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www.nuj.org.uk | august/september 2010
INSIDE: NUJ Awards
Celebrating regional journalism
Is there work in astrology?
buildingthefuture Will the walls come tumbling down?
Contents Cover story 16 Wall of Death?
Will pay walls help or hinder quality journalism
ay walls, pensions and issues surrounding photography play a big part in this edition of The Journalist. Now that the pay walls have gone up around The Times and Sunday Times, the whole industry is watching to see whether this is the future for quality journalism or whether the experiment will leave the News International titles isolated and marginalised from debate. In our cover feature, David Hencke argues that the latter scenario is more likely. On pensions, the BBC could become the focus of the way change will be forced upon public sector pensions. We are balloting for strike action against plans to overhaul the BBC’s pension plan after overwhelming support for action in meetings around the country. Our letters pages feature more contributions to the debate about photographers’ fees, which has been a hot topic for the last two editions. The Journalist places a high value on free speech for all sections of the union. Every member of a union, and those of the NUJ in particular, should know that their magazine is an important arena in which their opinions can be voiced without interference. I look forward to the letters pages continuing to provide an honest and open forum for debates within the union.
Christine Buckley Editor
Editor Christine Buckley firstname.lastname@example.org Design Surgerycreations.com email@example.com Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Print Warners www.warners.co.uk Distribution Packpost www.packpostsolutions.com
NUJ 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP firstname.lastname@example.org www.nuj.org.uk
Manchester ofﬁce email@example.com Glasgow ofﬁce firstname.lastname@example.org Dublin ofﬁce email@example.com
Cover picture Jim Morrison
04 NUJ challenges Government
Legal ﬁght after Johnston Press strike block
05 Pay wall oblivion
Guardian research ﬁnds walls uncommercial
07 The Mirror
Newspaper cuts 25 per cent of jobs
10 Regional Press Awards
NUJ recognises the best in local journalism
12 I can’t see it in the stars
Newspaper astrologers get ousted
20 Feeling the squeeze
Freelance rates under pressure
15 Unspun: a view from PR 19 The NUJ and Me 28 Training 29 Technology
Arts with Attitude Pages 24-25
Raymond Snoddy Page 30
Letters and Steve Bell Pages 26-27
BBC could face strike action over pensions
The Proms: coverage under threat
rime time programmes such as The Last Night of The Proms could be forced off the air if BBC staff vote to strike over changes to the pension scheme. Five unions, including the NUJ and Bectu, are to ballot for strike action against the corporation’s plans to close its final salary pension scheme to new employees and cap its contributions to existing members as part of moves to tackle a £2bn deficit.
BBC chief financial officer Zarin Patel has said that the changes would mark the first major reform of pensions in the UK public sector, where final salary schemes are still common. The BBC plans to close the scheme to new members in December and has said that although staff who already pay into it will be allowed to continue doing so, the amount the corporation contributes will be capped from April next year. Unions forced the BBC to scrap similar pension scheme changes four years ago. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said: “We’re obviously disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that the BBC is taking such a hard line over this issue. Without question, the government is paying extremely close attention to the development of this dispute, given its plans for wholesale pensions ‘reform’ across the public sector. The NUJ will do everything possible to defend the hardearned pension rights of BBC staff.” The BBC has also angered staff with its pay offer. Higher paid staff – those earning more than £60,000 – have had their pay frozen while the lowest earners – those earning less than £37,000 – have been awarded a flat-rate rise of £475 and those earning in between have been offered £450.
Trustees to mount legal challenge against ITN
TN is facing a legal challenge over its plans to reduce pension payments to the families of former employees. ITN chief executive John
Hardie, has told staff that a ‘discrepancy’ in the ITN scheme has resulted in overpayments to next of kin when employees died in retirement. The scheme
pays half of members’ pension to a dependant if they die in retirement. The organisation wants to make the changes to tackle a £56m pension deficit.
Farewell to activist Themon
UJ activists and members bid goodbye to Themon Djaksam, long time NUJ magazine branch member and activist in the Black Members’ Council, recently. The union organised Themon’s funeral in south London after his brother unfortunately was unable to get a travel
visa to come to the UK. The funeral was attended by Themon’s many friends from the NUJ. Themon sadly died while attending the TUC Black Workers conference in Liverpool earlier this year. Drawing by Themon’s friend and colleague Tayo Fatunla
We’re obviously disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that the BBC is taking such a hard line over this issue
Michelle Stanistreet NUJ Deputy General Secretary
Mr Hardie said that if payments to next of kin continue to be made in the same way, the deficit will rise to £67m. ITN wants to change the way the scheme is administered but the fund’s trustees are to seek a high court ruling on the legality of the proposals.
news in brief... Coalition to scrap cross-media rules The coalition government is planning to scrap local cross-media ownership rules by November and introduce a new communications bill to parliament in late 2012. Licensing for a new generation of local TV stations would begin by the summer of 2012 and negotiations for a new BBC licence fee settlement will finish by April that year. homegrown shows are cut MEback The amount spent by the main public service broadcasters on new UK-originated programming fell by more than £150m last year, according to Ofcom. Ofcom’s annual public service broadcasting report shows that the combined spend by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on new homegrown programmes fell six per cent year on year to £2.3bn as the recession hit advertising revenues. Twitter brings sack at CNN CNN fired one of its senior editors after she sent a Twitter message lamenting the death of a Lebanese Shi’ite cleric. Octavia Nasr, who had worked for CNN for 20 years, had tweeted that she was sad to hear of the death of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, an early mentor of Hezbollah. PA job cuts but raises some pay The Press Association is thought to have cut about 30 jobs through voluntary redundancy and natural wastage. But the group, which employs 200 journalists, but has reintroduced pay rises for lowerpaid employees. PA, which made a £3 million profit last year, began a cost-cutting drive earlier this year following the appointment of its new chief executive Clive Marshall. analogue cut-off deadline dropped Culture minister Ed Vaizey has pulled back from a total switch-off of analogue radio in 2015. But he said the government commitment to digital radio transition will remain. theJournalist | 03
in brief... Libel law set for major overhaul There is to be a sweeping review of libel law in a drive to better protect freedom of speech and expression in the media and the research sector, the Ministry of Justice said. It aims to reduce ‘libel tourism’, where claims are made in countries tother than where the offending stories were published. Iceland boosts media freedom, Page 8 Councils told to advertise online A fresh blow to regional and national newspaper advertising revenue comes from local government secretary Eric Pickles, who says councils should advertise job vacancies online to save money. He claimed it would also increase transparency because job rates could be compared easily. Global Radio cuts Heart stations Global Radio is more than halving the number of its local Heart stations in a reorganisation that will lead to the loss of up to 200 freelance and staff posts. The group is creating 15 Heart ‘super stations’ in place of the 33 it currently operates. The consolidation comes after media regulator Ofcom relaxed regulations on the output of local radio. MEN, weeklies to merge operations Trinity Mirror is to merge editorial staff at the Manchestger Evening News and its 22 sister weekly titles, threatening 10 jobs. The consolidation is part of a wider push to boost multimedia and user-generated content. It will involve the creation of a single editorial team from the 140-strong workforce. Teams of reporters will cover specific geographic areas and produce multimedia content for all MEN Media titles. Archant buys Kent publisher Norwich-based Archant has bought KOS Media, publishers of a series of Kent titles including Kent on Sunday and 10 free weeklies.
Union to fight government in European court
he NUJ is preparing to take the UK government to the European Court of Human Rights over the recent blocking of strike action against Johnston Press. John Hendy QC is preparing a case to challenge the Government’s employment legislation over rights to freedom of association. The union was blocked from taking strike action across Johnston Press titles because the company argued that it didn’t directly employ journalists and the NUJ was wrong to put the corporate logo on the ballot papers. The challenge on a legal technicality followed similar action by British Airways, which was defeated in the courts by Unite, and by Network Rail against the RMT. If successful, the NUJ’s action will be a powerful tool against the increasing trend by employers to stop well-supported strike action through legal technicalities. Meanwhile the Press Complaints Commission has ordered Johnston Press to respond to a complaint lodged by the
union that journalists are being ordered to compromise editorial standards and put accuracy at risk. The PCC has asked Johnston Press for an explanation of new rules governing the operation of the Atex content management system. The commission has said that if any complaint over accuracy is upheld it will look into whether there is a systemic problem. The NUJ wrote to the PCC following a memo from Paul Bentham, managing director of the group’s South Yorkshire titles, to editors and senior journalists. New guidelines in the memo removed some checks for accuracy and undermined the role of the editors, removing their final responsibility for the content of the paper.
See the full memo to staff and the NUJ’s complaint on www.nuj.org.uk/Johnston Press
The challenge on a legal technicality followed similar action by British Airways, which was defeated in the courts by Unite
£1.7 million bill for withdrawn libel claim
hannel 4 spent £1.7 million defending a libel action that was withdrawn the day before the trial was due to begin. The case had been brought by Matt Fiddes over a programme about Michael Jackson’s family. Mr Fiddes, who claimed to have been the dead singer’s bodyguard, said Channel 4 faked a documentary about the family moving to Devon. He brought the action under a
conditional fee arrangement which meant his legal team would only be paid if he won. Channel 4’s legal bill mounted over two years and would have been £3 million had it not had libel insurance. It said the case demonstrated ‘the chilling effect that exorbitant legal costs in CFA-funded libel claims can have on broadcasters’ freedom of expression’.
PCC needs overhaul, says report
he Press Complaints Commission must raise its public profile, improve credibility and overhaul its organisation, according to a report by the organisation’s governance review panel following a major study. The report says that the PCC
must explain its operations better to the public; demonstrate that sanctions are effective; and make the process of pursuing complaints clearer. The organisation is also urged to agree a list of objectives each year and report on whether they were achieved.
The recommendations follow a nine-month investigation led by former PCC commissioner Vivien Hepworth into ways to improve the watchdog, which is often regarded as toothless. The governance panel heard evidence from many of the PCC’s critics, including the NUJ’s ethics council.
04 | theJournalist
pay walls totally uncommercial, guardian research finds
nternet pay walls would generate less than £10 million of revenue, would drive away many readers and be totally uncommercial, research for The guardian has shown. Tim Brooks, managing director of guardian News and Media, told The Journalist that the group had looked at every way of charging for web content but had rejected it because it would defeat the aim of boosting the newspaper’s reputation for quality journalism.
Last year the group’s wholly owned subsidiaries, which include The guardian and Observer newspapers, had revenues of £280 million. The low level of revenue that consultants to The guardian predicted for pay walls is revealed as early figures show that The Times has already lost 66 per cent of its internet readership in the short time since it put up pay walls. The decline is not as great as some had predicted. However, the paper began by offering an introductory rate of £1 per month. The normal rate will be £1 per day or £2 per week. It will be some time before a true picture of the impact of the pay walls emerges. The data from experian Hitwise, which monitors internet traffic, showed that in the week following the introduction of the pay wall on July 2nd, visits to The Times site fell to 33 per cent of its pre-registration level. It has been forecast that the site will lose 90 per cent of its traffic. The experiment in creating pay walls for a general newspaper follows moves by the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal to charge for content on the web. However, they are selling specialist news and comment not easily found elsewhere.
Wall of Death? Page 16
The departures come as News International, owner of The Times, has appointed Will Lewis, the former editor in chief of The Telegraph as general manager, overseeing the budgets of all the group’s newspapers. The Times and Sunday Times are losing £240,000 a day. Meanwhile The Times’ supplement T2, which was scrapped by editor James Harding only months ago, looks set to be revived.
telegraph hub doCks at home The Telegraph’s digital operation the Euston Project, which was created by the former editor-inchief Will Lewis, is to be rebranded and relocated to the newspaper’s headquarters in Victoria. The operation, which employs about 25 staff, was put under review after the departure of Mr Lewis in May.
Channel 4 Cuts management posts Channel 4 is cutting 25 per cent of its 48 senior managers and has appointed Julian Bellamy as acting chief creative officer, as chief executive David Abraham completes a strategic review. Mr Abraham is halving the number of his direct reports from 13 to six, and is to reduce the senior management group by 12 posts before the end of the year.
italy’s day of silence n Italy no news became the news when journalists went on strike to protest against prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s bid to restrict wiretaps. He argues the move is to protect ordinary people’s privacy but journalists claim it’s a gagging law aimed at protecting him and corrupt officials. On Friday July 9th news-stands were mostly empty, internet sites weren’t updated and the airwaves were virtually news-free for a ‘day of silence’. The Federazione Nationale della Stampa Italiana, the national journalists’ union, said the action was to ‘show the kind of silence that the law would impose’. A few right-wing papers, including one owned by Mr Berlusconi, appeared.
mail digital arm to be dissolved Daily Mail & General Trust is dissolving its standalone consumer digital arm, Associated Northcliffe Digital, in a cost-cutting move. Jobs will go from the 1,000-strong workforce including that of chief executive Richard Titus. He leaves after just a year at the company after joining from the BBC.
le monde saved by business trio The iconic French newspaper Le Monde, on the verge of bankruptcy, has been bought by three businessmen who have close links to Dominique Strauss Kahn, who is tipped as a potential rival to Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential elections.
Times redundanCies: raFt oF staFF leave MUrdoch Flagship eter Riddell, the veteran political commentator, is among a raft of senior journalists leaving The Times. Mr Riddell is leaving under an amicable arrangement. Other senior figures leaving include Val Elliott, the consumer editor, Carl Mortished, world business editor. Some journalists are suffering compulsory redundancy as the newspaper implements 50 job cuts, including several members of the picture desk.
reader’s digest Chief leaves Chris Spratling, the chief executive of Reader’s Digest UK, is to leave the business just months after arranging a management buy-out that rescued it from administration. He was an integral figure in securing a £13 million deal with Better Capital, Jon Moulton’s private equity business, to keep the 72year-old title and business going after it was put into administration. theJournalist | 05
in brief... UBC Media’s first break-even UBC Media, which supplies multimedia content and services to the BBC and commercial stations, went into the black for the first time since its flotation in 2000. Underlying operating losses for the whole year fell from £676,000 to £277,000. Morning Star strike averted Journalists at the Morning Star won a two-year pay deal after threatening strike action at the paper. The deal is worth £900 this year, and next year pay will rise by RPI plus one per cent. There will also be special pay rates for working unsocial hours and journalists will get extra four more days off per year in return for bank holiday and Sunday working. Enter for The Paul Foot Award The Paul Foot Award, which honours campaigning journalism in memory of revered investigative journalist Paul Foot, is still open for entries. Individual journalists, teams of journalists or entire publications are all eligible. The closing date for entries is 1 September.
Irish unions mount challenge over freelance rights
he Irish Congress of Trade Unions is to make a formal complaint to the International Labour Organisation over restrictions by the country’s Competition Authority on the rights of freelance workers. Séamus Dooley, the NUJ’s Irish Secretary, and Roy Mincoff, the union’s legal officer, are preparing the complaint. The authority regards freelances as ‘undertakings’ rather than workers and outlaws fees guides, collective agreements or even guidance on rates by trade unions. The actors’ union Equity in Ireland was forced to abandon a collective agreement governing voice-over actors after the authority took legal action in 2004. Refusal to do so would have led to the criminal prosecution of the union, with the Equity union official facing a term of imprisonment on conviction. The authority takes the stance it does because it regards freelance agreements as a form of price fixing and anti-competitive.
Neither Brussels nor the Irish Government ever intended it to undermine workers’ trade union rights
” Atangana wins Feeling the squeeze: what is happening to freelance rates, Page 20
harles Atangana, an economic and current affairs journalist, is fighting for the right to remain in Britain after the NUJ helped avert a forced deportation to Cameroon. Charles has lived in the UK since 2004, after having fled Cameroon complaining of harassment by the authorities. He had been arrested there after writing critical articles. Now based in Glasgow, he is active in the NUJ and works to promote integration between local people, asylum seekers, refugees and other communities. NUJ president Pete Murray said the union would help him prepare a legal case against deportation.
Register for royalties payback Each year the Design and Artists Copyright Society has about £3 million of royalties to pay to NUJ photographers and other visual artists whose work has been reproduced in UK books or magazines or on certain television channels. NUJ members have until 17 September to make their claim. email firstname.lastname@example.org IFJ re-elects leader from the NUJ Jim Boumelha has been re-elected as the president of the International Federation of Journalists. Jim, a member of the NUJ executive council, said: “Journalism is in crisis worldwide and journalists are organising themselves everywhere to defend their rights and save journalism. I am proud to lead that fight back.”
European Union competition law says that companies may not work together in any way that might make them less competitive. Cartels, or groups of companies that agree to charge the same prices, are prohibited. But Siptu, which represents Irish Equity, the Musicians’ Union of Ireland and the Film and Entertainment Branch, says that the object of this legislation is to prevent price fixing and the development of monopolies. It says: “Neither Brussels nor the Irish Government ever intended it to undermine workers’ trade union rights. By creating the fiction that selfassessed workers are commercial companies, the Competition Authority has done just that, targeting some of the most vulnerable sectors of the workforce in the process.”
Scottish print journalists underpaid, say MSPs
ocal newspaper journalists in Scotland are overworked and underpaid, and the industry lacks investment, a major investigation by Scottish MSPs have found. The conclusions follow a
six-month investigation into the state of the newspaper industry in Scotland by the Scottish Parliament’s Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee. The report says that amid the growing pressures on
journalists, it is essential that newspaper publishers ‘take steps to make sustained investment in journalism.’ The committee’s report observes that ‘such investment must ensure
that journalists are supported, developed and fairly remunerated in order to play their vital role in the production of vibrant titles that will continue to find a market and – perhaps more importantly – carry out their important cultural, scrutiny and other functions in local communities across Scotland.’
06 | theJournalist
Mirror axes a quarter of its journalists
Morale low at the Mirror’s Canary Wharf HQ
he NUJ is gauging the feeling among members at the Mirror for industrial action after the newspaper announced 200 job cuts – 25 per cent of its editorial staff. The scale of the job cuts is one of the biggest implemented by a newspaper in recent years. The union will write to members setting out the options and asking for the strength of feeling for industrial action before deciding on the next move. The rival union at the Mirror the BAJ is
reballoting for strike action after the company objected to the way an initial ballot had been conducted. In addition to the 200 job cuts staff have been told that 50 sub-editing jobs will move to an industrial subbing unit at the Press Association’s centre in Howden, East Yorkshire. The Mirror already has working links with PA. People moving to Howden will take a pay cut. Staff have received letters saying that they can take voluntary redundancy, have the possibility of being kept on without taking redundancy, or transfer to Howden. Some Mirror journalists believe that the Howden option could be a way of making what they see as poor redundancy terms more attractive. The paper is offering two weeks pay for every year of service. This compares with four weeks at The Times, which is also implementing a round of job cuts. Morale in the Mirror’s Canary Wharf offices is said to be extremely bad as staff contemplate forced redundancies and heavier workloads for the journalists who remain. Staff have begun having meetings with managers about their options.
Police admit wrong action to photographer
ritish Transport Police have admitted that it was unlawful for one of its officers to demand that a photographer delete his photographs. After a complaint by the NUJ, backed by the civil rights law firm
Bindmans, the police agreed that James Mackay should not have been ordered to delete images following an incident at Waterloo mainline station in London. Mr Mackay, who specialises in civil rights work in Burma, was passing through Waterloo when
NUJ organiser’s nomination
avid Ayrton, assistant organiser with the NUJ’s publishing team, has been nominated for a prestigious pension award. David was shortlisted for trustee of the year in awards run by Engaged Investor magazine. The awards attract entries from leading pension fund managers, secretaries, trustees and communicators. David was recognised for his knowledge of pensions and for the independent perspective that pensions experts in unions offer. He negotiates with publishing employers over pension terms and is also a trustee of the union’s own pension fund.
The scale of the job cuts is one of the biggest implemented by a newspaper in recent years
community support officers detained a man. Mr Mackay photographed the action but was then ordered to delete his photographs or face arrest. Roy Mincoff, the NUJ’s legal officer, said that the case showed how the police increasingly use legislation dealing with terrorism to prevent journalists recording events of legitimate public interest.
losses grow at Guardian Guardian Media Group lost £171m for the yearto the end of March compared with a pre-tax loss of £96.7m in 2009. The group suffered writedowns of £96.5m in its investment in Emap and £63.9m in GMG Radio. Mail profits rise Daily Mail & General Trust increased its like-for-like operating profits by 20 per cent over the six months to early April, although group revenue fell 10 per cent. Like-for-like operating profits over six months were £144m. Total sales were £974 million. Trinity Mirror exits FTSE Trinity Mirror has lost its place in the FTSE 250, the group of Britain’s larger quoted companies. The index ranks medium-sized businesses that are just smaller than the FTSE 100 group of blue-chip companies. The newspaper group has now been relegated to the small cap index after a regular stock exchange review and following a fall in its share price. Evening Standard lost £28 million The London Evening Standard made a loss of £28.3m in the 10 months to early 0ctober last year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The losses include £9.9m of exceptional restructuring costs including redundancies and moving from a paid-for title to a freesheet. The Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev bought the paper from Daily Mail & General Trust in February last year and gave it free distribution in October. Help us reach the most exploited The NUJ is launching a major new project to improve how it helps and organises freelance and casual journalists and new recruits. Part of this will be a mentoring scheme. If you’re a rep or an official, please help us with this by completing our survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/ XCRGHJV
theJournalist | 07
Iceland aims to lead the world in media freedom
in brief... Banks buy into US newspapers More banks and hedge funds are becoming newspaper owners in the US. Over the past year, distresseddebt hedge funds such as Angelo, Gordon & Co, Alden Global Capital and Oaktree Capital Management have taken major positions in bankrupt newspaper companies including those publishing the Chicago Tribune and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Al-Jazeera women quit on dress code Five women presenters at AlJazeera’s main operations in Qatar resigned after complaining of repeated comments and criticism by a member of the management about their attire, which was considered insufficiently conservative. The resignation of the five follows an earlier joint complaint from eight women journalists at the station. Big Issue rethinks overseas plan The Big Issue’s global expansion has hit difficulties in India and Pakistan. The magazine has decided that because so many homeless people sell products and services in the streets, it needs to find a different distribution model to reach customers. Honduras TV reporter killed A television reporter was shot dead outside his station, another victim in a series of attacks on journalists in Honduras. Two gunmen killed Luis Arturo Mondragon as he left Channel 19 station in Santa Clara de Danli, a town outside Tegucigalpa. Journalists have faced many attacks since the coup two years ago that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
The appetite for media reform in Iceland strengthened considerably following the economic collapse two years ago
the fact that information doesn’t have borders any more.” Changes to the laws were drafted with the involvement of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks. Although the legal changes aim to protect Icelandic journalists, politicians will hope that they will attract internet-based media to the country and that it will become a beacon for free speech. The appetite for media reform in Iceland strengthened considerably following the economic collapse two years ago. Much of the investigation into the causes of the collapse was done by foreign journalists and critics accused the domestic media of being too close to the Government. Ms Jonsdottir said: “It’s extremely valuable to us as we are trying to establish trust again.” She said the reform of media laws would help change the way the world regards Iceland.
Turkish journalist jailed for quote
rfan Aktan, a Turkish journalist, was sentenced to more than a year in jail for writing an article that contained a quote by a member of a banned Kurdish group. He was jailed under anti-terror laws for
the article in the Express magazine. The jailing has been widely condemned. Ercan Ipekci, president of the Turkish journalists’ union TGS, said: “These provisions in the penal code and
anti-terror law are like a Sword of Damocles over the journalists.” Aktan quoted a member of the Turkish workers’ party, the PKK, and the Özgür Halk (Free People) magazine.
The prosecution claimed that article depicted violence as a necessary measure. Aktan’s defence said that the quote had to be seen in the context of the public’s right to be informed.
Independent daily for Zimbabwe
imbabwe has its first independent daily newspaper for seven years following the launch of Newsday. The title aims to provide an alternative to the state media that is loyal to President Mugabe. Publication of the newspaper has been regarded as a key milestone in the drive to carry out democratic reforms by the power-sharing Government between President Mugabe and the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. For the past seven years there has been a state-enforced monopoly for The Herald, the newspaper devoted to Mr Mugabe and his party. The move has been made possible after the coalition government established a new media licensing authority. Trevor Ncube, Newsday’s publisher, pledged that the paper would not fall prey to ‘hate, divisiveness, abhorrent propaganda and personality cults’.
Venezuelan writer jailed and banned Francisco Perez, who has worked for the Valencian daily El Caraboben for 40 years, has been jailed for three years and fined US $20,000 following charges of ‘slander and offence to civil servant’. He was prosecuted after an article alleged Valencia’s mayor was involved in nepotism.
celand is to set to become a haven for investigative journalism with a sweeping reform of media laws that will give reporters the strongest legal protection in the world The Icelandic parliament, the Althingi, voted unanimously for legislation to strengthen the ability of journalists to protect their sources and to shield journalists from foreign libel action in so-called ‘libel tourism’. The moves will make it much more difficult to censor stories before publication. Birgitta Jonsdottir, MP for The Movement party and a member of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which first made the proposals, said: “It will be the strongest law of its kind anywhere. “We’re taking the best laws from around the world and putting them into one comprehensive package that will deal with
08 | theJournalist
General Secretary Jeremy Dear examines the attacks facing the media
Like the Tories were never away
BBC licence fee cut threatened by Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove attacks pro-Labour bias on the Today programme while Eric Pickles plans to axe local authority publications. Its like the Tories have never been away. We always knew things would be tough in the economic situation under the new government. But few expected such a rapid-ﬁre assault on journalists and media plurality. Local council publications are ﬁrst in the ﬁring line. These ‘town hall Pravdas’ are, according to Pickles, an expensive affront to democracy, and lead to the loss of local newspapers through unfair competition. Except the facts are that only two per cent of town hall publications are weekly, more are monthly, most are less regular. Most do not have any external advertising; many are distributed in areas local newspapers have given up on. In areas where they are published just twice a year, journalists on local newspapers are being axed at the same rate as in other boroughs and cities. Unbiased information about local council issues and services is central to the public service role these publications should play. They should not seek to compete with, or pass themselves off as, independent local newspapers but they are a vital part of the local media landscape. Local newspaper owners should look closer to home – excessive proﬁteering, poor investment decisions, inﬂated executive pay and pensions – for the
We expected a fight. We’ve got one. And there’s more to come
root cause of some of the problems they face. Next up for the chop are those pesky media ownership laws. In this information-rich world regulation is more, not less, important. The law should be there to protect media plurality and the citizen’s right to information, not to allow corporate mergers which simply further commercialise news. Any changes to the media ownership laws should ensure provision for a new public interest test on mergers, tougher controls to protect media plurality and a new test to assess the impact on newsgathering. The least surprising of the current attacks is on the BBC. The message is muddled: the BBC is great, it should have less money and be expected to do more. The BBC is far from perfect but it is held in higher public esteem than any government, which seeks to cut it, or politically control it – both of which seem to be on the Tory agenda. In each case the people who suffer are the journalists themselves. At the BBC employees stand to lose tens of thousands of pounds in retirement following the announcement of plans to cap their pensionable pay at one per cent. We are currently balloting for strike action alongside four other unions to stop a blatant pensions robbery from thousands of hard-working staff, stop the BBC compensating for its mismanagement by making staff pay with their earnings, stop managers whose own pensions run in to hundreds of thousands of pounds a year jumping on the government bandwagon by bashing public service workers and devaluing their hardearned pensions. We expected a ﬁght. We’ve got one. And there’s more to come. There is no more important time for the union to unite and organise to defend journalists and journalism – whether in local councils, local newspapers, public service broadcasting or any other part of the media.
For all the latest updates from the General Secretary visit his blog at: http://jeremydear.blogspot.com theJournalist | 9
Reporter of the Year (Weekly)
Barrie Clement and the NUJ find much to celebrate in regional journalism. Photographs by Mark Thomas
Best in class T he NUJ rescued this year’s regional press awards after the former owner of Press Gazette pulled the plug on the competition, declaring there was ‘insufficient interest’. Well, the Wilmington Group, which sold Press Gazette to Progressive Media, but kept the magazine’s events, was wrong. Held on June 29 at Dingwalls, a venue in Camden, north London, The NUJ Regional Press Awards was a great success, generating scores of high quality entries. Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said: “The industry itself should recognise the talent of local and regional journalists. But if they don’t, we will.” Wilmington has said it will ‘liaise with the industry’ about future years. Speaking at the awards ceremony, Jeremy said the union was proud to be hosting the awards: “We want to show that journalism does matter. We know that too many newspaper companies are failing local communities and that one in four jobs have gone on local newspapers. We
know that local democracy is suffering as a consequence. We want to celebrate the fact that there are still outstanding journalists out there who care about what they do under increasingly stressful circumstances.” He said the quality of the work submitted was such that there were several excellent entries which failed even to make shortlists. It was a great day out for The News in Portsmouth which won four categories including newspaper of the year. If there was a prize for the most bizarre story, it would go to Cherry Wilson who wrote her Scoop of the Year when she was on the Rotherham Advertiser, as she recounts on the opposite page . But perhaps the last word should go to Carl Eve of the Plymouth Herald. “I’ve been a BBC researcher, but I really like being a regional reporter. You are responsible for your patch and to your patch. You meet some of the best reporters in the country on regional papers and I’m proud to be one of them.”
Eleanor Harding of the Wandsworth Guardian Eleanor, 26, is ‘really passionate’ about news and hopes to stick with it for the rest of her working life. She does not want to be tied down to a specialism. “I’m interested in so many things,” said Eleanor who has been on the Wandsworth Guardian for two and a half years. She congratulated the NUJ for backing the awards. Eleanor read English at Exeter University and subsequently did an MA in journalism at City University, London.
Feature writer of the Year (Daily/ Sunday) Jayne Dawson of the Yorkshire Evening Post The piece which most impressed the judges was her article
on how the Second World War affected the City of Leeds. “I loved writing it. I was completely absorbed by it,” she says. Jayne, 52, has been in journalism since her early 20s. She took her NCTJ straight from school and went into newspapers. Subsequently she did a degree in Social Policy and Sociology at Leeds University and then went back to journalism. “This is my dream job. I love it despite everything that’s happened to the industry,” she says.
Multimedia Journalist of the Year
Sion Donovan of The News, Portsmouth Sion, 29, from Llanelli in south-west Wales, got his first job at The News in Portsmouth after completing a postgraduate course in journalism at Cardiff University. An English graduate from Oxford University, Sion started on the paper as a district reporter. He subsequently became education correspondent and now covers the defence beat. The videos he produces, require hard work. He sometimes spends two
10 | theJournalist
awards to three hours editing material which ends up as a film lasting no more than a minute or a minute and a half on the paper’s website.
Scoop of the Year
Specialist Writer of the Year
Carl Eve of The Plymouth Herald Carl won his award for coverage of the Vanessa George story. George, a nursery school worker, was jailed for sexually abusing children in her care and swapping images of the abuse with two other paedophiles. Carl, 43, wrote two pieces in particular which impressed the judges involving interviews with George’s former friends. Carl has been at the Herald for three and a half years, before that he was on the Basildon Echo. “I’ve written about gangland murders and other violent crimes and even paedophile cases, but this was so much worse,” he says. “I’ve been a BBC researcher, but I really like being a regional reporter. You are responsible for your patch and to your patch. You meet some of the best reporters on regional papers and I’m proud to be one of them.”
Cherry Wilson of the Rotherham Advertiser Cherry, who now works for the Croydon Advertiser, got her award for an extraordinary story about a blind man who was able to see his wife for the first time after having one of his teeth inserted in his eye. The tooth acted as a lens holder. Cherry, 24, who has a degree in journalism from Sheffield University, wanted to be a journalist since the age of 15. She would like to work on a national tabloid and possibly broadcasting later in her career
Reporter of the Year (Daily/ Sunday)
Allison Morris of the Irish News Allison is from the strong republican area of West Belfast and got into journalism because she found
that most of the people reporting on her home patch were from outside the area. Allison, 39, specialises in reporting on security and paramilitary issues for the paper. “The Irish News is the best daily to work for,” she says, but has the familiar problem of limited time for investigations. “I’ve got ten balls in the air at any one time.” After a degree in politics, she went on to a journalism course at technical college in Belfast where she did a work placement on the Andersonstown News.
Newspaper of the Year
The News, Portsmouth Graeme Windell, design editor of The News, believes his paper’s success is based on the idea that it is very much a publication for the area. “We are not trying to be bigger than we are. We work with the community,” he says. “It has always been a paper that has been ‘designed’, but there is excellence in all areas. People at The News are very professional and dedicated.”
Sports Journalist of the Year (Daily/Sunday)
Neil Allen of The News, Portsmouth Sports reporters are often unfairly accused of being ‘fans with notebooks’. That clearly doesn’t apply to Neil who was banned from Fratton Park, Portsmouth FC’s home ground, for predicting the dismissal of a senior figure at the club. He was also threatened with legal action. The stories written by Neil, 35, were duly proved to be accurate. Neil went straight into journalism after taking a degree in English at Anglia Ruskin University.
Photographer of the Year (Weekly) Chris Whiteoak of the Surrey Advertiser When Chris was a child he picked up his father’s camera and couldn’t put it
down – even though it didn’t work. Chris did his NCTJ exams at Sheffield college and now enjoys his work at the Advertiser where he likes the challenges involved in covering a wide range of stories. “I’m very passionate about it and I put my all into it,” he says. In the long term he wants to work for one of the big national sports agencies.
Photographer of the Year (Daily/ Sunday)
Stuart Boulton of the Northern Echo Stuart won the award for a dramatic picture of Sean Hodgson who returned home to the North-East having served 27 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Stuart, 45, has been on the Echo for 20 years. “I like to take pictures of of historic events. I like to document something that matters. But I’m happy photographing anything that’s real, rather than manufactured.” Stuart has done some work in his own free time for the Fairtrade Foundation and would like to spend more time documenting the developing countries.
Rosie Taylor of Forge Press Rosie, 22, exposed irregularities in the marking system at Sheffield University where she was awarded a first class degree in English and French. Later this year she will take up a Scott Trust Foundation bursary to do a master’s in print journalism. She would like a job as a reporter on a big city paper, but eventually she wants to be a correspondent for a national newspaper based in francophone Africa.
For the full list of winners go to www.nuj.org.uk
The NUJ was helped in sponsoring the awards by Unison; Hire Ground Recruitment; Warwick Butchart Associates; and Kearey Consulting.
theJournalist | 11
I can’t see it in the stars... Magic or moonshine, astrology columns are an important source of income that’s under threat, as Kim Farnell explains
e should have seen it coming,” horoscope columnist Neil Spencer said recently on the dire prospects for freelance horoscope columnists. Horoscope columns can be written by anyone surely? It doesn’t take much skill. With this in mind, some publications pay for staff to take classes so that columns can be written in-house. “I was teaching an astrology class when two students came on board at the last minute, asking for a receipt because their fee was tax-deductible,” says astrologer Adam Smith. “They were staff writers sent from a women’s magazine to learn how to write sun sign columns. The magazine’s incumbent astrologer, a friend of mine, was replaced.” There’s always been the myth that horoscope columns are written by the office junior. However, until recently astrological copy has been supplied by astrologers with years of experience. We all know that it isn’t a good time for freelances. But for the small, select group who write horoscopes, things have never been as bad. Contracts are cancelled at a whim without notice, rates have plummeted, publications disappear and some editors are astonished that astrologers expect payment at all. Astrology simply isn’t fashionable. Or as Neil Spencer, the former Observer astrologer and former editor of the NME, says: “It isn’t in Vogue – whether you capitalise that or not.” Horoscope columnists are damned by astrologers for prostituting the art of astrology and derided by journalists and editors for producing trivial content that takes up space where real news should go. Unfortunately, readers like horoscope columns and they sell papers. The only option is to keep things as cheap as possible. In the late 1980s, the going rate for a horoscope column was about £300-350. Over the last few years, rates have dropped by an average of 50 per cent – that’s if you’re
lucky enough to be kept on. Sometimes the fee is slashed and they get someone else in to do it or don’t bother paying you at all. “I wrote for a glossy mag for two years,” says Kathy Rowan Drewitt. “I was paid £50 per column for six months and then for the last six months I wasn’t paid at all. I finally got a letter saying the company was insolvent, but the magazine is still on the shelves.” Wider syndication was partly responsible, but that could get pushed to a ridiculous extreme. In the early 1990s, the free magazine Girl About Town notoriously retyped and published the Daily Mail’s horoscope column without consultation on the basis that it was OK as they were both part of Associated Press. In 1988 astrological phone lines were launched and astrologers became briefly popular. What was a paid feature suddenly became an income stream. Russell Grant’s huge presence in the regional press enabled him to offer free
12 | theJournalist
MARJORIE ORR “I’ve been out of the mainstream newspaper market since
I left the Express after 11 years in 2000. The money wasn’t bad, circa £70,000 a year for the text copy. Except that these columns are about 1,000 words a day – 30,000 words a month, relentlessly, 365 days a year. Other columnists got much more money for doing much less work. Then the telephone lines came in which made considerable quantities of money for me in the early days – though more for the newspapers and BT. And they caused a great deal of jealousy among journalists who tend to regard astrology at the best of times as an idiotic frivolity beneath contempt. They never seemed to grasp that it fed money into the newspaper and that their readers liked it. I left the Express when Jonathan Cainer came in – which is ﬁne since I’m a freelance and it’s a competitive business so I’ve no gripes on that score. The Express’s commercial syndication department wanted me to continue to write a daily column which they wouldn’t
copy in return for phone line revenue. Jonathan Cainer made the same deal with the Daily Mail, which he joined after a huge promotional campaign in 1992. Reports soon circulated that Cainer was earning £1 million a year. Every horoscope columnist had to do a phone line – although most of them didn’t see much money for their work. After BT, the hosting company, and the publication took their cut, only about 10 per cent was left for the astrologer. Workplaces began to block calls and interest dwindled. Phone line revenue began to dip in the 1990s and was negligible for regional publications. Editors still see a horoscope column as an advert promoting the astrologer, not as meaningful content, so why should they pay you when they are giving it to you for free? Astrology’s media profile rapidly declined in print, TV and radio – which left the web as an outlet. The internet is awash with free horoscopes, not necessarily
pay for or print in order to continue syndication contracts elsewhere that carried telephone lines. It was a ferocious mess and we parted company. The commercial people regarded the astrology columns as ‘teasers’ for the telephone lines. Teasers? 360,000 words a year! I think they thought we just magic them out of thin air. The women’s magazines market has also been badly hit in the downturn. Nowadays magazines often blithely say: “We don’t pay but you’ll get your phone lines advertised.” And horrifyingly they were asking at one point to be paid themselves to feature an astrology column on the mistaken assumption it rolled in extra beneﬁts for the astrologer. They put astrology on the cartoon page. The readers love it but the editorial staff are embarrassed by it. Astrology to them is a joke – except when they sneak up to you in a corner and demand to know what’s going on for them personally.” * Marjorie Orr is a former member of the NUJ’s Broadcasting Industrial Council
written by astrologers. Websites want free text to promote other features. Specialist companies supply horoscope feeds to 20 or more websites for as little as £3 a day. The original copy is often supplied on the cheap by Indian companies. At least one celebrity astrologer uses a feed for their website. Some companies don’t even bother going this far. They simply set their astrological software to output and use the unedited copy. Horoscope columnists are usually at the bottom of the freelance pile, no matter what their experience. A women’s magazine astrologer for 20 years says:“Still to be paid at random intervals, after years of solid service, rankles a bit, not to mention making ordinary household finances a constant tightrope walk. Quote me if you wish, but don’t name me, I want to keep those few jobs I still have left!” Astrologers aren’t alone in suffering from the recession. But they are exceptional in that their writing is increasingly being replaced by computers. We should have seen it coming? Some of us did. That doesn’t make us any happier.
Kim Farnell is a freelance journalist and has been an astrologer for 20 years. She is president of the Astrological Lodge of London.
theJournalist | 13
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Together we can make a difference Ten reasons why you should be in the National Union of Journalists • Protection at work • C ommitment to improving the pay and conditions of journalists • Free legal advice service • T he leading trade union in the fight for employment rights • Expert advice on copyright issues • Skilled representation at all levels • Your own national press card • Strong health and safety policies • A champion in the fight for press and broadcasting freedom • Major provider of training for journalists
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14 | theJournalist
THE VIEW FROM INSIDE PR Name: Richard Simcox Job description: National Press Officer at PCS
We’re all in this together...
s a journalist and a trade unionist who has worked on both sides of the fence – poacher and gamekeeper – I understand the dynamics of media ownership, news and politics. So it still puzzles me that, as national press ofﬁcer for one of the UK’s largest trade unions, I get more calls from the Daily Mail than I do from the Independent.
all that, like a lot of copy, quotes in newspapers from trade unions will have come from the Press Association – and more than likely from its hard-working industrial correspondent. And it is surely a sorry sign of our times that in July the Guardian felt able to run, apparently without irony, a leader that advised unions to ‘borrow a line from the Conservative manifesto – we’re all in this together’. I wish I were making this up.
Organised labour, what’s that?
Our approach to the media
By and large, coverage of trade unions and workers’ rights in the mainstream national media is shocking. Let’s get that unpleasant fact out of the way nice and early. The decline in industrial correspondents has left a gaping hole where honest, knowledgeable reportage of the working lives and struggles of millions of people ought to be. With some notable exceptions (who know who they are), it all too often feels like I’m teaching ‘Trade unions: a beginners’ guide’ to my ﬁve-year-old daughter’s school class. The other day, for example, I had to explain patiently to a Sunday Times journalist that no, I couldn’t line up an interview with an employer for him because we represent the workers, see. It will come as no surprise at
So, how do we cope with the constant frustration and disappointment of having stories ignored, sniffed at or spiked at the last minute? Part of the job is to argue the media’s case to colleagues, ofﬁcials and reps, some of whom would sever all ties except with the Morning Star. It is to explain that they need us and we need them – the more contact we have, the more we will be trusted etc, etc. We train our reps and ofﬁcials in the basics of writing press releases, pitching story ideas, and techniques for all types of interviews. More of our members now use Twitter and incorporate social and digital media into their campaigning. But above all, we encourage our reps to make and maintain contacts with local journalists.
Research shows that more people read local or regional newspapers than read a national, and local media are more trusted than nationals. So a local newspaper campaign against an ofﬁce closure or a service cut is invaluable to our members ﬁghting on the ground.
What lies ahead? The work of PCS members, mostly government employees, touches all our lives every day. But their jobs, pay, pensions, and now their very contracts are being targeted in the most shameful way by their employer. With the low-paid, unemployed workers, pensioners, students and disabled people all being made to pay for an economic crisis they had no hand in causing, I recognise we will have a tough job on our hands to win public sympathy for civil servants. But when you consider that average pay in the civil service is £2,000 less than in the private sector, and the average pension is just £4,200 a year, it’s clear they’re not,feather-bedded civil servants, as large sections of the media would have us believe. Our members need the support of the media now more than ever, and they will also need your support as trade unionists in the weeks and months ahead. So remember, you’re in a union, they’re in a union. They have a story to tell, you have one to write.
More news at www.pcs.org.uk
theJournalist | 15
David Hencke weighs up the prospects for journalists and quality journalism in the fledgling world of the internet pay wall...
he history of journalism will mark July 2010 as a key moment – the month Rupert Murdoch introduced the first internet pay wall for two UK national newspapers , the Times and the Sunday Times. The Murdoch pay wall aims to destroy the spirit of free access to information on the internet and bring in millions of pounds of new revenue for his international media empire. Combined with plans to take full control of BSkyB, News Corp wants to be the ultimate monopolistic profit-making machine, spanning pay TV, print media and the web. From just one pay wall, Murdoch wants to create a large enclosed walled garden with a barbed wire fence on top. He will be hoping that if it works, the Telegraph, Daily Mail, the Mirror and the rest of the old Fleet Street titles will follow suit, leaving just the BBC and the Guardian offering free access. Hopefully for him, the BBC, hit by huge cuts from the new coalition government, will by then be forced to charge or scale down its web service, and the Guardian, will over-reach itself, and go bust. That I suspect is the News Corp agenda (though they would deny it) but like many best laid plans it could come to grief. It is more likely that under the weight of unintended consequences from its action the pay wall will crack and crumble. Murdoch is not the only player and his aim is to return to the pre-internet status quo ante when people had to buy newspapers to get information. It is like King Canute trying to turn back the tide. The level that is required for News Corp success can be seen by research from the Guardian into whether charging for its highly regarded website would be a runner. Tim Brooks, managing director of Guardian News and Media, says that despite looking at every conceivable way of doing it, the result was the same. They found that the extra revenue generated would be so low (with expected returns of less than £10 million) that it was not worth considering commercially, and that readers to the site would disappear in droves, along with advertising. This would deafeat the whole object of bringing quality journalism to the widest possible audience. It will be months before people know whether this will apply to the Times and Sunday Times, but it would be remarkable if they defy the reasoning. What seems more likely to happen is that a combination of new players, bright young net entrepreneurs and a different approach to advertising will provide a new future for journalism. All this will require existing players to adapt even more rapidly than they do now. Already In the print arena there is a challenge since Russian oligarch and ex-KGB officer Alexander Lebedev bought a controlling interest in the London Evening Standard. Since it was offered free the struggling paper’s prospects have been transformed. Tens of thousands of commuters pick up copies
Wall of D
16 | theJournalist
From just one pay wall, Murdoch wants to create a large enclosed walled garden with a barbed wire fence on top
to read its journalism and it is attracting advertising and no longer losing money. Not so well known was an attempt to offer the Independent – which he also purchased for a nominal £1 – free in London during the general election. If the Indie moved in that direction it would cause ructions across the national press. Then there are the new media players and the young entrepreneurs. Most internet providers, with the exception of aol, now rely on churnalism rather than journalism for their news – just repeating other media outlets headlines and stories. But the threat of pay walls has started a rethink. Msn, which has some original content, commissioned me through Raw Cut TV, an independent TV company, to pay for trial blogs and video blogs during the election and emergency budget. Peter Bale, the head of msn’s news content, is keen to go further and commission investigative journalism pieces. They are not thinking alone and the finance behind companies such as Microsoft and Google is so vast that they could challenge any pay wall. Computer manufacturers such as Hewlett Packard, through its foundation, already funds work useful to journalists to open up data held by the European Union, particularly on previously secret farm subsidies. Other big players hovering; most intriguing is Tory Lord Ashcroft, whom people expect soon to resign the deputy chairmanship of the Tory Party to concentrate on business interests. Before the election, he started buying up websites, funding bloggers and publishing ventures. At first it looked like a typical Tory plot to win the election with his ownership of Conservative Home and bankrolling of Tory blogger and publisher, Iain Dale. It is becoming clear that Ashcroft’s interests are commercial, not political. He is looking at a way to make the internet pay and is against the pay wall approach taken by Murdoch. Extraordinary as it may seem – given that he was on the wrong end of a press investigation – he is said to be keen to revive quality journalism. So what of the future? It is the combination of new ways of attracting advertising revenue and ideas by bright geeks that is really driving the change forward. Google, Twitter and Facebook realise that they hold enormous amounts of personal data on a younger generation that cares less about its privacy than older generations. Technological developments now mean that it is possible to target individuals directly with products they might want to buy, rather than place advertisements in publications that could attract sales. More importantly the development of Ipads, Iphones and
theJournalist | 17
Apps is gradually putting the reader in editorial control. The Guardian has managed to sell 150,000 Apps to readers which not only generate new revenue but give the public power to personalise editorial content. According to Mr Brooks: “The most popular item in Apps gives the reader the opportunity to prioritise the coverage they want. They can take all the political coverage first or ignore it.” This is controversial because effectively it means all the hours Guardian news executives spend agonising whether to put a tale on Page One or Page 24 can be overridden by the reader at a touch of a screen. The logic becomes a business model for the first personalised newspaper – combining up-to-date information tailored to the interests of the reader without relying on one brand to provide everything. It is already technically feasible, has been trialled in Germany, and would attract advertising targeted at the reader. It could still require deep pockets. New media expert Alex Hilton, says: “If I could make micropayments for one paper’s politics output – and take another paper’s columnists or sports section, why should I be restricted to one package each day? That can be taken down to syndication at a journalist level but once you do that, you can then syndicate the sale of advertising.
“Apple clearly understands with its launch of iAds that whoever owns the method of transmission makes the money with their 5-25 per cent cut of everything transmitted, whether it be copy or ads. “This is why Murdoch was happy to spend money on Sky for so long; because he now owns a method of transmission and makes a hell of a lot of money just from owning it.” At the moment the jury is still out on how new journalism will develop. Earlier this year the NUJ held a conference on how a new generation could make money from the web, blogosphere and community funded journalism. The debate is now being taken forward in a new website set up by freelance Alex Klaushofer newmodeljournalism.com that monitors, evaluates and reviews developments from hyperlocals to pay walls. It is clear the world will have changed out of recognition in the next five years. Many people have warned about the death of good journalism. But there is enormous creativity out there – possibly just enough to find a way to finance and develop a vibrant way of reviving a vital profession.
The jury is still out on how new journalism will develop
18 | theJournalist
Donnacha DeLong is Vice President of the NUJ and represents the New Media sector
THE NUJ AND ME What made you become a journalist? When I was at school, I saw a course in journalism as a way to become a writer and try to change the world.
What other job might you have done?
What was your earliest political thought? I was raised in a fairly political environment, surrounded by memories of Irish Republican heroes of the early 20th century, so it’s hard to identify when my own politics began. I’d say the ﬁrst political thoughts of my own had more to do with deciding I’d do whatever I wanted with my own body despite the conservatism of late 80s Ireland. Thus, my numerous piercings and various hairstyles.
What are your hopes for journalism in the next five years?
rows of trees being grown for golfcourses. As the weather got hotter, the weeds got bigger and more difﬁcult to pull. Hell!
I hope the entire business model changes and that new, imaginative and independent models bring about the end of the broken big groups.
And the best?
When did you join the NUJ and why?
No place I’ve worked has been all good. But there were times in Amnesty International where I worked closely with wonderful people from all over the world and it was fantastic. It was leaving them that made leaving the organisation so hard.
I joined as a student member because I was asked and automatically applied for full membership when I got a job – because that’s what you do, isn’t it?
What advice would you give to someone starting in journalism?
What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months?
Are many of your friends and family in a union?
Be creative – now is the time for new ideas and imaginative ways to do what we do.
That the rest of the trade union movement forgets about political parties, whether it is the Labour Party or new small parties, and focuses on recruiting and organising – particularly in the private sector.
Music is my ﬁrst love and I was taught classical piano – so maybe a musician.
Nearly all of them (I’m working on it).
What’s been your best moment in your career? In 2004, I wrote a piece for Amnesty International’s website about hypocrisy in the Iranian legal system. It was picked up by bloggers in Iran and came to the Government’s attention – they responded, for the ﬁrst time in years.
Who is your biggest hero? Emma Goldman or Rudolf Rocker – two people for whom politics were completely personal, they’ve been huge inspirations on my life.
Probably successfully building my ﬁrst chapel in RTÉ and reaching 100 per cent membership.
I think most problems we face are due to the political and economic systems we live under – no one person is responsible.
I’ve twice left jobs in dispute with my employers – I’ve no doubt my union activism has played a part in bosses turning against me.
What is the worst place you’ve worked in? A ﬁeld in county Dublin – I weeded
Hero: Emma Goldman
What advice would you give a new freelance?
And in the union?
And the worst ones?
And your fears?
Which six people (alive or dead) would you invite for a dinner party? Robert Anton Wilson, Noam Chomsky, Emma Goldman, Rudolf Rocker, Constance Markiewicz and Aleister Crowley – it would be an interesting night.
TIME LIFE PICTURES
Worldwide links: Amnesty
That we don’t ﬁnd ways to pay for professional journalism and it becomes a hobby rather than a profession.
Who would you like to see join the NUJ? All of the estimated hundreds of thousands of potential members working in the new media sector.
What are your hopes for the NUJ? I hope the whole membership comes together like never before to build the union. Every member needs to take recruitment seriously. We need to improve work with students to ensure they become full members and we need more solidarity across sectors in the big battles we face with employers and potentially the Government.
How would you like to be remembered? As a loveable trouble-maker! theJournalist | 19
Feeling the squeeze
Paul Donovan checks out the market for decent-paying freelance work. It’s not where you might expect
ver the past decade many freelance rates have either stood still or, in the case of many national papers, actually dropped. And the downward pressure is also throwing up some unusual anomalies. Now, there are often better rates available on trade or trade union magazines than on the nationals. So a freelance doing a shift on the Independent or Guardian would receive £138 and £160.40 respectively, compared with £210 on Construction News or £220 at the magazine for Nautilus, the ships’ officers’ union. An eight-hour shift on the Observer would pay £175 compared with £185 for the same time on the human resources magazine People Management. A Saturday shift at the Sunday Express pays £147 compared with £160 on Public Finance magazine – on a weekday. On word counts, a 1,000 word feature for Construction News would net £375 compared with £320 on the Observer. A similar piece for Saga magazine would pay £500 compared with £300 on The Guardian. Photographers have also been hit, with nationals such as the Daily Mail paying £150 for a day shift and the Observer £145. This compares to £250 and £280 for a half day from Saga magazine and Ucatt, the construction union, respectively. Many national papers have steadily pushed down their rates in recent years. Veteran journalist Bill Hagerty recalled a recent call from a commissioning editor at the Times saying they were reviewing rates. “I asked if that meant they were reviewing them upward and there was a long silence.” Notable reductions have seen the Daily Mail go from paying £660 in 2006 for 1,000 words to £400 today. Daily Telegraph rates seemed to take a turn for the worse after the Barclay brothers took over, with the paper paying £250 in 2009 compared with £438 in 2007. The Guardian reduced its rate from £500 in 2006 to £300 two years later. Some sections of The Guardian have also begun paying for words printed rather than an agreed amount for a commissioned story. This can mean a very low return for the news freelance, who may have to put a lot of work into a story only to find it marginalised because of bigger news elsewhere on the day. A similar anomaly comes at the Independent, which pays a flat £200 rate for a comment piece regardless of length. Other papers such as the Sunday Telegraph and Mail on Sunday continue to pay an amount for the whole story commissioned regardless of final words published. Eila Rana, emerging markets editor at Bladonmore, believes journalists should look harder at the trade sector. “I can understand why freelances want to write for the nationals
• London has the greatest concentration of freelances and the London Freelance Branch has its own website www. londonfreelance. org. The branch publishes a newsletter for all freelances in the union. • Nottingham has become the latest union branch to set up an initiative for freelances, with a website to promote work locally. Linking with regional PR groups, it aims to get freelances more work. The branch charges £20 for an entry in the directory for two years. Nottsmedia.co.uk
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– the profile it offers can often help to get more lucrative work in the trade sector – but at some point I’m sure they find themselves weighing the benefits of profile against the benefits of generally higher rates.” One journalist recalled that people did freelance work on the nationals 20 years ago with a view to getting a staff job, almost as an apprenticeship. Now jobs are disappearing and the old freelance route to a staff position is a road less travelled. Some freelances feel that prospects are now so grim that they are considering quitting the industry. Maggie Brown, a long-time writer for The Guardian, says: “The whole industry is in crisis because we have not worked out how to pay for proper journalism, and we never may in my working life. I think the whole thing is dire. Yes, there are better rates, and in some magazines a pound per word is still possible. But I am, I’m afraid, glad to be reaching retirement age.” Hagerty believes there is a danger that freelance journalism will become like acting. “A lot of actors are out of work and there are those in work who have to do other jobs to make ends meet, they do the job for love not money,” he says. The NUJ in the workplace will makes a major difference. At People Management, for instance, the pay deal negotiated each year includes freelance rates. So, against the general prevailing trend, rates have steadily increased over the years.
The Daily Mail has gone from paying £660 in 2006 for 1,000 words to £400 today
rate for the job New freelances or those about to become freelance may not
realise the full range of help available from the NUJ. If you’re a member you get invaluable networking opportunities with access to union branches and freelance networks. The union’s freelance office advises on fees, contracts, copyright, employment rights, insurance and other issues. The union has a fees guide to help you get the best rate for the job. It, or the Freelance Industrial Council, will chase late payers for you. The NUJ Freelance Directory is the biggest and most reliable listing of media freelances in Britain and Ireland and listing is free. The Freelance Fact Pack provides advice for working and living as a freelance. If you’re freelance and not a member it’s easy to join and subscription rates are linked to your income. For more help email email@example.com
Regd. in England no. 4703135, The Studio, 22 Vernon Drive, Stanmore, Middx. HA7 2BT. VAT no. 865 2689 79.
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Col. Derek Wilford gives Eddie Barrett a confident but discredited account of paratroop action on Bloody Sunday
RTE Stills Library
t seems like a lifetime ago, that crisp and sunny January Sunday back in 1972. Of course, for 17-yearold Jackie Duddy and 13 other unarmed Derry citizens – a total of seven teenagers among them – killed by soldiers of the 1st Parachute Regiment, it’s a lifetime they were denied. For the most part, I suspect that none of us outsiders in the kindly city of Derry on Bloody Sunday 38 years ago (I was there as a reporter for Irish broadcaster RTE) have thought all that much since about how a mighty world power unleashed a highly trained unit of killing professionals on thousands of decent and honourable afternoon marchers demanding an end to imprisonment without trial in Northern Ireland. But those thoughts were stirred again by the publication of the Saville Report, determining that uniformed servants of the Crown were out of control when they shot dead innocent demonstrators. My notebook from Bloody Sunday records frequently the term ‘hooligan’, because that’s how the British Army press office described those of its adversaries who weren’t carrying snipers’ rifles. Those snipers,
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After the Saville Report brought some justice for the victims 38 years on, Eddie Barrett describes how it was at the time incidentally, had been taken out of the march area – along with their weapons – because both wings of the IRA suspected that the march would be used by the army as an opportunity to storm Derry’s Bogside and Creggan area and end its ‘no go’ status which had provided a safe haven for the IRA. I saw the weapons being removed. The thousands of people on that officially banned Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march setting out from the hills of the Creggan housing estate and going into central Derry were the usual combination of the city’s residents encountered on so many previous demonstrations: youngsters out for a lark, stern-jawed mothers and fathers who believed that life could be better for their children in a new society defined by decency and human rights, and gentle older folk who still seemed a little astonished that the sweeping urge for
So, when the Paras went in to begin killing, only the BBC’s news team was still on its feet and filming
‘civil rights’ across so many countries might just create a fairer life for their grandchildren. A very good account of the march and its atmosphere was written by Dr Raymond McClean, available at cain. ulst.ac.uk/events/bsunday/mcclean. htm#chap7 . A man of fierce integrity and compassion, former RAF doctor Ray McClean attended the post mortem examinations of those killed, among them victims he had sought to keep alive. Before the Parachute Regiment unleashed its shooting war on the marchers, RTE cameraman Sean Burke, sound recordist Eamonn Hayes and myself were among the television crews ‘taken out’ by a water cannon spraying emetic red dye on those at the front of the march when it reached an army blockade close to Derry city centre. So, when the Paras went in to begin killing, only the BBC’s news team was still on its feet and filming. But that was enough. Even after all these years, the work of BBC reporter John Bierman remains one of the great examples of courageous journalism in the public interest. Fearless, accurate – and not a little arrogant – in his contempt for the lies peddled after the killings by the British Army press machine. It was an example we all sought to follow. Thanks to the work of many journalists on that day, among them photographers Trevor McBride and Colman Doyle, the events of Bloody Sunday were never buried under the official version blaming ‘nail bombers and snipers’. But I believe it is the determination of NUJ executive council member Eamon McCann (www. irishtimes.com/newspaper/ weekend/2010/0612/1224272334779. html) in pursuing justice for the families of the dead and injured that stands out for generations of journalists to come as an example of why journalism still matters. His work on the Bloody Sunday justice campaign brings honour to his union and his trade.
past notes MIRRORPIX
Francis Beckett looks at some of the fights waging in the unions while Thatcher orchestrated a war
Baby boomers and childish battles
ow did we get from the wild optimism of 1968, when we were sure things could only get better, to now, when the children of the 60s look back and know they created a much worse world for their own children to live in? That’s the question I set out to answer in my new book, and I realised that I’d had a grandstand seat from which to watch the destruction the baby boomers wrought on the unions: I was a member of the NUJ’s NEC at the end of the 70s and the start of the 80s. The children of the 60s came out of university and straight into the unions, bringing their conviction that everything was going to be perfect once the old men were cleared out of the way. ‘I hope I die before I get old’ Roger Daltrey had told them. ‘What a drag it is getting old’ added Mick Jagger, while Bob Dylan warned the old to get out of the way because ‘the times they are a-changing.’ The notion that the uions catered only for middle-aged men was harmless enough, until we woke up a few years later and realised that the myth that the unions were the principle obstacle in the way of equality for women helped Margaret Thatcher to destroy them in the next decade. There was a vigorous campaign to get the NUJ to support abortion on demand. It was a massive set-piece battle. Neither side was interested in anything else the NUJ did. ‘Oppressors of women’ shrieked one side, and ‘murderers of children’ shrieked the other. I let myself be bullied into supporting the proposal. Not a single mind was changed by our decision.
Both sides used us as a battleground, and left it devastated, as battlegrounds always are. After the 1977-8 provincial newspaper strike, the biggest journalists’ strike in living memory, another pointless battleground presented itself. Quite why I agreed to serve on the travelling assize that went round the country expelling journalists from their union for going back to work, I am not sure. I expressed doubt about its wisdom to one of the most enthusiastic witchﬁnders, who replied with a misquote from Lenin: there would be ‘fewer but better Russians.’ Fierce, divisive campaigns were waged for even minor union positions – Bernard Levin’s campaign to wrest control of the London Freelance Branch from the left became famous. They were ﬁghting for control of one branch of one small union. Yet such was the perceived power of the unions that no-one thought this at all disproportionate. The events that really were to change Britain – the failure of Barbara Castle’s attempt at union reform, the discovery of north sea oil, the print unions’ approval of Rupert Murdoch’s proposed takeover of The Sun – went almost unnoticed. It was as though Thatcherism carefully planted its gun emplacements, and then sat quietly with a glass of vintage wine, wondering how long it would be before the children of the 60s looked away from the pretty coloured lights long enough to notice. The unions rendered themselves vulnerable in the 70s, and never quite knew what hit them in the 80s. In 1979, ﬁve million people were in closed
Above: peace campaigners at the Greenham Common air base in the early 80s . Right: printers march against Thatcher
The myth that the unions were the principle obstacle in the way of equality for women helped Margaret Thatcher to destroy them in the next decade
shops; by 1993 the closed shop had been outlawed. In 1979, 13.3 million people were in unions; by 1993 it was under nine million, and only a third of employed workers belonged to a union – the lowest percentage since 1946. In 1979, nearly three quarters of the workforce were covered by collective bargaining agreements; by 1993 it was fewer than half. A series of Acts of Parliament reduced the unions’ bargaining strength dramatically. Unions now have a fraction of the ability they had in the 70s to protect workers from their employers. The baby boomers entered the unions with enthusiastic intolerance and a conviction that nothing done in earlier years by grey old men in grey crumpled suits could possibly have any value. They made the unions their playground and their battleground, and they fattened them for slaughter by Margaret Thatcher.
Francis Beckett’s ‘What did the baby boomers ever do for us?’ is published by Biteback Publishing.
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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
INDEPTH THE PICKET’S HILLSBOROUGH BENEFIT Where: The Picket, Jordan Street, Liverpool Date: Friday August 20th visit www.savethepicket.com
Festival fever The summer festival season is in full swing with plenty of opportunities to have fun in the open air. If you’re not already festivaled out, check out these: Summer Sundae Weekender De Montfort Hall, Leicester 13-15 August Indie/folk boutique festival including Tinchy Stryder, Johnny Flynn, The Go! Team and The Fall. summersundae.com Croissant Neuf Summer Party Usk, Monmouthshire 13-15 August Croissant Neuf is a long-running stage at Glastonbury. Capturing the spirit of Glasto but on a much smaller scale. partyneuf.co.uk Green Man, Brecon Beacons – Wales 20–22 August Featuring Doves, Flaming Lips, Joanna Newsom and Billy Bragg among others. www.greenman.net
It’s 21 years since the disaster at Hillsborough when 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives in the massive crush caused by overcrowding at the FA Cup semi ﬁnal. But for many people in Liverpool the trauma lives on as they campaign for greater justice for the victims and their families. And the victim list extends beyond those who died from injuries sustained on the day. On Friday August 20th The Picket will hold a beneﬁt gig for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Angela King, daughter of a survivor of Hillsborough who went on to commit suicide because of post traumatic stress. Angela’s father had seen one of his best friends die next to him in the now notorious Leppings Lane end of the Shefﬁeld stadium. The Picket has been at the forefront of mixing music and entertainment with politics and social justice for more than 25 years. The music venue and cultural centre grew out of initiatives to help the unemployed in the early 80s. It was started, and is still run, by Phil Hayes. He says: “It was an attempt to make creative use of enforced leisure, to help stop people sinking into drug use when heroin was a very big problem. We were providing a social service in a sense. It was our way of responding to unemployment, by putting on events for the unemployed.” Funding for The Picket and a recording studio
Reading/Leeds – Little John’s Farm, Reading/Bramham Park, Leeds 27-29 August Reading is the world’s oldest rock festival and this year the twin festivals have a great line-up including Guns n’ Roses, Arcade Fire and the unmissable reunion of The Libertines. readingfestival.com leedsfestival.com Limetree – Grewelthorpe, North Yorkshire 27-29 August Set on a farm, the accent is on soul and funk but there is also a spot of rock electronica and reggae. Headliners are The Blockheads, James Taylor Quartet and Pauline Black. limetreefestival.co.uk Shrewsbury Folk Festival – West Midlands Showground, Shrewsbury 27-30 August One of the biggest events in Shropshire. This year featuring Billy Bragg, Afro Celt Sound System and Cara Dillon shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk
came from some of the biggest names in music including Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Joe Strummer, and Paul Weller. In the 80s and 90s The Picket became one of the best venues for emerging talent in the city with early performances by The La’s, The Farm, Happy Mondays, Cast, Space and The Coral. Phil is the brother of Billy Hayes, the CWU general secretary, and says that politics and music are massively intertwined in Liverpool. “Noone could have been more political than John Lennon, especially his solo stuff. But anyone from Liverpool has that history, people are naturally questioning, and aware of their industrial heritage too with the docks and manufacturing.” The Picket does much to promote causes and stage beneﬁt gigs. It also needed to save itself a few years ago. The original venue in Hardman Street was forced to close in 2004. But after a wide campaign backed by many local musicians including Pete Wylie from the Mighty Wah and Ian McNabb from the Icicle Works it re-opened two years later in new premises near the Mersey. The venue borrows from The Clash to describe its glitzy new home: “This is our place and we live by the river.” *If you’re quick you may make it in time to enter a rafﬂe to win one of Elvis Costello’s acoustic guitars. For more details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Arts Electric Picnic – Portlaoise, Ireland 3-5 September Ireland’s leading boutique festival with Roxy Music, Leftﬁeld, and Massive Attack. electricpicnic.ie Jersey Live – Trinity, Jersey 4-5 September Indie/dance festival by the coast. Headliners are Paul Weller, Calvin Harris, Tinie Tempah
REVIEW Ridiculing the establishment: Rude Britannia, British comic art, Tate Britain
Visual arts Picasso: Peace and Freedom Tate Liverpool Until 30 August A major exhibition with more than 150 works gives an insight into the artist’s life as a political activist and campaigner for peace, challenging the more widely-held view of him as a genius but also a playboy and compulsive extrovert. Rude Britannia – Tate Britain, London, Until 5 September Tate Britain’s hugely funny and very rich look at satirical art through the ages. Politicians and pillars of the establishment from the 1600s to the present day are ridiculed. In a brilliant move Viz’s Roger Mellie acts as the guide for one room with typical irreverance as satire is satirised. Rooms covering Politics and Social Satire have been put together by Gerald Scarfe, Steve Bell and the Viz cartoonists. Comedian Harry Hill has curated a room on the Absurd. www.tate.org.uk Viz – artwork The Lit & Phil, Newcastle 12 August to 4 September And on the subject of the marvellous Mr Mellie, see him, the Fat Slags and other Viz favourites in all their original glory www.litandphil.org.uk On Stage Striking the Balance – Touring the UK Until 3 September Striking the Balance is a play about equal pay commissioned by the TUC. Performed by Mikron, the theatre company that tours Britain by narrow boat. Forty years after the Equal Pay Act, it charts campaigns from the 60s to now, from sewing machinists in Dagenham to dinner ladies in Yorkshire. www.mikron.org.uk
Picasso on show at Tate Liverpool
‘Ere San, look what’s on in Newcastle
The Left Field was back at Glastonbury after a year off, and the NUJ was at the centre of the political debates. Tim Lezard reveals some backstage secrets... Being woken up five minutes before you’re due on stage isn’t the best preparation for public speaking, but I learn it’s not uncommon at Glastonbury. I’m not supposed to appear for another 24 hours but step in because the scheduled speaker can’t be found. Turns out she’s running round the campsite in a towel. Obviously. Chaos is almost compulsory in the Left Field. Making a welcome return, the stage mixing pop and politics is curated by Billy Bragg, who chooses the music, leaving the debates to RMT press ofﬁcer Geoff Martin. Geoff organises six hour-long sessions over the weekend, giving trade unions and campaigning organisations a chance to highlight their issues to a 1,000-capacity marquee. The debates assume a laid-back, festival ﬂavour, with some speakers not turning up, others arriving unannounced and still more dozing off backstage beforehand. So it is with Jon McClure, the 6ft 4in singer from Reverend and the Makers, who’s sprawled uncomfortably on a sofa, sound asleep until Billy tickles his feet, and BBC Asian Network DJ Bobby Friction, who’s snoring into a beanbag on the ﬂoor. Bobby’s obviously suffering because having started speaking, he runs off stage mid-sentence. He returns, ﬁnishes his sentence, starts another and then dashes off again, leaving NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear to ﬁll in the blanks. “There are a lot of things the BBC does wrong but, at the end of the day, there are a lot of things it does right, which is why we should defend it,” Jeremy tells the crowd, who are quick to voice their opposition to cuts, especially those to 6 Music. Billy’s leadership is very hands-on, welcoming us backstage and joining us round the campﬁre for a sing-song at 3am. He believes the Left Field is the very soul of Glastonbury and calls in favours from mates to make it happen, with sets from The King Blues, Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly!, Reverend and the Makers, Frank Turner and, memorably, Carl Barat, performing solo before his much awaited reunion in August with fellow Libertine Pete Doherty. It’s great to know previous Left Fields have radicalised festival-goers and great to be part of a team that has the chance to carry on that tradition. It would have even better to be given a bit more notice before speaking...
IMAGE BY PETE DUNWELL
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cable right about pensions Christine Buckley’s article ‘War at Work’ (June/July) pinpointed very well the serious cuts that will be made to public services by the Tory/Liberal democrat coalition. Issues surrounding employment, unions and health and safety legislation being compromised are extremely serious. Life is going to be tough. However, I have to say that Vince Cable is right about public sector pensions. They are unsustainable. Having worked in pensions in the private and public sector before journalism, I feel that rights enjoyed by workers such as the police and firefighters are far too generous. Granting pensions to people in their late 40s and early 50s makes no sense unless they have medical proof of a shortened life. In the private sector you would not have a viable scheme if people paid in for 20 or 25 years and then received a generous pension for 30 or 35 years. The taxpayer bails out the public sector. Meanwhile private sector workers increasingly have to rely on inferior money purchase schemes. The cost of public sector pensions over the next 20 to 30 years runs into billions. They need cutting. The average and poorly paid private sector workers pay dearly not only by suffering inferior terms but also by paying through council tax. There has to be more equity. David Rimmer FOC Herts and Essex Newspapers
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH BBC must be fair over past-service benefits The BBC’s pensions proposal finds a way of undermining the one thing set in stone about final salary schemes – that benefits, once accrued for past service, cannot be taken away; they are contractual. Now they want to de-link accrued benefits, not just future service benefits, from salary, with annual uprating limited to one per cent for the whole lot. Mark Thompson told Andrew Marr (July 4) that the only way members could lock in the value of past service benefits would be to leave the scheme. Indeed, depending on future inflation patterns, it might be the best option for some members under this proposal. But there is another way. Many final salary schemes provide for members whose salary is cut midway through their career (perhaps as a result of going part time) to have their pension entitlement calculated in two parts – using different calculations for service
before and after the change. It is the only way in which such people can sensibly remain in the scheme. The BBC needs to be asked whether its agenda is to force people out of the final salary scheme. If it isn’t, then it will find a fair formula for up-rating past-service benefits. Jon Young, Leeds Branch
with either ballot. But that is merely understanding how we got into this legislative mess. The need to change it is something New Labour might care to reflect on during their well-deserved stay in oblivion and their search for someone to lead them out of it. The candidate list gives us little hope. David Beake Norfolk
Tories not to blame for Labour ballot laws
We should be proud of photographers
The general secretary rightly attacks our anti-union laws and their consequences for the RMT and Unite ballots (‘A fight for the right to strike’ June/July). However, Jeremy is wrong to lay all the blame on Tory legislation. The clauses which ensnared these unions were actually added by New Labour. Far be it from me to say anything positive about the Tories but their legislation, unamended by Blair and Mandelson et al, would have found no fault
It is sad that just as the British Photographic Council survey showed trades unions to be among the organisations most respectful of photographers’ rights, some NUJ members seem determined to prove the contrary. Chris Proctor tells us ‘most people can take a photo that’s in focus’. (Letters, June/July) Would he be equally content with any sentence that begins with a capital letter and contains a verb? As a union, the NUJ believes that
we should Stand up for Journalism, arguing that the public deserves better than the pap they are currently being served. Kevin Slocombe refers to ‘outdated customs’. There is nothing outdated about trying to earn a living wage. Freelance photographers have enormous overheads. They must constantly update expensive equipment that dates increasingly quickly; they must insure that equipment, and themselves; and they must spend time processing their images. Retaining the ability to be paid for re-use of their images is necessary for photographers’ survival. Press photographers are an endangered species. Each year it becomes more difficult for them to earn a living. But they are committed to their work – work that is crucial to our democracy. We should be proud of our photographers – not siding with the bosses to cut their pay. Dave Rotchelle, For NUJ Photographers’ Committee
Pay for what you use, it works in supermarkets I read with increasing disappointment comments made by union brothers and sisters that photojournalists are doing themselves out of work and making life difficult for editors. Clearly some members are confused over copyright and don’t understand licensing. Photographers do not sell ‘copyright’, but license use. A low fee for a one-off use, and increased charges proportionately for further uses. We are told that photographers are reducing their earning potential this way. Really? The basic commission and space rates for newspapers have not increased since 1994 and clients are dictating lower fees and assuming more rights, (all rights). Members should be up in arms over such practices, and should support photographers, not berate them! Publications seek to become more economically viable, not by producing a
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more desirable product, but by cutting the costs of supply. When respected editors tell us, ‘most people can take a picture that’s in focus’, we know that standards are dropping, and that photographers may be fighting a losing battle. They say ‘paying for what you use’, is an outdated custom! Not in my supermarket. This industry needs to sort its priorities out. Do we want quality publications or will anything do, and professional journalism is a thing of the past? Pete Jenkins, Nottingham Branch
Brotherly Love? In response to letters in the last edition of The Journalist from Kevin Slocombe of the CWU and Chris Proctor of Aslef, it seems supremely ironic when other unions criticise NUJ members for standing up for our rights and the economic viability of our profession. This is not the support and brotherhood we expect from fellow trade unionists. Copyright was introduced to make creative work economically sustainable.
Paying for only one use and then making images freely available in union libraries is out of order. An article or an image is intellectual property, not a railway wheel or a piece of cloth which is used repeatedly till it wears out. Photography and video are more in demand than ever in this visual age. Our members produce the creative work which editors and web designers fashion into a finished product, whether in print or online. The question is one of workforce exploitation, whether freelance or staff. And that is something other trade unions should understand and care about, not least by embracing and budgeting for best practice themselves, rather than adopting the tactics of shortcuts and cutbacks used against their own members. Simon Chapman Bristol Branch
Union editors’ arguments are short-sighted It’s sad to hear people working for trade unions advance arguments that are the stock in trade of rapacious employers.
Please keep letters to 200 words approx
Boiled down to the basics, the arguments of Kevin Slocombe and Chris Proctor are that freelance photographers (not a noticeably wealthy lot in my experience) are pricing themselves out of a job. This is short sighted. When they came for the freelance photographers, I said nothing, because I was not a freelance photographer. When they came for the subs…you can see where this goes. We have to stick together. The risk Kevin and Chris run is that when they lose their jobs to social networking set-ups that enable union members to speak to one another and to the public without their mediation, there will be no-one left to speak up for them. Some 30 years ago the NUJ was instrumental in instigating what are now the TUC-run Trade Union Communications Awards. They were launched because poor standards, amateurism and penny-pinching meant few members and no outsiders took union communications seriously. Now is not the time to decide, in Chris’s words, that a few amateur snaps are ‘adequate for our readers’. Alan Slingsby London Freelance
Email your letters to: email@example.com Post them to: The Editor, The Journalist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP
Wrong to say who can be a ‘proper journalist’ I’d be interested to see hear how the Scottish NUJ distinguishes ‘real journalists’ from ‘fans with laptops’ (‘Red card for fans with laptops’, June/ July). I reckon the current national media football writers who started out as ‘fans with laptops’ would, too. Earlier this year I wrote reports of my son’s under-9s games for the local paper. I think I qualify as a ‘real journalist’ in the Scottish NUJ’s view, but I’m probably not a ‘real sports journalist’. One time I couldn’t do the report, so I asked another Dad to. He’s an accountant. Was it right for me to report, but wrong for him? We didn’t put anyone out of work, because no reporter covers under-9s football. It’s right to defend standards, but wrong to control who can or can’t be a ‘proper journalist’. No media organisation worth its salt will cover a major game with anyone other than staff or an established freelance. Otherwise, if someone can cover a game and get a break, it’s long been accepted that they do so. Martin Cloake London
theJournalist | 27
professional Training courses Non Members
To book a place on any of these courses or if you would like some advice or have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7843 3730.
Tue/Wed 7/8 Sept
Fri 17 Sept
Getting Started as a Freelance
Thur/Fri 23/24 Sept
Writing for the Web
Mon/Tue 4/5 Oct
Tue 5 Oct
Public Relations Introduction
Thur/Fri 7/8 Oct
Thur/Fri 14/15 Oct
Build Your Own Website
Fri 15 Oct
Pitch & Deal
Sat/Sun 16/17 Oct
Online Publishing Introduction
Sat 16 Oct
Sun 17 Oct
Tue/Wed 19/20 Oct
Mon 1 Nov
Writing Your First Book
Wed 3 Nov
You can view course outlines at www.nujtraining.org.uk
september – november 2010 London
The NUJ offers a wide variety of short courses in professional subjects. Whether you want to learn the best way to video blog or sell your services as a freelance, you can get to grips with the techniques you need over one or two days. The courses will help you increase and refresh your skills whether you’re at the start of your career or further along the professional path. They will increase your technical skills, improve your writing and editing and also offer you a chance to change direction completely.
Lost Your Job? If you’ve lost a staff job you could be entitled to a free course. Bookings must be made within three months of losing a job and are free at the union’s discretion and subject to availability.
*For Students and members in their first year of employment
Build Your Own Website Rosanna Greenstreet I decided to take the two-day Build Your Own Website course after the NUJ conference on New Ways to Make Journalism Pay. The consensus of the conference was that all journalists need to have a presence on the web. Everyone agreed that having a website wasn’t a licence to print money, but that increasing one’s online profile definitely helped to generate work. I am a published author and for the past 20 years I have had a regular column – the celebrity Q&A in the Guardian Weekend magazine – so I am lucky enough to have a
reasonably high profile. However, I wanted to build on that and take up the opportunities offered by new technology. The course tutor Chris Wheal is a busy journalist with several websites; he is a regular tweeter and has a high profile on the web. Daily, he writes six stories before breakfast and then tweets about them, so people are aware of his work. Chris’s course is designed for the complete beginner. Step by step he helped us to build websites and we used the free, hosted Wordpress system, so there was no need to buy expensive software. In fact the cost of getting started was less than £50.
I may not understand all the logistics of my new site, www. rgreenstreetcelebs.com, but I know how to add copy and images. Chris also gave advice on blogging and helped us to establish facebook and twitter accounts. Particularly useful are his tips on how to pick up followers on twitter, helping to increase my online profile and encourage more people to hit on my site. He even suggested an opportunity for me to make money as an Amazon associate through my site. Rosanna Greenstreet is a freelance journalist and author
28 | theJournalist
THOUGHTS FROM AN I-PRIVVY
Michael Cross on the latest trends and kit
y personal epiphany came in the smallest room. When I realised, to my slight disgust, that I’d walked in and sat down while still absent-mindedly browsing the web on my two-weekold iPad. It’s fair to say that colleagues and facebook friends were less than thrilled when I announced where I was emailing from. But stick with me: the episode differentiates the iPad from any other machine I’ve used in 25 years of playing with portable computers. Believe it or not, the much-hyped Apple gizmo really does transform the experience of viewing electronic media, whether web pages, video or newspapers. But when it comes to creating or uploading electronic media, the iPad has serious disadvantages. For most journalists, the biggest weakness is the keyboard. The pad’s touch-screen keyboard appears almost magically when you need it, and has a remarkably clever (if sometimes irritating) error correction facility. However, unless you have very small ﬁngers it is pretty well impossible to touch-type, and with no separate mouse control text-editing is very ﬁddly.
I-NEWSPAPERS WORTH PAYING FOR Will the iPad save the British
newspaper industry? Despite the enthusiasm of certain editors and proprietors, the answer is still uncertain. However, a good selection of the UK press is already available as ‘apps’ (jargon for programs downloaded from Apple’s online store). The important thing about newspaper apps is they can be downloaded quickly and read while ofﬂine – on a train for example.
It feels very odd to be back in the age of counting words by hand
Predictably enough, one of the ﬁrst to be available was the FT’s mobile edition, laid out very much like the FT’s home page. Stories are easily navigable by tapping a headline or swiping your hand over the touchscreen. However the app does not have one of the nicer features of the iPad, the ability to grow text by spreading your ﬁngers over it. For the moment, at least, the iPad FT is free. As I pay £2 a day for a paper copy, this would mean that my iPad would pay for itself in less than a year. From the Rupert Murdoch stable there’s less inhibition about charging. As a believer in paying for news, I forked out £9.99 for a month’s dose of the ‘specially optimised, edited copy of the
Worse, the most convenient wordprocessing application, Apple’s Pages (downloadable for a ﬁver), doesn’t have a word-count feature. In the second decade of the 20th century, it feels very odd to be back in the age of counting words by hand. So the iPad is a non-starter for ﬁling anything more than the briefest snippet of copy on the move. On the plus side, the iPad is absolutely brilliant for managing email – which feels much less of a chore than on a Blackberry or sitting at a desk. Likewise, the calendar and contact book applications are superbly usable. But then there’s the price. While it’s “from £429”, that will buy you only the basic Wi-Fi device. If you want to be connected on the move, you’ll need the 3G version, which with the maximum memory, always advisable, will set you back £699. You’ll also need a data contract with a mobile service supplier. Worth it? If, like me, you spend a lot of time reading electronic documents like government white papers, the answer is yes. But if you have no immediate business use, it’s a rather pricey toy. And if you take it into the toilet, remember there’s one traditional use for which the iPad can never replace good old paper.
newspaper’. While it is easy to use and read, it does take a noticeable time to download. Ominously, it is the only app that has crashed my iPad so far. Also available, at £4.99, is The Sun for iPad. However my pay-fornews principles haven’t yet extended to buying this, or £7.99 for the Daily Express. More my style is the Wired magazine for £2.99, or the New York Times editors’ choice, which is free. It is worth remarking that the Guardian’s Eyewitness App, showing the double-page photo spread from the day’s paper, is available free, and its popularity proves that the compelling news photograph still has an important role in the multimedia i-age.
OLEKSIY MAKSYMENKO PHOTOGRAPHY/ALAMY
theJournalist | 29
Raymond Snoddy ﬁnds hope for print and broadcasting but fears for quality
Heart still beats in traditional media
t is difﬁcult to be optimistic about the future of the media, and newspapers in particular, at the moment. The drip, drip of job losses makes that close to impossible. Around 50 jobs going at the Times, and no less than 200 at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People, with more probably on the way elsewhere as cost-cutting bites. To add to possible troubles, serious economists are warning of the dangers of a double-dip recession provoked by the budget cutting of the Coalition and other governments of a similar ﬂavour across Europe. In such circumstances no-one wants to be caught offering up Panglossian homilies. This really is not the best of all possible worlds. And yet could it be that the very worst is already over, that if you look carefully enough the tide is already on the turn for the traditional media? A couple of years ago new media extremists were happy to dance on the grave of the old media. Newspapers were as good as dead. They just hadn’t been told yet. Traditional television channels were on their last legs. The future was the web and a limitless supply of on-demand video choice from all over the world. The coup de grace would come from the personal video recorder, which would undermine the economics of commercial television by obliterating the 30-second advertising spot. Forget the ad cycle turning in the media’s favour once the recession was over. This was revolutionary. This was structural. Advertising would continue to migrate online, tantalisingly out of the reach of the
best-laid plans of the old-fashioned mass media. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, we have started to see a steady stream of facts get in the way of the most iconoclastic horror stories. Last year Time magazine listed what it called the 10 most vulnerable newspapers in America and predicted that eight of them would be out of business around now. All are still alive, at least for now. Casualties in the US newspaper business they have amounted to less than one per cent of the 1,400 titles.
Newspapers were as good as dead. They just hadn’t been told yet
ccording to the Nieman Journalism Lab more than 96 per cent of newspaper reading is still done in print and the online share of the newspaper audience’s attention is less than three per cent. News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch has noted an unexpectedly high pickup in both television and newspaper advertising, although it is too early to say whether his charging for content initiative has any chance of success. In the UK, major newspaper groups such as Daily Mail and General Trust and Trinity Mirror have also been reporting increased proﬁts despite the generally remorseless downward trend in newspaper circulations. In television, British viewers have been watching more commercial television, not less – up to a record 16.7 hours a week. The personal video recorder has not killed off conventional advertising. Extra viewing hours compensate for those fast-forwarding through ads. Not reasons to be cheerful but at least reasons for not talking down the power and potential of existing media. It is also time to highlight the most serious threat now facing the old media – the endless rounds of costcutting and sacking of journalists in pursuit of unrealistic levels of proﬁt. Compromise the quality of the journalism and in the end there really will be nothing much worth saving.
For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy
30 | theJournalist
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