M A G A Z I N E
T H E
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U N I O N
WWW.NUJ.ORG.UK | APRIL/MAY 2013
J O U R N A L I S T S
Contents Main feature
14 Davids versus Goliath
Where Britain’s once-powerful alternative press came from... and where it’s going
ometimes success, like the spring, is a long time coming. But all the more worth it when it does arrive. The NUJ has won some solid victories since the last issue of The Journalist, including ending the threat of compulsory redundancies at the Guardian and the Independent. Compulsory redundancies should always be resisted, but especially so at large organisations where a voluntary take-up for job cuts would be very likely. Compulsory redundancies are one of the issues the NUJ is challenging the BBC over – along with bullying and excessive workloads. Our complaints against the BBC go to the heart of what many journalists are experiencing wherever they work – the pressure to work around the clock with diminishing benefits and if it were up to many managements, diminishing rights. As general secretary Michelle Stanistreet says in her column, even “days off are becoming like working from home days”. But the union has shown that, with consistent campaigning and the willingness of journalists to stand together and fight, changes can be made. And those changes make all the difference to people’s lives and the increasingly tough challenge of achieving a work-life balance. All work and no play, like continual grey skies, is no good for anyone!
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Cover picture Charlotte Allen/Alamy
03 BBC strike and bullying at work
Journalists fight job cuts and stress
04 Guarded welcome for Royal Charter Union still has reservations
05 Saving Guardian and Observer jobs Agreement on negotiating changes
06 $1.3 billion Newsquest boss pay-out But journalists’ pay freeze continues
07 Two dailies buck paid-for drop
Regional sales decline hits 77 per cent
08 Making media more accountable Calling Europe’s press to order
10 The perfect pitch
Better ways to sell your work
18 Recycling old newspaper buildings History falls to the wine bar advance
09 Michelle Stanistreet 17 NUJ and me 21 Technology Arts with Attitude Pages 22-23
Raymond Snoddy Page 26
Letters Pages and Steve Bell 24-25
BBC strike underlines bullying menace at work
ournalist victims of systematic bullying at the BBC have considered suicide, NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran told a shocked meeting of the union’s national executive council last month. He said reaction to bullying had helped strengthen the resolve of BBC journalists in Scotland in voting to hold a two-day strike last month against management attempts to impose compulsory redundancies and increase workloads. The strike was called off after management agreed to extend time for talks on the issue, allowing further opportunity for training and redeployment efforts on behalf of those at risk. However, a BBC-wide strike went ahead, joined by technicians’ union BECTU, just before Easter over compulsory redundancies, excessive workloads and bullying and harassment within the corporation. The strike had a major impact on programmes, with news-related output particularly affected. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet led members out on strike at the BBC’s New Broadcasting House headquarters. “The impact of the cuts has meant that members are struggling to be able to get their work done and to maintain
“ quality output,” she said. “We cannot have a situation where members are paying for the BBC’s cuts with their health.” The NUJ has submitted a 120-page dossier on cases of BBC management bullying, compiled by Michelle through personal interviews with victims, to the BBC’s internal coporation inquiry into harassment and bullying. Michelle said: “Our work carried out for that inquiry has lifted the lid on shocking levels of bullying and harassment happening under the noses of senior managers – yet still some BBC executives persist in playing down the extent of the problem.”
We cannot have a situation where members are paying for the BBC’s cuts with their health
maintaining a Foot in the dooR
he annual Paul Foot Award for campaigning and investigative journalism, organised by Private Eye and the Guardian to commemorate the work of the late journalist and NUJ activist, has been won by Times
reporter Andrew Norfolk for his two-year investigation into targeting, grooming and sexual exploitation of teenage girls by gangs of men. Runner-up in the awards was fellow-NUJ member Rob Waugh of the Yorkshire Post
for a series of investigations into dubious spending by senior Cleveland Police officers and abuse of power by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association (CPOSA). Judges also gave the Daily
Mail’s Stephen Wright a special campaign award for his 15 years of reporting on the Stephen Lawrence murder. Andrew Norfolk was awarded £5,000, with £2,000 each for Rob Waugh and Stephen Wright.
Recognition campaign at Mirror
ournalists at the Daily and Sunday Mirror and The People are stepping up efforts to win back the right to be represented by the NUJ., a right lost at Mirror Group Newspapers in the early 1990s, when the company recognised the tiny British Association of Journalists for negotiating purposes. As a first step, Mirror journalists are seeking signatures on a petition to end recognition of BAJ. This could then lead to a BAJ derecognition ballot, to be followed by a fresh
ballot to authorise recognition rights for the NUJ. NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said: ”This process represents a very positive move by Mirror journalists to ensure that their employment and professional concerns are properly catered for by the NUJ in an era of digital and technical change for our industry. Recognition for the NUJ would bring benefits both for our members and for the company in facing a challenging future.”
no forced job cuts at independent NUJ negotiators have secured agreement with management at The Independent to head off threatened compulsory redundancies at the London-based paper. The company agreed that savings targets would be met by voluntary redundancies, and the NUJ will now focus on the editorial changes that will make The Independent the slimmest editorial headcount of any national newspaper. 240,000 call for littlejohn to go Two petitions calling for Richard Littlejohn to be sacked have been delivered to the Daily Mail claiming the support 240,000 people. The petitions were started after transgender teacher Lucy Meadows was found dead last month. She is thought to have committed suicide. McKenzie goes to the telegraph Former Sun editor and Daily Mail columnist Kelvin MacKenzie has moved to a broadsheet for the first time – writing a weekly column on Telegraph.co.uk. conde nast Moves into teaching Condé Nast, the magazine publisher, is branching out into training, launching a fashion and design college. The Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design will offer its first diploma course in October. The college says it may widen the course options in future, including an interior decorating involving House & Garden, as well as MA courses. nuj Motions win with tuc woMen Successful NUJ motions at the TUC Women’s Conference called for parenthood to become a protected characteristic under the Equality Act and for media companies to protect journalists against online abuse were overwhelmingly carried. This year’s theme “Mobilise and Organise” reflected fears about austerity measures and their impact on women. theJournalist | 3
Union welcome for the Royal Charter, but…
ex president Kyran connolly dies Former NUJ president and organiser Kyran Connolly has died after a long battle with cancer. A hugely popular figure in NUJ activities of all sorts, Kyran is survived by his sister and twin brother. In addition to his many years as a lay activist in the union, Kyran had also worked as a full-time NUJ organiser. More than 100 people attended Kyran’s funeral mass and cremation in west London on February 28. paywalls for the sun and telegraph The Sun and The Telegraph are to charge for their online publications. News International said that it was untenable not to charge and that a paywall would be put up later this year. The Telegraph will operate a metered system whereby 20 articles can be read per month free and charges will apply after that.
union decision on david leggat Following an Ethics Council investigation of a Rule 24 complaint, the NEC upheld the ruling that David Leggat had breached the union’s code of conduct and agreed that the former NUJ member will be subject to the maximum fine specified in the Rule Book which at the 2013 rate is £1,000. It was also agreed that a note shall be placed upon his previous membership record to the effect that he is not considered by the union to be a fit and proper person in respect of his eligibility for membership. However, should David Leggat wish to make an application to rejoin the NUJ at some future date,the matter should be put before the NEC for consideration. 4 | theJournalist
The NUJ now calls on publishers to work with us to inaugurate a new press co-regulator on standards
he Royal Charter on press regulation agreed by the Uk’s three biggest political parties got a wary reception from the union’s national executive council. The NEC noted that several NUJ policies were incorporated in the charter, which sets out a framework for a new press regulator following the leveson report. But in a lengthy debate on the issue last month, several speakers noted the absence of an explicit role for the NUJ in a new regulatory system. The council also underlined the need
for the union to continue campaigning for a conscience clause in the regulator’s code and in contracts of employment. “The proposed charter is certainly not the end of the debate about restoring proper behaviour and standards in some sections of the media,” said NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet. “But it can begin the evolution of a system of independent regulation in the interests of journalists and the public they serve. “Despite the claims of newspaper publishers whose approach to the development of press standards was so often hostile to the interests of both the public and journalists, the system being proposed emphatically does not represent statutory regulation. it is not perfect, but it is not state control. “The NUJ now calls on publishers to work with us to inaugurate a new press co-regulator on standards.” The NEC declared that the best way to raise ethical standards in the press is through trade union rights and strong NUJ chapels in every workplace including News international; media plurality and limits on the concentration of ownership.
Julieann’s Bloody Sunday award
he youngest of the 14 civil rights marchers killed by the British Army on Derry’s Bloody Sunday in 1972 – 17-year-old Jackie Duddy – has been particularly remembered through the award of a prestigious Christopher Ewart Biggs Memorial Prize to Jackie’s niece Julieann Campbell for her book Setting the Truth Free: the inside story of the Bloody Sunday justice campaign. Julieann, NUJ Mother of Chapel at the Derry Journal, said: “Many books have been written on the subject of Bloody Sunday, but no-one had ever documented the family-led campaign and the ordinary, determined people of Derry who simply refused to give up until someone listened. That perseverance ultimately changed history and showed the world that people power and campaigning – when done on a large scale – can actually move mountains.”
STEPHEN lATiMER/DERRy JOURNAl
Mirror to have clicK and buy codes Trinity Mirror is to introduce technology to allow readers to buy products mentioned in its articles. The group’s director of new business development, Matt Colebourne said codes would be printed alongside articles, allowing readers to purchase products or services which had been featured.
Journalism enJoys tRaining BooSt
ears may be growing about sliding journalistic standards but journalistic training is actually increasing, according to the National Council for the Training of Journalists.
In a comprehensive survey of journalists conducted last year, 10 years after a similar survey was mounted, the NCTJ found that 63 per cent of journalists hold a relevant qualification. This compares with 58 per cent in 2002.
Section heads in news organisations are the most likely to hold journalistic qualifications – 83 per cent – along with writers and reporters for newspapers and magazines – 70 per cent.
With ethics under the spotlight in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, the survey found that a small majority (52 per cent) felt they had enough training in ethics while 14 per cent felt they hadn’t.
deal to protect jobs at guardian and observer BRiAN WilliAMS
hapel and national NUJ negotiators at The Guardian and Observer have secured the withdrawl of threatened compulsory redundancies at the papers following a massive vote by journalists in favour of strike action. Union and management are now committed to 12 months of negotiations on any changes to bring about further cost reductions and the digital transition at the papers. Any future reductions in staffing levels will be achieved by negotiation. Both sides have agreed to negotiate a revised house agreement, with a planned report back to the NUJ chapel and staff at the beginning of the summer. The NUJ chapel had balloted on strike action to
stop the use of compulsory redundancy by Guardian News and Media to shed 100 posts as part of a scheme to save £7 million from the annual budget of the newspapers. Posts across news, sport, features, comment and weekly publications figured in the disputed ploan. NUJ deputy general
secretary Barry Fitzpatrick welcomed the negotiated settlement: “i am pleased that the hard work put in by both sides has achieved an outcome that should create the positive climate necessary to safeguard the future of the titles and at the same time guarantee the quality of content so vital to their success.”
in brief... journalists’ arrests continue At least 55 journalists have now been arrested in the last two years as a result of police investigations stemming from the phone-hacking scandal. Last month four senior Mirror Group journalists – including current Sunday People editor James Scott and former Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver – were arrested as police widented their Operation Weeting investigation
Both sides have agreed to negotiate a revised house agreement
reed elsevier boss receives £4.5M Erik Engstrom, chief executive of Reed Elsevier, received almost £4.5 million in remuneration and share awards last year. The company owns the Lancet, the LexisNexis legal and professional information business, and more than 100 magazines.
profits up at itv ITV saw a six per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £348 million in 2012. It is the third year of doubledigit earnings growth for the third year running. The company said it has seen growth in all areas with revenues up to three per cent to £2.19 billion, fuelled by a strong performance in its studios, online, pay and interactive businesses.
charges For toRtURe of nUJ’S ClaUdia
even former senior officers of Colombia’s security service (DAS) each face up to 20 years in prison for the “psychological torture” of journalist Claudia Julieta Duque, who was awarded honorary membership of the NUJ in 2010. Their arrest was ordered on
charges of having been responsible for subjecting the award-winning journalist to years of illegal monitoring, threats and harassment between 2001 and 2008. Ms Duque had exposed irregularities in the investigation into the murder of journalist Jaime Garzon.
Claudia said: “This is a first step towards achieving some justice. I was a victim of a systematic abuse which went beyond mere threats. It was a crime of torture aimed at silencing a journalist². She later uncovered a DAS instruction manual setting out in detail how to frighten her and her daughter.
digital rise at ft The Financial Times reported a four per cent increase in revenue to £443 million for last year. According to parent company Pearson’s latest accounts the FT Group also saw its adjusted operating profit rise seven per cent to £49 million. Digital subscriptions rose 18 per cent to almost 316,000 in 2012.
Victory for Sunday tribune MARk THOMAS
he NUJ has won payments of nearly €160,000 for seven journalists who were denied proper redundancy compensation when Dublin’s Sunday Tribune closed down in February 2011. The union fought a two-year battle for employees whom the company claimed were freelance, lodging cases with ireland’s Rights Commissioner Service to prove that the journalists were entitled to annual leave pay, public holiday pay and written terms of employment. Though the NUJ won all the cases, there was an 18-month delay in securing payment from the Department of Social Protection. irish secretary Seamus Dooley (pictured) expressed concern that the heavy workload of the department had hindered the payments. He said there was a need for the department to recognise the outcome of Rights Commissioner hearings.
defaMation Moves in uKraine The European Federation of Journalists is warning of fresh attempts to reintroduce criminalisation of defamation in Ukraine. It is proposed that criminal liability for defamation be reintroduced. EFJ president Arne König. said “Criminal libel laws are not only disproportionate, but they also have a chilling effect on the willingness and ability of journalists to do their job effectively.” theJournalist | 5
news in brief... scotsMan opts out of Monthly audits The Scotsman has withdrawn from the national newspapers’ monthly circulation audit by ABC. The Scotsman, along with its sister paper, Scotland on Sunday, will report on a six-monthly basis in future in common with regional publications.The move follows the same action by The Herald and Sunday Herald last year. droMey fears over birMinghaM cuts Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, has written to Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox raising concerns about job cuts at its Birmingham centre. He believes the cuts could harm the quality of journalism at the Birmingham Mail, a daily selling 40,000 copies a day, and its weekly sister, the Birmingham Post. concern over irish exaMiner plans The NUJ is seeking urgent information from the new owners of the Irish Examiner about restructuring plans.The union is very concerned at the potential threat to the Sunday Business post from Landmark Media.
newsquest owner in $1.3 billion pay-out
annett, the US owner of Newsquest, is to pay $1.3 billion to shareholders in the next two years as its employees on Uk papers face another pay freeze this year. Typically a journalist working for Newsquest can earn £21,000, once they have qualified as a senior reporter with two years’ experience. The company’s latest figures for 2011 show that Paul Davidson, the chief executive of Newsquest, received £598,441 in salary. Newsquest is one of the largest publishers of regional papers with 17 daily paid-for publications and more than 200 weekly publications, magazines and trade publications including the Herald in Scotland, the Northern Echo and the Brighton Argus. in its annual report, Gannett notes the achievement of its Uk papers. it said: “Recognition for Newsquest’s editorial achievements included a variety of Scottish Press Awards won by The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times, which included awards in the following categories: front page, campaign, scoop, reporter, financial journalist, journalist, cartoonist, columnist and young journalist of the year prizes; as well as seven European Newspaper of the year awards for excellence.
6 | theJournalist
“in addition, a campaign which seeks to encourage correct grammar and concise writing named the Worcester News as England’s top regional daily.” Chris Morley, the NUJ’s northern and Midlands organiser, complained: “Journalists in this country are directly subsiding the pockets of wealthy US corporate shareholders with 2013 being the fourth year out of five years without a pay rise on already miserly salaries.”
Journalists in this country are directly subsiding the pockets of wealthy US corporate shareholders
‘Stampeding’ to irrelevance’
caMpaign to save whitby editor A petition launched by Press Gazette to save Whitby Gazette editor Jon Stokoe from redundancy has been signed by more than 1,000 people. Mr Stokoe is at risk of redundancy from Johnston Press despite his paper being the UK’s fifth fastest growing fully paid-for weekly newspaper. It has increased sales 2.1 per cent with a cover price rise from 55p to 90p. welsh editor turns to dylan thoMas The former editor of the South Wales Evening Post is to be in charge of promoting the country’s most famous poet. Spencer Feeney, who retired from the Evening Post last year, has been appointed chairman of the group coordinating the city’s celebrations of the centenary of Dylan Thomas, who was born on 27 October 1914.
he main regional newspaper groups are involved in “a stampede to irrelevance”, according to former Newspaper Society president Chris Oakley. Mr Oakley said local newspapers need journalists working directly in their communities. He told journalism students at Northampton University: “For the many years i worked as a journalist, this was the accepted wisdom and
the way in which local newspapers went about their business.” But increasingly journalists now operate from centralised hubs which are miles from where a paper would be sold and read, he said. “in an attempt to close the gap in local knowledge and involvement, the major groups plan to have half or more of all editorial content…written by ‘citizen journalists.’
archant could faCe £13 Million tax Bill
rchant the regional publishing group, has reported £2.2 million losses for the 2012 financial year and is facing a possible £13 million bill for tax. In an official statement the publisher said: “Following a recent tax case involving another company, provision
has been made in the 2012 accounts for a possible payment to HMRC in respect of corporation tax and interest of up to £13m dating back almost 10 years. “There is likely to be further litigation before the position becomes clear. If the company is ultimately
required to meet these liabilities, it will do so within its existing banking arrangements.” Turnover in the year to the end of December last year slipped 2.7 per cent to £131.4 million and the company’s operating profits fell 39.5 per cent to £6.3 million.
Just two local dailies defy drop in paid-for readers
nly two daily regional newspapers in Britain – the Ipswich Star and the Paisley Daily Express – increased their print circulation in the second half of last year. The Ipswich Star’s increase of 8.5 per cent takes its daily circulation to 16,783. But only 64 per cent of this is paid for. However, the Paisley Daily Express’ 1.3 per cent sales rise takes its paid-for average daily sale to 7,232. The average rate of sales decline for the 77 regional daily titles audited for the six months was 6 per cent and the total average per edition sales dropped from 2,308,943 in the second half of 2011 to 2,147,672 in the second half of 2012. Total circulation for the Uk’s paid for regional newspapers fell by 6.4 per cent year on year
on the second half of 2012. The Brighton Argus, which is owned by Newsquest, suffered the biggest drop, seeing its sales slide 19.6 per cent year-on-year to 19,199. The Argus fall was closely followed by the Norwich Evening News, which fell 19.3 per cent to 13,322. The total average perissue circulation for the 450 weekly and daily paid-for local newspapers audited by ABC was 5,722,602 in the second
half of 2012. This compares with 6,114,038 in the same period a year earlier. But a third of the Uk’s free weekly newspapers increased circulation in the last six months of last year. Some 93 of the Uk’s 282 audited free weekly papers increased their average circulation over the last half of the year. This includes a big jump for the Uxbridge & West Drayton Gazette, up 219.9 per cent to 32,563.
A third of the UK’s free weekly newspapers increased circulation in the last six months of last year
Birmingham Mail giVeaWaY
ome 50,000 copies of the Birmingham Mail are to be given away in the city centre on Fridays in order to stimulate the paper’s readership. The Mail’s Friday issue will include new sections with a revamped listings pull-out. An
extended Saturday issue is also to be overhauled with a new TV magazine and leisure section. The giveaway and redesign moves come as the paper faces fast-declining sales in line with the general decline in regional readership.
no tumbling sales for Mr tumble 2011 JSN PHOTOGRAPHy
woMen’s Mag froM loaded stable The publisher behind lads’ magazine Loaded plans to launch a new weekly women’s title. Blue Publishing said that the magazine will run counter to the traditional focus on celebrities and fashion and that it believes there is a gap in the highly competitive market. More broadsheets opt to downsize Three more weekly newspapers have downsized from broadsheets to tabloids. They are the Berwick Advertiser, which has been a broadsheet for 200 years, and its sister titles – the Berwickshire News and the Southern Reporter. The changes are part of Johnston Press’s nationwide relaunch programme. yorKshire post editor leaves Peter Charlton has stood down as editor of the Yorkshire Post after nine years in charge. The announcement from publisher Johnston Press came 11 months after the editorships of the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post were combined, with Mr Charlton made editor of both titles.
In the first half of last year, according to the ABC figures, the paper had a daily circulation of 42,252, down 10.5 per cent on the same period in the previous year. Just over 95 per cent of copies were sold at the full cover price.
alling circulations? Not if your magazine boasts brightly coloured stickers and Mr Tumble toys. Children’s magazines are emerging as one of the bright spots in the publishing world. As magazine circulations slide some pre-school publications bucked the trend significantly last year including, Moshi Monsters, with a 40 per cent rise in sales; Fun to learn with Peppa Pig (13.1 per cent); Cbeebies Art (9.5 per cent); Fun to learn – Friends (7.2 per cent); and Cbeebies Something Special (4.9 per cent).
lego ends linK with the sun Anti Page 3 campaigners claimed victory after Lego announced the end of its two-year promotional partnership with The Sun. The Danish toymaker said that its association with the tabloid had come to a natural end – oﬃcially denying the move was linked to a 12,000-strong online petition.
new tuc guide to worKplace safety The TUC has launched an updated workplace safety guide, as concerns mount over cuts to inspections . The new edition of Hazards at Work warns of a ‘hostile’ political climate to health and safety that has resulted in the Health and Safety Executive being prevented from making proactive visits to many workplaces to check that employers are working in ways that don’t put their staff at risk. theJournalist | 7
news in brief... international herald naMe to go The International Herald Tribune is to be renamed the International New York Times. The famous IHT title will disappear in the autumn. The paper’s publisher, the New York Times company ,said the change will be accompanied by an expansion of a multi-platform service “tailored and edited specifically for global audiences”. another paper on buffet Menu Warren Buffet, the investor, has bought his 28th daily newspaper with the purchase of Oklahoma’s Tulsa World. Mr Buffett bought the paper through his BH Media Group from the Lorton family, which has owned it since 1917. tiMe warner spins off Magazines Time Warner is to turn its magazine unit Time Inc into a separate, publicly traded company after talks to sell the publisher failed.
Making europe’s media more accountable
he NUJ is throwing its weight behind a new initiative to call big media to account throughout Europe. The European initiative for Media Pluralism is a campaign initiated by about 100 civil society organisations, media and professional bodies throughout Europe. it is pressing for legislation to put curbs on big media groups and protect media
pluralism in Europe. it also wants to ensure that media watchdogs are independent of political power and influence and clearer divisions between those in the media and politics. The campaign seeks regular health checks on Europe’s media to ensure these standards are being met. individuals can help force the European Commission to
take notice of the campaign by signing an online petition and urging all their contacts to do so too. you can do this on the European Commission’s website. There needs to be a million signatures for the commission to take action on the initiative. Find the petition address by searching the NUJ website www.nuj.org.uk for ‘media pluralism’.
irish sales Slide fURtheR
ales of Ireland’s daily and Sunday national newspapers continued to slide in the last half of 2012 The Irish Times’s circulation fell eight per cent to an average 88,356 copies
a day. The Irish Independent slipped 5.5 per cent to a daily sale of 123,981. The third-placed national daily, The Examiner, dropped by six per cent to just under 40,000.
WORKING FOR POVERTY WAGES
The campaign seeks regular health checks on Europe’s media
The Sunday World, declined 13.6 per cent with a six-monthly average of 217,141, and the broadsheet Sunday Business Post slipped by 11.5 per cent to 39,416. The Sunday Independent’s 5.4 per cent drop took its sales to 237,185.
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General secretary Michelle Stanistreet on the need to fight relentless cuts
All work and no life...
hen journalists and members of sister union Bectu walked out on a 12-hour strike at the end of March, they were not only protesting against compulsory redundancies, but also about the culture of bullying and harassment and unacceptable workloads and stress created by the wrong-headed and badly implemented 20 per cent budget cuts. BBC members are calling on new director general Tony Hall to agree a six-month moratorium on the so-called Delivering Quality First programme, cuts that have served to diminish the ability of staff to deliver quality journalism and programming. They are not alone in being heartily sick of being expected to do the same amount of work with fewer resources and to absorb the extra work of those who have been made redundant. The impact of relentless cost cutting is being felt across the industry – with increasing cases of stress and illness directly linked to excessive and unrealistic workloads from companies who are more interested in the bottom line than the welfare of staff and the quality of their products. Recent stress surveys in local newspapers revealed worrying levels of workload stress. Members spoke about the anxiety of working with the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, with the prospect of further job cuts always around the corner. Reporters in local papers are routinely working extra hours, and hardly ever getting the chance to take back the time owed. Staffing shortages are leading to frequent changes in rota patterns, with some
staff expected to switch from lates to earlies without even an eight hour sleeping break. Days off are becoming more like ‘working from home days’. It’s leading to cumulative pressure that plays havoc with sleeping patterns and is having a terrible impact on family life, childcare and caring commitments – not to mention simply swallowing up those hours that are nominally in the ‘life’ bracket of what is clearly an ever more elusive work-life balance. What shines through the surveys we’ve carried out and the many cases of stress and bullying we deal with, is the very distinct kind of stress created when journalists are put in a position where standards are compromised and the quality of their work is impaired.
Days off are becoming more like working from home days
edia companies never seem to learn that they cannot chop staff and resources without diminishing quality. If reporters are chained to their desks, they cannot proactively find stories and if the quantity of work is too high they can’t do the same professional job they otherwise would. Many depend on the camaraderie and support of their colleagues just to get them through. Members tell us how heartbreaking it is to see the paper they love working for suffering because there aren’t the staff to do a better job. They hate being in a position where they’re cheating readers. No-one becomes a journalist wanting to do a half-arsed job. And in far too many cases the work gets done simply because of the goodwill and sheer professional pride. It’s a toxic combination that leads to work-related ill health and stress, and union officials note a disturbing rise in the number of mental health issues faced by members. This is an issue across our industry and it’s one we will continue to tackle head on – we will not stand by and allow our members to pay with their health so that employers can skimp on costs without a care for quality. If you’re struggling with workload, or are experiencing stress and ill health please do something about it today – contact the NUJ and get the help you need. theJournalist | 09
The perfect pitch Linda Harrison on ways to improve your chances in the vital art of selling your work
s a freelance journalist, I pitch dozens of feature ideas to national newspapers, magazines and websites every month. Some are successful. Others less so. But in this increasingly competitive market, how do you make sure your pitch gets read – and lands you a paid commission? Barbara Rowlands, director of the Magazine Journalism MA at City University London, says pitching in the current market can be tough. But it’s not impossible for newbies to break into the market – or for established freelances to land work from new editors. You just need to use some tried and tested techniques. What’s vital is making your pitch stand out – and keeping it brief. “A pitch is basically a headline and a sell,” says Barbara. “You need a good title that’s going to attract them. And then distil your idea into one or two paragraphs.” And do your research. “Read the publication, this is especially important with magazines,” explains Barbara. “Don’t just target your pitch at the publication – but at a particular slot in the publication. You can have a great idea but it might not fit because there’s nowhere to put it. “And you need to have a particular angle, preferably a hard news or topical peg.” Next step is to find out exactly who to pitch to. You can do this by checking the flannel panel – or contacts list – in the magazine or phoning the switchboard. There are also some amazingly helpful online communities where freelance members share contact information – among the best and friendliest is Journobiz.com. Email is often recommended as the best way to pitch, unless it’s an urgent news story. Then there’s the issue of how to format it. Humphrey Evans, who runs NUJ the Pitch & Deal course with fellow long-term freelance Phil Sutcliffe, advises putting ‘Article idea’ in the subject, followed by three or four words identifying the subject. Then three short paragraphs. “The first paragraph outlines why your idea’s good for their publication,” he says. “This is different from just what the idea is, it shows you’re thinking about what it will mean for their readers. “The second explains why you’re the person to do it: you 10 | theJournalist
have the info, you’re willing to make the effort, you can set up the contacts. “The third says what you are going to do next. Perhaps you will suggest you’ll email again in a couple of days to remind them or, if you’re brave, you’ll ring to find out their reaction. You want to stop your pitch disappearing into commissioning limbo.” Hilly Janes is former editor of The Times’ Body & Soul section as well as former features editor at The Independent. She has many years’ experience of commissioning freelances and is now a freelance editor, writer and consultant as well as author of the book ‘Latte or Cappuccino? 125 Decisions That Will Change Your Life’. Hilly says: “Editors are incredibly busy, they’re busier than they’ve ever been. So keep your pitch very very tight, no more than three paragraphs. You’re almost writing a headline and a standfirst. “Give the story in a nutshell. Imagine you’re the editor going into conference, you have a couple of sentences to sell the story. You’re basically writing their pitch for them.
how to chAse An ApproAch What if you only get deafening silence in reply to your perfectly crafted pitch? The advice is don’t give up – follow up. • Chase a couple of times: “If they like your idea then they should come back to you,” says Barbara. “But if you haven’t heard in a couple of weeks, ring up or resend the pitch saying you wondered if they’d seen the pitch. “And only chase a couple of times, there’s a fine line between positively chasing and being a pain.” • Two strikes and you’re out: Two approaches without getting a ‘yes’ is usually equivalent to a ‘no’. “Commissioning staff don’t have the time
to be any more polite than that,” says Humphrey. “So sign off with a third email saying sorry it hasn’t worked out and get on with the excitement of offering the idea elsewhere.” • Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone: “While there are no absolute rules, I’d tend to urge people to still be positive about phoning as a follow-up,” says Phil. “Partly to really explore the commissioning editor’s reaction, and partly because direct contact still has its value. But, as the seller, you do need to suss out what the commissioning editor likes – and go with that.” • Always be nice to the person on the other end of the phone: You might get the editor’s assistant but don’t talk down to them. “They’re the gatekeepers,” says Hilly. “They’re very often going to be the person to give you access to the editor. They’re also the ones likely to rise up the ranks in the future.”
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“And be mindful of why it’s timely – it’s a case of ‘why now and why care’.” And don’t pitch 10 ideas at once, keep it to one or two. Freelance journalist Heidi Scrimgeour (www. heidiscrimgeour.com) says that ticking the ‘why I am the right person to write this’ box might be the most important advice she’s ever been given. She adds: “Also, the importance of your pitch leaving no questions unanswered in the editor’s mind, so their only logical response is to reply ‘yes please’ instead of it generating loads of queries.” Freelance journalist and author Louise Bolotin, who previously commissioned writers for fetish magazine Skin Two, outlines her essentials to a good pitch: “Solid understanding of the publication and, ergo, ideas that fit; good spelling, punctuation and grammar; and a brief bio if unknown to me.” It can also strengthen your pitch to include a case study that’s happy to go on the record and be photographed if the pitch is successful. And don’t forget statistics and experts.
“The editor will want to know who is going to be quoted as an expert,” advises Hilly. “And what sources you’re going to be using. “If it’s a story you’re very familiar with, including a case history, it’s almost going to take you longer to write the pitch than the feature. You only need the key ingredients as you’ve probably only got 30 seconds of the editor’s time.” Timing is also crucial. Try to pitch at an appropriate time of day, week or month when the editor is open to looking at fresh ideas. Phil Sutcliffe says: “If possible, you want your email to be among the first the commissioning editor sees on the day after an edition has gone to bed rather than in the heap of 400 or so they’ve ignored since they last had a moment to breathe.” And think about when you are pitching for. Some magazines, such as the monthly glossies, work months ahead. There’s no point pitching a ‘best summer holidays for families’ feature in July if they’re planning the October issue. And then there’s the sticky subject of rejection. theJournalist | 11
freelance “Nobody likes it, everybody gets it, and in freelancing it affects your living so you do need that temperament,” says Phil. “The rejection, whether tacit or specific, is the cue to pitch to the next best target – possibly with the pitch slightly adjusted for the somewhat different market.” Olivia Gordon is a freelance journalist for the Telegraph, Guardian and Times, as well as women’s magazines and websites. She and freelance journalist Johanna Payton teach freelance journalism skills and pitching in their email correspondence course. Olivia says: “What we try to explain to our students about pitching is that no freelance journalist gets all their pitches taken up by editors. Also, the way many editors prefer to work is by commissioning out in-house ideas to trusted freelances. “So the goal of pitching editors isn’t, in fact, to get a 100 per cent ‘hit rate’. Rather, it’s to show editors that you can come up with good ideas, even if they can’t be used. And to prove that you are highly responsive and good to deal with – so that in time they start to come to you when they want to commission something. “The number of freelance journalists who can write, come up with strong ideas, and are fast and reliable is actually very small. You just need to show by pitching that you are one of these writers.”
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The most important thing is not to get disheartened. “One commissioning editor from a broadsheet recently told us she’d commissioned an idea that came from a university graduate,” says Barbara. “Original ideas are still in demand.”
• The next Pitch & Deal course is due to run on 24 May and costs £70 for NUJ members. Humphrey and Phil also run the Getting Started as a Freelance course, which includes advice on pitching. The next course is on 17 May and costs £60 for NUJ members. Email email@example.com • More information on Olivia and Johanna’s email correspondence course on pitching is available at http://oliviaandjohanna.blogspot.co.uk/. They also teach freelance pitching skills in workshops for Journalism.co.uk • Women In Journalism also runs regular events on pitching. For more information visit www.womeninjournalism.co.uk
The number of freelances who can write, offer strong ideas, and are reliable is very small
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12 | theJournalist
Bringing value to academic publishing The importance of journalists’ work in academia was underlined at a seminar organised with the Wellcome Trust
eteran science writer and editor Peter Wrobel was dismayed by the lack of any mention of editorial content in last year’s Finch Report into access to academic research, and said it had shocked the union. “We need to be clear how important editorial quality is, and what we do,” he said. The union assembled a high-calibre panel of editors and publishers of open access and subscription journals to explore editorial quality in an open access world: Philip Campbell, editorin-chief of Nature, Lucy Banham, managing editor of the British Medical Journal, Matt Cockerill, managing director of BioMed Central, Professor Steven Curry from Imperial College London, Peter Lee, publishing director of Cell Press, and Mark Patterson, managing editor of new journal eLife. The NUJ represents hundreds of members in academic publishing, and general secretary Michelle Stanistreet expressed concern that if publishers
don’t communicate the quality that editorial staff add, authors may not wish to pay for it. The union is in favour of open access, and hopes that it will encourage more readers to come to the literature. With a shifting landscape, standards can remain high, but there is concern that pressures to lower costs, which have already impacted on staff, will increase. The Guardian’s Alok Jha put questions to the panel. From the ability of academics to self-publish, services that aid filtering through reams of research papers, where academic publishing is going, and whether there will be any journals with a paywall model left in 10 years time, the panel proved both lively and thoughtful. Pressing issues from the floor focused on costs and access for patient groups wanting to read medical papers – though Mr Campbell argued for climate science to be accessible to all. So what value do publishers bring to journals? In a subscription-based world it is impossible to see what the cost
of that added value is. Mr Patterson believed that as we step into the open access model you can see signs of how the costs are accrued, and the money side will influence decisions academics make about where to publish, which will in turn make for the success and failure of new journals testing different business models. One thing is for sure, eLife is an anomaly; with three huge funding bodies behind it – Max Planck, Howard Hughes and Wellcome – it can afford to subsidise. Focusing on the end user – advocacy groups argue that many patients want to read research articles. Mr Wrobel quoted statistics from the US National Institutes of Health suggesting that 40 per cent of visits to their PubMed site are from the public. This is just the beginning of a new understanding as to how the union can play a part in lifting the lid on editorial values as open access business models begin to dominate the industry. Peter Wrobel said: “We need to be clear about how important this quality is, what we do and why we’re important. We are at risk of the world saying ‘We don’t need publishers, let alone editors’.” Report by Ruth Francis
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theJournalist | 13
Davids versus G Tim Dawson considers where Britain’s once powerful alternative press came from...and where it is going
ozens of witnesses and victims were interviewed by John Bartlett, who had obtained five affidavits from abused boys and combed over his story with one of London’s foremost barristers. But as the magazine carrying his biggest-ever story came back from the printers, his heart was still in his mouth. “Everything that I owned, even my house, was at risk; it would have finished a less secure marriage than mine,” he remembers. It was May 1979 and on the eve of a general election. The story by Bartlett and John Walker accused Rochdale’s sitting MP Cyril Smith of abusing a succession of boys in a children’s home that the Liberal front bencher had helped to found. Bartlett and Walker were not trained journalists – both earned their living lecturing at a local FE college – and the Rochdale Alternative Press (RAP) that they had founded eight years earlier held editorial meetings in a pub and was laid out in a cellar. “When the magazines arrived, everything went crazy, taxis descended on us from all over Manchester with people looking for copies,” says Bartlett. “We had already briefed a couple of national newspapers, so we were expecting the story to make waves. Reporters from all the major papers arrived in the Lancashire town in a frenzy. And then Smith issued the monthly magazine with legal papers. “It was the only writ we received in thirteen years of producing RAP, but it killed interest in the story stone dead. Our barrister advised us that it was a gagging writ, and it certainly never went to court, but Smith’s majority at the next election with his increased by4,000. Rochdale’s voters loved a child abuser, is one interpretation of those events.” It is a remarkable story and unusual in that only now, in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, is it being followed up. But it is one of thousands that were being produced at the time by a 14 | theJournalist
burgeoning alternative media sector. By 1979, as many as 100 papers and magazines were being published by collectives, co-operatives and less formal groupings, all trying to provide a perspective on the news that differed from mainstream offerings. From the Aberdeen People’s Press to the Exeter Flying Post, via the Hackney People’s Press and Alarm in Swansea, there wasn’t a major conurbation in the UK where have-ago journalists were not trying to produce a different kind of news. There were also a few titles like City Limits in London
aNd NOW... Does the alternative press of the sixties, seventies and eighties have a modern equivalent? Indymedia, the global network of more than 150 websites that grew out of anti-World Trade Organisation protests in Seattle in 1999 is an obvious candidate. Providing an open-access platform for native reporters, its staple fare of protests, boycotts and campaigns covers a similar beat to the inky magazines of thirty years ago. But Tony Harcup’s criticism that at times its content comes across as bordering on the hysterical is fair, and few of its UK stories contain the kind of fontline reporting that he championed on LOP. Manchester Mule, a north-west produced website mixes campaigning stories with an interest in the cultural life of the city and its built environment, it promotes a clear commitment to social justice and an anyone-canjoin-in ethos. Some faint traces of the old alternative publishing culture do endure. The most impressive example is the West Highland Free Press. Founded on Skye in 1972 by five individuals, among them subsequent Blair minister Brian Wilson, it was clear in its commitment
to social justice. In 2009 the weekly paper, which generally runs to 40 pages and costs 65p was bought by its ten employees. It thrives to this day beneath is famous Gaelic strapline: ‘An Tir, an Canan sna Daoine The Land, the Language, the People’. London’s Time Out, first published in 1968, long ago lost its alternative credentials, when owner Tony Elliot abandoned collective decision making and commitment to staff pay parity. The title was, however, inspired by the listings included at the back of International Times. A strike over Elliot’s changes came in 1981, followed by former Time Out staffers setting up City Limits as a radical alternative. That left-leaning listings tile continued to appear until 1993, although the struggle of its final years did little for the quality of the magazine. The greatest survivor is, of course, Private Eye. Now a couple of years past its fiftieth birthday, it was a child of the satire boom of the early 1960s. Its impeccable commitment to investigative reporting and comic send-ups is more popular now than ever before, selling nearly 230,000 copies a fortnight. Against a backdrop of struggling print media, and scant mainstream space for antiestablishment voices, the continuing success of Ian Hislop’s title, is grounds for considerable cheer.
s Goliath and Spare Rib that served an even broader constituency. And yet, despite the surge of imagination, enthusiasm and cow gum that drove this DIY publishing boom, by the mid-1990s, after a decade of attrition, the scene had almost entirely evaporated. It begs the question, what killed the alternative press, and does it have a modern counterpart? Bartlett and Walker in Rochdale had set up RAP as an antidote to the boredom. “We were loosely Marxist and wanted to do something about social change at a local level,” Bartlett remembers. “We met once a week in a local pub and
asked along anyone in Rochdale who was interested join us.” Despite undertaking delivery to newsagents themselves as well as editing and managing the magazine, Barlett and Walker’s RAP sold as many as 8,000 copies an edition; pretty good going in a town of 95,000. RAP’s bottom-up approach to news was one shared by much of the alternative press, says Tony Harcup, then a mainstay of Leeds Other Paper (LOP), now senior lecturer in the University of Sheffield’s department of journalism studies and author of Alternative Journalism, Alternative Voices (Routledge £24.99). The ‘alternatives’ concentrated on going to housing estates and talking to people, writing down their comments and making articles from ordinary people’s lives. Some of the ‘ordinary people’ would even come along to meetings and get involved in discussions. Harcup evokes a heady atmosphere of idealism, ideology and the seemingly effortless potential of off-set litho printing. The editorial process was that they would discuss every article. “Somebody would go out and get a few beers and we would then talk long into the night about what should go on the front page and what should go on the spike.”
theJournalist | 15
It was not just the news agenda that was different to the mainstream press either. If LOP was covering a local strike, for example, they would rarely speak with either the employers or the union full-time staff. “We would spend ages going out at unearthly hours of the day or night to talk to people on strike. Just by doing that you would get better quotes and a different perspective, as well as some of the shared humour of a workplace.” Much of the radical press of the 1970s took at least some of its inspiration from a group of relatively short-lived publications that appeared in London during the late 1960s, among them International Times, Oz and Black Dwarf. New technology also played a part. Cheap offset litho presses dramatically expanded the graphic possibilities of hot metal and could be operated by self-taught printers. IBM golfball typewriters served as make-shift typesetting machines. In those days, when we talked about copy and pastes, we meant doing exactly that, remembers Nigel Fountain, a writer on Oz, sometime editor of City Limits and author of Underground, London’s Alternative Press 1966-74 (about to be republished as an eBook by Ink Monkey). Quite why the alternative media scene disappeared so completely by the mid-1990s, just before the widespread arrival of the internet, is a matter of conjecture. Bartlett in Rochdale grew tired of sustaining a magazine largely by himself. Indeed, exhaustion and lack of resources probably accounts for a great many small titles giving up
In those days, when we talked about copy and pastes, we meant doing exactly that
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the ghost. Harcup cites the grind of Thatcherism and the related industrial defeats as extinguishing the last flame of radicalism among the ‘60s generation. There are more prosaic possibilities, too. Paul Anderson, editor of the Labour newspaper Tribune in the early 1990s, and now a lecturer at Brunel university, suggests that the mainstream media sucked talent and ideas from its alternative counterparts. Listings were a mainstay of the alternative press, but were adopted wholesale by the conventional media. Newspaper weekend editions went from being thin and pointless, to being big reads, much of it written by people who had learned their stuff on tiny, noncommercial titles. John Batlett, now 75, has retired to the Isle of Wight and is busy building a socialist alternative in the charming seaside town of Ventnor. He is wistful about the passing of the radical alternative press, but he hopes that at least some of RAP’s spirit is evident among today’s campaigning bloggers. He even has a story lead for any who choose to follow it up. During his time in Rochdale, Bartlett discovered that Lancashire police had, in 1970, prepared a case for Cyril Smith’s prosecution on child abuse charges. The file setting out the case mysteriously disappeared before the charges were brought, however. Bartlett believes that the order to drop the case came from the then Home Secretary James Callaghan. It’s a cover up that is still waiting to be uncovered, he says with a chuckle.
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THE NUJ AND ME What made you become a journalist? Mainly to impress my girlfriend, who was later to become my wife. It was considered a very glamorous job in those days (the 1940s and 50s), unlike today.
Michael Fagan. Not even the most enterprising investigative reporter could achieve what he did.
And the worst ones?
I wanted to be a sailor but my father, an Admiralty officer, talked me out of it. I’m glad he did.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
Are many of your friends in the union? All my real friends are in the union, though there aren’t many left.
Why do you think the NUJ is important? The NUJ provides vital protection against unscrupulous employers, of whom there is no shortage in the media. It also plays a key role in the ongoing battle to defend press freedom.
Which other workers need unions? ALEX LIVESEY/GETTYIMAGES
Who is your biggest hero?
When I was made a Life Member.
What other job might you have done?
In 1949 aged 16, when I was straight from school. An NUJ probationer’s press card came with the job. I was immensely proud to be a member. Still am.
As long as profits take precedence over human rights, all workers need unions!
What has been your best moment in your career? My first byline as a Daily Telegraph sports reporter.
Learn to spell correctly. A computer spell check is a double-edged sword. Accept nothing at face value. And always make the comparatively small effort to show your senior colleagues some respect. They’ve usually earned it.
And in the union?
Being spat at by a disgruntled Telegraph reader while manning a picket line during the 1976 dispute in Manchester. So much for the paper’s “Class A readership”!
When did you join the NUJ and why?
What advice would you give someone starting in journalism?
I retired from journalism some years ago after suffering a heart attack. I now do more leisurely work as an author under my Adam Grace pseudonym. My most rewarding moment in my current work was the publication of my second novel, Keep Breathing.
And villain? The ineluctable Alex Ferguson. (I am a Manchester City supporter.)
Which six people, alive or dead, would you invite to a dinner party? Michael Fagan, George Orwell, Sir Donald Bradman, Groucho Marx, Norman Wisdom and Sarah Vaughan. Rewarding: book publication
To my shame, I was a card carrying Young Conservative. But I’m glad to say that it didn’t take me long to see the error of my ways.
And the most frustrating? Columnists who rarely reply to my emails but still use my suggestions. In my day Telegraph journalists were expected to acknowledge all letters – even the abusive ones. Times have changed. Standards have slipped.
What is the worst place you’ve ever worked in? The Press Association, Fleet Street. The archetypal sweat shop. Conditions may be better now. I hope so.
And the best? The Daily Telegraph in Manchester following the 1976 dispute. Pay and conditions improved dramatically thanks to members’ solidarity and the tenacious leadership of our chapel officials.
What was your earliest political thought?
What are your hopes for journalism over the next five years? That someone will manage to reply to my emails and to return my phone calls. Villain: speaking as a City fan
And fears? That nobody will.
What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months? To close all the food banks throughout the north of England due to lack of demand.
How would you like to be remembered? As an old hack who tried to change things and failed only narrowly. theJournalist | 17
Print penthouses Newspaper buildings were once a symbolic presence. Now they’re more likely to serve you a glass of wine. Mary Murtagh reports
alk into a newspaper building today and you’re as likely to be offered a skinny latte as a copy of the city final. Across the length and breadth of the UK these important buildings – once symbols of a free press, democracy and representing the commitment of a newspaper to its readers – are being reinvented as apartments, arts centres and banks. There’s understandable disquiet about newspapers moving, often ‘out of town’ to anonymous industrial estates, for fear of leaving their readers behind.
18 | theJournalist
In the days of hot desking, reporters working from home on their laptops and even holding clinics in supermarkets on their patch it’s easier for newspaper groups to justify downsizing from traditional business premises. But some of these vacated newspaper offices are having new life breathed into them by canny developers. The hum of the printing hall may have fallen silent but it’s been replaced by the chink of wine glasses, the cha-ching of a cash register and laughter as these iconic buildings are reinvented. Nowhere is that more true than at The Scotsman. When it launched in 1817 it was considered radical for its day. The weekly stood for “impartiality, firmness and independence” and was such a roaring success it went daily and moved into grand baronial offices in the heart of Edinburgh in 1905.
For almost 100 years this imposing Victorian building – with unrivalled views of Edinburgh Castle, The Firth of Forth and Princes Street – proudly housed the national newspaper for Scotland. Fast forward to 2013 and this building is no longer the home of journalists, advertising reps and snappers. Walk into reception nowadays and you’ll be greeted by a friendly porter and checked in at the front desk because this grand grade II listed building now houses The Scotsman boutique hotel. Book the penthouse (with its own sauna no less) and you’ll be accommodated in the former pigeon lofts from which winged messengers spread Scotland’s news far and wide.
GRACE NOTES workers in the printing industry and was second only to London in the number of newspapers it churned out every year. Kemsley House was the epicentre of that success. Built in 1929, at its height it was producing 11 million newspapers week in, week out. After being derelict for more than a decade the building was brought back to life as a city centre entertainment hub, with cinema, bars, restaurants and gym; alive once more with noise, people and hustle and bustle. Now known as The Printworks, the building still has telltale signs of its industrial past including the internal railway’s turntable, now an integral part of the ﬂooring. Once the nationals’ nucleus London’s Fleet Street is now peppered with newspaper buildings of yesteryear. Heritage blue plaques are all that’s left of some of them. Not so the chrome and black glass Daily Express building (given ‘The Black Lubyanka’ nickname by Private Eye) which is now home to the offices of Goldman Sachs along with The Daily Telegraph art deco building nearby. The most recent newspaper office to have a leavetaking is the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post who vacated their premises in Wellington Street, Leeds, late last year. The future for their old home is, as yet, uncertain although there’s talk of turning it into a hotel and conference centre in the future. The presses are likely to face the wrecking ball after printing of the two titles was moved offsite by Johnston Press in spring 2012. Not every newspaper building, now surplus to requirements, ends up getting a new lease on life. The ordinary, ugly or uncommercial ones face the bulldozer or end up languishing with an estate agent. Spare a thought for The Argus though. Its old newspaper office is due to serve the people of Brighton and Hove in a completely new way – thanks to plans to turn it into a bus
Dorothy-Grace Elder, a lifelong NUJ member,
worked at two striking newspaper buildings – the Glasgow Herald and Scottish Daily Express buildings in Glasgow, during the 1970s. During her time at the Glasgow Herald she headed up the investigations team and worked as a leader writer and reporter. The three-strong investigations team were installed in the grand boardroom by the proprietor, then Sir Hugh Fraser, when Dorothy-Grace asked for a more discreet base depot. to interview people than the glass office they’d been working from. She said: “We had expected to be put in another cubbyhole so moving into the boardroom was a huge surprise. Sir Hugh reckoned we were putting the circulation up with our investigations. He was very informal unlike so many in management today.” The trio moved their typewriters in and got back to work minus the goldfish bowl effect. She said: “The old Herald building, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, was amazing. It was full of twists and turns and cubbyholes. The editor’s office was vast. There were printing emblems and print related statuary over the front door which still survive.” Dorothy-Grace had plenty of time to admire the majestic frontage of the building when stood outside on the pavement thanks to regular evacuations due to the frequent bomb threats of that era. “It was a thrill to go into the building whether you were a journalist or a member of the public,” she said. “Of course, journalists always went in the side door where there was a clanking lift. There was brown lino and fag ends on the floor where the reporters were. You could feel the floor vibrating with the presses thundering at night.” The Glasgow Herald moved out in 1980 and the building became The Lighthouse, Scotland’s National centre for architecture and design. Dorothy-Grace has been back to see the building’s reincarnation, minus the brown lino and fag ends, and is pleased with the result. “It was a building with a sense of history and it’s good that there’s been a continuation. They have done a good job in turning it into The Lighthouse,” she said. “But nothing could equal the sheer lifeforce and thrill of those presses running at night. Printing in the same building is now largely lost to journalism.”
theJournalist | 19
Where the giant printing presses once rumbled in the basement guests now work out in the health club and luxuriate in the spa. The five-star hotel’s North Bridge Bar and Brasserie is located in what was once the newspaper’s magnificent reception and trading hall with marble pillars and original oak panelling. The hotel suites, previously editorial offices, are named ‘Editor’, ‘Publisher’ and ‘Director’ while the meeting rooms celebrate former editors and founders ‘Maclaren’, ‘Russel’ and ‘Linklater’. Paul McNamara, hotel maintenance manager, said: “This iconic building is beautiful. We have photographs hanging up in reception that show what the building was like when The Scotsman was here 70 to 80 years ago. “People always comment on them because you can see the original printing press and where the newspapers would go out on to the railway line from this building. “We do occasionally have a couple of old journalists come in to take a look at the place as it is now.” Costing £500,000 to construct The Scotsman’s building was designed to impress with turrets, stained glass windows, marble staircase and opulent fixtures and fittings. It dominates the city skyline to this day. It, and many of its contemporaries, was originally built to showcase a newspaper proprietor’s wealth and inﬂuence or demonstrate the power of the press. That was certainly the case with the trio of landmark Daily Express buildings in London, Glasgow and Manchester. Beaverbrook Associated Newspapers commissioned the series of art deco buildings during the 1930s and they clearly demonstrated what a runaway commercial success the Daily Express was at the time. Manchester’s Daily Express building had giant printing presses – which churned out millions of copies of the daily paper – and were at one time visible to passerby thanks to its glass-clad exterior. Those presses eventually fell silent in the 1980s but the building has never been empty. After several extensions over the years, the grade II listed building is now home to offices and apartments and has new American owners. On the other side of town is another example of why Manchester’s moniker of ‘Fleet Street of the North’ was once well-deserved. At one point the city employed thousands of
Philip Hunt on one of the modern hazards facing many journalists
? d i o n a r a P t o n e b y a M
e know it goes on. Hacking, wiretapping, monitoring – it’s a hazard of the job. As journalists we are especially susceptible, and with our dependence on electronic communications, especially vulnerable. I’m a Brussels-based freelance focusing on EU research and development, and a hacking victim. For some time I’ve experienced an increase in communications problems, having to change laptops, switch internet providers and change hosting services regularly. My big hacking problems began in November with my blog, shoeman.eu/. It would almost stop when I updated it, and in one case an EU-sourced photo I uploaded almost crashed the whole server. After numerous complaints to the ISP (a small hosting company in the north of England), I gave up and transferred to another organisation. But the nightmare really began in December. Just as the blog was almost set up at its new home, my ADSL connection, which (as I live in
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rural Belgium) only wheezes along at the best of times, ground to a halt. A mobile data modem gave sufficient backup for emails. In January, my phone line also failed. Somehow the Belgian equivalent of BT had managed to disconnect the landline. To be fair, their man came out in the January snow and fixed the problem. Something wrong in a box up the road, apparently, In the meantime my main email account (at a UK server) suddenly became inaccessible; the password had changed by itself. Neither webmail nor main control panel were accessible, and three days went by while I tried to contact the company on the phone. Both my laptops were hacked into somehow and stopped functioning. I gave one to a speclalist repair shop in Oxford, which managed to transform it into a very nice-looking doorstop. I began 2013 doing everything from a tiny netbook and the mobile phone. Not exactly conducive to efficient working. You might think that this seems like an organised attempt to subvert communications. I couldn’t possibly
Some colleagues now go off-net for days when they’re hunting down a story
comment, but do wonder what the cause could be. I’m an NUJ activist and a campaigner in a small way about the evils of drones,and I’ve probably upset some people over the years by involvement in this campaign or that. Defending public library services in Oxfordshire for example, or protesting attempts to turn a cricket ground into housing. But I can’t believe that such activities would turn me into a hate figure for anybody sane. And I’m not an investigative journalist, so we can probably discount the mafia. Some people do dislike the NUJ, and they seem to be the same people who dislike unions in general. So the extreme right perhaps? Or the so-called secret services (so-called because they seem to be becoming less secret by the day). In any case, what can I do about this? Very little, it seems, apart from just coping. I don’t intend to take down my blog. I could improve my data security even further, but already I don’t use smart-phones because of their tracking capabilities. Some colleagues now go off-net for days when they’re hunting down a story. I understand the need. But it does stick in my craw that people who are basically law-abiding citizens are forced to resort to behaviour that typifies outlaws and fugitives, simply to do a job. As a journalist one needs to be aware of the emergence of new threats to an old profession. And I think that we could all benefit from better education and support on the subject. How do you improve your communications safety when your job is to communicate? A number of tips and tricks on computer security can help. However, many require a fundamental re-examination of your working practices and habits. If you weren’t paranoid before, you could well be after reading this.
RISING THROUGH THE RANKS
oogle Authorship is one of the search engine giant’s wheezes that journalists need to know about. If it takes off, producers of quality content who master Authorship could see their visibility in Google searches transformed. Authorship allows a creator of content to claim ownership of their work by linking blogs and articles to their Google+ profile. It has been around for about 18 months and you might have stumbled upon it whenever you’ve seen a writer’s thumbnail and byline in your search results. At the moment journalists have been slow to optimise their content for Google Authorship – perhaps because they are not on Google+ – but search engine optimisation (SEO) experts are predicting big things for it One SEO expert, Distilled’s Craig Bradford, suggests that an advantage for individual journalists is that Authorship rates content based on a writer’s credibility, regardless of the platform it appears on. Potentially, a freelance journalist using Authorship properly can quickly build up credibility even if they write for niche websites. Authorship is also seen as useful for specialist writers because it makes
Rosie Niven on the latest trends and kit
PREVIEW INFOGRAPHICS Infographics help us to
understand the world better. They have evolved from pie charts, bar charts and Venn diagrams into multi-faceted, sometimes interactive graphics presenting complex data. Infographics are now a powerful storytelling tool. Through social media, some have gone viral and the information designer is now an essential part of most large newsrooms. While professional designers are best placed to produce infographics, there are times when the rest of us
SEO experts believe that Authorship could eventually have an influence impact on rankings
might want to present an idea or data visually. While preparing for a presentation recently, I tried out two different infographic tools, Picktochart and infogr.am. Picktochart offers six free customisable themes. I wanted a flow chart and was lucky to find one that I could adapt for my infographic. For more choice, you must pay for an upgrade. The latest Picktochart app allows you to add blocks, icons and upload your own images to use as part of your project. I found it easier to adapt a theme, although it was a little restrictive. You save your project as you go
it easier to link search subjects with experts in that particular field. Google’s reasons for pushing Authorship are twofold, according to Bradford. One is it encourages more of us to get on Google+. The second reason is that it has potential to push spammy, farmed content down its search rankings, helping the cream rise to the top. While Authorship does not currently have a major impact on rankings, SEO experts believe that it could eventually have an influence. There appears to be limited take-up so far outside technology journalism circles perhaps because it is a bit fiddly to set up and the requirement for a Google+ account. The Guardian is rolling out Authorship to contributors, with its technology writers already signed up. Other media organisations have been slower off the mark, but more should have started to implement Authorship by the time you read this. Journalists need to be aware of Authorship. The experts are suggesting that those who get to grips with it the quickest could reap the biggest rewards. Google Authorship, https://plus. google.com/authorship Distilled, http://www.distilled.net/
along and, once published, either export it as a jpg, get an embed code or link or share on social media. An alternative is infogr.am, which allows you to access a range of free charts as well as themes. It worked better to present numbers rather than ideas when I tried using it to illustrate a hierarchy. The outcome is not as pretty as Picktochart, but I find that it is a better tool for presenting raw data in a clear and simple way. For some inspiration, visit David McCandless’s blog InformationisBeautiful.net. Picktochart: http://piktochart.com Infogram: http://infogr.am
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Arts with attitude Some of the best things to see and do with a bit of political bite For listings email: journalist@NUJ.org.uk
working with gangs, the naked writer, imprisoned for reporting, living pictures and the Full Monty… Film If Only… If Only is a hard-hitting film written and directed by Fredi ‘Kruga’ Nwaka under his newly formed C.R.I.M.E (Creating Role Models In Media Enterprise). The project works with gang members, troubled teens and ex-offenders and turns their stories into short films, teaching them all aspects of film making as well as social skills and helping provide opportunities in media and entertainment. There are workshop-based initiatives with experienced actors and crew members involved in the voluntary scheme who give talks, lessons and pass on tips on how to make it in the industry. The Big Lottery Award For All funds the project. Fredi ‘Kruga’ Nwaka, who is an exgang member and rapper. is a man on a mission whose aim is to take his
After a 20-year hiatus and a serious heroin
THE BARD OF PUNK IS BACK Punk poet John Cooper Clarke is out of the wilderness and back on the road
f Martin with ude writer Al Arts with Attit drink or two! a 70s enjoying Clarke in the
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addiction in the 80s, John Cooper Clarke is well out of his wilderness years. Kick starting the way out of his reverie was last year’s BBC4 TV film ‘Evidently John Cooper Clarke’, now released on DVD. In the 70s John’s biting, political and satirical verse, delivered rapid-fire, resonated with the punk movement. After touring with the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Buzzcocks, The Fall, Elvis Costello and Joy Division, he signed an album deal with CBS Records and released a collection of poetry called Ten Years In An Open Necked Shirt, which became one of the best selling poetry books of the 80s. It’s now reprinted and available again. The Bard of Salford, where John was born in 1949, started work as an apprentice engineer, went on to become a tailor’s assistant, a lab technician, a compositor in the printing trade and became, in the 70s, a leading voice of youth culture, performing to thousands in his iconic visual style of a mass of black hair, dark sunglasses, drainpipe trousers and Cuban heeled boots. But the decline of punk also saw the decline of John until he kicked his heroin addiction in the early 90s. John’s effect on today’s pop culture runs through the Artic Monkeys’ satirical and keen
anti-youth violence film into schools, youth groups, prisons or where there are problems with gangs or violence in the UK to help reintegrate those who have perhaps been alienated from society. www.creatingrolemodels.com. Or on Twitter @fredikruga or @creatingrm Books Dragon Lords Sylvia Hartmann Dragon Rising Publishing. ebook £4.99. Paperback £9.99 When you’re writing, can you work with someone looking over your shoulder? Sylvia Hartmann was challenged to write a fantasy fiction novel in the summer of 2012. She began the project, The Naked Writer, in September by using Google Docs so readers could see the writing and editing process in real-time through their web browser. Sylvia also used crowdsourcing to allow readers to suggest a name for the novel and to decide on the level of sex it should contain.The last chapter was completed in front of a live audience of 150 in November and the book
observation lyrics, as well as platinum selling Plan B, who asked John personally to appear in his directional film debut ‘Ill Manners’ which came out in August 2012, as well as appearing on the soundtrack. He also appeared as his younger self in the Ian Curtis biopic ‘Control’. Clarke’s recording of ‘Evidently Chickentown’ was used in the television show ‘The Sopranos’. JCC featured on BBC Radio 4’s Chain Reaction in August 2011 being interviewed by New Order’s Peter Hook. John then interviewed actor and comedian Kevin Eldon. He is a regular presenter on BBC 6 Music and guests frequently on the Radcliffe and Maconie show. John Cooper Clarke is currently on tour in theatres and festivals throughout the UK until September and one of the highlights is London’s Palladium Theatre on June 9. No bigger accolade of his work is that three of his poems are now in the GCSE syllabus. He is studied by many A-level students and his poetry is prolific within UK and Irish University courses, ensuring he will be forever ingrained in the psyche of Britain’s new youth. John is as vital now as he was then. To buy his DVD or book and to check out his British tour dates, go to: www.johncooperclarke.com. Alf Martin
arts ‘Dragon Lords’ was launched in December at Google’s London headoffice. In total, Hartmann wrote over 76,000 words at a rate of 16 words per minute with over 13,000 readers taking part. www.dragonrising.com Transformations In Egyptian Journalism Naomi Sakr I.B. Tauris £12.99 The revolutionary uprising in Egypt two years ago raised questions about viable journalism in the country’s changing political dynamics. The output of bloggers, online radio and social media, formed the groundswell against the dictatorship and repression. It posed a challenge to journalists in state-run and commercial media who were subject to government controls. The author looks at journalists’ initiatives for restructuring media to secure a safe environment in which to work. www.ibtauris.com
William Cuffey and the London Chartists 1842. ©Red Saunders courtesy Impressions Gallery, Bradford and The Culture Company
Cast of The Full Monty
King Arthur’s Battle For Britain Eric Walmsley Troubador £7.80 Retired BBC TV worker and NUJ member Eric Walmsley was determined to find the true story behind Arthurian legend and has researched and written an imaginative drama-documentary about the British resistance to the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain. www.troubador.co.uk Exhibitions Hidden People’s History Museum, Manchester Until September 29 Free Entry Photographer Red Saunders has recreated ‘living pictures’ of momentous but overlooked events from Britain’s struggle for democracy and equality, from the Peasants Revolt of 1381 to the Chartist movement of the mid-nineteenth century. It focuses on ordinary men and women who were the dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and nonconformists. Models recreated historically accurate scenes of events that occurred before the widespread adoption of camera technology. www.phm.org.uk
Theatre The Full Monty Around the UK until May 18 In 1997, a British film about six out of work Sheffield steelworkers with nothing to lose, took the world by storm. Now they’re back, live on stage, only this time it’s definitely The Full Monty! Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar winning screenwriter, who also wrote the film script for Slumdog Millionaire, went back to Sheffield where it all started to rediscover the men, women, heartache and hilarity of a city on the dole. www.fullmontytheplay.com The Arrest of Ai Weiwei Until May 18 Race May 23 – June 29 Hampstead Theatre, London NW3 3EU Two controversial plays. The first is a conversation with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei who was arrested for “damaging state security” and then jailed for 81 days. The government claimed his imprisonment related to tax evasion. It’s a portrait of the artist in extreme conditions. Race: A hotel room in disarray – a red dress and a man accused of rape. The accused white, the accuser black. Two lawyers, one black and one white. A story about perceptions and realities that colour our world. www.hampsteadtheatre.com
Exhibition East End Faces An Exhibition by David Bailey William Morris Gallery, London Until May 26. Free Entry The recently refurbished William Morris Gallery is a fitting venue for David Bailey’s iconic photographs which immortalised 1960s London. When he turned his camera east, he photographed the part of London he grew up in. As he expressed it recently, “London’s East End is in my DNA”. This exhibition brings together portraits of the characters, faces and streetscapes he encountered. www.wmgallery.org.uk Festivals Isle of Wight June 13 – 18 and Bestival September 5 – 8 Isle of Wight All aboard for numerous early booking packages for two festivals. The Boomtown Rats are to reform after 27 years for the Isle of Wight festival. Bob Geldof said “We were an amazing band and I feel it’s the right time to re-Rat, to go back to the Boomtown for a visit.” Other acts appearing are Stone Roses, the Killers, Bon Jovi and Paul Weller. It’s the 10th anniversary of Bestival, which works alongside Oxfam. Headlining are Elton John and Snoop Dog as well as a host of others. www.isleofwightfestival.com and www.2013.bestival.net
prEviEw The man behind the C.R.I.M.E. project, Fredi ‘Kruga’ Nwaka
Finding Vivian Maier In 2007, amateur historian, photographer and filmmaker, John Maloof bought a box of 30,000 prints and negatives for $380 from a storage company and then another lot from a buyer at the same auction. It was work by previously unknown amateur photographer Vivian Maier, who worked for 40 years as a nanny in Chicago. From the 1950s until the 1990s she photographed the disenfranchised and forgotten in dozens of countries and yet showed no-one the results. Maier lost her art when her storage locker was sold off for non-payment. As the images were shown to the public, critical acclaim followed. Maloof currently owns roughly 90 per cent of Maier’s work and ‘Vivian Maier: Street Photographer’ was published in 2011. Vivian’s secret life is being made into a documentary film. What started as a blog to show her work became a viral sensation. Photos destined for the dustbin now line gallery walls. See www.vivianmaier.com
The incredible work of Vivian Maier theJournalist | 23
scourge of the blacklist As journalists, most of us will have dealt with whistleblowers, but how many of us have stopped to think what happens to them after they have told their story? For workers in the construction industry, blowing the whistle on health and safety issues has been enough to prevent them finding work ever again. More than half the country’s leading construction companies paid a £3,000 a year subscription to access an illegal list of union activists held by The Consulting Assocation (TCA). When TCA’s offices were raided in 2009, investigators took away just five per cent of its files, but they alone contained the names of 3,200 blacklisted workers. The story of these trade unionists, many of whose lives have been destroyed by their inability to find employment, has been under-reported by the mainstream media. The NUJ is working with the Blacklist Support Group to bring this injustice to a wider audience, to seek compensation for those who have been denied the right to earn a living, and for a Leveson-style enquiry into the blacklist. We are also interested in discovering whether NUJ members have been blacklisted. If you think you have, please write to me c/o Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, WC1X 8DP, UK. You can find more details about the Blacklist Support Group at www.hazards.org/blacklistblog Tim Lezard NEC member for South West England
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Preaching tolerance I was saddened to read Martin Spellman’s attack on Christianity in the December/January edition of The Journalist. As a member of this ‘‘intolerant religion’’ for 30 years myself, never once have I ever heard “appalling doctrines’’ preached. What I have heard is the requirement for humility, truth and to love your fellow man. To give an example, Proverbs 31:8-9 exhorts Christians to: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’’ Perhaps it was a doctrine such as this that inspired Catholic lawyer Peter Benenson to set up Amnesty International in the 1960s. 24 | theJournalist
Ever heard of Keir Hardie, arguably the main founder of the Labour Party? His conversion to Christianity got him the sack as a young coal miner because he spoke out against dreadful working conditions. His socialism is accepted as stemming from his observations of poverty and acceptance of Christ’s teachings. I merely wish to point out to Martin that were it not for these intolerant Christians with their appalling doctrines, political prisoners may have no voice and he may well not have a union to represent him or a magazine to express his views in. Jane Yelland Huddersfield
Self-promotion is now the norm Kim Farnell’s exposure of sock puppetry reviews and reviews-for-hire (February/
March) struck a chord. I’ve done a bit of paid book reviewing for broadsheets in the past but as an author, too, am aware of the near impossibility of getting reviews of any kind now, whether for commercially published books or a self-published ebook like my latest Kindle/Kobo fiction title In a Dead Man’s Jacket. With the demise of professional reviewing, self-promotion in various guises has taken over; getting friends to put reviews up on online sites, inventing fake identities to review your own work on Amazon etc. The rise of self-publishing has bypassed the accepted arbiter of quality in terms of language use – which the paid reviewer aspired to be – and a (reasonably) independent system of assessment. Is this good for the reader? Do more books means more choice
or just more books not worth reading? Democratisation – or mass incoherence? Andrew Murray Scott Dundee Branch
More vision needed Even though I have experienced the pros and cons of working from home as a freelance for nearly 20 years, I found the short feature on Page 13 of the February/March issue interesting. But surely a more suitable illustration could have been used. The cheesy stock image, which looks as though it was shot to sell laptops or sofas, trivialised a subject relevant to many journalists today. Perhaps a more imaginative and apt illustration could have been commissioned from one of the union’s 2000-plus photographers, or a cartoonist member? Mick Duckworth Nottingham Branch .
Frank Keating remembered
“He was a warm, lovely, very funny man”, said Peter Preston in the Observer… “Had a wonderful turn of phrase and wonderful memory” And the Guardian editor agreed. Keating transformed the sports coverage of the paper for nearly four decades: one of the best sports writers out of British journalism. Learning his trade was done largely at the Hereford Times. More reporters were doing the same thing at the same time. One became an early editor of the BBC’s World at One, another ICI’s PR head. An ex-Hereford Times BBC industrial correspondent was the first regional man to be offered six months bursary freedom in North America and chaired the first broadcasting NUJ branch in Bristol. Keating showed little sign of his remarkable talents in Hereford at the time. The Newsroom revolved round the chief reporter Tubby Court – made MBE for services to agriculture and Hereford cattle – and his deputy who had survived nearly 50 Bomber
Command raids as a tail gunner, winning the DFC. A good weekly can be good training for reporters, and the HT circulation is more now than it was then. Peter Brown Bristol
Keep in touch As a member of the union who has worked in several sectors over the years I encourage other members to regard their NUJ membership as something of a card for life, not for a job One of the problems the union has in keeping accurate records, which affects budgeting and allocating resources, is members letting their branches know and branches telling head office they have changed workplaces or become freelance. This not only enables the branch to let head office know so they can update their records but also so the union can notify an incoming branch that you are now working in their patch
so they can welcome you and put you on their communications network. Of course this also applies to any of us moving into public relations where there may not necessarily be an NUJ chapel and where we might be able to become joint members with another union that may have negotiating rights. If you are moving home let the branch and head office know of any changes to telephone, mobile and internet as well; it also means you will continue to get your copy of The Journalist. What more reasons do you need? Mike Smith Cardiff
Exposing insolvency After working freelance producing a trade website for two years, payments of invoices stopped in spite of all material being published. Thanks to excellent help from our NUJ freelance organiser, John Toner, I won a court
Please keep letters to 200 words maximum
judgement for the monies owed. But the company concerned claimed it had no assets and is seeking to wind-up and re-invent itself. Along with an IT colleague and other journalists, a lot of people have been left let down. But one key asset of this company is its domain name, which is a .com domain. I wondered if any members had discovered a way to get court officials or domain registrants to cancel an insolvent company ownership of a domain? David Siddall Cumbria
Preserve those cuttings Leeds NUJ Branch has initiated a project to protect and digitise the clippings files that have been for more than a century a key resource for journalists and other researchers. Many people are aware of the British Library’s archive of newspapers going back to the very early days, and of its commendable efforts to put them
Email your letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org Post them to: The Editor, The Journalist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP
online, but, because the clippings archives are internal to individual newspapers, few outside of the press know of their existence. Given that the clippings are filed under individuals and events – and cross referenced – they are an immediate and easily accessible resource. With the contraction of regional and local newspapers, and the increasing reliance on online searchs, these archives are under threat. The PRESSERVE project has held a briefing at the House of Commons and received enough support to enable it to become a national campaign. We are also in touch with potential funders of a digitisation project and are looking into any copyright issues. The project has a website – http:// www.presserve.org – and we would ask NUJ members to go to the Cuttings Libraries tab and complete the short survey please. Michael Meadowcroft Leeds branch
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Raymond Snoddy on what the the Royal Charter might mean for the industry
Avoiding a stitchup for the Press
ou may have missed the fine article by A.S.Panneerselvan in The Hindu, the Indian English language daily, on the Washington Post’s plan to end the post of ombudsman after 43 years. The reason – costing-cutting, the internet and greater sensitivity to criticism on a weakened organisation. For the Readers’ Editor on the Hindu the tectonic plates were shifting in the global media and newspaper leadership was drifting away from the US to the media houses of Asia, Africa and Latin America. “Media organisations from these emerging economies are not only growing but are also recognising the value of investment in quality and ethics,” he argues. Ouch. Panneerselvan is coming from a particular perspective. He believes in two-tier regulation – vigorous internal self-regulation within each media organisation combined with an independent regulator for the media as a whole. Who knows what might have been if the post of ombudsman or readers’ representative on UK newspapers had not, in general, been allowed to fade away. Perhaps those experienced souls might have raised questions about where particular stories were coming from, or even whispered the dreaded word ‘ethics’. Post Royal Charter legislation we are where we are, and that amounts to an unbelievable shambles from which no-one emerges with credit. Prime Minister David Cameron promised the Rubicon would not be crossed- and then jumped in.
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Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, was perfectly happy to do late-night deals behind closed doors on fundamental legislation with the Hacked Off pressure group. He didn’t seem to mind that it was an unrepresentative body, less than candid about its sources of funding. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has been wrong on this issue throughout but at least he has had the merit of being consistently wrong. Hacked Off has run a very effective campaign and looked as if they had pulled off the perfect political coup. In fact hubris has led them astray and they have now overreached themselves.
Wherever you started out on this debate the issues are now clear. The only winners will be the lawyers
here have been the usual damaging divisions in the newspaper industry and inability to put a plausible form of independent selfregulation in place quickly enough to take the sting out of the more dangerous Leveson recommendations. As far as the law of the land is concerned the newspaper industry is now saddled with a regulatory system underpinned by Royal Charter with exemplary damages for those who do not sign up. Don’t forget that two director generals, Alasdair Milne and Greg Dyke, were hounded out of office for political reasons by political appointees under the canopy of a Royal Charter. A recognition body set up as a Charitable Trust with the powers of publicity and moral persuasion would have been a better idea. Wherever you started out on this debate the issues are now clear. The only winners will be the lawyers. The newspaper industry should have nothing to do with the Hacked Off political stitch-up and fight exemplary damages all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. It would also be nice to show the estimable A.S. Panneerselvan that the newspaper industry in the West is still able to recognise the value of investment and ethics.
For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy
NUJ CODE OF CONDUCT Members of the National Union of Journalists are expected to abide by the following professional principles
A JOURNALIST: 1 At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed.
and takes no unfair personal advantage of information gained in the course of her/his duties before the information is public knowledge.
2 Strives to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair.
9 Produces no material likely to lead to hatred or discrimination on the grounds of a personâ€™s age, gender, race, colour, creed, legal status, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation.
3 Does her/his utmost to correct harmful inaccuracies. 4 Differentiates between fact and opinion. 5 Obtains material by honest, straightforward and open means, with the exception of investigations that are both overwhelmingly in the public interest and which involve evidence that cannot be obtained by straightforward means. 6 Does nothing to intrude into anybodyâ€™s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest. 7 Protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work. 8 Resists threats or any other inducements to influence, distort or suppress information,
10 Does not by way of statement, voice or appearance endorse by advertisement any commercial product or service save for the promotion of her/his own work or of the medium by which she/he is employed. 11 A journalist shall normally seek the consent of an appropriate adult when interviewing or photographing a child for a story about her/his welfare. 12 Avoids plagiarism. The NUJ believes a journalist has the right to refuse an assignment or be identified as the author of editorial that would break the letter or spirit of the code. The NUJ will fully support any journalist disciplined for asserting her/his right to act according to the code.
YOU HAVE A CASE, BUT DO YOU HAVE THE CASH? What price justice? the government thinks it knows.
£1,200 if you claim for wrongful dismissal. it’s the same for race discrimination. even what the government calls a “simple claim”, such as not being paid what you’d earned, could set you back £400. experts object, but ministers are still planning fees for most employment tribunal cases. they see nothing unfair in this. Nothing wrong that someone who has
not been paid the minimum wage could have to fork out more than a week’s pay to claim it back. and nothing wrong in making the costs system ever more complex. Not only is the government chipping away at everyone’s rights at work, ministers are making it impossibly expensive for many to enforce rights that they would not dare to attack outwardly, such as the minimum wage. it’s one employment law for the rich, another for the rest of us.
Visit our Website aNd deliVer your Verdict WWW.stopemploymeNtWroNgs.org
The Journalist Magazine, Magazine of the National Union of Journalists