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www.nuj.org.uk | august/september 2011

timetochange Ethics under the spotlight

j o u r n a l i s t s


Cover feature

16 Journalists in the spotlight

Greater scrutiny from readers


here is unprecedented scrutiny of journalism following the astonishing phone hacking revelations at the News of the World. The closure of the paper, the impact on News International, and the possible use of phone hacking by other news groups has brought talk of a day of reckoning for journalists to equal the MPs’ expenses scandal. But as the terrible practices of a few News of the World employees are put under the spotlight, there are also examples of journalism at its best; not least the relentless pursuit of the phone hacking story by Nick Davies and The Guardian. Elsewhere, journalists on local papers who have been hit by continuous cuts are making a stand for quality journalism with some success, notably at the Tindle group in London. Meanwhile there has been more strike action at the BBC because of the Corporation’s insistence on implementing compulsory redundancies. All of this, covered in this edition, amounts to a very busy agenda for Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ’s new general secretary, and the union in general. And lastly on a personal note, by the time you read this I won’t be here. I’ve always wanted to say that, picturing an Agatha Christie-style will-reading scene. But it’s not that, thankfully. Instead, I’m taking some time off to look after my newly adopted daughter. But while I go off to stack bricks, feed ducks and struggle with the alphabet, the magazine will be in good hands as Eddie Barrett, who normally helps me, stands in. See you next year.

Christine Buckley Editor Editor Christine Buckley journalist@nuj.org.uk Design Surgerycreations.com info@surgerycreations.com Advertising marcela.ahmeti@tenalps.com Tel: 020 7657 1831 Print Warners www.warners.co.uk Distribution Packpost www.packpostsolutions.com

NUJ 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP info@nuj.org.uk www.nuj.org.uk

Manchester office nujmanchester@nuj.org.uk Glasgow office nujscotland@nuj.org.uk Dublin office info@nuj.ie

Cover picture Christopher Furlong/ Getty Images


04 BBC strike over redundancies Support solid for days of action

05 Job threats in Glasgow

Trinity Mirror outlines cuts

06 Saving local newspapers

Campaign for greater quality


10 I’m a celebrity, get me into here

Is showbiz journalism on the wane

12 View from the top

Interview with the new general secretary


07 Michelle Stanistreet 09 Unspun: the view from inside PR 29 Technology

Arts with Attitude Pages 24-25

Raymond Snoddy Page 30

Letters Pages 21-23


Conscience clause is vital to protect journalists


he Murdoch scandal has highlighted the need for a ‘conscience clause’ to protect journalists from unscrupulous employers. That was the view of speakers at a key NUJ meeting to consider the future of the media in the wake of the phone hacking and police bribery revelations. NUJ parliamentary group secretary John McDonnell MP reminded the meeting that the NUJ had effectively been prevented from organising in Wapping and it had therefore lost the ability to stick up for journalists. “We couldn’t help journalists to stand up to the bullying and for the code of conduct,” he said. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the union needed industrial recognition at News International and elsewhere to help it fight for a conscience clause which would protect journalists from editorial pressure to slant their stories to reflect the wishes of proprietors.

Speakers stressed the importance of press freedom and ethical journalism as a right of the general public, rather than a concept exclusive to journalists. The NUJ organised the meeting in London’s Conway Hall to consider the prospects for the industry after the closure of the News of the World and the tidal wave of outrage which has hit News International and Rupert Murdoch from politicians of all parties. The Leveson debate in the Commons heard how the NUJ code of conduct could play a vital role in securing media standards. McDonnell told MPs that the code was first developed in 1936 and other codes like that of the Press Complaints Commission were based on it. He said there was a need to enforce the code so that journalists and employers knew where they stood. Journalists should be protected by law if they refused to practise the journalism of the ‘sewer’, he said.

The Leveson debate in the Commons heard how the NUJ code of conduct could play a vital role in securing media standards

sacKed noW staFF seekiNG uNioN's HeLp



he union has been taking scores of calls from News of the World journalists anxious to find out their rights following the closure of the paper. Legal surgeries have been held for NUJ members who have been encouraged to

invite colleagues who are not in the union, but who are interested in joining. The union is considering legal action on their behalf. Officials have also been to the Wapping complex in East London to hand out leaflets and to ensure

journalists know their rights. Those who need more information or help should contact the NUJ on 0207 843 3714 or email publishing@nuj.org.uk Meanwhile the NUJ Parliamentary Group has taken action to back staff

thrown out of work by Murdoch’s decision. An early day motion from the group condemns the sackings and it declares that the closure of the News of the World was an act of ‘political opportunism’ by News International.

phone hacking inquiry set to start


he first public hearings in the phone-hacking inquiry will be held next month with the initial focus on the relationship between the press and public, as well as press regulation. Announcing the initial timetable of the hearings,

Lord Justice Leveson, chair of the inquiry, sought to quash claims about his social connections with the Murdochs. He said it was ‘inevitable’ that there would be some contacts between members of the inquiry panel and

the organisations under investigation. Lord Justice Leveson indicated that the panel could miss the 12-month deadline for producing the first report because the terms of reference had grown ‘very substantially’.

in brief... pcc In tuRMoIL as chaIR ResIgns The Press Complaints Commission was plunged into fresh turmoil after its chair quit following criticism of the watchdog’s handling of the phone-hacking scandal. Baroness Peta Buscombe, chair of the commission since April 2009, defended its role and said she would campaign against statutory regulation. The future of the PCC is under review as a result of Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry. JaMes MuRDoch set to Be RecaLLeD James Murdoch was set to be recalled to give evidence at the Commons culture media and sport committee after three former News International executives questioned his evidence. Jonathan Chapman, the former head of corporate and legal affairs, joined former News International executives Tom Crone and Colin Myler in questioning Mr Murdoch’s version of events. I DIDn’t act aLone, says MuLcaIRe Former private investigator for the News of the World Glenn Mulcaire has insisted he did not act alone when he hacked into phones. A statement issued by his solicitors said he “acted on the instructions of others” and strongly rejected suggestions that he “unilaterally” hacked into voicemails MIRRoR ‘faces couRt actIon’ Trinity Mirror was also hit by phone-hacking allegations. The Sunday Times was told that “about three or four cases” were pending at the high court. Trinity Mirror said all its journalists worked within the criminal law, but that it was conducting a review of editorial controls. neWspapeRs guILty of conteMpt The Daily Mirror and the Sun were found guilty of contempt of court over their coverage of the arrest of Chris Jefferies, a suspect in the murder of Bristol architect Joanna Yeates. The Daily Mirror was fined £50,000 and the Sun £18,000 theJournalist | 3


Big impact on schedule as BBC strikes ‘solid’

in brief...

BsKyB BacKIng foR MuRDoch BSkyB gave its backing to chairman James Murdoch despite the News International scandal. The company said he would remain in post as it revealed a 23 per cent increase in operating profits to £1.1 billion. The company also announced a partnership with the BBC to broadcast live Formula 1 between 2012 and 2018. nato InQuIRy Into JouRnaLIst’s Death The BBC has asked Nato to investigate the death of a BBC journalist amid suggestions that he may have been killed by US troops. Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, 25, was one of 19 people, including 12 children, killed in attacks on a TV and radio station in Tarin Kot, in the southern province of Uruzgan.

The NUJ is proud that our members everywhere in the BBC have recognised this threat to their colleagues

4 | theJournalist

our members everywhere in the BBC have recognised this threat to their colleagues, and the danger it poses to the quality journalism. “BBC management seems to live in a fantasy world where it believes it can ignore the rights of staff. The latest ludicrous management ploy was to claim that the strike didn’t have any effect. Clearly BBC management doesn’t watch the corporation’s output very much.” The NUJ has offered a range of practical alternative solutions so that journalists are not forced out of work by the massive programme of cuts. All the those currently affected are willing to accept redeployment, but the BBC is insisting on making skilled and experienced people compulsorily redundant.

stoPPaGe HIts ArABiC serViCe


ournalists at the BBC’s Arabic Service have taken part in a six day strike in protest at unfair working conditions including plans to add 26 days to the working year. The unprecedented

coMpLaInts KIcKeD Into touch By Rte Broadcaster RTE has rejected a complaint from the Football Association of Ireland about sports presenter Des Cahill, stating that his remarks about the FAI were ‘fair and balanced’. The FAI has banned its officials from being interviewed by Cahill following his criticism of FAI administration.

stoppage caused severe disruption to the service. Television and radio presenters were replaced by freelances and unqualified journalists, while some flagship programmes were taken off air.

Journalists decided to celebrate the success of their strike and the first day of Ramadan on August 1 by gathering in front of Broadcasting House for Iftar, an evening meal in which Muslims break

their daylight fast. NonMuslims participated in the gathering, delivering a strong message of unity. Journalists were seeking talks to resolve the dispute, offering proposals to save £2.2 million.

Ministers under pressure from Murdoch CHRISTIAN ALMINANA/GETTYIMAGES

aL JaZeeRa In neW yoRK Arabic news channel Al Jazeera has launched a US cable network in New York. On August 1, Al Jazeera English (AJE) began broadcasting on US network Time Warner Cable, taking it to around two million homes in the region.


he union movement in the Uk and elsewhere has congratulated thousands of journalists who took part in two BBC strikes to defend colleagues against compulsory redundancy. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said there was a ‘solid turnout’ on picket lines across the corporation during both stoppages, with the action having a particular impact on regional news programmes. The stoppages on July 15 and August 1 also caused the loss of radio flagships PM and The World at One, and a curtailed Today programme. BBC2’s Newsnight was lost on both occasions. Roberta Reardon, president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists congratulated NUJ members for defending the quality of programmes and she urged the corporation to negotiate. The strikers also received considerable encouragement from the public and other unions in the Uk, including strong backing from other broadcasters in the north east of England. The industrial action was called over plans to force 387 staff to leave the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring following drastic cuts in government funding. Said Michelle: “The NUJ is proud that


LIBeL payout oVeR panoRaMa cLaIMs An Italian company has accepted substantial compensation from the BBC over a Panorama programme alleging it sold blood products infected with deadly diseases. Father and son Guelfo and Paolo Marcucci, who own and control the Marcucci Group of companies, sued over an October 2006 documentary called The Price of Blood.


vidence that the Conservatives changed broadcasting policy after pressure from News Corporation’s James Murdoch underlined the need to reassess the current disastrous BBC licence fee deal, the NUJ believes. Reports in the Daily Telegraph showed that the Tories abandoned a plan which would ‘top slice’ the BBC licence fee and support other public service broadcasting because James Murdoch opposed it. The decision to freeze the licence fee for the next six years has led to the axing of vital services at the BBC World Service and the imposition of 20 per cent spending cuts.


Glasgow members still threatened with sack


early 50 journalists at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail in Glasgow have taken voluntary redundancy as the NUJ continued negotiations to stop 10 staff being forced from their jobs. Other journalists at risk of redundancy have been absorbed through negotiation back into the workforce at the Trinity Mirror publications using the budget earmarked for casual work. The union has warned that the cuts by management cuts are endangering a unique national newspaper service in Scotland and that loyal readers will quickly see that the changes are harming the content of the papers. NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said: “This whole project introduced by Trinity Mirror management is flawed. The titles will be damaged by the loss of so many good journalists and the introduction of Englishsourced copy and stories from The Mirror

in brief...

can only take away the unique Scottish identity of The Daily Record and Sunday Mail. However, the NUJ will continue to campaign industrially and politically for the future of these profitable papers.” The union had already urged Trinity Mirror to take account of the closure of the News of the World and the commercial opportunity this presented for the group’s titles in Scotland.” ‘This is a great opportunity for your titles to go on the offensive and challenge the News International fold,’’ Paul Holleran had told Trinity Mirror managing director Mark Hollinshead. In June Trinity Mirror had threatened some 93 redundancies when it announced its ‘restructuring’ plans, under which design and subbing of some features would be outsourced to the Press Association, with nonScottish news and features shared with the London-based MIrror titles.

This whole project introduced by Trinity Mirror management is flawed

doncaster rally supports strikers


triking journalists at South Yorkshire Newspapers held a march and rally in Doncaster backed by local unions to give public support to the NUJ challenge to the Johnston Press group to use conciliation service ACAS to resolve the continuing dispute. Sympathetic South Yorkshire unions including Unison, Unite and the CWU

have helped organise the event. One of the striking journalists said: “The strength of feeling in the communities and the backing we’ve had from our readers has been tremendous – now everyone has had a chance to get out on the streets and make some noise about how much they care about quality local journalism.” Journalists at the Doncaster Free

Press, South Yorkshire Times, Selby Times and Epworth Bells began an indefinite strike on July 15 over job cuts, office closures, and increased workloads. Embarrassed Johnston Press bosses have told a teenager they were using to try to break the strike at the Selby Times to stay to stay at home after the NUJ exposed the exploitation.

Fears over Belfast court order pete jenkins


he NUJ has expressed concern at the decision of Belfast Recorder Judge Thomas Burgess to order news organisations to hand over footage of the riots in east Belfast to the Northern Ireland police, the PSNI. NUJ Irish secretary Séamus Dooley has urged media organisations who have expressed opposition over the judgment, to lodge an appeal against the order. Seamus said: “Media workers covering public demonstrations must be allowed to act in an independent fashion and must not be perceived as agents of the police or any other organ of the state. If it is understood that photographers or video journalists will hand over footage, they could be placed in an untenable situation. “It is regrettable that Judge Burgess did not accept the compelling arguments regarding the role of the media in covering public events. The safety implications of this order are enormous.

Refugees can stay after NUJ support Glasgow NUJ Branch celebrates a double success in its campaign to secure justice for journalist refugees. Soon after Cameroon journalist Charles Atangana was granted refugee status, fellow Glasgow branch member Alieu Ceesay was recognised as a refugee by the UK authorities. Alieu, in Britain with his young family, was tortured by the regime in The Gambia JOURNALIST on TREASON charge The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the decision by the Gambian Government to charge Ndey Tapha Sosseh with treason and sedition. IFJ president Jim Boumelha said: “These are clearly bogus charges and aim to frighten and silence journalists who expose the Gambian government’s shocking record on human rights.” OUTGOING EDITOR’S FIGHT FOR CONTROL Outgoing Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy, an NUJ member since 1970, used her leaving speech to reveal the external pressures she faced. She said the main challenges during her nine years in charge were ever-diminishing budgets and the “daily and incessant demand from diverse interests to control our editorial content”. LONDON EVENING SETS THE STANDARD The give-away London Evening Standard, was the biggest winner of readers in the 12 months to March, according to the National Readership Survey. It is estimated to have increased its audience by 16 per cent year on year, to an average of 1,563,000 an issue. PR MEMBERS URGED TO GET IN TOUCH The NUJ is urging the union’s 1,700 members to get in touch with their local NUJ branch to access support. For further information contact the NUJ Publishing Department at Headland House on publishing@nuj. org.uk or 020 7843 3714. theJournalist | 5


tindle sparks campaign to save local newspapers

in brief... MeXIcan JouRnaLIst anD son MuRDeReD The UN condemned the killing of a Mexican political reporter – the third journalist murdered in Mexico in one month. On July 4 Angel Castillo Corona was beaten to death in an attack in which his 16-year-old son was also killed. A UN spokeswoman said: “Sadly, Mr Castillo is but the newest addition to Mexico’s alarmingly long list of victims sacrificed on the altar of freedom of expression.”

LeaVe copyRIght aLone, says nuJ The NUJ Irish executive council has warned the Irish government against radical amendments to the country’s copyright laws. The union’s Irish executive is concerned that an official review aimed at “modernising” legislation will be used to undermine the copyright of creative workers in order to appease multi-nationals such as Google. noRthcLIffe cLoses WeeKLy neWspapeR One of Britain’s biggest free weekly newspapers has been closed down by its publisher, Northcliffe Media. The Nottingham Recorder, which had an average distribution of 145,080 copies a week, is a victim of the company’s wide-ranging review of its portfolio. payWaLL success, says the tIMes The Sunday Times and Times websites claim to have attracted over 100,000 paying subscribers. behind their paywalls. The system allows only subscribers to proceed beyond the papers’ home pages. 6 | theJournalist

Our members are on the front line of this battle for survival

Michelle Stanistreet told the launch meeting: “The North London and Herts Newspapers campaign resulted in meaningful negotiations with Sir Ray Tindle which achieved a positive outcome, an inspiring

example of campaigning that connected journalists with the community. “Our new national campaign launched today will reach out to local communities, politicians and journalists. We want to make sure local news reflects the communities it serves. “This is a battle about quality and resources and the threats to local newspapers are not just in London but spread through out the Uk. NUJ Head of Publishing Barry Fitzpatrick (pictured) said: “Our members are on the front line of this battle for survival. The NUJ is calling for a six-month moratorium on job cuts and newspaper closures. We want dialogue with media owners so that we can resolve the problems together.”

Newsquest strikers resolve jobs dispute


ewsquest journalists in South London called off their four-day strike after negotiating a deal to resolve a dispute over redundancies. NUJ chapel members voted to accept an agreement to fill vacancies occurring over the next six months and to retain two extra editorial positions.

The 33 Newsquest journalists had opposed management plans which included axing the whole sports and leisure department (eight journalists) and making one feature writer redundant. Staff returned to work at Newsquest offices in Sutton and Twickenham on June 29. They called off the last two days of a four

day dispute and ended a work to rule. Thais Portilho-Shrimpton NUJ MoC at Newsquest South London, said: “Recruiting new members made us stronger in the workplace. The dispute wasn’t just about jobs and redundancies but was about quality content and news coverage.”

FIsHer oFF HooK AFter 66 YeArs


fter 66 years in the media, one of Ireland’s longestserving journalists and union life member Desmond Fisher has finally retired. Aged 90, the Derry man stepped down recently as vice-chair of the Nationalist and Leinster Times in

Carlow. He began his first job there in 1945. He joined the NUJ and established the Irish South Eastern branch. Fisher, father of Michael, long-serving member of the of the NUJ’s Irish executive council, was a sub-editor at the Irish Press in Dublin before

becoming the Press group’s London Editor in Fleet Street in 1954. He acted as the group’s diplomatic correspondent, and in 1962 he was appointed editor of the Catholic Herald. Fisher returned to Ireland in 1967 as deputy head of news and later head of current

affairs at RTÉ. On retirement in 1984 he returned to Carlow as editor of the Nationalist until 1989.


fInaL say oVeR BBc accuRacy Media regulator Ofcom, rather than the BBC, should have the final say over complaints about the impartiality and accuracy of the corporation’s programmes, according to a House of Lords committee. The Lords communications committee’s inquiry into BBC governance and regulation said ‘the convoluted and overly complicated complaints process at the BBC’ must be improved.


he union is calling for a nation-wide, six-month moratorium on job cuts and closures as part of a new campaign to save local newspapers. The initiative was launched at an event organised by the NUJ’s North London and Herts branch at a time of widespread job losses across the industry. The branch recently staged strike action over nonreplacement of staff at Tindle Newspapers and although that dispute has now been settled, branch members believe that the quality of local newspapers remains under threat. They point out that increasingly reporters don’t have time to leave their desks to cover even the most important stories. NUJ general secretary

up front

General secretary Michelle Stanistreet on the fight for quality journalism

The battle has only just begun


learly Jeremyhas impeccable timing! Immediately he handed over the baton and embarked on his welldeserved new adventure abroad, life as the NUJ’s new general secretary kicked off in earnest! Talk about a baptism of fire. In my first weeks at the helm we faced the closure of the News of the World, members throughout the BBC twice taking strike action and now working to rule to defend the jobs and livelihoods of their colleagues, and members at South Yorkshire Newspaper on indefinite strike in a battle to protect jobs and secure resources. In both disputes their freelance colleagues played a vital role in ensuring solid, successful walkouts – brave, principled actions exemplifying the NUJ’s solidarity and passion for journalism that marks out our union. As ever, it’s shown all that’s best about the NUJ, as lay and staff officials, activists and our wider membership rallied round – attending rallies and organising public meetings, holding whip-rounds to boost strike funds and lobbying MPs. The daily unfolding scandal at News International has taken the world by storm, and wouldn’t have seemed possible in the months before as the NUJ continued its campaign against the waving through of the BSkyB deal. All of you who campaigned and lobbied against that deal can be proud. But the fight’s not over. Even as the craven and mutually selfserving relationships between our political leaders, police and Murdoch’s executives have been

laid bare, David Cameron couldn’t resist a swipe at the BBC: “Above all we need to ensure that no one voice, not News Corporation, not the BBC, becomes too powerful.” This from the man who did a shabby deal on the BBC licence fee settlement, clinched in secret behind closed doors, with what we now know was huge pressure from James Murdoch to damage our public service broadcaster. We demand urgent renegotiation of that deal. It has led to closure of vital language services and the 20 per cent budget cuts across the BBC; journalists are paying with their jobs, and quality programming is being compromised.


The scandal has also laid bare the broken model of media ownership

he spotlight on journalistic ethics is a timely reminder of the importance of our code of conduct. We can all play our role in ensuring members abide by it. The scandal has also laid bare the broken model of ownership across the media. Members in South Yorkshire stood solid in their second week of strike action for quality journalism against Johnston Press. The NUJ is working to explore alternative forms of ownership for the public and democratic good. And we need urgently a public interest test when newspapers are bought and sold. Over at Fortress Wapping we’re working with members to recruit and organise and our demand is clear – the right to be recognised if that’s what members want. Collective protection and representation by an independent trade union is a moral and a human right and it’s high time Murdoch was forced to let the NUJ back in. Finally, we’ll be calling on you to lobby MPs and organise meetings in defence of quality local news. Remember what wrenched open the lid on the corruption and rotten heart of the Murdoch empire – brilliant and dogged investigative journalism from Nick Davies and others. That’s what we need more of and we know, with the right resources, it’s what our members do best.

For all the latest news from the NUJ go to: www.nuj.org.uk To take part in debates go to The Platform on the website theJournalist | 7


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THE VIEW FROM INSIDE PR Name: Chris Proctor Job description: Press and PR advisor to the train drivers’ union Aslef

A case of always getting shot by both sides



ou come into contact with two groups of people if you work in PR, and they both grow to hate you. First are your employers who want coverage, and second is the media whose attention you are trying to attract. Your employer won’t like you because you are either useless or demanding. If no-one acknowledges their words of wisdom, they hate you. They are paying you and you’re turning out nothing. You are useless. This is not always true. The problem is senior managers are inevitably authoritarian obsessives. Their entire lives are devoted to their occupation. For them there is the office, a quick round of golf, and death. Because they have no life outside work, they have to believe that what they do is rivetingly interesting – or else their existence is meaningless. Accordingly, they cannot understand why no-one takes any notice of them. Worse, all managers imagine they are experts in PR. Employers will regularly offer a thought or an opinion that Mrs (or Mr) Employer found interesting and several sycophantic middle managers pronounced ‘sensational’. So why don’t you sell this valuable pensée to the media? You try to explain the basics of news values. These are simple. No-one gives a flying fish

what you think. They only care about what you do. Life only gets worse if you get a nibble. The moment you have a genuine story you become an irritant and a bore to your client. Oh, it starts all right. They don’t mind getting out of bed for the Today Programme. It makes them feel good. They wave at imaginary crowds from the back of the taxi. The world recognises their talent. Then they’ve played that game and want to turn to other toys. At this point you become a pain. You explain that although they have done that bit of the Beeb, they haven’t done telly. Also there is lunchtime, drive-time, early evening telly and chat radio. You’ve also had bids from several national commercial stations and more regional TV and radio than you knew existed. Not to mention print. All this is unwelcome news to the paymaster. In fact, you are becoming demanding, starting to tell him what to do. He begins to sulk. He doesn’t want to spend all day doing the same thing and doesn’t want to carry on until tonight. But, of course, this is exactly what the media wants. Studios over the land have schedules to fill and, after hearing your man on Today, they want a slice of him. But by then he’s off doing something else and you can’t deliver him. This is when the

media start to hate you. OK, they say, we’ll have a deputy or a local spokesperson. But although senior people don’t want to do interviews, they’re damned if they want that slimy little opportunist who is after their job to do it. No-one wants to give subordinates a break. Suppose they did it well? They could be a challenge. So the best you have to offer is a fearful functionary, scared rigid of saying anything deemed controversial or, in fact, interesting. So basically you assign them a mute. But many regional producers are tomorrow’s national producers. They will remember you. When they end up on Newsnight, they get their own back. They ring you politely in the morning and say they’d like your man. And he wants to be on Newsnight because his wife watches it. You advise against any alcohol and suggest a few practised sound-bites. Arrangements are made to pick up the guest. They even talk about what he might say. They play you like a fit cat with a three-legged mouse. Then, as late as possible, they call. “Hi, I’m sorry about this (snigger) but we’ve had to change the schedule. We’ve found something interesting.” So you have to explain to the wellrehearsed spokesperson they’re not going on telly after all. Why? Because you didn’t get someone on Radio Chipping Middlehampton 10 years ago. PR is a fine game for anyone who savours being despised and loathed by everyone they meet. It’s that or tax investigation, traffic wardening, estate agenting – or being Nick Clegg.

theJournalist | 9

t e g , y t i r b e l e c a I’m e r e h o t n i e m


very year teenagers get worse behaved, academic standards drop and celebrity coverage in the media grows. So much so that it takes a degree to understand it nowadays – in September 2010 Staffordshire University actually introduced a three-year celebrity journalism course. Of course, complaints about celebrity news fighting for space with ‘real’ news aren’t new. The first issue of The Times (then the Daily Universal Register) in 1785 carried a letter complaining that “…the destroyers of reputation, and feeders on calumny, have sometimes been fully gratified in certain prints which may be termed ‘Schools of Scandal’”. (In those heady, more innocent days, the focus was on Marie Antoinette’s sex life which was at the time being gleefully analysed by French pamphleteers.) Perhaps it really went downhill at the turn of the twentieth century when the Daily Mirror tried increasing the number of photographs and images and found just how popular photos of the royal family were. Or the beginning of the end could be 10 | theJournalist

Kim Farnell wonders whether the gloss is starting to come off showbusiness news

pinpointed to 13 March 1986 when The Sun carried its infamous headline: “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster”. Starr’s alleged dietary habits were brought to the world by publicist Max Clifford with the help of The Sun’s editor Kelvin MacKenzie. What seems more certain is that by 1997, celebrity content came to a peak when Princess Diana’s funeral was watched by 2.5 billion in 200 countries – it was the most watched event in human history. Moving on to Posh and Becks’ antics, and reality stars from the Big Brother household – that new breed of celebrity born in 1999 with the first appearance of the show – we entered an age when people who are famous primarily for being famous have crept from women’s magazines into the tabloids and sneaked their way into the establishment press. Like teenage mothers who allegedly produce babies at the drop of a hat to get a council flat, journalists nowadays spend most of their time making up stories based on a formula of attributing rows and stress to a grumpy expression and ecstatic happiness or reconciliation to a smile, when the celebrity in

question is popping out for a quick pint of milk from Sainsbury’s. Celebrity news used to be confined to a particular corner of print and television outlets. It can now be found across all kinds of media channels. Goldsmith’s Media Research Programme backs up the view that newspapers are abandoning hard news and focusing on entertainment. It stated “there has been a decline in expensive forms of news coverage such as investigative reporting or foreign affairs coverage.” A study published in 2000 by McLachlin & Golding showed that celebrity entertainment stories increased from six per cent of news in the tabloid press in 1952 to 17 per cent in 1997. Since then the proportion has grown with papers adding celebrity supplements, gossip columns and articles about reality TV stars. The world of women’s magazines has been celebrity-led since the turn of the twentieth century. But it got much more intense when Hello! {and later its followers OK!, Here!, and Now!) appeared. By 1996 Hello! and Here! were regularly achieving weekly circulation figures of just under 500,000.


One of the biggest celebrity magazine success stories is that of Heat. Launched as a film and TV weekly aimed at 18-34 year old women in 1999, it found real success when re-launched with a focus on celebrity gossip, fashion and features. From a circulation of 65,000, Heat achieved sales of just over half a million a week after publishing an exclusive interview with Victoria Beckham and realising the potential of the new reality TV stars. A 2009 analysis of Heat’s content showed nearly 60 per cent (79 pages) was dedicated to celebrity based news or comment, 25 per cent (45 pages) to adverts and the remainder to a combination of a TV guide, reviews, reader response, real-life interviews and features. Traditional magazines such as Woman and Woman’s Own sank into a decline. The long established Woman’s Realm closed in 2002, after 44 years. However, although celebrity weeklies saw an increase in circulation during 2005 and 2006, the women’s magazine market as a whole is in decline. Last year most celebrity magazines saw a drop in circulation. Even though we could read about Katie Price’s relationship with her former partner Alex Reid, X-Factor titbits and Cheryl Cole’s illness, the

sector as a whole decreased by 8.4 per cent in the second half of 2010. Perhaps celebrity news alone isn’t enough. “Audiences have always loved what used to be dismissed disparagingly as ‘human interest’ stories. Celebrity stories are just human interest with the sound turned up. But make no mistake they want other stuff too,” says Angela Philips of the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths College. “Audience viewing figures for TV news rose with the coverage of the tsunami in Japan and the Arab Spring. The numbers of people reading serious work by journalists has exploded because it’s now so easy to access it online.“


o are we getting bored? Is celebrity journalism on the wane? With so many choices when it comes to celebrity news, readers who used to pick up three and four titles a week have worked out the paucity of fresh content and now only buy one or two publications. Does it sell newspapers? With circulation figures dropping all the time, perhaps not. It’s not just about numbers of course. There is the thorny issue of media proprietors with the biggest cheque books getting the best

Rebecca Loos claimed she made over a million pounds from her story about David Beckham

interviews. Rebecca Loos claimed to have made more than a million pounds from selling her story about her affair with David Beckham. Her exclusive interview with Sky News alone paid her a fee of £125,000. Her publicist Max Clifford made himself 20 per cent of that deal, as he does from all such arrangements. Angela Philips said: “This would truly be a golden age for journalists – if only we could find some way to pay for it!” Then there are all the arguments about privacy, sale of people’s personal information and jobs being slashed while celebrities suddenly discover journalistic talents no-one previously knew they had. Celebrity journalism has become a vast industry. As an escape from reality, a form of escapism, it might seem unsurprising that interest rises when times are hard. Except, with the internet it’s becoming ever easier to find the latest news on Davina McCall’s new shoes (if that’s your thing) and it’s old by the time it gets into print. Perhaps the bubble hasn’t quite burst, but the air is slowly going out of the balloon. One of the most rousing cheers comedian David O’Doherty gets onstage is from a line in his song Beefs 2010: “Celebrity news, stop appearing at the end of real news. You diminish real news. ‘And the death toll for the Pakistan floods could rise as high as 40,000. Christina Aguilera’s cat has alopecia.’ NO!!!” Maybe even Christina Aguilera has finally had enough. theJournalist | 11

Paul Routledge asks our new general secretary about the future of the NUJ

View from the top F

jess hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

irst woman general secretary. First candidate for the top job to be returned unopposed at the first attempt. First Mother of the Chapel to take on the might of Richard Desmond’s Express Newspapers. Michelle Stanistreet has a tough reputation to live up to – her own. From the features desk of the Daily Express to the leadership of our union in only 11 years represents a meteoric rise. As she takes up the reins of office, I asked Michelle why she would want to lead an awkward band of customers like us. “I love the NUJ,” she declared. “It’s one of the most vibrant, democratic and campaigning unions out there. “Yes, we’re a feisty bunch but I would not have it any other way and I’m really proud that people have put their faith in

12 | theJournalist

me, first as deputy general secretary, and now as Jeremy’s successor.” Let’s go back to the beginning. Michelle was born in a working class home in Liverpool, and won a scholarship to Merchant Taylor’s School. She worked for a year at a London theatre, and learned to love the capital where she now lives, but went back home to read English and History at Liverpool University. So, what brought her into the trade? “I got interested in journalism while I was doing my degree, writing for a local community arts paper – when I wasn’t pulling pints or doing night shifts in a call centre!” After working for the British Diabetic Association, Michelle took the postgrad newspaper course at City University, doing

interview the usual round of work experience placements, including a ‘fun week’ on the City desk at the Daily Express. Chance played a big part in getting her first job on a new business supplement for the Sunday Express “The editor had bugger all staff, he remembered me and asked me to come back. So I was there from the launch, doing features and a regular interview column with chief execs and entrepreneurs. “It’s amazing how well resourced the city department was then – well over 20 staff, brilliant journalists with a wealth of experience. It was a great training ground for me. These days a handful of staff struggle to get out the same number of pages.” So, what brought her into the union? “I’d only been at the Express a short while when the titles were sold to Richard Desmond. The NUJ wasn’t at all on my radar, no one had spoken of it – the chapel was pretty moribund, one of the casualties of derecognition. But there’s nothing like being bought lock stock and barrel by a publisher of pornography to galvanise support! “My NUJ initiation was a poorly attended chapel meeting off site. They asked for volunteers but there was a distinct lack of hands in the air so I joined the NUJ and the chapel committee the same day. “We formed a joint chapel with the Daily Star and within weeks we had hundreds of journalists piling in to meetings in the staff canteen. Within months we’d won back recognition and the running battles commenced with Desmond. “Fighting off endless redundancy rounds, seeing off attempts to outsource entire editorial departments, delivering on pay, speaking out against racially inflammatory coverage in the papers, stopping Desmond tearing up people’s existing terms and conditions – to be honest it was endless firefighting. No sooner had we put to bed one issue, another would spring up. “But it was a real lesson to me in the difference an active chapel can make to people’s day to day working lives. That led on to the NEC and eventually the union presidency.”


n inspiring story. And what are her priorities now? “We’ve worked hard over the last three years to stabilise the union’s financial position. It’s not been easy and no one enjoys making what have been difficult decisions. “My overwhelming priority is to ensure the union stays in fighting shape. Our strength and future lies in ensuring we remain an independent force committed to journalists and journalism. “There’s huge potential for growth, even in the face of the turmoil and change in our industry. We need to win over and recruit journalists not yet convinced that the NUJ is relevant to them. I want us to organise proactively in areas of the industry where we don’t have enough of a presence. “The unfolding scandal at News International and Murdoch’s cynical closure of the News of the World is a stark reminder of the depths to which he and his executives will stoop. Our priority has been helping members who’ve lost their livelihoods and taking this unprecedented opportunity to recruit and organise across all the News International titles. “There are a lot of anxious people inside Fortress Wapping right now; no one knows what the immediate future holds, and they need to know the NUJ is there to help and support them. They need a proper independent trade union to represent their interests, not a powerless staff association.” Congratulating Michelle on becoming our first woman

general secretary, I asked: why the delay? Was it the men’s fault? Michelle feels hugely privileged to be chosen, “but for it to have taken so long is less cause for celebration – especially for a union like ours, where almost half the members are women and with no shortage of female talent leading our chapels and branches. “I want to tackle the embarrassing shortage of women in key parts of the union’s democracy – particularly on our NEC. Without women in these roles, the union leadership is not genuinely representative of our membership and, more importantly, we’re missing out on the skills and experience of half our chapel activists. “There’s no single reason for this, but obviously juggling work and family and union commitments can be no mean feat.” Here, Michelle speaks from personal experience, as single mother to seven-year-old son Wilf. I caught up with her on the touchline at his Saturday morning football practice. “Sometimes women are less likely to assume they have the experience and the nous to do a role and can benefit from some encouragement, whereas blokes could sometimes benefit from a tad more self-doubt! One thing’s for sure, I may be the first woman GS in the NUJ but there’ll be many more after me!”


o women will get a better service? “The NUJ does a great job for all its members. When it comes to issues of equality – equal pay claims, cases of sexual discrimination or harassment – we deliver consistently in workplaces. With women more active, all members will benefit.” Our legal costs are high. Is that money well spent? “Industrial muscle and the collective action of members is the best defence, and when you deal with anti-trade union legislation day after day you realise the law isn’t always the right solution. “However, in many cases a robust legal response is the only and best option. Members expect and deserve a quality service. We defend the rights of NUJ members every day in cases: copyright grabs, unfair dismissal and discrimination, police abusing the anti-terror laws to stop photographers doing their job, unpaid fees. In the last year alone, we won nearly £3 million for members – that speaks for itself. “ What about our wider role? “We’re not a professional association of wordsmiths: we’re a trade union. We shouldn’t shy away from fighting for the anti-trade union laws to be scrapped, or lobbying in parliament to save the BBC World Service, or speaking out against racism, or standing shoulder to shoulder with journalists in Zimbabwe working under repression.” How would Michelle advise young people seeking a career in journalism? “Join the NUJ! We’ve got a vibrant and growing pool of student members and getting involved in the work of the union is also a brilliant way to make contacts and get a real insight into the industry. “Our campaigns on issues like work experience – where there’s been an explosion in exploitative practices – encouraged many aspiring journalists to get active. “It’s been a turbulent few years in the industry and the competition to get jobs is ever fiercer, but if you’re passionate about journalism you’ll find a way in, and as an NUJ member you’ll have the backing of your union through any adversity. “Technology has blurred work boundaries, but whether our day job is photographer, or freelance writer, or magazine sub, or communications officer, or book editor and whatever

I may be the first woman GS in the NUJ but there’ll be many more after me!

theJournalist | 13

interview platform we work on, we all share a passion for quality journalism and content. “When budgets are slashed, quality is inevitably compromised. Our job isn’t just defending terms and conditions. It’s also about speaking up and acting as the guardian for journalism.” What’s the favourite piece of journalism by Michelle? ”No one article springs to mind. I was a feature writer/interviewer and latterly books editor on the Sunday Express. I got huge satisfaction out of crafting interviews and bringing people to life on the page, and it was a chance to meet some really interesting people and to indulge in legitimate nosiness…” We all have our heroes and villains. Who are Michelle’s? “My heroes – easy, our brilliant M/FoCs who do the real work of the union at the grassroots, who stick their head above the parapet and work tirelessly to stand up for their colleagues. “Villains – where do I start? The industry generates a long list…Obviously my very own pantomime villain was Richard Desmond for the best part of a decade. The man has not a jot of genuine interest in journalism. He’s raided and abused the Express titles as a cash cow since the day he bought them, and seems depressingly content to manage decline rather than investing and growing the business. “Then there’s the corporate hulks like Newsquest and Gannett that have axed local and regional newspaper titles, with contempt for journalists and the communities they serve, lining their pockets during the good times, and

I’m sure I’ll have my fair share of sleepless nights over the next five years!

NCTJ Diploma in Journalism starting at Darlington College in September This new NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) course takes into the account the demands from the industry for journalists who can adapt to a world of print, online and video.

pleading poverty now the days of 30 per cent profits have passed. The media landscape and the future of newspaper journalism could be transformed if these guys – and they are all men – could be supplanted. Michelle is scathing about the Press Complaints Commission. “When I was Express rep, we twice complained to the PCC about racially inflammatory coverage in the Daily Express, and pressure on journalists to write and deal with unethical copy. Twice we got the predictable response from an organisation that does the bosses’ bidding.” NUJ policy now demands replacement of the PCC, and, she says “for many of us, the sheer lack of action on the News of the World phone hacking scandal was the last straw. “Making scapegoats of a handful of journalists is absolutely wrong. We’ll press for a conscience clause giving journalists contractual protection so they can refuse to carry out instructions that are unethical or contravene our code of conduct. “I’m sure I’ll have my fair share of sleepless nights over the next five years! But the greatest pitfall, for me, would be to lose sight of why I want to do this job – standing up for members and ensuring the NUJ makes a real difference to them and their working lives. “If I have a bad day in the office, my fail safe tonic is to get out there to a chapel meeting, to a branch meeting, or a demo. That’s when I see the NUJ at its best and meet people who never fail to inspire and reinvigorate me.”




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14 | theJournalist

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David Wooding is the former political editor at the News of the World

I have never hero-worshipped. But I admire the philosophy of Bill Shankly, the musical genius of Richard Wagner and, in my own trade, the golden prose of Vincent Mulchrone.


And villain?

What made you become a journalist?

William Randoph Hearst, Bill Shankly, Michelle Obama, Winston Churchill, John Lennon, Anne-Sophie Mutter. I’ve just noticed only two of them are alive – and they’re both gorgeous women!

My father was in commercial printing, so I suppose I had ink in my blood. But I really caught the bug at primary school, while doing a project which involved designing a front page about the space race.

Which other job might you have done? A musician. I learned the piano from age four and took up the drums in my teens. I can sight-read and played with dance bands in cabaret, shows and session work. Then I got hooked on classical music – and I simply wasn’t good enough for the concert hall!

When did you join the NUJ and why? While on my NCTJ pre-entry course at Preston Polytechnic, now the University of Central Lancashire. The local rep came in one day and signed us up. I’ve still got the photo-card – showing me with long hair.

Are many of your friends and family in a union? LEBRECHT MUSIC AND ARTS PHOTO LIBRARY/ALAMY

Who is your biggest hero?

My journalist wife Pat, whom I met on a picket line, is in the NUJ. My son is a member of Equity.

What’s been the best moment in your career? Defending the reputations of current colleagues on the News of the World – and all other journalists – with a nonstop tour of TV and radio studios in the 72 hours after our paper’s closure was announced. I was proud to stand up for the 280 innocent staff thrown out of work.

And in the union? Hiding my company car in a neighbour’s garage when bosses came to seize it during a lock-out.

And the worst ones?

Alex Ferguson, for banning journos who dare criticise him (and because I’m a Liverpool fan).

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

I’m always disappointed at being scooped. But I’ve never felt so sick or ashamed of my profession as the day I read about the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone.

What was your earliest political thought?

What is the worst place you’ve worked in (you don’t have to name it)?

What are your hopes for journalism in the next five years?

A supermarket warehouse. I spent school holidays unloading heavy cartons from lorries and it helped focus my mind on getting the qualifications needed to follow my dream.

And the best? The Parliamentary Press Gallery. It’s Fleet Street on a single floor. Every newspaper is there and there’s a great blend of camaraderie and rivalry.

What advice would you give to someone starting in journalism? There’s no short-cut to success. Getting there involves hard work, fast shorthand, long hours standing in the rain and knocking on doors. But the more you put in the quicker you’ll progress.

What advice would you give a new freelance? Be short and to the point when trying to sell a story. News Editors have a lot on their mind, so don’t blather.

Agonising over where to put the X in my first trip to the polling booth,the referendum on Europe – I voted Yes.

Breaking bread with Winnie and Liverpool’s Shankly

That tabloid journalism can clean up its act and get back to proper, honest reporting which embraces new media.

And your fears? That MPs hellbent on revenge might use the hacking scandal to impose Press regulations that will hamper investigative journalism.

What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months? To end unpaid internships.

Who would you like to see join the NUJ? John Prescott, if he’s not a member already, because he is now doing a lot of journalism and claims to be a devoted trade unionist.

How would you like to be remembered? We’d all love to be called a Fleet Street legend. But I’d settle for an epitaph which says: “A good bloke and a top hack.” theJournalist | 15

Journalists in the Michael Cross says we will have to get used to far greater scrutiny from readers

Art Kowalsky/Alamy


o, where do we go from here? Even though hackgate was blown open by great journalism, the scandal seems certain to diminish the dismal status of journalists in British society. We’re already seeing a backlash in calls for regulation and more scrutiny of the way we work – from within the trade as well as outside. But if we want to improve our image, there is one relatively painless step we could take now. That is to open our working practices to the kind of scrutiny that’s becoming the norm in other walks of life. I’m talking about going public with information about what we do all day, of political and commercial relationships, where we get our information and, yes, how much we earn. Some of this information is already being made public on the web. To adapt Corporal Jones of Dad’s Army, we don’t like it up us. Reaction to outside scrutiny is grudging at best, openly hostile at worst. Take the website Journalisted.com, which enables users to look up individual journalists and find out what they write about, for whom, and at what length, thus laying writers open to the same kind of analysis that sites such as Theyworkforyou allow on politicians. The site’s creator, the Media Standards Trust charity, admits that the result hasn’t been universally popular. “Quite a lot of journalists got quite cross about it,” says founder Martin Moore. “We get people saying things like ‘You’re not properly representing my output’.” Such gripers may have a point. Journalisted scrapes bylined articles from a handful of national sites, occasionally with daft results. (It records my total output as 143 articles since April 2002. If only.) This ignores journalists who don’t get bylines, and most regional and specialist media. But Moore points out that journalists are free to edit their entries, after registration and a rudimentary security check, and that a growing number – mainly freelances and newcomers – are creating comprehensive profiles on the site. We’d better get used to this sort of thing, says George Brock, head of journalism at City University, London. No longer will news be “something prepared behind the stage curtain and revealed when it was ready for public consumption”. The readership will not only want to comment after a piece has appeared, but to know more about the writer and editors responsible, and where they got their information. 16 | theJournalist

Of course lobbyists and PRs have long had access to an inside track. But, thanks to the web, it is now going public. Writers on “tripwire” beats such as the Middle East or climate change are all too familiar with their output being publicly dissected by Medialens, memorably likened by The Observer’s Peter Beaumont to “a train spotters’ club run by Uncle Joe Stalin”. Wariness of such groups – not to mention PRs and freelance pitchers – is no doubt why UK newspapers generally draw a veil over their internal workings. No national newspaper publishes a staff list, or the “organogram” that’s becoming the norm in government departments and other public bodies, much less individual email addresses and direct phone numbers. Let’s not even mention salary levels (which might be a highly pertinent snippet of information about a journalist exposing “civil service fat cats”). However, for anyone with the inclination to inquire, data about many individual journalists is already available from public registers. Parliament’s online register of journalists’ interests lists parliamentary correspondents’ names, sponsors, and “other relevant gainful employment”. A quick glance at the latest (June) edition suggests that one or two colleagues are not particularly conscientious at filling in the last category. Journalists publishing investment advice, meanwhile, are

exposing churnalism Churnalism is the word coined by Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist who relentlessly pursued the phone hacking story, in Flat Earth News. He used it to describe the practice of recycling press releases or news agency copy rather than doing original reporting. Churnalism.com, set up by the Media Standards Trust, describes itself as an independent, not for profit website built to help the public distinguish between churnalism and journalism. The site’s ‘churn engine’ takes a segment of text, from a press release for example, and searches for matches across articles published on the web by national newspapers and the BBC. It gives each article found a ‘churnalism

rating’ based on the percentage of words reproduced from the source. The site, launched in February this year, had 50,000 unique visitors in its first two weeks, according to Martin Moore, head of the Media Standards Trust. It has aroused controversy among journalists and press officers. Moore says the gripers fail to understand its purpose, which is not to say that churning is necessarily wrong. “We’ve never said all press releases are bad, just that transparency about your use of them is good for the reader and for journalism. Of course there are situations where you have to use press releases, but it should be good practice to reference them.”


he spotlight required to register with the Financial Services Authority, which lists their addresses, directorships and details such as whether they are allowed to hold their clients’ money. Another public resource is the Information Commissioner’s office, which publishes a searchable register of data controllers. Like other businesses, freelance journalists are required to register if they process personal information. People we write about can’t necessarily demand to see their own files – the rules covering release have an exemption for “journalistic material”, used “with a view to the publication” – provided that publication “would be in the public interest”. However the register does list individual addresses – usually, in the case of freelances, their home. Journalists working for public authorities, including the BBC, may also come under the remit of the Information Commissioner via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Again, journalistic work enjoys an exemption: the Court of Appeal has ruled recently that information held for multiple purposes is exempt from FOIA disclosure provided that *one* of those purposes was genuine journalism. However in the current climate BBC journalists can expect pressure to reveal more and more details about where licence fee money is going.

Reaction to outside scrutiny is grudging at best, openly hostile at worst


nother area of inquiry is disclosures of commercial interest. A handful of papers require formal declarations; the British Medical Journal publishes “competing interests” of freelance contributors. I believe it’s only a matter of time before someone mashes up data from these registers, together with sources such as newspapers’ own websites, published media directories and publications such as Private Eye, Media Guardian (and The Journalist) to assemble a comprehensive “media wiki”. City University’s Brock says electronic search engines will have a wealth of raw material. “Complaints, critical judgements, lost court cases – these will all eventually go into the mix.” In the current crisis surrounding journalism and ethics, I think professional journalists should cooperate with such efforts – and, where possible, get in there first. One easy win might be a voluntary central register of interests, on which we could declare such items as freebies and work such as media training for corporate clients. There are certainly cogent arguments against such a register. Freelance travel writer William Ham Bevan, says a register would be “a scourge for our own backs... inviting attack theJournalist | 17

ethics from people who don’t know the realities of the journalistic marketplace. It’s a scoundrel’s argument to state ‘this must be wrong because its author has links with the widget industry� rather than ‘this is wrong because it’s full of non-sequiturs and gets a load of facts awry’.� Good points – but would it not be better to deal with critics by publishing links upfront, rather than letting them enjoy the thrill of “exposure�? I suspect that, if and when journalists do start declaring their interests, it will be in the form of sector-specific registers. Medical writers might decide they need a very different disclosure regime to that of fashion writers, for example. Another area screaming for transparency, especially in the aftermath of the Johann Hari affair at The Independent, is on sources of material. The Guardian’s ‘Bad Science’ columnist Ben Goldacre has long campaigned for reporters, especially those covering health scare stories, to provide references and/or online links to source material. In the case of some newsdesks (who could reasonably ask if Goldacre has ever had to get his copy down to 80 words) he is probably whistling in the wind. A final proactive piece of transparency would be for all reputable publications to publish full staff lists, with details of who is responsible for what. This would be a pain to keep up to date and bad news for back bench colleagues who today enjoy anonymity, but the existence of a public record


Six years ago heart surgeons agreed to publish figures of how many patients were dying under their knives


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The IPCC is continuing to appeal for anyone with images from the student demonstrations between 6 and 6.20pm on Thursday 9 December 2010 at the junction of Parliament Street and Bridge Street, to contact them. Investigators working on the case of Alfie Meadows, who alleges that he as hit with a police baton which meant he needed brain surgery, have examined hours of CCTV footage and other images but want to ensure all possible evidence has been gathered. Anyone with images from taken at this time and location is asked to contact the IPCC on 0800 0969071 or email Westminster@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk.

18 | theJournalist

of where the buck stopped on any story might deter gross breaches of ethics in future. Even before hackgate, the argument for more transparency in journalism was strong. Transparency is a key ingredient in the formula we should be offering readers to distinguish decent journalism from blogging and churning. After hackgate, the case seems unassailable. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not unique in grappling with such issues. Six years ago, heart surgeons agreed to publish figures of how many patients were dying under their knives. At the time, many hated the idea. However, the surgeonsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; professional body, the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery, is now thoroughly in favour and is calling on other medical specialities to follow suit. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Transparency has its challenges,â&#x20AC;? it concluded this year, â&#x20AC;&#x153;but none that a determined and dedicated profession canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t overcome.â&#x20AC;? Disclosure: In 2010 the Media Standards Trust sponsored The Opinions of Tobias Grubbe, a web cartoon co-authored by Michael Cross. The author lists commercial clients, gifts and hospitality at www.michaelcrossjournalist.net Parliamentary register of journalists: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmjournl/ memi01.htm FSA register: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/register/home.do


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inside story


‘Never give up’ N ext to Nick Davies’s home computer is a drawing by his 10-year-old daughter with a three word caption “Never give up.” It sums up this talented investigative Guardian journalist who has almost singlehandedly brought News International, the world’s most powerful media empire, to its knees. It’s there to encourage him when, like most journalists, he gets stuck on a story and is left slaving over a hot keyboard, uncertain what to write next. Unlike most other reporters, he’s had an enviable contract with the Guardian to uncover the industrial scale of the Murdoch phone hackling affecting thousands of people from Milly Dowler to the Royals. “My contract is very helpful. It requires me to write 24 substantial features a year ‘or the equivalent in time and effort’. It’s those last few words which liberate me. They mean that, if the story is good, I can carry on digging, and the Guardian will recognise one story as, say, the equivalent of six normal stories. I’m not hemmed in.” He has also had the strong support of editor Alan Rusbridger, particularly when Scotland Yard tried to silence the paper’s investigation.

David Hencke talks to Nick Davies, the reporter who doggedly pursued the phone hacking story

“The Guardian was great. Alan, backed the story from the word go. He knew that it was an aggressive story which would provoke retaliation, but he put it all over the front page and gave me a spread inside. Then he stood by it, even when the going was tough. “When the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Paul Stephenson, went to pour poison in his ear, trying to persuade him that I had got it all wrong, he didn’t even tell me. He just ignored Stephenson and carried on running my stories on the front.” He said: “It was always a great story. The fluke that the former editor had gone to work for the prime minister in waiting, the involvement of the police and the Press Complaints Council as well as News International. It was a great story about the abuse of power.” But it wasn’t just having the time to investigate the tale, it was also the inclination,. The rest of ‘Fleet Street’ were trying, at best, to ignore the phone hacking story or even actively

Don’t look at the news, look at the real world: it’s seething with stories

accusing The Guardian of lying. “I wasn’t surprised that the rest of Fleet Street boycotted it: some ignored it because they belong to Murdoch, some ignored it because they support the Tories and didn’t like the Coulson element, some ignored it because they knew that they themselves had a history of using the same techniques. So that was a kind of passive pressure. The police and the Press Complaints Commission both contributed to the pressure by rubbishing the story. News International piled in by denouncing us, accusing us of lying to the British people.” But as he puts it: “All that backfired. What it meant was that, in addition to my original motive to pursue a really exciting story, I also had to pursue it in order to restore our credibility. What did they think we were going to do? Go along with their dishonesty and be labelled as idiots and liars, just to please them?”. Nor does he believe it is finished. “We still haven’t got to the bottom of the barrel about the relationship between News International and the police. We can see the closeness, but we still don’t know just what went on in 2006 that persuaded the Met to cut short the original inquiry; and what went on in 2009, after we revived the story.” And what does he think of the present state of journalism? “The world is full of brilliant stories which don’t get reported. It drives me crazy to see our national papers all clustering around the same tiny collection of stories. “Part of the problem is that editorial executives think that their job requires them to get up early and read all the other papers and listen to the bulletins and then compile a news list based on what other news organisations are reporting. Pathetic! “Don’t look at the news, look at the real world: it’s seething with stories. The Murdoch dynasty is replicated elsewhere in two different senses: first, certainly other news organisations have been up to the same dirty tricks; second, other powerful corporations treat elected governments as their private puppets.” theJournalist | 19

inside story

ap/press association images

goodbye to the

to accommodate changing adverts, priorities, news updates and editor’s wishes. But the subs were supreme. Reporters’ words were tossed aside and honed, sprinkled with puns, jokes and clever pay-offs. Not like those newspapers where pompous journalists would squeal when you tried to make their prose intelligible to people who hadn’t been to Oxbridge. If the phone hackers were practising dark arts, the News of the World subs practised magic of a different kind. Crunching serious stories into four succinct pars, entertaining with brilliant headlines, turning pages of foreign wires into short sentences to deliver eight items of World News in 150 words. The call “Anyone up for a Quickie” never ceased to amuse as the chief sub called for a volunteer to turn rambling freelance copy into a 30-word story that had to make him smile. Stuck on a headline? Colleagues would help you out. A filler on a survey proving that breast-fed babies had better eyesight in later life was met with the instant response “Suck it and see” – and it fitted perfectly. The vast majority of News of the World staff had absolutely nothing to do with the shocking stories that have emerged recently. They are as outraged as anyone else at the intrusions into private grief suffered by Milly Dowler’s family and others. Many joined the paper long after the phone-hacking took place. Others, even in senior positions, were deliberately kept in the dark. But some of them feel tainted by a scandal of which they had no knowledge and even less control. They fear it will affect their job prospects. But I am proud – and lucky – to have worked there in the dying days of the printed word. So good luck to all the staff. Remember, we may have gone out with a bang but we are anything but wimps.

news of the world


e went out with a bang. News of the World editor Colin Myler paid solitary tribute to his journalists on Saturday July 9 by ‘banging them out’ with his plastic ruler on the Formica desk which formed the Back Bench. It sounded nothing like the legendary cacophony of Fleet Street printers hammering metal on metal when a respected colleague left. It was far more poignant. Like the tolling of single bell for a funeral. For that’s what it was. The funeral of Britain’s most read Sunday paper after 168 years – and of my career. Not many 60-year-olds have their last goodbye to the boss relayed around the world on the BBC and Sky. I did. The Screws was a subs’ paper – despite the hatred and feeding frenzy brought down on it by a group of sorcerers using their dark arts to conjure up scoops. And the subs proved it on that last Saturday by producing a bumper edition in little more than a day, some still working at 9pm while the wake started and the cameras rolled outside 3, Thomas More Square. Gallows humour had prevailed all

20 | theJournalist

Mary Cook, a sub on the newspaper, describes the night that brought to an end 168 years of popular journalism day. At the order to pull consumer champ Captain Cash’s page someone said “Cash’s to ashes”, someone else “Captain cashes in his chips” then “Captain Cash takes the money and runs”. There were still gems of headlines: my favourite on Ian Hyland’s TV review about gravy girl Lynda Bellingham’s performance on Loose Women: “An Oxo moron”. I’ve been a sub on all sorts of papers and magazines for 37 years and always enjoyed it. I got paid to play with words. So to land shifts at the world’s biggest-selling tabloid was brilliant for a middle-aged woman with a worthy career behind her. The subs desk was the engine room. With just a few staffers, it relied on an army of casuals coming in on Fridays and Saturdays from as far away as France and Scotland to make it happen. Pages were continually redesigned

Not many 60-yearolds have their last goodbye to the boss relayed around the world on the BBC and Sky



tim ellis


printers gave us industrial clout S. Mortimer asks (Were the printers heroes? – June/July) and what did the print unions ever do for us? I was chair of the East London NUJ branch during the Wapping battles, so shall tell him. Their industrial clout dragged up journalists’ wages in their slipstream. When Thatcher smashed the NGA and SOGAT, so we suffered the worst period in our terms and conditions, job security and pay. They were our security blanket, and once they were broken, we were left naked. The red-braced brigade of Thatcherite media bosses went on the rampage. Post Wapping, at my workplace – I was senior production editor at the What Mortgage magazine chain – the NUJ was driven underground: the MD openly told us that he would rather close the company down than recognise the NUJ and collective bargaining. It has been a long haul back since Wapping, and I will happily join in the cannonisation of St.Jeremy Dear for his role in achieving this. He’s someone who knows how to ‘fight from the back foot’, and we could have done with his like during those long, dark nights at Wapping. Bob Wade Birmingham

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Journalists’ pay has sunk since the printers’ demise

We all stuck together in the 70s and 80s

While broadly agreeing with S. Mortimer (Letters June/July) that print unions often used industrial action for purely self-interested reasons pre Wapping, we as journalists have great cause to mourn their passing. I recall my senior reporter on the Croydon Advertiser landing the ‘holy grail’ of a job on a national newspaper. If memory serves, he joined the paper as a junior reporter on a salary of £25k in 1979, some five times his earnings on the local. Since the demise of the print unions, journalists’ pay has declined alarmingly. I was told one of the last junior reporters taken on from The Mirror’s training scheme a couple of years ago started work on a salary of £23,500. Surely, that drop in pay scale is a big price to pay for not having to put up with a few bolshie printers? Paul Myles London

I was disappointed to read S. Mortimer’s attitude towards another union (Were The Printers Heroes?) in the last edition of The Journalist. During the 1970s and 80s I was a member of the print union the NGA at the Bristol Evening Post where we had several battles with the management. We formed a federated chapel which included Sogat, Natsopa, the NGA and the NUJ. There were no heroes but we stuck together, I remember us refusing an order from our own union officials to return to work when the NUJ was on strike and we wouldn’t cross their picket line. I recall that on another occasion all union members walked across the city in crocodile-style to Transport House as part of a successful campaign to improve our pension scheme. Then for the first time the NGA was on the back foot with the introduction of new technology. I was one of

several compositors who retrained as a journalist. This agreement came about as the NUJ fully backed our negotiations which meant there were no redundancies. I spent 18 happy years as a reporter and later a news editor. Something which would never have happened if the Bristol people had the attitude of S. Mortimer. Dennis Payter Bristol

To say that we had few friends is just not true S. Mortimer would have us believe that only printers and journalists work for newspapers. As the ex-deputy MoC of the Sun/NoW clerical chapel, I stood on the picket line and demonstrated with secretaries, copytakers, librarians, telephonists, cashiers, proof readers, cleaners and canteen workers to name a few. He is woefully mistaken in his belief that the Wapping dispute was about the ‘jacking up’ of printers’ pay; for us

the dispute was about protecting our rights to organise and defend ourselves in our work places as trade unionists. To say that we had few friends is just not true. Every Saturday and Wednesday night we were supported by members of other unions from all over the country. The boycott of the titles was supported around the country in homes, libraries, colleges and universities. Furthermore we had support from across the trade union movement both nationally and internationally. Now that Murdoch has closed the News of the World – who is riding roughshod over journalists and readers now? Deirdre Heinrich London

The true price of the 30 pieces of Murdoch silver “Power without Responsibility. That has long been the cry of the critics of the media and never has there been a time when it was more apposite.” I wrote that a decade ago in a book about my early years (the 50s) in journalism. During half a century, I and my colleagues were eye witnesses to the seismic impact of the arrival of Rupert Murdoch. Before Wapping, we were (relatively) impoverished but of good heart and mind. This was why our desks encouraged us to put the odd rogue fiver on our expenses. Post Wapping and the revolution initiated by Murdoch, we national newspaper people became (relatively) well off – and a few pretty rich. In the process however, to varying degrees, we sold our souls to the devil. We were for Murdoch what Faust was to Mephistopheles. I also wrote: “the trade of journalism I entered in 1951 was not one we went into contemplating Fame or Fortune or Influence… The idea of a ‘celebrity journalist’ – one who is rich and powerful as well as famous – was an absurdity, an absolute contradiction. Fifty years on [now 60] it still seems a theJournalist | 21


letters... betrayal of all the true reporter should stand for.” Now we see the true price of the 30 pieces of Murdoch silver. Peter Deeley Life Member

Still shocked by the departure of Jeremy I am still reeling from the shock at the departure of Jeremy Dear. He is one of the best general secretaries we have ever had, and I’ve had seven. Jeremy is so hard-working. At times the workload and frustration were so great that I feared that he would either implode or explode. So many people wanted a bit of him that it is no wonder that he has kept his slim figure (send me the recipe Jeremy). He was always gracious, always listened to members with a problem, and even more important always did his best to sort it out. I wish Jeremy and Paula all good wishes in their travels. And who knows, whenever he comes home maybe, just maybe, he might come back to us. Rosaline Kelly, Member of Honour and former President

Excellent support for our strike to defend quality On behalf of my chapel at North London & Herts Newspapers I would like to pass on our thanks to the excellent support from the NUJ over the past few months of unrest at the papers. Our dispute included two weeks of strike action over the decline in quality at the papers and was only recently resolved when the management at Tindle Newspapers finally called us to come to an agreement. Throughout the long months of negotiation prior to the dispute and throughout the action itself Barry Fitzpatrick played a crucial role in advice and support and was a stalwart of the picket line. We are a relatively young chapel, many of whom had never been on strike before, but he helped guide us through the 22 | theJournalist

sometimes choppy waters before a resolution was reached. Likewise Michelle Stanistreet, Jeremy Dear, Miles Barter, Donnacha Delong and many others NUJ officials and members put in the hours of leafleting, advice and constant support to act as the best kind of advert for the union. The solidarity shown also helped take away the fear of striking as it proved that an attack on one is an attack on us all and we have strength in numbers. Such camaraderie will never be forgotten. Jonathan Lovett FoC – North London & Herts

News better in the hands of the many, not the few In pondering the functioning of the newspaper industry and its practices and how to fix it hat the industry is almost entirely owned and run by millionaires whose sole purpose is to make more millions. It uses the monopoly power newspaper publishing to also control the circulation and distribution methods and to wield influence over politicians and the institutions, in this case the Metropolitan police, to the same ends – to bolster their money making streams. One way of alleviating this would be to make it easier for more and less well-off bodies to be able to produce news sheets (yes we know there are increasing ways of putting out opinions) but to be able to publish and distribute news on paper as takes place in other countries. Roy Jones North Wales

Freelance help is there when you need it most I had reason to contact the Freelance Office earlier this year, following months of trying to secure payment from a new client for a job I’d finished. The fee had been agreed beforehand and payment was promised by the publisher on completion. I sent letters, e-mails and left phone messages, but nothing happened. I contacted John

Toner, he wrote to the publisher, and within days the money (in full) was in my account. The NUJ is there when you need it most! Nick Wetton Book Branch

What about the BBC journalists’ stories? When I saw the front cover of The Journalist promising an article that would ‘focus on major changes at the BBC’ I was expecting an analysis of the big fight ahead to save BBC jobs, the current fight to stop redundancies in the News and World Service divisions, and perhaps an interview or two with journalists. Instead, David Hencke’s piece might as well have been straight out of the Daily Mail. Whilst it’s absolutely right to question the cost of some of the BBC’s big projects – and the failure of management – do we really need three whole pages of it? What’s more, where was the story about the many hard working programme makers and journalists who rather like working inside Pacific Quay, or are actually looking forward to their new home at Media City? And is it really balanced to include just two sentences of response from the Corporation? I can see the headline now: “Even The Union Says the BBC Wastes Licence Fee Money”. Perhaps next time The Journalist does a feature on the BBC, it might talk about journalism? Kevin Stanley FoC BBC Nottingham

The aim was to show how BBC waste is costing jobs Kevin, I am sorry you feel I neglected the BBC journalists in my piece. But the whole point of it was to show the scale of waste that was taking place in the BBC on projects that have nothing to do with the content of programmes. With better control some of the redundancies and threats to closure of channels would not be necessary and journalists’ jobs could be saved. When you compare the scale of loss of money

– we are talking as big as running Radio Three and Four or the News Channel and BBC 4 for a whole year. This is not small potatoes. The last thing I wanted was to attack journalists producing very good programmes. I tried to make this clear in my blog on the BBC on my website davidhencke. wordpress.com or a direct link http://t.co/DhU6CJE . As for the BBC’s response, the two sentence response is all they would give me – on the record. They did send me a much longer response – but wanted me to word it so it was not attributable to them. I am sure you will agree as a journalist I should not mislead the reader. David Hencke Berkhamsted

Photography courses would undermine skills Re Kate Bevan’s letter (June/July 2011), asking why the NUJ doesn’t offer photography courses. I don’t think it the job of the NUJ to be offering training in basic skills that will undermine the skills bases of workers in other areas of our industry. Especially where the provision of substandard content is increasingly deemed satisfactory by end users who care less about content than cost. In principle, I have no problem with the union providing training in new skills, but only as enhancement’s to existing core skills, not to undermine the economic models of workers with specialist skills, whether staff or freelance. That applies to photographers writing copy or shooting moving images, undermining broadcast professionals, unless commensurate fees or salaries will be paid. If Ms Bevan or her friend wants to learn the basics of photography, there are camera clubs, night-classes and books available. If they want to charge for their skills accordingly, then the best of luck. However, if they just want those skills to increase their attractiveness to cheapskate clients at the expense of other professionals,

* @

then I don’t see it as part of my union’s remit to collude with employers that increasingly demand multi-skilling for little or no extra payment. Mark Pinder Newcastle Upon Tyne

tutorial (paid, of course). I would find this so helpful as then the teaching would be bespoke, just dealing with my particular questions. Vaughan Melzer London

Digital photography tuition would be ideal

Game, set and match to tennis and not Formula 1

Kate Bevan’s idea of digital photography courses chimes with me. I recently did a Lightroom course at Photofusion. I now know enough to get by but am constantly frustrated that I have nowhere to go for extra help. I am also surprised at how few people I can find who use Lightroom. A course for already-users of Photoshop, Bridge and Lightroom to enable streamlining, better use of them, and space for questions to be answered would be just great. Another thought is that there may be some people willing to provide a help

It was a bit rich of David Hobbs (Hands off Formula 1 in the BBC spending cuts June/July) to castigate Raymond Snoddy for his lack of F1 research. Hobbs is equally guilty of not doing his tennis research when he states that Britain has produced only two Grand Slam winners since 1936. Since Fred Perry won the French Open and Wimbledon that year, British players have won 12 Grand Slam singles championships. Angela Mortimer, Ann Jones,and Virginia Wade won three each, with Shirley Brasher (wife of the late


Please keep letters to 200 words maximum

journalist Chris Brasher), Christine Truman and Sue Barker winning one each. Don’t the achievements of the ladies count in the men-only F1 world of David Hobbs? Mike Sinclair London

Jilly Cooper’s workplace nightmare was mine too I was idly browsing through the interview with Jilly Cooper when I saw her answer to the question of the worst place she had worked. Tellex Monitors, she said (in 1959). I worked at Tellex Monitors 15 years later, definitely the worst place I have ever worked – compulsory overtime one evening a week, £5 in the hand for working from 5pm until 1am. I think the managing director was probably the same, judging by the description. We had a go at organising the place,

Email your letters to: journalist@nuj.org.uk Post them to: The Editor, The Journalist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP

formed a chapel and put in for (though never won) recognition. But we had a good try at it, and recruited among others Jo Fawkes, who went on to be secretary of London Freelance Branch, Greg Neale (later FoC at The Times) and John Lynch, now Head of Science at the BBC. And I remember also Hugh Quarshie, now a distinguished actor and member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Good colleagues, rotten company to work for. Turnover was rapid (when I left after 18 months I was the longestserving member of staff outside management), so there must be many fellow sufferers. Perhaps a Tellex Monitors Survivors Club? Thanks for the memory. Pete Wrobel London Magazine Branch

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

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

Application forms available at

www.nuj.org.uk theJournalist | 23

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 ART OF REVOLUTION By Dr John Callow, Dr Grant Pooke and Jane Powell www.embooks.co.uk

24 | theJournalist

What a weekend This year’s Bank Holiday weekend has many events happening around Britain, here are four worthwhile visiting in Manchester, Edinburgh, London and Liverpool. Also, the success of self-publishing… Exhibition War Correspondent: reporting under fire since 1914 Imperial War Museum North, Manchester Until 2 January 2012 The dangers, difficulties and dramas of war reporting are told, in their own words, by war reporters past and present specially recorded for the UK’s first major exhibition about British war correspondents. Being a war correspondent is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. It is also seen as one of the most exciting. This exhibition looks in-depth at some of the century’s most celebrated people behind the news, revealing dramatic true stories, the pressures faced and the changing nature of war reporting. See the bullet that deflected into Kate Adie’s leg in Lebanon, a burqa worn by John Simpson to secretly enter Afghanistan in 2001, the

Posters that swayed minds, forged

nations and played their part in the progressive movements of the early 20th century. What should not have been forgotten had been forgotten. Hundreds of socialist posters – British and Soviet – lay overlooked in a warehouse, covered by walls of boxes, plastic carrier bags and layers of dust and fallen plaster. Piles of papers, vast quantities of books and pamphlets lay in the dissolved Communist Party of Great Britain until the Marx Memorial Library decided to clear and catalogue the discarded files over two years in 2005-6. The scope of the collection far transcended the handful of images reprinted by the library as postcards in the 1980s until a visit by Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, who decided there was a need to safeguard their long-term future. The sheer power of the images, the richness of their colours – even after more than 60 years – and their ideological content persuaded him to donate sufficient funds from his union to conserve the material. Within months, selected designs would appear as GMB posters and as T-shirts for Ethical Threads

typewriter Michael Nicholson used to write his reports from Vietnam and one of Martin Bell’s trademark white suits. www.iwm.org.uk/north Festivals/Carnival Edinburgh Festival 5-29 August Apart from being one of the biggest, funniest and liveliest festivals in the entertainment calendar each year, the Edinburgh Festival features in abundance all types of media but did you know your writing about the arts could win an award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival? The Allen Wright Award encourages quality writing about the arts and is open to young journalists up to the age of 30. It recognises the contribution made by Allen in his 30 years as art editor of The Scotsman newspaper. He was an incredible supporter of new talent and created the Fringe First Award scheme. www.edfringe.com Notting Hill Carnival 28-29 August Usually controversial but always exciting, the Notting Hill Carnival is the largest festival celebration of its kind in Europe. Every year west

and the Workers’ Beer Company, to be worn at Glastonbury and Leeds’ Carling Festivals. This book, to be released in September in time for this year’s TUC Congress, represents the conclusion of the first stage of that project, focusing on Soviet and revolutionary posters between 1917-53. Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Marx, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, the Civil War 1919-21, The Great Patriotic War, The Cold War, Russia’s scouting movement, the Young Pioneers and the military legacy of the Red Cavalry are all featured in this magnificent legacy of iconography. As Paul Kenny says in the introduction to the book: “Our project aims to make sure that as many of these treasures as possible reach a wider audience. They are a living link to those who came before us and their achievements. They inspired generations of working people in the past and even in the age of Twitter, Facebook and digital media they have a lot to tell us about how to construct a powerful socialist message.” This book certainly goes a long way to prove that Alf Martin

arts London vibrates with the music of 40 static sound systems and fills the nostrils with the aromas of hundreds of food stalls. More than 40,000 volunteers and one million revellers will converge on the streets. At the roots of the original event were the Caribbean carnivals of the early 19th century, which celebrated the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. www.thenottinghillcarnival.com International Beatles Week Festival Liverpool 24-31 August You don’t need to be a Beatles fan though it probably helps. Fifty years of the Beatles takes place in the city where it all began – Liverpool and includes more than 20 bands from all parts of the world performing at the Cavern Club and Cavern Pub, the Adelphi Hotel and the Philharmonic Hall. There are live gigs, exhibitions, memorabilia sales, guest speakers, video shows, sightseeing tours and a convention. Highlights of the week will be a Peace, Love and Understanding concert at Liverpool Cathedral where all proceeds go to the Cathedral and the Mathew Street Festival, expected to attract 300,000 people and 200 bands, is a free street party. www.beatlesfestival.co.uk Big Issue Concert Finsbury Park, London 3 September A festival marking 20 years of the magazine for the homeless The Big Issue is being planned for Finsbury Park. The anniversary concert promises to bring together big name music acts in front of a crowd of around 30,000. It is hoped a full line-up of acts, which will be paid only for their expenses, will be announced in the coming weeks. www.bigissue.com Self-publishing Killing Cupid and Catch Your Death They’ve been described as the Lennon and McCartney of Kindle. Now, Louise Voss and Mark Edwards have proved that rejection letters from publishers don’t need to hold you back. Both books are available to read on Kindle. Almost as soon as Catch Your Death (70p) went live, sales took and

Notting Hill stages Europe’s biggest street carnival celebration

Edinburgh Festival offers an award for writers on the arts

hit number one in both Kindle and fiction bestsellers, while Killing Cupid, published first, (95p) was in the top 100. They met on a BBC documentary about book publishing, then at a party when they agreed to write together. Both books were co-written via email. www.amazon.co.uk/kindle FILM Just Do It A tale of modern-day outlaws Emily James spent over a year embedded in activist groups such as Climate Camp and Plane Stupid to document their clandestine activities. With unprecedented access, Just Do It, supported by the British Film Institute, takes you on an astonishing journey behind the scenes of a community of people who refuse to sit back and allow the destruction of their world. Torpedoing the tired cliches of the environmental movement, Just Do is

a totally independent project by Left Field Films. If it’s not showing in your area, go to their web-site and they’ll show you how to convince your local cinema to show it. www.justdoitfilm.com The Empire Strikes O2, London 12-14 August Dubbed the Glastonbury for movie fans, Britain’s best film magazine, Empire, is bringing Hollywood to London and has something for everyone who love movies, from fanatical film fans to casual cinemagoers. There will be 13 screens and 250 things to choose from. Surprise appearances from A-list stars with previews and full screenings of films being made now from the likes of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson to Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. There’s a whole range of tickets to choose from for the three-day event. www.empirebigscreen.com

PREVIEW In Sickness and In Health

Reporting the dangers and dramas of war at the Imperial Museum

Working or dealing with health and sickness hasn’t held this man back Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life in S J Watson’s novel Before I Go To Sleep. Steve Watson was born and grew up in Stourbridge, in the West Midlands. After graduating with a degree in Physics from Birmingham University he moved to London and began working in the NHS with the hearing impaired in various London hospitals, eventually specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing impaired children, whilst spending evenings and weekends writing fiction. In 2009 Watson was accepted into the first Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. Before I Go to Sleep is the result. Now sold in over 30 languages around the world, the book has been acquired for film by Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, with Rowan Joffe writing the screenplay and directing. Watson is currently working on his second novel.


theJournalist | 25

The NUJ is electing a new deputy general secretary. The election comes as workers in the media industry face unprecedented challenges. Here the candidates vying for the job answer four questions set by Jeremy Dear, the previous general secretary, and Pete Murray, the immediate past president. Candidates have been allowed 200 words maximum for each answer. Ballot papers will be sent to members on August 30th and voting will close on October 13th. The result will be declared on October 14th.

Jason Harris

Barry Fitzpatrick 1 How can the NUJ reach out to the journalists of today and tomorrow? By making sure that joining the NUJ is the first choice that a journalist makes when entering the profession, not just when a problem arises. Our work with students and interns should be continued and developed. We need to better publicise to non-members the benefits and services that come with membership. These services must be accessible, easy to obtain and provided with knowledge and expertise. We must promote and defend their professional values and offer reliable help when things go wrong at work. Above all we must demonstrate that working collectively through their union is the best route to a career that is rewarding both financially and in terms of professional fulfilment.

2 How can the union encourage more members to play an active part in winning better conditions and benefits for staff and freelances? We need to break down the perceived separation between staff and freelance members bringing greater participation within our chapel and branch structures. This should be achieved 26 | theJournalist

by encouraging and facilitating networks of freelancers, with reps of their own to co-ordinate work with staff chapels. Freelance members are now 25 per cent of our total and too often viewed as being separate from mainstream chapel activities. Management will exploit this unless we achieve a common approach. We must provide personal support for those freelances working for clients with no staff journalists employed. We can better defend pay and conditions for all journalists if we encourage greater take-up of training by chapel officers. This provides confidence in representing members and an active link with their union. Reps are the foundation on which the union stands. The central focus of our work must be on encouraging them to come forward, then giving them all of the training and support they need to achieve improvements for members.

3 What campaigns should the NUJ prioritise? In conjunction with the TUC, we should reinvigorate the campaign for the removal of anti-union laws. At the same time we need to challenge any moves to further erode our employment rights and campaign to extend these rights to all workers. We must make pension provision available to all journalists. The present Governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proposals fall far short of providing this. Pensions are deferred wages, they belong to all workers and employers should contribute. We should campaign against the failed ownership of much of our media. The present crisis facing the industry exposes the inadequate regulation of the sale and acquisition of our media companies. The NUJ should call for a parliamentary enquiry about why the ownership of the media is governed by the deep pockets of the rich rather than undertakings about the quality of the journalism and the provision of news and information to the readers and viewers. The proposed Communications Bill should provide a focus for our campaigning around

these issues and give us a new opportunity to refresh our call for Quality Journalism.

4 What changes should the NUJ consider to its structure to respond best to threats faced by members? Our present sector, branch and chapel structures no longer deal with the changes taking place within the media. There are too many overlaps that divide our resources. This yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s conference resolved to undertake a structural review and we must now use this opportunity to implement the radical changes needed to accommodate the multi-platform roles in which our members work. If we do not we will be repeating the mistakes of other unions who have allowed new technologies to divide their members and undermine their strength. The changes must make us more adaptable in the future. As the impact of technology on journalism gathers pace, we cannot afford an overhaul every time there is change within the industry. Consultation with our membership is vital and I have my own ideas to contribute, one of which is that we should rethink sector conferences. This could include a one day annual conference specifically to deal with workplace issues. For cost reasons it should be activistled and not overly bureaucratic. We should consider ways in which we could use technology to maximise participation and to encourage input from the widest cross section of our membership.


deputy general secretary election Steve Burrows

Helen Gavaghan 1 How can the NUJ reach out to the journalists of today and tomorrow? By invitation today to events hosted by the NUJ nationally, and by its branches. By reviewing the rule book to remove elements not essential to a democratic organization. By not pressuring people to become members. By not excluding or pillorying anyone who has chosen not to participate in industrial action in the past, because that lack of participation might well have been the very thing which demonstrated the essential nature of the job that the Union as a whole was fighting to defend. By inclusive dialogue with journalists who are not NUJ members, and by reviewing rule 24, subsection f (i). If that rule applies to the Chartered Institute of Journalists or any other Institute of Journalists that exists then the rule begs the question of why membership of the CIoJ is detrimental to the NUJ. I can think of no case in law within the context of anti-competitive business or commercial practice or conflict of interest in its widest possible meaning that would justify the inclusion of rule 24, subsection f (i) in NUJ rules. And I think there should be no restriction in any circumstances on an NUJ member being a member of any organization connected with journalism.

2 How can the union encourage more members to play an active part in winning better conditions and benefits for staff and freelances? We need to understand why there is a silent majority. We could commission a sociologist to device a questionnaire and ask the branches to explore how to respond to what that would reveal. Additionally, and separately, we need to make a better case that the collective aims of the Union have collective value. Two goals were in my mind when I participated in successful industrial action in the 1980s. First I thought it a matter of principal that paternity leave should exist and I did not think individual action could make a difference to such a fundamental change. Secondly, I thought our job was undervalued. I do not mean I thought I was underpaid, though I was, given my ability, but that I thought the salary levels in general for our jobs were not well matched with the skills involved and their societal value. Now, after postgraduate research and the books I have written and beats I have covered, the editing I have done, I see the collective aim as the need to protect the publishing sector and make distribution of its rewards more equitable. But that is just another way of saying what I was saying in the 1980s.

3 What campaigns should the NUJ prioritise? Inexorably as the population expands and education and health improve the retirement age will go up. I think we should campaign for a four day week to give more people an opportunity to participate in the work market. I also think that every effort should be made to make redundancy a less attractive means of controlling the economy. To complement these two campaigns I suggest we make clear members are human beings first and journalists second and that they may supplement their income, as may anyone, by competing for whatever legal work without conflict of interest others are willing to pay them to do. Because

of these three aims I support the concept of stakeholder pensions, as I currently understand them, and I support enhancement of the State pension because I promise you hard times can hit anyone, and how much money one makes is not the only measure of someone. I also think we need to be alert to the vulnerability someone known to have been a journalist, or who is working as such, has to laws such as harassment and accusations of incitement, of privacy abuse or of undermining national security or, ultimately, though I hope unlikely, treason.

4 What changes should the NUJ consider to its structure to respond best to threats faced by its members? 1. Set up an additional informed Council crossing cutting all the Union’s industrial councils to examine corporate structures, reporting time tables and purchasing patterns and evaluate the mechanisms companies and groups of companies use to balance their books. This Council could instruct the general secretary’s office to filter the output of this body to the national organizers and branches. 2. Set up an additional Council cross cutting the Union’s National Executive Committee structure to evaluate primary legislation impacting any aspect of work by full time members of the NUJ. The General Secretary’s Office could then liaise with the parliamentary group and branches so that the NUJ’s concerns can be made clear to local MPs and relevant select committees. 3. Separate campaigns and public relations/ press relations, perhaps adding the latter to the general secretary’s office. Make clear to the outside world who has the right to speak on behalf of the NUJ, which, in effect, in this circumstance, is the NEC, the members’ elected representatives. 4. Ensure a mechanism exists within the NEC that enables disagreement between an NUJ member and an official of the NUJ to be resolved and without either having to resort to a complaint against the other.

theJournalist | 27


deputy general secretary election Stalingrad O’Neill

Chris Youett 1 How can the NUJ reach out to the journalists of today and tomorrow? We need to actively recruit new members at every workplace as well as in media studies departments. Students are our future members and I would actively encourage the setting up of student chapels at every seat of learning that runs media courses. We should never forget that the main reason journalists haven’t joined the NUJ is because nobody has asked them to! The Journalist needs to come out fortnightly, too. The NUJ also needs to re-open merger talks with the British Association of Journalists and the Institute of Journalists. Unity is strength – and the reasons for needing these separate organisations no longer exist. I want better relations with the Society of Editors. We both share common policies on many issues including low staffing levels, poor pay and resisting EEC attempts to impose VAT on the printed word.

2 How can our union encourage more members to play an active part in winning better conditions and benefits for staff and freelances? 28 | theJournalist

We need a union structure that works! One of the biggest mistakes the NUJ made was to ape the Transport & General Workers’ top-heavy structure when it was the largest union. I will lead a review of the union’s structure & present my findings to our annual conference (ADM). This must include giving branches and group chapels real powers to help our members. This concept is considered perfectly normal in most other unions. I will press for single claims at each and every employer for all classes of members. We need to educate staff members that it is in their interests for freelancers and photographers to be wellpaid too. We also need to have regular talks with employers’ organisations such as the Society of Editors and the Newspaper Society as low pay equals high staff turnover and falling editorial standards. This always costs more even in the short term.

3 What campaigns should the NUJ prioritise? a. Recruiting at least 1,000 new members as this will make it more difficult it will be for management to fob us off with Victorian pay & conditions. Publishers can easily afford to pay all weekly and monthly Seniors a minimum of £22K a year – and all morning, evening, broadcasting and PR seniors a minimum of £27K a year. b. Parliament passing the Trade Union Freedom Act as this will lead to a new and better era for unions and management. c. Continuing our opposition to Super Injunctions. I defeated the first Super Injunction brought by the crooked publisher Robert Maxwell. There are important legal lessons for the rest of the media, whose obsession with bonk journalism and trivia doesn’t help. d. Ending the widespread use of resting actors, semi-retired business leaders, chefs, retired sports stars, failed MPs, etc, pretending to be journalists – especially on the BBC. The worst offender is BBC rugby coverage when Brian Moore said on air that most of us couldn’t afford his fees. A real journalist would have asked an

Irish rugby star whether he was drunk under the table by a female opera singer earlier this year!

4 What changes should the NUJ consider making to its structure to respond best to threats faces by its members? The vast majority of our members work for the 12 largest employers. Our structure needs to reflect that, as opposed to aping the Transport & General Workers Union when it was the largest union in Europe. Where the NUJ has followed my advice on structure and policy, it has regularly reaped rewards. An example is the growth of group chapels. The unions are strongest at multinationals where they have set up similar structures. We also need a branch structure that works. There is bags of talent on the average branch committee that isn’t being used effectively. We need to learn from other unions that do have good branch structures and give branch committees more powers where this is justified.




Michael Cross on the latest trends and kit


first heard of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait from colleagues crowded round a news agency teleprinter. We were privileged insiders: our readers wouldn’t have the news at best until the next broadcast bulletin, and quite possibly not until the following day’s newspaper thudded through the door. It’s all as remote as the age of the cleft stick. Twenty one years on, I’m in a coffee shop getting snap updates on the Greek crisis at the same time as any other patron with a smartphone. All thanks to the social network Twitter, which in five years has come from nowhere to a mainstream channel for breaking news. I make the point because I still meet colleagues who don’t recognise the change Twitter has made to our working lives. Oh, I understand why some are sceptics. I dislike Twitterers’ echochamber mentality and I’m angry when newspapers report Twitter spats as a substitute for real news. And, as with any other ‘free’ online business, I have dubious faith in its sustainability. But I still use the thing. Firstly to monitor developments in the subjects I cover (in my niche nearly every significant story first breaks on Twitter), secondly to keep in casual touch with contacts, thirdly to get

LIVESCRIBE SMARTPEN Reporters – have you ever

looked at your mangled shorthand and been unable to make sense of a squiggle? How much would you pay just to tap your notepad with a pen and hear again what was said when you laid down said squiggle? Specifically, would you pay £100 to do that? That’s the price of an entrylevel Echo smartpen made by a firm called Livescribe. It looks and feels like a chunky fountain pen, but it contains a solid-state audio recorder. Most journalists of my age will find that impressive enough in itself, but it’s

A surprising number of journalists, of all people, seem to agonise over the prospect

only the start. If you record while taking notes with the smartpen on specially printed paper, the pen will remember where it was in the recording when you made that note. Tap the paper at that spot and – spookily – it’ll replay what it was recording when you made that note. The idea of having an instant back-up for shorthand breakdown without the need to scroll through an ordinary recording was so appealing that I forked out £150 for the 4-gigabyte model. And, with some caveats, it works. So far I’ve tried it out in two settings. One was a two-hour conference workshop with about a dozen attendees chipping into a debate. That was a triumph – after I had trained myself out of the wrist-

quick answers to questions like “Who’s the PR for X?” and fourthly to promote my own work. I can’t imagine journalism without it. But the point about Twitter is that it’s a two-way street. Sure, you can get a lot of information, including breaking news stories, just by following other users. But to make best use, you have to build up your own followers. This means posting regular Tweets. A surprising number of journalists, of all people, seem to agonise over the prospect. Possibly it’s a fear of making a fool of themselves, being shunned, or wasting time. Sure, those are risks, but colleagues with bigger followings than me seem to agree these can be avoided with a few golden rules. I’d suggest: • Don’t overdo it. However fascinating your life, there’s probably only one person who’s really interested in every detail of your daily routine. • Inject a bit of variety. Followers will get fed up if every Tweet is blatant self-promotion, or a request for information. • Consider separate accounts for your interests, especially if you cover deeply technical or very local issues. Oh, and make a point of following a few people whose views you can’t stand. Especially if one of them is me. @michaelcross

busting habit of trying to write every word. The second was less successful. This was a one-to-one interview in a hotel bar, where the background noise drowned out my interviewee and I didn’t really need verbatim stuff anyway. I suspect the smartpen is probably designed to help (well-heeled) students with lecture notes. That’s ideal for a lot of my work, which involves sitting through conferences. As ever with tech, the main drawback seems to be the need to keep the thing charged up (via a USB cable to PC or Mac) and remembering to cart the kit along. I’ll report back in six months whether I’m still using the smartpen, but at the moment it’s looking good.

theJournalist | 29

on media

Raymond Snoddy considers the threats to media freedom that are posed by the Leveson inquiry

Be careful what you wish for...


ho could have imagined where a few paragraphs about an minor injury to Prince William’s knee would lead? It was the original Small Earthquake in Chile – Not Many Hurt. But for the FT-trained Prince’s eagle-eyed communications secretary Paddy Harverson, we might never have had a hacking scandal – at least not yet. The dust has already started to settle on the most frenetic phase of the scandal. Broadcasters have got their hatchet job documentaries on Murdoch out of the way. Police are sifting 11,000 pages of hacking material involving 4,000 people – a process that could take five years. But where do we stand now? A lot of things needed to be exposed and have been. We can look forward to a succession of tumbrels taking the bad people from the press and the Metropolitan Police to the Old Bailey. Whatever happens, the reputation of James Murdoch will be permanently tarnished because of (at the very least) his poor memory, his lack of attention to detail and his inability to handle a crisis that could have brought down his father’s News Corporation. The scandal’s legacy could last for years, with continuing damage to the reputation of thousands of journalists who wouldn’t dream of hacking a phone, or damaging thousands of hard-working police who wouldn’t think of accepting bribes for confidential information. Almost as collateral damage, normal working relations between journalists and politicians and between journalists and police will be tainted and uneasy for the

 30 | theJournalist

foreseeable future. The real worry is the Leveson inquiry into the media. Its terms of reference are very broad – to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the press. The inquiry can travel far from the small number of hacking tabloid journalists who broke the law. The destination – and consequences for the press – is highly unpredictable. David Cameron has pre-judged the outcome by declaring the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) a ‘failed’ organisation, saying he wants independent press regulation that abandons 60 years of self-regulation. Further questions can be asked about the membership of the inquiry.


Is an independent regulatory body possible without statute and regulation?

ir David Bell had a distinguished career as chairman of the Financial Times but he recently founded the Media Standards Trust whose first inquiry was not about phone hacking but about the toothless nature of the PCC. The other two journalists on the committee are former Channel 4 News political editor of Elinor Goodman, and former Daily Telegraph political editor George Jones. Splendid people but both broadsheet journalists through and through. No room for anyone with five minutes of tabloid experience. How about Roy Greenslade, former editor of the Daily Mirror? Lord Leveson has also been prone to attack press inaccuracies. Accuracy is admirable, but judges are prone to think of accuracy as something established by months of judicial deliberation rather than something written five minutes before deadline. If you’re to have an independent regulatory body, is this possible without statute and statutory regulation? The danger is that all those seeking right of reply and privacy legislation, who were knocked back in the 1990s, will now come streaming back with a fair wind and we will end up with an increasingly constrained press.

For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy

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NUJ CODE OF CONDUCT Members of the National Union of Journalists are expected to abide by the following professional principles

A JOURNALIST: 1 At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed. 2 Strives to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair. 3 Does her/his utmost to correct harmful inaccuracies. 4 Differentiates between fact and opinion. 5 Obtains material by honest, straightforward and open means, with the exception of investigations that are both overwhelmingly in the public interest and which involve evidence that cannot be obtained by straightforward means. 6 Does nothing to intrude into anybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest. 7 Protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work.

8 Resists threats or any other inducements to influence, distort or suppress information, and takes no unfair personal advantage of information gained in the course of her/his duties before the information is public knowledge. 9 Produces no material likely to lead to hatred or discrimination on the grounds of a personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s age, gender, race, colour, creed, legal status, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation. 10 Does not by way of statement, voice or appearance endorse by advertisement any commercial product or service save for the promotion of her/his own work or of the medium by which she/he is employed. 11 A journalist shall normally seek the consent of an appropriate adult when interviewing or photographing a child for a story about her/his welfare. 12 Avoids plagiarism. The NUJ believes a journalist has the right to refuse an assignment or be identified as the author of editorial that would break the letter or spirit of the code. The NUJ will fully support any journalist disciplined for asserting her/his right to act according to the code.

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The Journalist - Aug/Sept 2011  

The Journalist Magazine, August/September 2011 issue. Magazing of the National Union of Journalists.

The Journalist - Aug/Sept 2011  

The Journalist Magazine, August/September 2011 issue. Magazing of the National Union of Journalists.

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