of the organisation’s drive to cut costs. It said that poorly performing staff were costing more than £50m a year and it recommended the creation of a new management
appraisal system based on conversations rather than paperwork. The report said that £28 million was paid in unpredictability allowances to staff whose work did not involve unpredictable hours.
4 | theJournalist
Cuts to S4C will undermine Welsh language
overnment plans to cut funding to the Welsh language channel S4C by 17 per cent is undermining the public policy of recognising Welsh as one of the country’s official languages, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has told culture secretary Jeremy Hunt. “We believe not just that the arguments against the proposed cuts are overwhelming,” he wrote to the minister, “but that there is, in fact, a clear case for an expansion of the Welsh language provision.” The NUJ has joined with broadcast union BECTU, the Writers Guild, Equity, the Musicians Union, and Welsh language campaigners Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg to launch an umbrella group to champion the development
of a new multi-media S4C. The group is calling for an independent funding formula for the Welsh language channel, based on inflation and enshrined in statute. Welsh is now an official language of the country, and there’s been steady growth in bilingual and Welsh-medium schools. Welsh language campaigners welcomed the comments of Lord Geoffrey Howe – deputy prime minister, chancellor and foreign secretary under Margaret Thatcher – who spoke against the Government’s plans for S4C. Lord Howe spoke in the debate on the Public Bodies Bill which would allow the plans to go through. He said the plans would be “politically unwise and disastrous for the institution”. Meanwhile, as S4C faces severe funding cuts the broadcaster is trying to raise money by selling off furniture and equipment from its headquarters. An announcement declared that it had for sale ‘office desks, cupboards, office dividers, sofas, studio lights and a mixture of audio and video equipment.’
Welsh is now an official language of the country
Sheffield strike threat victory
he threat of a two-day strike at Johnston Press in Sheffield helped save jobs at the city’s subbing hub. A planned strike involving nearly 60 NUJ members followed a
dispute over job losses for employees and freelances on contract. The Sheffield hub produces about 20 per cent of pages for Johnston Press titles around the country.
Talks between Johnston Press management and the NUJ on the eve of a planned walkout resulted in an agreement for voluntary rather than compulsory redundancies and the
chance for regular freelances to apply for staff jobs. Chris Morley, NUJ northern organiser, said: “The settlement meets the NUJ’s demands and represents a significant victory.”
North east trinity rises again
hree-in-one north east branch – Sunderland, Shields and Hartlepool – has relaunched after not meeting for more than 12 years. Two new Life members Bob Horn and Tom Fennelly provided personal focus for the revival in Sunderland’s Royal Artillery Club. The three branches merged in stages over a decade, but hadn’t met since 1998. The north eastern branches are among the oldest in the union, having evening papers that were founded more than 100 years ago. Treasurer Bob has kept members in benefit since once-separate Hartlepool and Shields branches merged with Sunderland during the 1990s. L-R: Tom Fennelly and Bob Horn receive life membership certificates from Deputy General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet and acting branch chairman Graeme Anderson.
Johnston Press profits fall Johnston Press saw pre-tax profits fall by almost a third last year. The regional newspaper publisher said pre-tax profit for 2010 fell 29.6 per cent to £30.5 million. Overall revenue dropped six per cent to £398.1 million. Johnston Press cut operating costs by £30.1 million last year partly by cutting the headcount by 9.2 per cent to 6,209 employees – a reduction of more than 600 staff. Boost for Archant but revenue dips Archant, the regional media group, reported a 157 per cent jump in operating profits last year. The privately owned company said that group operating profit was £8.2m in 2010. But revenue fell 1.9 per cent to £139.3m. Newspaper like-for-like revenues for the year fell 5.9 per cent to £92.6m, the company said, in part due to a significant reduction in public sector advertising . Broadsheets merge to become tabloid The Ilkley Gazette and The Wharfedale & Airedale Observer, which were both broadsheets owned by Newsquest, have merged into a single tabloid paper. The move comes after the appointment of a single editor for both titles and the merger of local newsgathering teams. Guardian closes last local papers The Guardian Media Group is closing its only remaining local newspapers, cutting 19 jobs in the process. The Woking News & Mail and Woking Review were excluded from last year’s deal in which Trinity Mirror acquired 32 newspapers and associated websites from the Guardian group. Bridlington gazette folds The Bridlington Gazette and Herald, a free weekly owned by Johnston Press, has closed. The newspaper group said the move was to enable journalists to concentrate on sister paid-for title, the Bridlington Free Press. theJournalist | 5
news in brief... NY Times charges The New York Times started charging for access to its website in March, with monthly subscriptions charged at between $15 and $35. The newspaper, which has the best-read site in the world, is allowing users access to 20 articles without charge each month including slideshows and videos. After that they will be asked to become digital subscribers. The Daily in the UK News Corp’s iPad newspaper the Daily will be available in the UK within months, depending on when Apple’s new online subscription model becomes available in this country. The chief digital officer of Murdoch’s News Corporation, Jon Miller, told the Abu Dhabi Media Summit that the Daily would be available in western Europe “not too long from now”.
Sunday Tribune closure mourned
he Sunday Tribune, the Irish quality newspaper partly owned by country’s Independent newspapers, has closed less than a month after receivers were appointed. The closure, with the loss of more than 40 jobs, marks the end of the newspaper’s continued attempt to be a strong third voice in a market which had been dominated by two traditional Irish papers, the Sunday Independent and the Sunday Press. The company went into receivership in February after 29.9 per cent shareholder Independent News and Media said it would no longer fund the business. The receivers, McStay Luby, said there had been some expressions of interest but no firm offers. The title was losing about €3m annually and the situation had worsened after the failure of its relaunch as a tabloid last year. NUJ Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said ‘a light has been extinguished and Irish journalism is significantly diminished’ with the closure of the Sunday Tribune. He said the Sunday Tribune occupied a special place in the annals of Irish journalism. Working on for it meant working in a poorly resourced newsroom, yet Tribune journalists were renowned for their tenacity, commitment and ability to break stories.
2201-TP407 Nuj ad:2201-TP407
Council ads help deliver new paper
new version of a free weekly newspaper has been launched after its owner won a contract to host council advertising. Gateway Newspapers’ Enquirer, which publishes Essex and East London versions, has added a Thurrock edition after a one-year deal for all Thurrock council’s advertising. More than 25,000 copies of the new Thurrock Enquirer are being made available for collection in the town. It is hoped that the total circulation will rise to around 75,000.
Thurrock Council is believed to be placing about £130,000 worth of advertising in the new Enquirer. The council will also save money by stopping its own publication. The council’s move comes as the Government is placing restrictions on council-run publications in the drive to reduce costs. The Enquirer is to approach other local authorities in Essex to try to secure similar arrangements. But the paper has said that it would maintain editorial independence.
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The availability of NUJ Legal Services is in accordance with NUJ Rules, Legal Assistance Policy and Terms available on the NUJ website on nuj.org.uk Limited exclusions apply. Accidents outside of the UK are covered where we can pursue the case though the courts in England/Wales. Family members are covered for accidents outside of the workplace.
6 | theJournalist
General secretary Jeremy Dear on the implications of unpaid internships
The scourge of ‘slave labour’
t’s hard enough to get a job these days without having to compete with an ever growing pool of unpaid labour. Rising unemployment always serves to drive down wages. In professions like journalism it’s worse. Every year thousands of people are working for free. Not just for a week or two, not just doing a recognised work experience placement but doing a job, which should be paid. Employers argue they are just giving someone a chance – and what’s wrong with that? We all wanted our big break at one stage. Unpaid internships for three, six and even 12 months don’t provide opportunity – they restrict access to journalism to those whose parents, family or partners can afford to support them while they help proﬁtable companies turn an even bigger proﬁt. Less than 10 per cent of those entering journalism come from a working class background, just three per cent from homes headed by semi or unskilled workers. The Sutton Trust, which works to improve educational opportunities for young people from non-privileged backgrounds, has raised concerns about a recruitment bias towards people who have been privately educated and attended elite universities. Just four per cent of new entrants come from ethnic minority backgrounds. The NUJ’s own research shows a growing number of people doing six months’ unpaid work placements. And these aren’t just small, struggling companies. They
include the likes of Trinity Mirror, the BBC, IPC, Newsquest and one which kept cropping up – The Independent. Our survey includes companies that can pay their chief executives more than £1m a year but will not pay even the national minimum wage to those who help produce their papers or programmes. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development backs our calls to end this exploitation. The TUC, too, is taking up the issue. Lindsay Nicholson, editorial director of national magazine company Nat Mags, called the practice ‘slave labour’.
Less than 10 per cent of those entering journalism come from a working class background
ecently, I met Nick Clegg and media employers about the issue. I am not holding my breath. I met several times with the previous government too. They all talk about tackling the issue and promoting social mobility but nothing changes. The NUJ will not wait around for government. We’ve exposed the issue; now we’re stepping up our campaigns to rid the industry of this exploitation. Model letters to employers are going to chapels and branches; send them to any employer using unpaid work experience, warning them they may face action. The union is preparing test cases in court to seek payment for those wrongly denied a wage. And we have challenged government to put an end to the outrageous practices of auctioning and selling off unpaid work placements and of agencies being set up which secure youngsters an unpaid work placement – for a fee! Work experience can be a vital step to securing a permanent job – we just believe it should be rewarding and rewarded. There are strict legal guidelines about what a genuine work placement or internship should be. The guidelines are on the NUJ’s website. If the work of interns is good enough to be published or broadcast then the journalist is good enough to be paid. It really is about standing up for journalists and journalism.
For all the latest updates from the general secretary visit his blog at: http://jeremydear.blogspot.com theJournalist | 7
Help for tomorrow’s journalists Ideally, the media should represent the communities it serves. But ethnic minorities make up only about eight per cent of journalists. The NUJ’s George Viner Memorial Fund aims to help broaden the diversity of journalists by offering bursaries to student journalists. Since it started in 1986 it has helped more than 150 students. Here are this year’s winners:
Vanessa Baffoe, 25, is studying for an MA in Broadcast Journalism at City University. “My MA course is very expensive and the ﬁnancial support has been amazing. Luckily for me, being a George Viner scholar means I also get a BBC mentor, as well as a highly sought after placement at the BBC once my course is completed, which I’m really looking forward to.”
Lucy Copp, 21, is studying for the fasttrack NCTJ Diploma in Multi-Media Journalism at News Associates in London.
Photographs by Mark Thomas
“Graduating last year, I knew that I wanted a career in journalism. Thanks to the fund I have been given the ﬁnancial support I need to live and study in London, as well as the guidance of industry professionals. Moreover, through the fund, I now represent a proportion of individuals who are noticeably under-represented in this ﬁeld - those of ethnic minority.”
Hamza Mohamed, 23, is studying for an MA in International Journalism at City University. “Being from the background that I am, journalism appeared as a career for the well-off or at least attractive to the well-off and it looked as though my passion and hard work alone might not be enough for me to embark on my childhood dream of becoming a journalist. This is where the fund came in and changed it all for me.”
Ruje Yasmin, 22, is studying for an MA in TV Journalism at City University. “My course is brilliant and I’ve learnt so much. I know how to make a news package, to edit, and to ﬁnd a good news story. I’m currently working on making my own documentary! I contemplated not doing the course this year because of the expense. But I got the bursary. It’s been a huge relief and I’m able to enjoy my course without being stressed about money.”
Sheun Adelasoye, 24, is studying an MA in Broadcast Journalism at City University. “The George Viner Trust has arranged for me to have a six week paid placement at a BBC radio station in the regions once I ﬁnish my MA. I’m grateful to the trust because having the extra experience on my CV will be invaluable.”
Through the fund I now represent individuals who are under represented in journalism
8 | theJournalist
RI JASON HAR
Marching for the alternative
undreds of journalists joined the biggest demonstration in London for eight years when the TUC organised protest against the public spending cuts. It was estimated that up to half a million people joined the march through central London in March in the biggest show of opposition to the Government since the protest against the Iraq war in 2003. The Irish Congress of Trades Unions organised a march and rally in Belfast and Derry to coincide with the TUCâ€™s March for the Alternative.
theJournalist | 9
Carrie Dunn on making the most of online connections while avoiding the professional hazards of unguarded internet chatter and fake Facebook friends
SHIRLAINE FORREST/GETTYIMAGES, ASSOCIATED SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY/ALAMY
couldn’t help but feel very sorry for Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willesden, when his boss took disciplinary action against him for his rather strident views on the tedium of the forthcoming Royal Wedding. Not because of our shared republican feelings, but because he hadn’t vented his rage from the pulpit or in a newspaper column; instead, he’d had a bit of a rant on Facebook. I can’t count the number of friends I’ve reconnected with, or the case studies I’ve found, or the PRs I’ve chatted to, or the interviews I’ve set up thanks to Facebook and Twitter. But when you’re using the networks to make contacts and communicate, can it create false intimacy? Does being accountable and open to dialogue also leave you open and vulnerable to personally-directed attacks? Well, yes, it can. It’s important to remember that the people who are your ‘friends’ on there are, more often than not, actually not your friends. They’re people on the internet with whom you get on OK. Or who ﬁnd your updates interesting. Or who work in a tangentially related ﬁeld to yours and want to use social networking for professional networking. All of which is ﬁne, of course, until it comes to situations
when you say something they don’t agree with, or that shocks them, or that they weren’t expecting. Your friends will tend to let you off – they’ll either agree with you on a lot of things or they’ll already know your views on contentious topics, and they won’t be surprised. Your online followers will be appalled – and they won’t be appalled in a silent way; they’ll lure you into a never-ending debate in which they try to point out to you exactly why you’re wrong. I know this from bitter experience. As UK editor of international theatre website BroadwayWorld, I reviewed a show a while ago, knowing that the director and the producer were people who had ‘friended’ me on Facebook for professional networking purposes, but whom I’d never met. I wasn’t very keen on the production and wrote a negative review, but acknowledging that some of my problems with the show were matters of personal opinion and taste. I wasn’t surprised that they weren’t happy about my review. I was rather more surprised – perhaps naively – that they then both opted to bombard me with angry direct messages on Facebook, a means of communication they wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t accepted their friend requests. It became evident that, as their ‘friend’, they had expected me to provide a rather more ‘friendly’ review, and felt personally let down and betrayed. On another embarrassingly memorable occasion, I used my Facebook status to unleash my fury at a sub-editor removing one of my favourite lines from some copy I ﬁled – forgetting that one of his colleagues was a ‘friend’ of mine. I got a rather stiff email about 20 minutes later from the sub-editor in question asking me to contact him directly in future if I had problems with the way my copy had been presented.
WOOPS, DID I SAY THAT... Cricketer Kevin Pietersen found himself trouble last summer when he accidentally sent a public tweet rather than a text to a friend, raging about being dropped from England’s oneday squad. He deleted it within 20 seconds but it had already been read by thousands of his followers. The Right Reverend Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden,
commented on his Facebook status that the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton would be engulfed by ‘nauseating tosh’ and that the marriage would last seven
years. He was subsequently withdrawn from public ministry.
CNN Middle East editor Octavia Nasr lost her job last year
Comedian Jason Manford left his
after commenting on Twitter that she ‘respected’ the late Muslim cleric Ayatollah Fadlallah.
job as presenter of the BBC’s The One Show in November 2010 following stories that he sent sexually explicit tweets to a female fan.
A Royal Bank of Scotland worker
lost her job in November last year after bragging about her redundancy package offer on Facebook.
10 | theJournalist
Of course both times it was my own fault – but asking around, I wasn’t alone in these social networking mishaps. Katy Lanchester, a features writer, blushes to recall the time her professionalism was called into question because of ﬂippant comments to a friend on Twitter. “A jokey exchange between me and someone else about a third party – a writer – were brought to the attention of the person concerned,” she says. “I had said some silly things of a kind of sexual nature – I had suggested he was the type of man who would be in the midst of an affair despite his wholesome exterior. I didn’t know him, and my comments to my friend, who made similar assertions, were never intended to reach a wider audience.”
he acknowledges now that it was naïve to expect privacy on an open forum, and continues: “A week or so after this happened, I got a call from an organisation I was working with, telling me they were having to reconsider my position on a particular project because of the comment I had made. I didn’t know what they were on about at ﬁrst – I had forgotten all about it. They said the person we had been talking about had questioned my involvement in the project – which he happened to be part of – because of the exchange of Tweets he had seen. I was gutted and very embarrassed. I rang the man and apologised – profusely.” She warns: “It was a stark wake-up call to me and I am much more wary now of what I tweet and the wider implications, and of course, the fact that nothing is just between the two tweeters.” So should we as journalists be more wary of social networks than people in any other trade? Joanna Halton, social media consultant for Gabba, says not. “There are always ‘no-go’ areas and it’s vital to ﬁlter what you say, just as you would on live
Consider having separate accounts; one for personal use and one for workrelated activity
TV or radio,” she says. “That said, the beneﬁts of having your ﬁnger on the pulse of real-time news, and gaining instant access to people who could make or break your story, far outweigh the risks.” Lance Concannon, social media expert at Text 100, agrees: “For journalists there’s an additional consideration in that their audiences can also connect with them through Twitter, and this can bring a lot of challenges. In the digital age readers often feel that they have a right to share their opinions on articles, and they increasingly expect their response to be addressed by the writer.” If this sounds like your experience and you’re unsure how to ﬁnd the time to engage with dozens of interested readers across various social networks, Concannon suggests: “The best approach is to clearly delineate your private and public personas. If you have proﬁles on open social networks such as Twitter, as opposed to closed networks like Facebook, where you are able to tightly control who you connect to, consider having separate accounts; one for personal use and one for work-related activity.” Halton concludes: “The idea of never posting anything online you wouldn’t be happy appearing in a national newspaper applies now more than ever. The main thing to remember is to establish what you would be happy to reveal and don’t go further than that. Enjoy the space, make use of the information, but be aware of your boundaries, because you’re not the only one watching out for a scoop.”
The NUJ’s ethics council is conducting research on members’ experience of social networking as it impacts on their professional lives. Please contact the group at email@example.com
theJournalist | 11
The NUJ’s general secretary is leaving after 10 years. Paul Routledge talks to him about his achievements, regrets, and the future for the union
The Dear departed H
e isn’t quite singing in his bath as Chancellor Norman Lamont did after Black Wednesday, but Jeremy Dear is still uncompromising. “Non, je regrette rien!” he insists as he prepares to leave the union hot seat. It’s been 10 years’ hard labour, a decade in which employers have done their damnedest to weaken and marginalise the NUJ – to no avail. It is stronger than ever. I ask why he’s going now, at the ripe young age of 44, when we need him? “Being elected general secretary was one of the proudest moments of my life,” he says. “Being re-elected was humbling – even for a shameless egotist like me” “Not everyone has always agreed with everything I’ve done, but no one can doubt that I’ve given my all to serve the union. Birthdays at conferences, anniversaries on picket lines, cancelled holidays and often seven days a week. “But I’m not egotistical enough to believe that someone else can’t do an equally good job. And I need a rest.” A rest? He and his wife Paula, a union rep at the BBC, plan to travel and write, starting in Latin America. “I’m quite excited about doing some journalism again,” he says. “It’s hard for people to understand how much you give your life to a job like this.” Jeremy bequeaths to his successor a union with 37,000 members, sound finances and a higher profile in civil society. “We’ve survived the biggest crisis to hit our industry in living memory, with more members and 150 more workplace agreements. We’re at the heart of the key debates over the future of our industry. “No-one is in any doubt that the NUJ stands up for journalists and journalism.” I ask him if he regrets anything, and that’s when he almost breaks into Edith Piaf’s song. “Of course there are things you wish you could have done. Journalists won’t be able to resist the power of ever-bigger media corporations unless we recognise the collective interest over that of individual members and chapels. “That remains unfinished work.” There’s still a big job to be done. “The biggest threat to journalism is the corporate model that cuts what it perceives to be expensive – investigative, international and original journalism, relying instead on Google or corporate and celebrity PR. “It undermines jobs, leads to attacks on freelance rates and undermines quality. The founders of the free press never believed that freedom of the press should only belong to those who could afford one.”
With the accelerating trend towards casualisation and contract work, I ask, what should the union do? “We’ve had to adapt to new ways of organising,” Jeremy agrees. “We’ve been slow to do it, but equally we’ve had some successes including a very important legal victory. We’ve also secured much better deals for casualised workers in recent redundancy rounds.” And how about the less publicised areas of the union such as PR and publishing? “It’s inevitable that when you react to job cuts or issues in one sector, others feel they’re not being given so much attention. “Yet we have boosted the resources available to all sectors and we run specific campaigns in each area, like our Quality in Publishing campaign in the book sector and the fight against government plans to undermine local authority publications. We fight for all members equally. It’s just that some attract more media coverage than others.” Like the crisis at the BBC? Was that handled well? “By us, yes!” he retorts. “By management, no.” How about the key role of the NUJ’s legal service? Is he satisfied? This touches a raw nerve. “No. I’ll never be satisfied. I hate having to go to law. I hate the fact that the laws are so biased against working people. I hate not having enough resources to be as proactive in pursuing legal issues as I would like. “But I believe we have an effective service. We secure around £3 million for members every year, much of that
the road to recognition Brought up in Brussels
where his father worked for Ford, Jeremy did a degree in politics and international relations at Coventry Polytechnic before going into journalism in 1989 as a reporter on the Northcliffeowned Essex Chronicle, Chelmsford. He was sacked after leading a ten-month strike against derecognition of
the union while he was the NUJ’s first full-on punk FOC. He freelanced in Birmingham for papers and magazines, digging out stories that often set the local agenda, and launched the Midlands edition of the Big Issue. Jeremy quickly rose to prominence in the union, being elected to the NEC and then as our youngest
president at the age of 28. Largely on the strength of his campaign to win union recognition across the country, he became national officer for newspapers in 1999 and was elected general secretary in 2001. He was re-elected without contest in 2005 – an unprecedented move for the NUJ.
12 | theJournalist
I’ll never be remembered for being the smartest general secretary. I’m never happier than in jeans and trainers
I’d encourage anyone to go into journalism – but go in with your eyes wide open and be prepared to argue, debate and fight for the truth
through legal action or the threat of it. We’ve won some significant victories – on casuals’ rights, on pensions, on equal pay, on unfair dismissal, on protection of sources and much, much more. We’ve recently put more legal resources into head office to improve the service.” What’s the state of the union as he goes? “Membership is up and the union’s finances, having been through a torrid time over the past two years, are stable again. I’ve had to make some very tough decisions to keep the union in financial good health. I’ve done it, and it is. They were the hardest decisions of all.” What, I wonder, is the future of The Journalist? Jeremy is unequivocal. “The Journalist is the only thing that goes to every member, so it’s vitally important. I think people should be able to choose if they want the print edition or an electronic version.” Memo to successor: leave well alone! Journalists are highly individual men and women. Should our union stay independent or consider a merger? And he’s unusually cautious, arguing: “We should always consider all options. But a merger for merger’s sake would be a disaster. “I think there is logic to us seeking closer relations, perhaps in a federation, with unions such as Bectu with whom we work on a daily basis. We could share accommodation, front of house services, research, purchasing and much more so we could reinvest savings in expanding legal services and providing more officials.” Which brings me to the wider role of the NUJ, and Jeremy’s own place in it, his socialist views and his working relationship with similar leaders such as Bob Crow of RMT and Mark Serwotka of the civil service union PCS. What have journalists got from that? “I remain a socialist, and always will,” he says defiantly. “I have had many friends in the trade theJournalist | 13
union movement. I was the first general secretary to be elected to the TUC general council and I’ve been re-elected eight times. “It gives the NUJ a voice in the wider labour movement. It lets me make the case for public service broadcasting, against job cuts, for fair pay, against the anti-union laws, for media freedom. Friendship with other unions has been very important, especially during disputes when they helped us produce leaﬂets, joined us on picket lines and so on. It’s genuine solidarity between working people.” And speaking of solidarity, does he think the NUJ will ever return to Wapping? A forthright, single-word answer: “Yes.” New technology – much of which isn’t very new, but it’s changing all the time – has altered our job out of all recognition. I ask Jeremy what the union can do to help the coming generation of members to cope with this revolution. He takes a practical view. “The union has done a good job in providing training in a range of new technologies,” he contends. “We’re increasingly bringing together those who are involved in delivering journalism in a range of new ways to discuss how to make these forms pay.
I have had many friends in the trade union movement
“The technology is secondary to ensuring that journalists have the time and resources to check facts, ask questions and present their information. We can help by working with them to fight for those resources.” Apart from ‘join the NUJ’, what advice would he give media students? “Recruit someone else into the union!” he urges. “If every member recruited just one more we’d double our membership and we’d be more effective in everything we do. Get out there and do it!” And Jeremy is confident that the union has a strong future under his soon-to-be successor, Michelle Stanistreet. “I’ve been very lucky to work with committed and passionate people throughout my time at the NUJ. I’ve also (unlike some others) been lucky to have had loyal deputies including Michelle, the current deputy, I can feel secure that I’m not leaving the NUJ in the lurch but in safe hands.” What comes next? I don’t believe that he’s put the keyboard in the cupboard for ever. “I became a journalist, a trade unionist and a socialist because I wanted to change the world,” he confesses. “I still do. If anything my keyboard will get more use. I intend to travel, write and be political.”
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 artic Monkeys, arcade Fire, The Strokes, elbow and Tinie Tempah 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 14th-17th July 1) Who is the new president of the NUJ? 2) Where does the union have oﬃces? 3) Name two current campaigns? 4) In 25 words or less please say why the NUJ is important to you:
Answers please to: competition@NUJ.org.uk by Friday May 27th
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14 | theJournalist
THE VIEW FROM INSIDE PR Name: Stefan Stern Job description: Director of Strategy at Edelman
Not so much dark but surprisingly sunny
o, the ‘dark side’ then. After 20 years of hackery, with a three year intervening period in-house at the Industrial Society (as it was then called), I started a grandsounding job at Edelman, the USbased PR ﬁrm, last summer. I was shown to my desk in the company’s colourful open-plan ofﬁce in Victoria Street, Westminster. I met my new colleagues, who were in the main perky, intelligent, hard-working young people. I looked around. Not very dark. In fact, this seemed to be a surprisingly sunny (and wellresourced) world. What do journalists know about PRs? The majority view is pretty well ﬁxed. They are out there to stop us. They stand between us and the truth. They spin and dissemble and are economical with the actualité. Only hard-bitten, persistent investigation can penetrate this wall of spin, and get to the heart of the real story. I never really bought that oversimpliﬁed and somewhat romantic version of the world. It didn’t describe the journalism I saw going on around me. True, I have always been a softie features writer and columnist, not a hardened news reporter. But even the news machine, it seems to me, has long been a more carefully ordered or planned operation than this heroic account of the ‘lone wolf reporter’ would tend to
suggest. The ‘news’ is often an agreed, co-created version of the truth. And sometimes it is even less reliable than that. I’m afraid that Alastair Campbell had a point when he said that some lobby journalists and political commentators were even bigger spinners than he was. But Nick Davies is, of course, right too. ‘Churnalism’ – barely rewritten press releases presented as original work – is a menace, and a disgrace. It is a symptom of a media market where PR has become too powerful relative to news organisations that are too weak. Good PR people, I am ﬁnding, take no pleasure in seeing journalism enfeebled by inadequate investment and under-resourcing. So what exactly do I do all day on this dark (or not so dark) side? PR agencies, at their best, aspire to be professional service ﬁrms rather like lawyers, accountants or management consultants. This is a ‘billable hours’ working environment, where the point is to win and retain clients and do valuable (and, yes, pricey) work. So far, my days have been ﬁlled with a variety of tasks: ghosting articles, advising companies on which stories they should be telling and how they might tell them, talking to old journalist chums, training young colleagues, while also blogging and tweeting and generally making a nuisance of myself.
I have also done some honestto-goodness journalism with my Cass business school hat on (I am a visiting prof there). I have blogged for the Harvard Business Review’s website as well as for my own slot on the Edelman website. In short, with the media industries in such a state of ﬂux, I have been able, some of the time anyway, to have my cake and eat it (which is the point of having cake, really, isn’t it?). This all came to a head at the end of January, when my Edelman blog was commended in the Work Foundation’s Workworld media awards. A source close to Will Hutton – well, it was Will Hutton – told me the judges had been divided, between those who said that no-one who worked for a PR ﬁrm could possibly be eligible for a journalism award, and those who thought the work had some merit in it as it stood. (My ground rules for my Edelman blog are never to mention clients, and not to slag off businesses that compete with clients.) Maybe I’m in denial. I probably am. But I like to think that I am still a hack – and still an NUJ member of course – just one who is now working for a PR ﬁrm. Sometimes I help companies get their story across, in the conventional PR manner. At other times I sound off as I used to in my FT column. In fact, weirdly, at times I feel freer to write what I think now than I used to. It’s a difﬁcult, perhaps impossible circle to square. The scope for abuse is great. But the media world is changing fast. As the number of mainstream journalism jobs falls, I suspect that more hacks will end up doing jobs a bit like mine.
theJournalist | 15
Murdoch march Raymond Snoddy examines the wider implications of the biggest deal in the media mogul’s controversial career
upert Murdoch’s 80th birthday present is going to arrive very late – but arrive it will, probably sometime around September. It will take the form of the biggest deal of a long and controversial career, the final and total takeover of British Satellite Broadcasting, the company formed out of the ‘merger’ of Sky and BSB 21 years ago. The £9 billion to £10 billion deal to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB his News Corporation does not already own is all over bar the shouting, although the shouting will be loud and there will be a few trips around the dance-floor before all the signatures are in. Murdoch has once again given a virtuoso performance at what he has always done best – persuading governments and regulatory authorities to bend to his will and decide that remedies have been successfully found to limit any threat to competition or prevent any diminution of media plurality. Not for the first time Murdoch gave a master class in the arcane art, unhindered by a reputation for breaching undertakings in the past. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt had stated publicly he was minded to send the deal straight to the Competition Commission for a full investigation, as recommended by the communications regulator Ofcom. An open and shut matter, surely, given the scale of the deal and the political sensitivities of the issues involved? Not so, because Hunt was also very mindful from the outset of the potential for litigation; indeed at the time he publicly bemoaned the fact that there would probably be a judicial review whatever he decided. To avoid the lawyers Hunt had a legal requirement to consider fully any proposed BSkyB remedy to counter what was perceived as the main threat from the takeover – the potential undermining of the editorial independence of the award-winning Sky News channel. 16 | theJournalist
The real issue is all that cash and what Murdoch will do with it
Critics, not least Murdoch’s media rivals, cried to no avail that Sky News was a sideshow and that the real threat to media diversity came from the £800 million a year, and rising, of free cash flow being thrown off by the satellite broadcaster. But such complaints will soon be history. The last great piece of financial eloquence now required of Murdoch is to find the right number that will persuade BSkyB’s institutional shareholders to sell their shares. They will be tougher to convince than either the Government or the regulators. Like Murdoch, they know just how well BSkyB is doing and will do in future now that the huge investment phase is nearly over and that, apart from the usual rows over sports rights, it’s time to take in the money. The institutions will not want to look like mugs. The independent directors dismissed an opening bid of 700p and indicated that 800p was the minimum needed to start a serious conversation. Later one of the shareholders, Fidelity Investments, made it clear it thought a ‘fair price’ would be 950p and that maybe an additional premium would have to be paid for the advantage of full ownership. That would cost Murdoch more than £10.5 billion. And to make matters worse for the Australian/American the movement in the dollar-pound exchange rate since the deal was first proposed has gone against the media mogul by around 10 per cent. In an uncertain world you can still be certain that Murdoch will eventually get the only birthday present he really wants because the News Corp chairman holds the key card. He is the only possible buyer and can therefore control the pace and the tactics of the negotiation. Murdoch just has to walk away – and he will probably do so more than once – and the share price will sink like a stone from the 825p mark. So you don’t have to be a genius to work out that the deal will finally be struck in the 850p to 875p range. As well as bamboozling regulators Murdoch also has a record of over-paying for what he wants, at least in the short term. Not long after paying $5.7 billion for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, no less than $2.8 billion was written off the book value of the company. Over-paying on a grand scale.
news corp 2011/bloomberg
ches on But what will the BSkyB deal mean for Sky News and the UK media as a whole? The champagne bottles were opened at Sky News when the deal that would protect its future for the next 10 years was announced – although it wasn’t clear whether the champagne was provided by Sky News executives or had more to do with BSkyB’s chief financial officer Andy Griffiths celebrating his 40th birthday that day. The mood at Sky was up-beat. Sky News will become an independent publicly-quoted company with an independent chairman . With its losses of around £20 million a year met by News Corp for a decade, editorial independence was assured. There are, however, a few flaws in what many have seen as a neat arrangement. There is no evidence that Murdoch has interfered with the content of Sky News and the spectre that, if given total control, he would create a UK version of Fox News, is almost certainly alarmist. Such a channel is unlikely to play well in Britain and would be bad business. Anyway, Mr Hunt says he is committed to existing due impartiality rules, which would make such a development impossible.
he important consideration is what will happen to the near worthless shares that the current BSkyB investors will receive once the deal with News Corp is complete. Will they have any interest in shares in a loss-making news channel kept artificially alive because Murdoch is prepared to pick up the regulatory tab for 10 years? News Corp cannot increase its stake from its current 39 per cent without the explicit permission of the Culture Secretary. But it’s more difficult to see what can be done if Murdoch’s relatives, friends or even allies started to accumulate small packages of shares. Champagne now maybe, but the greatest long-term threat to Sky News is that Murdoch will simply lose interest in the channel he has supported financially for more than 20 years and the plug will be pulled eventually. Now, that really would pose a threat to media plurality leaving the BBC as the sole British provider of 24-hour television news. The full impact of a wholly owned BSkyB is difficult to theJournalist | 17
news corp predict. A sweetheart subscription deal linking Sky and News International papers could have happened anytime – and the Office of Fair Trading could be expected to take a keen interest. The real issue is all that cash and what Murdoch will do with it. Getting total control of BSkyB doesn’t exactly come cheap. It will totally clean out News Corp’s acquisition war chest – money obviously that cannot be spent elsewhere. Apart from the stream of profits, analysts believe the BSkyB deal is as much about Europe as the UK and trying to turn round his ailing satellite ventures in Germany and Italy. With Murdoch, of course, you never know. He could change his mind tomorrow. To mark his 80th birthday, commentators around the world have been vying with each other to draw up the Murdoch balance sheet – in business, politics and morality. Murdoch is widely hated in the UK for destroying the print unions at Wapping, for what even he has acknowledged as the excesses of The Sun in the past, and for putting the greater glory of The News Corporation at the heart of everything he does. Worse could yet come from the phone-tapping scandal. And yet ‘the devil incarnate’ has also been investing massively in the future of newspapers when few are interested in doing so.
Murdoch is widely hated in the UK for destroying the print unions at Wapping
In BSkyB, despite his minority stake, Murdoch has created the leading pay-television station in the world, which has genuinely extended choice and pioneered technological developments in everything from high definition to 3D TV. Thousands of jobs have either been created or protected as a result. Although at any one time News Corp shares come at a discount for fear of what Murdoch will do next, over time running a public company as if it were a family firm has produced dividends and outperformed media rivals. And there was another Murdoch birthday this year – the 102nd birthday of Rupert’s mother Dame Elisabeth who is well known in her own right as a philanthropist. Keith Rupert Murdoch may well be hated by many in the UK, but in the US he is seen as just your average red-in-toothand-claw capitalist. Yet there is one element of American capitalist culture he does not seem to have embraced: the tradition of public, enormous-scale charitable works on the Bill Gates model. Where is the Murdoch Fund to wipe out tuberculosis in Africa for instance? Dame Elisabeth, philanthropist, should have a word in her son’s ear before it is too late to balance Rupert Murdoch the predator. Wapping: calm amid the storm, page 20
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Wapping PETER ARKELL
Barrie Clement was a labour correspondent at The Times when he refused to cross picket lines at News International 25 years ago
have never regretted refusing to accept Mr Murdoch’s kind invitation go to Wapping. In fact the invitation was rather graceless. It was a question of “get your arse down to Wapping or bugger off – oh and by the way, here’s £2,000 for betraying your union and your colleagues who print the paper”. I’ve never liked bullies. Mr Murdoch and his fawning underling Charlie ‘no mates’ Wilson – who was then acting editor of The Times – were deﬁnitely behaving like bullies. So my decision to become a Wapping ‘refusenik’ was partly to do with a distaste for such characters. It was also to do with the fact that I regarded myself – and still do – as a socialist and a trade unionist. There were some at the time who argued that those who crossed the picket lines into the Fortress needed to be accompanied by committed NUJ members who would insist on the continuation of proper union representation. That assertion smacked of the kind of Jesuitical reasoning used to justify any course of action. Trade unionists should not cross picket lines. Quite simple really. In fact the NUJ made a more practical point. If Murdoch expected journalists to work at Wapping as part of an entirely different production process, then there should be an agreement on terms and conditions. Admittedly The Times’ Labour staff were in a unique position. Most of our work involved reporting the
activities of unions. Clearly there was no possibility of carrying on as normal inside Wapping. The union movement had decided on a boycott of the journalists behind the barbed wire and the papers they produced. Harry Conroy, then general secretary of the NUJ, made it very clear that he would ensure that union leaders would not speak to us if we did take the Murdoch shilling. I have to say that professional considerations were not uppermost in my mind. My reasons for not going into Wapping were more fundamental than a concern about the practicalities of doing my job. Wilson rang me at home and offered me a production job on The Times if I crossed the picket lines (I had been chief city sub-editor on the Sunday Telegraph). I declined. Many News International journalists went into Wapping because they thought they would be blacklisted by employers if they didn’t. We all thought that those who remained loyal to the NUJ would ﬁnd it very difﬁcult to get work again. Overwhelmingly, that was not the case. The Times’ labour staff were taken on by The Independent with exactly the same job titles. Donald Macintyre as Labour Editor, David Felton as Labour Correspondent and I was Labour Reporter. Other refuseniks also found a home at The Indy. Many journalists went on to ﬂourish at other national papers. During the dispute we were well looked after by the NUJ who paid us
During the dispute we were well looked after by the NUJ who paid us £150 a week strike pay
£150 a week strike pay. In my case it was enough to cover our recently acquired mega-mortgage. My wife Sue and I were able to support our three sons and our foster daughter on freelance fees. There was extra help from the NUJ for those who found themselves in ﬁnancial difﬁculty. Refuseniks were helped with freelance work by other unions and the TUC. Amazingly enough, the labour staff did some work for the CBI – giving the lie to the idea that we were beyond the pale as far as employers were concerned. The Sunday Telegraph – a publication not known for its union sympathies – came to the rescue with some subbing work. Perhaps most surprising, we even did a gig for the MoD. So, speaking from personal experience there seemed to be no blacklisting for journalists who refused to cross the picket lines. This stands in vivid contrast to many of the 6,000 or more sacked print workers who found it far more difﬁcult to get work. Many lost their homes and some suffered marriage breakdowns. That will never be forgotten – or forgiven. However, one of the lessons I took out of the whole Wapping affair was that loyalty to your union does not necessarily mean that you have to forfeit your career. Stick by the NUJ and it will stick by you. theJournalist | 19
A plug for books Kim Farnell on how e-books are re-shaping the way we read and write, with a little help from Apple and Kindle
books are not nearly as new fangled as people think. The first, a copy of the US Declaration of Independence, was scanned into a Xerox mainframe computer back in 1971 by Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg. Initially written for a niche audience, e-books originally comprised technical manuals and similar texts. Once the internet became generally available in the 1990s, the ebook emerged as a new format for mass-market books. Now you need no longer sit in front of a computer screen to read an e-book. A host of hand-held devices has been designed specifically for the purpose. Each uses a different format and theoretically you can’t, for example, read a Kindle book except on a Kindle (in reality there are ways of converting certain files). Protecting an author’s copyright is one of the main concerns when distributing e-books and piracy is a major problem. Even encryption is no guarantee. It took less than 48 hours before the encryption on Stephen King’s Riding the Bullet, the first mass-market e-book in 2000, was broken. Since the launch of the ipad, there has been a 20 per cent rise in searches for pirated e-books – according to a study by internet monitoring company Attractor, there are now 20 | theJournalist
up to three million searches a day, with the US and India each being responsible for 11 per cent of searches. And from the consumer’s point of view, there’s the issue that some e-book distributors are able to enter your account, and delete or change your e-books. In 2009, Amazon deleted Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindles without warning due to copyright problems. Territorial rights issues are a nightmare for distributors and are the reason Waterstones stopped selling e-books to customers outside the UK. There are limitations with e-books – some formats don’t support images, and it’s difficult to reproduce colour graphics, tables, and figures on small screens. And although production costs are lower, the price of many is only slightly less than that of a mass produced paperback.
Sales of e-books are predicted to reach 3-5 per cent of the market by next year
However, there’s no doubt that e-books have a rapidly growing market. Last year, Amazon reported that sales of e-books for its Kindle outnumbered sales of hardcover books. Paperback sales are still much larger than either hardcover or e-books. A Publisher’s Weekly study found that among Amazon’s top-selling titles, such as The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson, the percentage of units sold as e-books ranged between 15-33 per cent. E-books have yet to achieve global distribution although the information technology analyst firm, Gartner has predicted that the global sale of electronic readers will be around the 6.6 million mark. E-book sales represent between 6-10 per cent of sales for some US publishers. For some titles it’s higher – Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom sold 600,000 hardbacks and over 300,000 e-books in the US. Figures from the Association of American Publishers and the International Digital Publishers Forum show the e-book market to have grown from a $67.2 million in 2007 to $415.2 million for 2010 – more than 500 per cent growth. The AAP put e-book sales growth figures at 193 per cent for 2010 and e-books currently account for approximately 15 per cent of trade sales in the United States.
Royalties are typically higher than for print which is good news for authors
With e-book royalties typically higher than print at an average 25 per cent – this is good news for some authors. The UK still has to catch up. With the release of the first iPad last April, the new one recently, and the Kindle in September last year, sales of ebooks are predicted to reach 3-5 per cent of the market by next year. According to the Publishers Association, digital sales were around £150m in 2009, with over 80 per cent in the academic-professional sector and only £5m in consumer sales.
f course, with an e-book reader no-one knows what you’re reading. You can sit on the train or bus, transported to any world of your choosing without scathing or curious looks from fellow commuters. No longer do some readers feel that they have to wrap titles in a plain brown paper bag – especially those who buy books featuring men with sinewy limbs and ﬂowing locks who seem to have a problem keeping their shirt on. Which may be one reason why in the US last year the share taken by romance and saga books was 14 per cent – seven times its print market share. Science fiction and fantasy fiction are also doing remarkably well.
Romance moved from bodice rippers to more realistic contemporary stories in the 1980s and by 2009, more than 9,000 titles were published in the US, generating $1.36 billion in sales and giving it the largest share of the overall tradebook market. Today, romance is the fastest growing segment of the e-reading market according to Bowker, a research organisation for the publishing industry. Nielsen BookScan reported last September that sales of romantic print fiction have fallen for the first time since records began at a time while ebook sales have more than doubled. As romance print books have such a short shelf life, backlist titles are especially popular. Random House is currently converting its backlist books into digital form and Harlequin Enterprises has already digitised nearly 10,000 titles dating back to 2002. Publishers like e-books as they can make more on a per ebook basis. Retailers offset costs from selling e-books by not having to pay storage and shipping costs. Consumers like the instant
‘E’ IS FOR ROMANCE Julia Knight is the author of a number of fantasy romances and winner of the Electronic Published Internet Coalition award 2010 and a 2011 ﬁnalist. Her books are also available in print: www.juliaknight.co.uk “I started writing when I was housebound with ME – it was that or go crazy from daytime TV. My ﬁrst e-book came out in January 2009. What I write isn’t ﬁrmly either fantasy or romance, and my sort of writing falls through the cracks in mainstream publishing. E-publishers thrive on giving readers something they don’t get in their normal bookshop.
access offered and the ability to carry hundreds of titles in one small device. And the role of ebooks in the publishing market has now been recognised with The New York Times’ plan to publish bestseller lists for e-book fiction and non-fiction. The industry is changing at an almost frightening rate. The new forms of distribution have the potential to help publishing become more ﬂexible and reach a much wider audience. And with the new format comes other changes – with its launch of a new e-book store, Google has announced its intention to slash e-book cost by including advertising inside. In December 2010, Amazon announced Kindle for Web, a cloudbased solution which brings your book library to any web browser and turns any website into a Kindle bookstore. Of course, not everyone enjoys reading e-books and not all titles can be found in digital format. The high cost of the initial investment in a form of an e-reader makes e-books prohibitive to much of the world’s population and access to existing titles isn’t universal. Television changed the film industry but didn’t destroy it. In the same way, publishing may never be the same again, but there’s no reason to assume we need to mourn the death of print – at least, not yet.
“E-pubbing has the advantage of fast turnaround times and, because the publishers tend to be small, they’re also friendly and personal. There’s much less chance of getting lost in the shufﬂe. Though if you’re holding out for world-domination on the sales front, I wouldn’t recommend it. “I know several writers who make a comfortable income from writing for e-pubs, but they are very proliﬁc. Sales are dependent on genre and, to an extent, any promo you’re willing to do. My erotic romance sold better than my fantasies. I don’t have ‘ﬁnal’ ﬁgures, because, of course, they never go out of print or are returned from bookshelves. “The e-market is growing all the time. Genre might play the
biggest part in sales – romance readers are voracious! And at least half the reader emails I get are from men, so the romance isn’t putting them off. Some readers avidly purchase every release each week from their favourite publishers, and some of the more established writers have very rabid followers. “Before I published, I didn’t know much about e-books. But I’ve now found some utterly fantastic books to read that I wouldn’t have had a hope of seeing otherwise.”
theJournalist | 21
Arts with attitude Some of the best things to see and do with a bit of political bite For listings email: journalist@NUJ.org.uk
INDEPTH WAPPING: CALM AMID THE STORM
Exhibition at the Marx Memorial Library, London May 1 for a month www.marx-memorial-library.org
Culture shock A new cultural centre in Cork, two major new galleries in Britain, collections of photography, art and theatre from NUJ members, and documentary plays are some of the things to enjoy in the next few weeks. What a Corker Triskel Christchurch opens on April 15 Triskel Arts Centre, Cork was founded in 1978 and has been located in Tobin Street since 1986. As Cork’s principal arts centre, its mission was to commission, present, and promote the contemporary arts and to ensure they were made available to as wide a public as possible. In 2009 Triskel began a process of re-invention, partly because Christchurch, a beautiful 18th century building, became part of a €4.8million refurbishment project by Cork City Council and the Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly. Triskel will be linked to the building of Christchurch and will manage the building as an arts centre. Critical to its success is to join forces with other
While all around was going crazy in 1986 after 6,000 union members were sacked at the beginning of the Wapping dispute, with minuteby-minute accusations of sell-outs, sequestration of SOGAT finances, general secretaries with conflicting opinions and violence on the picket line, John Jennings, NUJ member and editor of the SOGAT Journal and long-time stalwart of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (CPBF), sat doing his job in SOGAT’s ‘bunker’ in the union’s London regional office. The headquarters in Hadleigh, Essex had to close because of sequestration and John managed to tell the story with conviction, accuracy, a cool head and, above all, harassment around the clock. The era before mobile phones, with just a shared fax machine and constant ringing of a few phones that became the contact point for all concerned. SOGAT general secretary Brenda Dean took a conciliatory approach but lost the battle even with her own members; NGA general secretary Tony Dubbins was out to get the sympathy of the general public; the NUJ had its ‘refuseniks’; and the electricians’ union EETPU and the Thatcher government sold out to everyone. The London bunker became a place to spread gossip, eat, sleep and argue who was right or wrong. John somehow managed to continue to tell the stories that needed to be told, keep
creative industries, and find new ways to work with artists, writers and musicians. Christchurch will become a core venue for festivals that will bring visual arts, music and theatre to the city. It is already working with Corcadorca, The Black Mariah and Plugd Records, who together will put the old familiar Triskel to new uses. www.triskelartscentre.ie Visual art Turner Contemporary Turner Contemporary in Margate is a visual arts organisation that aims to make art open and relevant to all. Inspired by JMW Turner’s sense of enquiry, it encourages visitors to embrace their curiosity and to discover different ways of seeing, thinking and learning. Offering a stimulating programme of exhibitions, events and learning opportunities, the new gallery opened in April, designed by Stirling Prize winner David Chipperfield Architects. Admission is free. Situated on Margate’s seafront, on the same site where Turner stayed
the secrets he was unable to tell and still produce a magazine and campaign material for union members. He argued with his own general secretary on the approach a story should take, took calls from politicians and other union officials who wanted to give their support but didn’t always want to be named and stayed calm in the mayhem all around him. In addition, John had an ongoing court case arising from of a story he had written about the corruption and human rights atrocities of Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator. Support for John fighting the case was enormous. Donations from NUJ members and fellow trade unionists amounted to £30,000 and when the case was dropped he sent, with the wishes of the donors, all proceeds to charity. Although John’s year-long, low-key approach to his work on Wapping 25 years ago isn’t mentioned in the exhibition at London’s Marx Memorial Library, the commitment of all concerned is commemorated with dramatic images and accounts of the dispute and challenges for print and media workers. The exhibition is organised by Unite, the NUJ and the CPBF. Alf Martin, who worked alongside John on the SOGAT Journal at the time.
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arts when visiting the town, the gallery is the largest exhibition space in the south east, outside of London. It is at the forefront of Margate’s attempts to become Kent’s cultural heart. The East Kent coast inspired more than 100 of Turner’s works, including some of his most famous seascapes, and Margate was the starting point for his visits to Europe. “The brilliant thing about Turner Contemporary is that it has given people hope that things are going to change and also put Margate back on the map.” Tracey Emin www.turnercontemporary.org Hepworth Wakefield The Hepworth Wakefield will be Yorkshire’s inspiring new art gallery, celebrating the area’s artistic legacy and exploring the work of major contemporary artists. Opening on May 21, it is also designed by David Chipperfield Architects. The 10 gallery spaces make it one of the UK’s largest purpose-built galleries. It will have historic and modern art, alongside temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. Highlight of the displays will be an unknown and unique collection of 40 sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, gifted by the Hepworth Estate. www.hepworthwakefield.org Like You’ve Never Been Away May 13 – September 25 Photographer Paul Trevor went to Liverpool in 1975 as part of the ‘Survival Programmes’ project, which looked at inner city deprivation. Over several months he recorded family life on the fringes of the city centre, concentrating on Granby and Everton. Among the terraced streets and highrise flats, Paul captured images of a community defiant and proud despite a backdrop of mass unemployment and poverty. The pictures are part of Liverpool’s first international photography festival, Look2011, at the Walker Art Gallery. www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ walker. London Street Photography Until September 4 Street photographs are at the heart of our understanding of London as a diverse and dynamic capital. They are characterised by an element of chance – a fortunate encounter, a
Framing life: Paul Trevor’s photographs of the fringes of Liverpool
Drawings and art for Womankind : Precious at Cambridge University
Inspiration by the sea: the Turner contemporary gallery in Margate
London through the lens: street photography at the Museum of London
fleeting expression, a momentary juxtaposition, capturing an everchanging city. The Museum of London free exhibition showcases a collection of London street photography with over 200 candid images of everyday life in the street and brings together the work of 59 photographers. From sepia-toned scenes of horse-drawn cabs taken on bulky tripod-mounted cameras to 21st century Londoners digitally ‘caught on film’, explore how street photography has evolved from 1860 to the present day. Examine the relationship between photographers, London’s streets and the people who live on them, and reflect on the place of photography on London’s streets today as antiterrorism and privacy laws grow ever tighter. www.museumoflondon.org.uk. Precious New Hall Art Collection, University of Cambridge June 5 – July 3 A fund-raising exhibition in aid of the charity Womankind. Following in the tradition of 19th century anti-slavery campaigners, artworks including limited edition prints, textiles and other works will be available to raise funds for Womankind. Drawings by NUJ member Siobhan Wall and etchings by Paula Rego. www.art.newhall.cam.ac.uk Theatre The Revengers Barons Court Theatre, West Kensington, London May 9 – 21 Following their 2009 hit and London transfer Maggie’s End (in which they killed off Margaret Thatcher), Tyneside-based writers Ed Waugh, an NUJ member, and Trevor Wood, are returning to London with a dark comedy The Revengers. Katy Dream was a TV sex symbol; a kick-ass kung-fu queen who, as Gemma Peel in the hit show The Revengers once killed a man with her tongue. Twenty-five years later she’s plain old Katy West, caring for her wheelchair bound, Castro-obsessed Marxist husband Jimmy. Enter charming but sinister loan-shark Gary to bring more than a touch of drama back into Katy’s world… Tel: 0208 932 4747
A double bill The Rosemary Branch Theatre, Islington, London Until April 30 Two documentary plays for the price of £15 if seen together or £12 for each if seen separately. Lines, written by James Fritz and directed by Thomas Martin. 1 April 2009: A day of protests that began peacefully turns sour as newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson dies during the G20 demonstrations in London. The documentary play of his death closes after a horrifying murder. The writer went underground, the director walked away, and the parents are still grieving. What went wrong? James Fritz’s darkly comic debut play takes a wry look at creativity, responsibility and verbatim theatre. My Name Is Rachel Corrie, taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie, edited by Katherine Viner and Alan Rickman. 16 March 2003: While protesting against the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home, 23-yearold American student Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli Defence Force bulldozer. My Name Is Rachel Corrie is a powerful piece of verbatim theatre documenting a young activist who was prepared to risk her life in protest. Compiled entirely from her diary entries and emails, the performance offers a glimpse into the mind of this passionate and thoughtful woman, horrified by ‘witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive’. www.rosemarybranch.co.uk Books All or nothing Formed in 1965 in London’s East end, the Small Faces were one of the most under-rated bands: a true Mod group with their style of r’n’b, soul, psychedelia, pop and music hall. Great songs, devil may care attitude but a complete lack of business acumen makes for a fascinating new book – The Small Faces, The Young Mods’ Forgotten Story by Paulo Hewitt. Being republished after the first edition 15 years ago proves the Small Faces’ resilience and why artists such as Paul Weller, Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn rate them as one of the most talented bands of all time . Published by Acid Jazz, £14.99 theJournalist | 23
Cashback for interns
Together we can make a difference Ten reasons why you should be in the National Union of Journalists • Protection at work • C ommitment to improving the pay and conditions of journalists • Free legal advice service • T he 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 email@example.com putting ‘Membership Enquiry’ into the subject field.
Application forms available at
www.nuj.org.uk 6/4/11 16:06:43
manchester revisited The feature Made In Manchester was useful in raising the profile of independent community newspapers at a critical time. There is no doubt that enterprises such as the Salford Star and Mule in Manchester are part of the answer to the journalistic deficit growing up in the UK and Ireland as a result of massive cuts. Yes, there are huge journalistic problems in the ‘mainstream media’ where staffing has been hammered and many good, experienced journalists have melted away after waves of redundancies. Resources are spread almost unbearably thinly by profit-grabbing media corporations who couldn’t care less about their community responsibilities. But the fact is our members at those titles do care and do unbelievably good work in spite of the horrendous cuts they have to constantly battle against. The Manchester Evening News (MEN) is still a quality regional capable of strong and effective campaigning. The fact remains that the powerful and the rich still quake at the printed media and our members are still perfectly capable of using that power properly. It is also worth reminding ourselves that it is still the mainstream media where most of our members earn their living. Chris Morley Northern and Midlands organiser
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Every day TV and national papers follow our stories I was enraged and bemused by Rachel Broady’s simplistic and inaccurate view of journalism in Manchester. She suggests that because the MEN Media HQ is six miles out of the city it ‘is not relied on for local interest stories’. An interviewee claims ‘community activism is completely ignored’ by us and suggests there is ‘little critical reporting of the council’. Miss Broady – a former MEN employee – should have a better grip on reality. The final kick in the teeth is her suggestion that now the paper has left the city ‘people have... the opportunity to find and provide news that matters to them’. MEN and its 20-plus weeklies set the news agenda for Greater Manchester every day through its 60 journalists. We are never complacent. Competition means our papers have to find exclusive stories. We ask questions others don’t, dig deeper and have impeccable contacts. Every day,
regional TV and national papers follow up our scoops. Miss Broady implies that we have turned our backs on traditional heartlands. Completely untrue. Day and night, we are in those communities. For 20 years I scoured Salford. Meetings bring the best stories – a fact instilled in all of our reporters. Neal Keeling MEN Chief Reporter and FoC
Our reporters have shown great professionalism It is with great disappointment that I write following the article Made in Manchester – the Journalist February/ March 2011. As editor of the Salford Advertiser I took great offence at comments implying my hard-working team and colleagues on the Manchester Evening News are involved in a ‘news blackout’. Yes our regional offices closed, yes we moved out of the city centre and yes distribution has reduced in some areas
but to suggest that any of these factors have affected the passion, dedication and skills of the journalists within MEN Media is outrageous. Reporters are in our communities, diligently covering council meetings and embracing the multimedia world. We hold the authorities accountable and certainly don’t ignore anything that affects our readers. Our reporters have shown great professionalism at a time of huge change and go beyond the call of duty to produce excellent publications. Stephen Kingston on the Salford Star plays an important role, but to use the pages of The Journalist to criticise members who work within MEN Media is unacceptable. My colleagues and I were saddened to be at the end of such a negative tirade when, at the end of the day, we are all in this together – or so we thought. Stephanie Nelson Manchester
What about our city office and satellites? So, Manchester faces a news blackout. The pages of MEN Media’s flagship daily and long-standing weeklies go unturned, its websites fail to obtain a single hit and its reporters sit in their Oldham office oblivious to any breaking ‘local interest stories.’ It would be a bleak picture painted by Rachel Broady in the last issue of the Journalist if it were reality. Fortunately, hard-working NUJ members have made the best out of the move to Chadderton – they are out there conducting interviews, attending courts, events and council meetings and reacting quickly to news so they can get exclusive stories, give readers a voice and hold the powerful to account. It is also inaccurate to claim that the group has abandoned the city – has your writer failed to notice our city centre office or the new satellite offices opening up in other town centres? We could have corrected these mistakes had we had been contacted before publication. Instead we have been left reeling from an unjust attack by an NUJ member whose research appears to have been lacking. Bethan Dorsett Deputy MEN MoC
We have the most driven newsdesk in the country How could Rachel Broady have given such a false impression of what MEN Media journalists do? Her article purporting to be about community media was snide, partial and inaccurate. Its hook was the fact that when we were taken over by Trinity Mirror we moved from Manchester to Oldham. Were we happy to move? No. Did we make a fuss? Of course. Has it worsened our coverage of our heartland? No. Thanks to the best technology and the brightest journalists led by the most driven newsdesk in the country, we probably do a better job than ever. theJournalist | 25
letters... We had a choice – spend £3m a year rent on a city centre office or refurbish a building TM-owned and create a new way of working. Recruit more brilliant reporters and give them the kit to work here, there or anywhere. (And we DO have a Manchester city centre office, in Piccadilly Gardens.) We support the Salford Star – the MEN chapel once gave £500 towards its bills in addition to a much larger donation from the Manchester NUJ branch. Rachel Broady has done a great disservice to her former colleagues at MEN Media. Judy Gordon MEN Media
Who are the people who face a news blackout? I have been a member of the NUJ for almost 30 years but felt like cancelling that membership after reading Rachel Broady’s outrageous ‘Made In Manchester’ piece. How on earth could she be allowed to claim that the Manchester Evening News is ‘not relied on for local interest stories’ and ‘the people of Manchester face a news blackout’. Who are these people? We – alongside our colleagues on the Salford Advertiser – lead the way every day, setting the region’s news agenda and fighting for our readers relentlessly, fiercely and as loyally as ever. The number of campaigns, investigations and daily exclusives are too numerous to mention here. I am deeply saddened and totally bemused as to how our own trade union magazine can publish something so wildly inaccurate and without giving the MEN the basic right to reply. Lisa Roland Assistant News Editor Manchester Evening News
Feature wasn’t about the Evening News The readers of The Journalist could be expected to recognise that recent cuts led to fewer journalists and the
closure of offices nationwide; neither I nor anyone I interviewed intended to offend any individual Manchester Evening News reporter. The article isn’t about the MEN or its journalists, it’s about the Salford Star and Mule journalists and the impact the emerging independent press can now have as swingeing cuts in the media impact on news delivery. I sought opinions from journalists, academics and MPs. The chapel, in a paid-for open letter to Guardian readers last year, said: “The cuts will inevitably mean the MEN’s role and that of the weekly papers, in scrutinising local councils, NHS trusts, police and reporting on injustice, incompetence and corruption, is diminished.” This is how I understood the concerns in all regional media and aimed to point to the importance of the emerging independent press in plugging any resulting gap. The discussion could currently be had in any city in the country. I respect and wholeheartedly support the work of the journalists at the Mule and Salford Star, many of whom are NUJ members, and I ask you to help them continue their work by funding the publications. Rachel Broady Author of the feature
Grateful for the recognition of Mule We at Manchester Mule were delighted to be featured in Rachel Broady’s article on alternative media in Manchester in the last editon of The Journalist. As a small organisation reliant on volunteers and run on a shoestring budget (but nonetheless aspiring to high standards) we were grateful for the recognition in the article. Given the mounting commercial pressures faced by traditional print forms, we feel that community-based organisations such as our own can have an increasingly important place in the media landscape. The mounting wave of campaigns and protests in
recent weeks in our city has shown how this will become even more relevant as communities start to feel the blow of the cuts – and come together to defend against them. We think the article was an accurate commentary on the aims of our project and hope that it reflects the wider opinions of our peers in the NUJ and broader Manchester media. As a publication always looking for new writers we would also like any NUJ members interested in contributing to get in contact with us. Michael Pooler and Tim Hunt Mule editorial collective
Thanks for a strong general secretary For nearly 20 years we have been extremely fortunate to have had two very strong trade union general secretaries at the NUJ. John Foster rescued the union financially and Jeremy built on the union’s strengths. Both believed that our union must be active and campaigning. Together they built a strong union ready to tackle those who threaten journalists and journalism. Now Jeremy has announced that he is to go. Jeremy’s dedication to the union has been total. His work is not done; in the ranks he will continue to fight hard for free speech and union rights. As his deputy I always admired his strong leadership, especially the way he managed the very difficult task of attaining a balance between the needs of the members, organisers and support staff in the wider interest of the union. This, as I know, is not easily achieved within our great union. All of us should be very grateful for his tireless hard work, dedication and integrity. For me, as I am sure it has been for Michelle, Jeremy was great to work for, since he always appreciated our needs while sacrificing his own. Wishing Jeremy and Paula the very best for the future. John Fray Deputy General Secretary 1997-2008
Jeremy had passion and undoubted talent Can I offer my thanks to Jeremy Dear for the way he has led the NUJ as general secretary with such drive, enthusiasm, commitment and professionalism. As someone who still covers union conferences and anti-war marches, I have witnessed first-hand many of Jeremy’s speeches over the years so can vouch for his passion and undoubted talent at driving home his forceful views on issues facing journalists both in the UK and abroad. He has made some brilliant contributions at TUC conferences and other national events, standing out as a great orator when sharing platforms with other union and political leaders. Jeremy has also been an inspiration to NUJ members across the UK facing cuts in jobs, pay and conditions, literally standing shoulder to shoulder with journalists from the smallest weekly to national newspapers and the BBC. On numerous occasions he has made me proud to be a journalist, an NUJ member and an anti-war supporter. I believe he has raised the reputation of the NUJ as a campaigning union fighting for the rights of journalists and should be justly proud of his many achievements. Alan Jones Central London Branch
No surprise but I didn’t want to believe it I wasn’t surprised when Jeremy Dear announced he wouldn’t be standing again as general secretary. He’d made that clear even before his election unopposed to a second gruelling and often thankless five-year term. But there was still something inside me that didn’t want to believe it. Most union general secretaries have trouble in getting elected at age 44, and here was our dynamic Jeremy standing down after 10 years in the job! When I first met him in 1995, this 28-year-old was soon to become Britain’s youngest-ever president of a TUC-affiliated union and, while still
26 | theJournalist
working as a journalist, made sure he visited many far-flung NUJ branches including our three branches on the continent of Europe. Subsequently as a national organiser and then as general secretary he has given invaluable assistance as the Continental European Council’s servicing officer. At the request of Paris Branch request Jeremy has come to talk with our members, arriving just in time for meetings and leaving early the following morning. He continues to inspire NUJ members and nonmembers on the Continent and has encouraged relationships with our French sister unions. Many thanks to Jeremy as a worthy successor to his predecessor, John Foster, and warmest best wishes to him and Paula in their new venture. You both deserve it! Jeff Apter Paris branch
Stop saying you work harder than others do I do wish members wouldn’t claim to ‘work harder’ than those in other jobs. Sheila Miller in an attack on
the pensions of civil servants, some of whom could well be fellow NUJ members, is at it in the February/ March issue letters. I’m sure all the evidence she could offer is what she has come across in her everyday life and, if she understands anything about this godforsaken world, she must know that personal experience can never be relied upon to be the norm. She probably works harder than I do because I’m in my eighties and not gainfully employed, but perhaps she should listen to the politicians who, when referring generally to the workers, inevitably call all of them ‘hard working’. Peter Williams Southend-on-Sea
Need to address industrial development for pensions In response to Ms Miller’s letter about civil service pensions. Civil servants made an agreement with their employers. They traded in their working conditions in the short term in favour of receiving pensions in the long term. This agreement ruled
Please keep letters to 200 words approx
out any ‘expectations’ and ruled in a plan for pensions. That one may find the terms of that agreement unsatisfactory does not negate the fact that an agreement was made. If we simply went around tearing up agreements because we did not like the content, what would be the point of making agreements? On the principle that there is an agreement that has been freely negotiated by all, we, as a union, should support the agreement. The Conservative-led government has imposed a policy of cuts. There is little reprimand for big business which consistently fails to pay the full corporation tax and even less discipline imposed upon bankers where deregulated practices have spiralled. This coupled with the complete failure of our leadership to develop a clear industrial policy so that we can work our way out and upwards amounts to political neglect. The smoke screen is pension; the need to address the country’s finances is industrial development. Teena Lashmore Freelance journalist
Email your letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org Post them to: The Editor, The Journalist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP
Oh, you have? My name? Cookson…John Cookson Twenty five years ago I was lucky enough to be an Independent Radio News reporter filing from all over the world, including several war zones. I have no copies of my dispatches and in a moment of nostalgia wondered if any were on the web so I could hear them again for old time’s sake. Imagine my delight when I discovered them on Bournemouth University’s website. My joy was short-lived when I learned you needed a password to log-in. Fair enough. I requested the password. Bournemouth University sent me an email back saying the archive was theirs under exclusive licence from LBC and it wasn’t open to the general public! How ludicrous that any Bournemouth media student can choose to listen to my conflict zone dispatches from a quarter of a century ago, but not me! It’s good to know those training the next generation of journalists are keeping the great stuff under wraps! John Cookson London
theJournalist | 27
professional Training courses Non Members
To book a place on any of these courses or if you would like some advice or have any questions, please email email@example.com or telephone 020 7843 3730.
Weds/Thurs 11/12 May
Writing for the Web
Fri 13 May
Tues/Weds 17/18 May
Introduction to InDesign
Sat 21 May
Getting Started as a Freelance
Weds 1 June
Reporting the NHS
Fri 3 June
Social Media For Journalists
Weds/Thurs 15/16 June Introduction to Sub Editing
Thurs/Fri 16/17 June
Build Your Own Website
Tues 21 June
Develop a PR Strategy
Mon 27 June
Making Internet Journalism Pay
Weds 29 June
Business For Journalists
Thurs 30 June
Economics For Journalists
You can view course outlines at www.nujtraining.org.uk
may - june 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 freelance, 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.
Lost Your Job? If you’ve lost a staff job you could be entitled to a free course. Bookings must be made within three months of losing a job and are free at the union’s discretion and subject to availability.
*For Students and members in their first year of employment
Introduction to InDesign CS3 Frank Prenesti A photo of a banjo stared at me from the screen defiantly. It was taunting me. “Go on,” it seemed to be saying, “see if you can stick me in the middle of a three-column page and get the text to flow around me.” The difference between an onion and a banjo? No-one cries when you cut up a banjo. Fortunately for me help was at hand in the form of Megan Trudell, a top-notch designer who also tutors on the NUJ’s ‘Introduction to InDesign CS3’ course. Banjo jokes aside, the offending picture was duly dealt with in short order. That’s the beauty of the system; it’s so versatile that even someone like me who hasn’t stared at a blank page grid for more than two decades (having spent the intervening years
scribbling as a political hack) could be revelling in some basic design. It also means that a few simple skills can take you a long way, and if you’re really inquisitive, then there’s a whole world of nifty tools that you can play with to create any visual effect you want. Like most of my course colleagues, I found the myriad rulers, grids, pasteboards, drop-down menus and library folders a little daunting at first, but the structure of the course had us at our ease early on and basic page design was soon within reach. Subbing and layout design may have moved into the electronic age, but the basics haven’t changed much. Columns still need to be measured up and gutters placed between them. There was a moment of nostalgia when Megan referred to the old ‘ems’ and ‘picas’ measurements in the days
when a ruler and chinagraph pencil were the only things in the toolbox. I went misty-eyed at the memory. However, in the hunt for shifts you are still going to be asked that (new) age-old question. ‘Can you use our system?’ InDesign is the system of the moment and more newspapers are looking to implement it, so even a rudimentary grounding in it should at least get you a foot in the door. If you suddenly find yourself back on the jobs market and are contemplating freelance subbing or design work on anything from a newspaper to a magazine to your own newsletter, then you could do worse than taking this course and have your own duel with the banjo. Frank Prenesti is a freelance political and business reporter based in Westminster
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NO LONGER THE APPLE OF MY EYE
Michael Cross on the latest trends and kit
t looked like an up-ended shoebox, ﬁtted with a black-andwhite TV screen little bigger than my hand. A keyboard in matching beige was by a telephone-style coiled cord. In 1987 the Macintosh Plus was the cutting edge of home technology. Its arrival (the delivery man offered to set it up for me) began a love affair that’s run, with a couple of bumps, for a quarter century. Sadly, that’s now coming to an end. Even in the 1980s, we Apple owners thought we were a bit special. After all, the price (after journalist discount) was about twice as much as an IBMcompatible PC and a multiple of the Amstrad word processor which most of my colleagues were buying. My excuse was that the Mac was far and away the best machine for desktop publishing (which I never got round to) and that as a science writer I needed to be at the cutting edge. In truth it was a fashion statement. When we had guests around, I’d leave the Mac turned on, displaying a ball bouncing around the screen, and imagined myself in the company of renowned Mac users like Douglas Adams and Richard Dawkins. I must have looked a right berk. I got my money’s worth, though. That Mac Plus lasted me six years, including three lugging it around Asia.
LOW-COST LAPTOPS No doubt what’s the coolest
laptop computer around at the moment. The new MacBook Air combines the best features of the iPad – solid-state ruggedness and long battery life – in a stylish titanium shell. The snag: you’re looking at £1,000 for the 11-inch model with the mid-range memory speciﬁcation. If all you need is the wherewithal to browse the web and ﬁle copy when you’re out and about, that’s money down the drain. Nowadays, you
In truth it was a fashion statement. When we had guests I ‘d leave the Mac turned on
don’t need to spend much more than a quarter of that. So-called ‘netbooks’ – low speciﬁcation compact laptops introduced at around the £200 mark a few years ago – have steadily been creeping up in performance and value. Models, and deals, change rapidly but a shout-out around journalist colleagues and a trip to London’s Tottenham Court Road suggests the following are worth a look. Samsung N Series. A colleague says he cannot fault his N140: “Lightweight, good display, decentish keyboard (a bit cramped, but that’s more down to the nature of the beast itself and the fact that I have large hands), and an excellent battery life.” The current model, the N145, is £249 at the Micro
Modiﬁcations included the addition of a plug-in modem for Telecom Gold email and a 20-megabyte hard disc. More importantly, the Mac OS enabled me to upgrade to the web world painlessly without having to call a help desk, or even open a software manual. I’m no fundamentalist. For laptops I’ve generally gone non-Apple, on grounds of size, weight and battery life. That may change with the amazing new Macbook Air, but at the moment I can’t justify the cost (see below). And for years I even had a custom built Windows desktop. Nonetheless, replacing that with a 27-inch iMac last year felt like coming home. It’s an allin-one package of functional beauty that worked immediately and hasn’t crashed once. It even cost roughly the same number of 2010 pounds as the Mac Plus did 1987 pounds. My problem? Nothing to do with technology, but with Apple’s apparent ambition to control the whole value chain of information through iTunes – the ﬁrst to crack the problem of handling small payments for music – software, and news. The last straw is its demand for 30 per cent of payments for publications downloaded to its devices. Publishers are complaining: journalists concerned about information monopolies should, too.
Anvika high street chain. – Acer Aspire One (also sold under the Packard Bell brand). A colleague swears by her Packard Bell Dot M/U. “I love the fact that screen and keyboard are slightly bigger than a lot of standard netbooks (11.6”), so it’s much easier to work and type on, and the battery life is up to 8 hours.” In this range, my eye was caught by the new £280 Aspire One 533, a similar spec to the Samsung but a touch lighter. Sure, photographers, designers and multi-media types will want more oomph, but for writers it seems daft to pay thousands. The sad truth about reporters’ laptops is that they break down and/or get stolen. Best to buy one you won’t grieve unduly for.
theJournalist | 29
Raymond Snoddy on the threat to the BBC’s local radio coverage
No need to kill the radio star
ver the next few months watch for an increasingly bizarre stream of wheezes designed to save money coming out of the BBC. The Corporation has to save 20 per cent over the next ﬁve years – 16-17 per cent just to stand still and the rest to give some headroom for new investment, particularly in technology. In its usual bureaucratic way the committees have been set up under the DQF – the rather risible Delivering Quality First banner. These committees will inevitably end up ﬁnding clever ways of reducing the service viewers and listeners are accustomed to, because you can’t save 20 per cent by strimming and trimming. Some of the possibilities under consideration, either leaked or put out for consideration, include dropping or sharing Wimbledon coverage, running the BBC News across BBC 2 during the day, and reducing BBC local radio to a breakfast and drive-time service. The rest of the time would be ﬁlled in with Radio 5 Live. Dropping Wimbledon is unthinkable. Try Formula 1 instead. Many of the races happen in the middle of the night UK time anyway. There seems little point in duplicating the BBC News on another channel when the digital version will be available to everyone in the UK by next year at the latest. The plan to cull most of the local output from the BBC’s 40 local stations and with it perhaps the loss of 700 jobs has the mark of a serious runner. But it is a genuinely bad idea. Commercial local radio is moving more and more towards computerised music play lists and national groupings and agendas.
Increasingly, the mainly speechbased BBC local radio stands out as something distinctive and…er…an obvious example of public service broadcasting. The biggest radio audiences are at breakfast and drive time but the stations would be eviscerated if that’s all there was and would slowly lose inﬂuence.
The BBC has to be far more aggressive on its use of repeats or ‘another opportunity to see’
erhaps the local stations are regarded as weak and divided with relatively lowly paid and low proﬁle staff: an easy target. But that would be a big mistake. Loyal listeners will make themselves heard, and the unions will play a role in providing a uniﬁed voice for the individually powerless stations. There is another class of inﬂuential listeners to local radio – local MPs. BBC local radio gives backbench MPs, who would only feature on national broadcasts if there was trouble with their expenses, a way to speak directly to their constituents. It’s local democracy in action. Members of the BBC Trust would have to give their approval to any such cuts. The Trust turned down management plans to close 6 Music and might also move to save local radio. The ﬁnal irony would be if £40 million of licence fee money helped fund Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s rare enthusiasm for local TV while more cost-effective local radio is cut to ribbons. But if not that – what? The BBC has to be far more aggressive on its use of repeats, or ‘another opportunity to see’. No-one can even begin to see more than a fraction of the quality output on offer and not everyone has a personal video recorder. The BBC has to listen more and be more open with staff and viewers and listeners on how money can be saved and what sort of service can realistically be provided after the 20 per cent axe has fallen.
For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy
30 | theJournalist
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