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www.nuj.org.uk | August/september 2013

healthcrisis Writing a new prescription

j o u r n a l i s t s


Contents Main feature

14 Reporting the health crisis

The case for specialist journalism

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he weather has satisfied the seasonal demand for copy in abundance this year, but another reliable source of stories hasn’t been far behind. Britain’s National Health Service, once the real envy of most of the world, has been taking quite a battering in print and on the airwaves. Because, of course, health has reader appeal. Whether it’s a new cure for disease, a threatened hospital closure, or the seemingly more frequent scandals concerning the care of patients, there’s an understandable public interest in what’s happening behind the hospital screens. But is journalism serving that public interest adequately in an era of job cuts, increased workloads and remote production hubs. That’s the major issue tackled by Alan Taman in our cover feature on page 14. In this issue, we see how to make blogging pay, and there’s a look at journalism in the fine city of Cardiff. Also, for those who were around at the time, Francis Beckett sticks his (now beardless) chin out in recounting how he saw the 1980s in the NUJ. Many will not agree with his perspective: our letters pages are there to give voice to your view. Six pages of news and our regular assessments of media and technology developments complete the menu in this edition of The Journalist.

Christine Buckley Editor

Editor Christine Buckley journalist@nuj.org.uk Design Surgerycreations.com info@surgerycreations.com Advertising Rob Aspin Tel: 01795 542419 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 Tel: 020 7843 3700

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

Cover picture surgerycreations.com

News

03 Pay strike threat at BBC

Latest management offer rejected

04 Union defends council journals

Lets work together, members urge

05 Protection for fat cat corruption

Companies shielded as journalists suffer

06 Profitable ITV under fire

Local news cuts as profits rise

07 Indy urged to talk on job cuts Angry members vote for action

08 Fresh Newsquest vote on action

Work to rule delayed by law challenge

Features

10 Let’s go to Cardiff

A visit to Wales’ major media centre

12 Blogs that pay

Turning blogging into cash

Regulars

09 Michelle Stanistreet 19 Technology 21 NUJ and me

Arts with Attitude Pages 22-23

Raymond Snoddy Page 17

Letters Pages 24-25


news

Fresh BBC strike vote if pay talks break down

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ay talks are due to re-open at the BBC after NUJ members rejected a new offer in a consultative ballot. The corporation was warned there would be a formal vote on industrial action including strikes if director-general Tony Hall failed to produce acceptable proposals in a meeting on August 13. The union was forced to set aside an earlier vote on stoppages after management came forward with marginally improved terms. But NUJ chapel officers told the BBC that the new offer had been rejected and warned management that members’ response had been influenced by disgust at vast executive pay-offs and the disastrous failure of the ‘digital media initiative’. The initiative was designed to make it easier

for BBC journalists to handle and share audio and video material by using ‘new digital production tools’, but it was abandoned at a cost of £98 million. Former BBC directorgeneral Mark Thompson (pictured) is due to appear at the Commons public accounts committee next month to be questioned over £25m paid to 150 outgoing executives. An initial pay offer to union

reps from management amounted to a one-off payment of £600 which was increased to £650 and then to £800. The corporation is also keen to consolidate ‘unpredictability’ allowances into salaries (but not apply this to the grades or pensions), place a cap on redundancy pay for new staff and reduce the amount of time available for redundancy consultation and redeployment. National broadcasting organiser Sue Harris said: “Our members have expressed their outrage at the huge payoffs enjoyed by senior executives and at the appalling waste of £98 million on a failed IT initiative. It is time that the BBC invested in the people who, day in and day out, are responsible for making the corporation the-best broadcaster in the world.”

Women will not be intimidated

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in brief...

Our members have expressed their outrage at the huge payoffs enjoyed by senior executives

he union has condemned a new wave of online attacks on women journalists, including rape and bomb threats. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said violent sexist threats should not be an occupational hazard for journalists. “The threats of violence are an attempt to intimidate and silence women and they will fail. The NUJ will continue to push for action from companies in the industry and the government to tackle what is clearly a growing problem.” The union reminded employers of their duty to protect their staff and freelance contributors. The NUJ continues to offer health and safety training and legal support to its members.

sun sets on page three in ireland

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The union’s campaign against topless page three models in the Sun has made a degree of progress. The paper’s Irish edition is still featuring pictures of women, but they are now wearing swimwear. The editor of the Irish Sun cited ‘cultural

differences’ as the reason for his decision. Meanwhile so-called lads mags Zoo, Nuts and Front are ‘toning

down’ their cover images and will only be sold to the over 18s in Tesco. A threat by the Co-operative Group to stop selling the mags unless they were delivered in ‘modesty bags’ led to Zoo and Nuts declaring that they would boycott the Co-op

MIRROR SEEKS SUN READERS Mirror Online and the Daily Star website were hoping to attract readers away from the Sun after the Murdoch tabloid started charging for access to its website. The move means that as of August 1, The Sun, Times and Sunday Times will be behind full online paywalls and the Telegraph titles and Financial Times will be behind metered paywalls, offering limited free access. ARCHANT GROUP’S £13m TAX TALKS Privately-owned regional media group Archant revealed that it continues in discussions with HMRC over tax avoidance measures dating back 10 years which could now cost it £13m. The company reported operating profit up 80.9 per cent year on year to £3.5million in the first half of 2013 based on cost cutting of £4.5m. APPEAL OVER CRUDDAS RULING The Sunday Times plans to take its libel fight with former Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas to the Court of Appeal. Cruddas was awarded £180,000 in damages against the paper over articles based on an undercover sting alleging he had charged for access to ministers. MASON SWITCHES TO CHANNEL FOUR Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason has become the latest highprofile BBC journalist to switch to Channel 4 News. He is joining as culture and digital editor. He follows former Newsnight political editor Michael Crick who joined Channel 4 News as a political correspondent in 2011. RESULTS REVEALED OF 60+ SURVEY Members are invited to an open meeting held by the 60+ council at 1pm on October 2 at NUJ HQ. The agenda will include items on guidelines on reporting age, and 60+ survey results. Those wishing to attend should email Lena Calvert on lenac@nuj.org.uk . theJournalist | 3


news in brief...

STILL VACANCIES FOR TRAINEES The Guardian group is to take on six trainee digital journalists this year on 12-month contracts. A spokesperson said pay would be in line with other junior newspaper jobs. Trinity Mirror is taking on three young journalists, while the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Times and Sun are also continuing take on trainees on a yearly basis. CALLING ALL PROFESSIONALS Following the re-launch of the NUJ’s professional training programme, the union is looking for experienced tutors to deliver courses in 2014. Any union member interested should send a CV to Judith Jackson at training@nuj.org.uk setting out which courses she or he would deliver. KENT NEWSROOM IN TV THRILLER The Kentish Gazette and Faversham News’ offices in Whitstable was used for filming Channel 4 thriller Southcliffe. Journalists from the KM Group titles were used as extras when the drama was filmed last autumn, largely in Faversham. EXTRA ‘SERVICE’ IN SABOTAGED AD The newly-launched Pembrokeshire Herald published an advert for Enterprise Rent-A-Car featuring ‘cock sucking’ among a list of customer services. Publisher MegaGroup Pembrokeshire Ltd urged the police to investigate what it described as an ‘act of sabotage’. 4 | theJournalist

So-called Pravdas can be a source of precise details about cutbacks that Tory minsters would prefer to supress

We must stick together, says council journalist

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he NUJ is mounting a robust defence of council newspapers in the teeth of an onslaught from ministers, proprietors and some journalists. Local government secretary Eric Pickles (pictured) said he wanted to axe ‘the weekly town hall Pravdas’ to save money and remove a taxpayer-funded rival to local papers. Under a parliamentary Bill, Pickles would stop councils publishing more than four newsletters a year and give ministers greater powers of intervention. The NUJ believes the problems facing the industry are far more fundamental than any perceived competition from council newsletters which provide ‘prompt, accurate advice and

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BBC ROYAL BABY COVERAGE ‘BIASED’ The BBC coverage of the birth of the royal baby was excessive and biased towards royalty, according to complaints received by the corporation. BBC News insisted that care had been taken to ensure other news was covered and that republicans were interviewed. It added that the Monday of the birth was the biggest day globally – and second biggest UK day ever – for BBC News Online.

information’, not necessarily carried elsewhere. The union also argues the so-called Pravdas can be a source of precise details about cutbacks that Tory minsters would prefer to supress. The NUJ pointed out that an Audit Commission report in January 2010 debunked the view that they undermined local papers. Helen Watson, of Tower

Hamlets council NUJ chapel and a Unison shop steward, is part of the team which produces the weekly East End Life. She wrote to The Journalist that she is one of a number of journalists who joined the council because of better terms and conditions won by years of struggle by public sector unions. “If our newspaper ceased to exist tomorrow, would the rest of the industry up their game, increase pagination, raise wages and create more jobs in the newsroom? We think not. “Our position is, and always has been, that we work in the same industry. We must stick together to defend the jobs, pay and conditions of all journalists, regardless of who they work for.”

alamy.com

THUGS THREATEN REPORTER

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trainee reporter at the Doncaster Free Press was targeted by a far-right website after it wrongly accused her of destroying a floral memorial to murdered soldier Lee Rigby at Sheffield cenotaph. Journalist Sarah Marshall

was supported by her paper and by the NUJ and told to work from home, along with other members of staff. The union said the accusation against the reporter was false and a case of mistaken identity, but insisted that the culprits

should be prosecuted. The Casuals United website, affiliated to the English Defence League, carried a picture of the journalist warning that if she is not ‘dealt with we will be outside Doncaster Free Press until she is’.

‘Islamophobia’ in bombing coverage

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police chief attacked the media for allegedly failing to give sufficient publicity to mosque bombings out of possible religious bias. Blogging about recent attacks in the Black Country, West Midlands Police deputy chief constable Dave Thompson questioned whether coverage would have been greater if a different religion had been targeted.

He said: “Our circulation of the picture of alleged suspects in the mosque attacks drew very little coverage. ‘‘I wonder if you picked another faith and said that there would be a series of bombings at places of worship during a major religious period and the police had a picture of the alleged attacker you might think it would get more coverage?’’


news

One law for reporters – another for fat cats

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he NUJ has denounced the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) for refusing to reveal the names of blue chip companies which hired corrupt private investigators. The protection afforded big corporations stands in ‘stark contrast’ to the treatment of journalists caught up in the hacking scandal, the NUJ says. Although Soca has disclosed the identities of the organisations to the Commons home affairs committee following an investigation by The Independent, the agency has classified the material. The list is understood to contain the names of major banks, pharmaceutical companies, management consultancies and rich individuals. Ironically, 22 law firms make up the largest proportion of the organisations hiring investigators who break the law. The NUJ ethics council said it was ‘outraged’ by the decision to classify the material, which was taken on the grounds that it would damage the firms’ commercial interests. The council said: “There was no such

in brief...

protection for the journalists dragged out of bed in the early hours, when their homes were raided by police in front of their families and children. Journalists became the scapegoats of the hacking scandal and have been named. Many have lived through hell on bail and have now been cleared. “Individuals have a right to protect their private and family life but it is ridiculous that commercial companies can claim the same protection. It is in stark contrast to how journalists have been treated. Bluechip companies have been allowed complete impunity for their illegal activities.” NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Media corporations have sacrificed their journalists as an act of corporate damage limitation. There was no consideration of public interest tests, there was no thought to the consequences of outing journalistic sources, and there was no consideration for the impact on staff who’ve worked loyally for newspaper titles and did as they’ve been told.”

There was no such protection for the journalists dragged out of bed in the early hours

NOONAN JIBE on journalism ‘OFF THE WALL’

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omments by Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan about the role of investigative journalists have been described as ‘off the wall’ by the NUJ. Mr Noonan indicated that the Irish Independent newspaper had been ‘mucking around in Garda business’

when it published the contents of tapes concerning the state bail-out of the Anglo-Irish Bank. The transcripts of conversations in 2008 between senior Anglo-Irish executives revealed that the Irish regulator may have been lured into saving the bank because the colossal

sums needed to fix it had been underplayed. NUJ Irish secretary Séamus Dooley said Mr Noonan’s description of investigative journalism was ‘reflective of a degree of arrogance and ignorance’. An official inquiry is underway... into the leak.

The Independent quits Ireland

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ndependent Print has stopped distributing The i newspaper in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland because it no longer makes ‘economic sense’. The Independent and Independent on Sunday were withdrawn from the island last summer. Despite assurances from management, the decision has raised concerns among some editorial staff about the company’s continuing commitment to retaining its nation-wide coverage of England, Scotland and Wales. Meanwhile sales of every national newspaper dropped year on year except the i, which now has an average daily circulation of 303,009, up 11.16 per cent.

REVENUE BLOW TO LOCAL TITLES Local newspapers could lose a significant source of revenue with a proposal to end the legal requirement to publish public notices in the press. The Lib Dem amendment to the Local Audit and Accountability Bill, opposed by the NUJ, threatens £26 million of annual income for local papers. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is understood to want the requirement abolished within two years. PAPERS ARE JUST A ‘CLICK’ AWAY A group of hyper-local newspapers in Norfolk is the first in the country to trial a new ‘clickable paper’. Just Regional, which publishes nine titles, is piloting technology developed by Ricoh and local printer Barnwell. The clickable paper allows readers to interact with content on smartphones and tablet computers uploaded from newsprint. RED BEE DEAL HELPS LOW-PAID NUJ members working on TV listings for Red Bee Media accepted an improved pay offer of up to 2.6 per cent, compared with an original offer of 1.5 per cent. The union’s assistant broadcasting officer Jenny Lennox said: “The chapel reps worked hard to secure this deal, which will help those at the bottom of the pay scale.” PEARSON PROFITS UP BY 24 PER CENT Interim financial results by Pearson for the first half of 2013 show a 24 per cent rise in operating profit for the FT group, up from £21 million to £26 million in the first half of 2012. But Pearson expects advertising revenue for the Financial Times ‘to remain weak and volatile’. HOW MANY WOMEN DO YOU EMPLOY? The deputy Labour leader and shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman has written to national newspaper editors asking them to reveal how many women they employ and how many of those are over 50. theJournalist | 5


news in brief... single deal for itv regions Members have voted by a two-thirds majority for a single agreement covering terms and conditions for all ITV news centres. The new structure, also accepted by Bectu, replaces local deals at Border/Tyne Tees, Yorkshire, Granada, Central, Wales, West, Meridian, London and Anglia. Talks are continuing over a proper pay and progression deal for on-screen journalists across ITV regional news. GANGSTER LOSES LIBEL ACTION The Sunday Times won a longrunning libel trial brought by East End ‘businessman’ David Hunt over a piece accusing him of running a vast criminal empire in London. The high court ruled that the paper, which said it needed ‘deep pockets’ to fight the case, had proved its assertion. The Sunday Times revealed that another reporter had been assaulted by in 1992 by Hunt.

Profitable ITV under fire for cutting local news

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uts to ITV local news are totally unacceptable given that the broadcaster is now hugely profitable, the NUJ says. The union has challenged regulator Ofcom for allowing ITV to reduce coverage of local news when the new ten-year licenses for ITV, STV, UTV and Channel 5 start in 2015. A week after announcing the cuts because of ‘significant economic pressure’, ITV revealed that its profit for the first half of 2013 grew by 16 per cent to £270 million. Under the new regime the early evening news slots will still be half an hour, but there will be 10 minutes of non-local content. London, the North West and the Border region, which covers both sides of the England/Scotland border, will be exempt from the 10 minute cut. However regional lunchtime news bulletins will be reduced from 6.5 minutes to 3 minutes and late evening bulletins from 10 minutes

STAR’S GREEN ‘UN NOW ON-LINE ONLY The print version of the Sheffield Star’s Saturday sports edition has closed after more than 100 years. NUJ organiser Chris Morley had urged Johnston Press to consult readers over the closure. An on-line version of the Green ‘Un continues to be published. PROFESSOR WINS WHITE AWARD The science writers’ annual NUJ Stephen White award for the best communication of science in a non-science context was won by Oxford professor Frank Close for his description of a solar eclipse. The lifetime achievement award went to Irish Times science editor Dick Ahlstrom. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! The Times belatedly issued a correction to its front-page headline congratulating Andy Murray on his Wimbledon victory. Two weeks after it declared ‘Murray ends 77-year wait for British win’, the paper pointed out that four British women had won Wimbledon since 1936. 6 | theJournalist

to five minutes. The two daily regional news bulletins at weekends will be cut from 10 minutes to five minutes. NUJ national broadcasting organiser Sue Harris said the changes to ITV local news constituted a major blow to public broadcasting. “This has happened because Ofcom’s role as a light-touch regulator has allowed ITV to have its way every time.”

ITV revealed that its profit for the first half of 2013 grew by 16 per cent to £270 million

Appeal upheld in Code of Conduct case

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he NUJ Appeals Tribunal upheld an appeal by Anthony McIntyre against an Ethics Council finding that he had breached Clauses 2 and 3 of the NUJ Code of Conduct, and against a penalty of six months suspension of membership and a formal reprimand. The tribunal felt that, irrespective of its ruling on the complaints, the suspension was excessive. The tribunal decided there was no case to answer in a complaint that Anthony McIntyre had failed to differentiate between fact and opinion in a blog. The tribunal decided that the matter complained of

was clearly an expression of opinion. The tribunal declared that the use of conciliation and mediation should be central in dealing with matters of union discipline, and urged the Ethics Council and NEC – as well as other union bodies involved in matters concerning union rules – to regard conciliation (and proper training in its use) as a first priority. The tribunal thanked both the representative of the Ethics Council and the appellant for the positive, responsible and helpful way in which they presented their cases.

Johnston press claims begin

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hapels throughout Johnston Press are submitting pay claims of around four to five per cent after more than two years of pay freezes. The claims follow yet another wage standstill which was

due to end in July. NUJ deputy Barry Fitzpatrick expressed concern about management’s preference for performance pay. “Journalists are creative people and I have grave doubts about how such

a system could be made to work. Our members have co-operated with the introduction of new technology, with massive job cuts and are working the flexibility which management has

sought. Why do they need performance pay?” Basically Johnston are already getting more for less.” A senior reporter at Johnston Press typically earns less than £22,000 with new entrants often on less than £16,000.


news

Independent urged to talk over job cuts

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anagement at The Independent was urged to enter talks over the future of the titles after the NUJ chapel made a significant concession over industrial action. As a gesture of goodwill the union called a one-hour mandatory chapel meeting on August 9 instead of the planned two hours. NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick urged the company to work with the union to achieve a settlement. He said the consultation process over 27 threatened redundancies had not been genuine and the concerns of journalists had not been properly addressed. In addition, seven Independent on Sunday arts critics have been given notice.

Barry said: “Members want to see genuine engagement with the legitimate issues they are raising over job cuts, quality and workloads. Far from jeopardising the future of the titles, resolving these questions is key to their survival. Management should value the loyalty of their workforce rather than issuing threats.” Despite management warnings, 65.5 per cent of chapel members opted for strikes and 79.5 per cent for action short of strike. The chapel is seeking

a trawl for voluntary redundancies and an extension of the consultation process. It wants ACAS involvement and recognition of employees’ goodwill. In an email to staff, the paper’s editor Amol Rajan had warned that a ‘Yes’ vote could be ‘catastrophic’ for the titles. Following the ballot, management sent another letter urging editorial staff to ignore the vote. Some journalists were put under intense pressure to work during the mandatory meeting.

Company should value the loyalty of their workforce rather than issuing threats

SPORTS EDITION ACTION REPLAY

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he News of Portsmouth has relaunched its Saturday sports edition, citing demand from readers – just nine months after it was scrapped. The 109-year-old Sports Mail folded after publisher Johnston Press claimed it was making a loss. But after an ‘outpouring of

emotion’ from readers, it was back on the streets on August 3. A spokesman pointed out that Portsmouth Football Club was now owned by the fans and that there was a ‘renewed enthusiasm and optimism’ around Fratton Park. “We thought the start of the season would be a great time

to bring it back. But we have warned supporters – they wanted it back, we brought it back, now they have to go out and buy it every week.”

Dieppe honours NUJ activist

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ieppe has taken the rare step of paying public tribute to a British journalist, NUJ life member and champion of journalism Peter Avis, reports Lillian Malki of Paris branch. Peter, a long-time activist in the NUJ’s Paris branch, died last December aged 83. He had for many years divided his time between Dieppe – of which he was an honorary citizen – and his other favourite town, Brighton. Dieppe has now named a square after him. A big crowd of Dieppe locals joined friends and family from Brighton and NUJ Paris branch members for the ceremony. The mayors of Dieppe and Brighton each gave speeches noting how much Peter had done to bridge the gap between his native and adopted countries. The mayor of Dieppe unveiled the plaque of the newly named square, “Place Peter Avis” and a bench in Peter’s memory opposite one of his favourite watering holes.

in brief... ‘KEEP OUR KIDS SAFE’ A campaign to stop sex offenders avoiding prison by citing a lack of rehabilitation has been launched by a regional daily. The Northern Echo’s ‘Keep Our Kids Safe’ campaign was the idea of crime correspondent Neil Hunter who was concerned over the number of convicted sex criminals – often paedophiles – walking free because of the legal loophole. HUMPHRYS FILM BIASED SAYS BBC A BBC2 documentary, ‘The Future State Of Welfare With John Humphrys’, breached guidelines on impartiality, the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee ruled. It said viewers would have been likely to form the impression ‘that there was a healthy supply of jobs’ because there were no statistics on the ratio of jobs to applicants. SCOTTISH PAPERS CLEARED OVER PIC The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News were cleared by the PCC after publishing a pixilated version of a photograph of a four– year-old Hearts supporter, posted on Facebook by his father. He was shown at a Hibernian away match holding up a sign that said: “Dad this place is a s***hole!! 5-1”. TRINITY PROFITS FROM COST CUTS Trinity Mirror saved £5.8 million on labour costs in the six months to June as pre-tax profits rose. Total revenue fell by 8.5 per cent from £362.8m in 2012 to £332m, but the group produced an adjusted profit before tax of £49.3m, up from £48.1m at the same time last year. SUN, SAND, SEA AND SCOTLAND The NUJ will be hosting an event on Thursday October 10 in Glasgow for Black History Month, entitled ‘Sun, Sand, Sea and Scotland: Scotland’s role in Empire, Slavery and the Caribbean’. For more information and to reserve a seat please email dominicb@nuj.org.uk

theJournalist | 7


news in brief... BAN ON BUDGET PRE-RELEASE Chancellor George Osborne has decided to ban the pre-release of the main points of the Budget after the Evening Standard tweeted a picture of its front page before the Budget was delivered to Parliament. A review, conducted by Sir Nick MacPherson, confirmed that the breach of embargo was ‘inadvertent’ but recommended the ban. Osborne ruled out not talking to the press at all.

Fresh Newsquest vote after legal challenge

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he NUJ is reballoting members at Scottish Newsquest titles after an overwhelming vote for action was challenged on minor technicalities. The NUJ called off a work to rule at the Glasgow Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times after last minute legal threats from management. In the disputed ballot some 86 per cent of members voted for strike action and 96 per cent for action short of a strike. Newsquest argued in legal papers that the name of the company had been wrong – Newsquest (Herald and Evening Times) instead

86 per cent of members voted for strike action and 96 per cent for action short of a strike

of Newsquest (Herald and Times) – and that the timescale to notify the company of action did not conform to legal requirements. The union is seeking improvements to severance terms and continues to oppose compulsory redundancies. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Rather than exploiting anti-union legislation to ride roughshod over an overwhelming democratic decision, the company should recognise the strength of feeling among our members and make efforts to resolve the dispute. Their actions do nothing to dissipate the anger and frustration our members feel.”

NEWSWIRES BEAT TWITTER FOR NEWS Twitter is not set to replace traditional newswires as a source for breaking news, according to analysis of 27 high profile events by academics at the universities to influence ministers. igh court judges of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Guardian will now have allowed an Researchers found that newswires seek to overturn a ruling appeal against a broke the news first 15 times, with decision to conceal details of that the prince’s ‘black Twitter leading eight times and a spider memos’ – a reference attempts by Prince Charles further four events covered almost 2563 - EA1148 - Nuj ad (NL):2201-TP407 23/5/13 13:47 Page 1 simultaneously (see Letters page).

THE RETURN OF THE BLACK SPIDER

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to his handwriting – should remain secret. The Tory cabinet decided the 27 letters – written to ministers in seven

government departments – should remain hidden to preserve the public’s perception of the prince’s ‘political neutrality’.

The NUJ is here to get you compensation for everything your accident has cost you. Legal help is FREE and you will always keep 100% of the compensation. You can claim for any accident - at work, on the road or on holiday. Your family is also covered.

www.thompsons.law.co.uk The availability of NUJ Legal Services is in accordance with NUJ Rules, Legal Assistance Policy and Terms available on the NUJ website on nuj.org.uk Limited exclusions apply. Accidents outside of the UK are covered where we can pursue the case though the courts in England/Wales. Family members are covered for accidents outside of the workplace. Thompsons Solicitors is a trading name of Thompsons Solicitors LLP and is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

8 | theJournalist


up front

General secretary Michelle Stanistreet says it is time for sensible negotiations

Please, don’t be so silly

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rguably the idea of an August silly season in the world of journalism and a period of welcome downtime for reporters has long gone, with the 24/7 news cycle and the pressure of most roles meaning that the flow of work continues unabated even when legions of bosses head off on their summer sojourns. Hold The Front Page is holding to tradition, though, and heralded the start of the silly season citing a headline in the Gloucestershire daily The Citizen which demanded to know, “Is this the biggest chip in Gloucestershire?” with a call for readers to send in their own photos of scarily large hunks of fried potato. However, for most of our members, working against the clock with ever more scarce resources, a slow news day happens regrettably rarely. But the silly season for socalled HR professionals and corporate blue sky thinkers is another matter entirely – although to be fair their season of silliness is in no way restricted to the summer months. Thanks to their collective efforts, their flashes of unoriginal thoughts dressed up as vision and all-round incompetence, the temperature’s been rising industrially as some companies mark the start of the summer with the announcement of yet more cuts and redundancies. So for the NUJ – our chapels and officials – it’s definitely been a busy summer to date, with a slew of work created as the latest merry-go-round of cuts and casualties started up again. At the Independent titles, NUJ members faced threats

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from management in the wake of their successful ballot for industrial action over compulsory redundancies. Common sense solutions to the – including an extension to the consultation period and real engagement with the union together with a voluntary redundancy trawl – have been rejected by executives who have chosen instead to sabre rattle and intimidate staff. A poor show indeed from a newspaper group that likes to position itself as a progressive voice in the world of journalism.

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For most of our members, working against the clock with ever more scarce resources, a slow news day happens regrettably rarely

n Glasgow, members at The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times are also battling to see off yet more job cuts on the titles. Legal threats by the company have not deterred members, who are re-running their industrial action ballot undaunted. Rather than acknowledge the overwhelming result of the ballot and the strength of feeling that exists among their staff, Newsquest decided to expend its efforts in challenging the validity of the original ballot result on a mealymouthed technicality. The reality of operating within the anti-trade union legislation that exists in the UK stacks all the legal odds in favour of companies. It’s not the only unwelcome reminder of Thatcher’s legacy. Papers released at the start of August in the national archives confirmed what every trade unionist knows – that she was hellbent on crushing the unions. For many of our members these days, ‘the enemy within’ is far too often the executives charged with running companies in our industry, men in suits (and yes, they are largely men) who appear clueless about how to revive their long term corporate fortunes and who are the ultimate in one-trick-ponies whose only strategic idea is to cut, cut and cut again. The one year-round constant that members can rely on is their union. When the chips are down – even Gloucestershire monsters – the NUJ is always here to provide help and support.

 For all the latest news from the NUJ go to www.nuj.org.uk theJournalist | 09


Linda Harrison continues our series examinging some of the main media centres around the UK and Ireland

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he arrival of the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff in 1999 gave a new dimension to Welsh politics. And also to Welsh journalism. According to Martin Shipton, chief reporter at The Western Mail newspaper, it made the role of the media in Cardiff more vital than ever. “There’s a whole world of information coming out of the Assembly,” explains Martin, also chair of the Cardiff and South East Wales branch of the NUJ. “So it’s very important that we let our readers know what is going on. The problem is that there aren’t really any Londonbased newspapers that have journalists located here. Many

10 | theJournalist

people get very little news about Wales and policies on issues such as education and health. “So it’s very important that we have a thriving Welsh journalistic industry.” Martin is one of about 100 journalists working for Trinity Mirror-owned Media Wales in Cardiff. The organisation publishes daily titles The Western Mail and South Wales Echo and prints the free title South Wales Metro. It also produces a number of weeklies, including tabloid-style Wales on Sunday. Daily tabloid the South Wales Echo has seen a number of famous journalists work there in their early careers, including broadcaster Sue Lawley and news reader Michael Buerk. Falling circulation and several rounds of redundancies at Media Wales have raised concerns that Wales could lose the Western Mail – its daily newspaper. But Trinity Mirror has denied this in reports. Meanwhile, journalists have seen significant changes in the Cardiff newsroom – staff now work across all papers in the stable and contribute to the newly revamped WalesOnline website. The company has also been trialing a new digital publishing model, Newsroom 3.0, where journalists ‘write to fit’ directly on page. Despite the many challenges, the media in Cardiff remains vibrant. There are a number of magazines in the city, including free glossy lifestyle titles City Life, Red Handed – aimed at men in Wales – and Ladies First magazine. There are also significant TV operations in the area. BBC Wales has its HQ in Cardiff. It produces a wide range of programmes for TV, radio and online, including long-established news programme Wales Today. According to a spokesperson, programmes produced in the studios in Cardiff can be found on a variety of channels, including BBC One Wales, BBC Two Wales, BBC iPlayer and S4C. BBC Wales also runs two national radio stations, BBC Radio Wales in English and BBC Radio Cymru in Welsh. Network radio includes The Choir and Composer of the Week for Radio 3 as well as drama productions for Radio 4. Meanwhile, ITV Wales produces four hours of news plus 90-minutes of non-news programmes every week, mostly scheduled in peak time. Welsh language TV channel S4C is also based in Cardiff – its programmes are broadcast throughout Wales. Rhodri Lewis has been a BBC reporter for 20 years and works on Wales Today.


news hub

AKP Photos/Alamy

comments: Nick Powell, head of politics at ITV Wales: “As a native Cardiffian, it’s struck me that Cardiff has managed to become more Welsh and also more cosmopolitan in recent years.” William Ham Bevan, freelance writer and editor: “There’s a good infrastructure and from a social point of view it’s great for freelances.” Rhodri Lewis, BBC reporter: “Cardiff is small enough to have a heart – but big enough to have everything you need.” James Al-Mudallal, trainee reporter at the Western Mail: “There’s such a wide range of people in a small area – you get the most fantastic and quirky stories just from knocking on people’s doors.”

He says: “Cardiff has changed so much during my time with the BBC. It’s a much more vibrant place – there’s the Assembly, Cardiff Bay development and the success of the rugby team, so there’s never a shortage of anything to report on. “It’s also changed politically – we now look at lot less to Westminster. Politics emanates from the Assembly, which reinforces the idea of Wales being a separate nation. “As a journalist, my job has changed immensely. I now do the camerawork and editing too, which makes the job more challenging but means I get the satisfaction of knowing something is all my own work. It also means you can turn things around quickly, which can be very useful. “BBC Wales is the biggest BBC newsroom outside London because everything is doubled up for the Welsh language. In the past 20 years, people have woken up to the revival of the Welsh language. It’s certainly an advantage to speak Welsh as a journalist for the BBC in Wales, but it’s not essential. “The development of the city centre has made Cardiff an even better place to live – there’s a John Lewis, Vivien Westwood – you don’t have to go to London for shopping anymore. Plus it’s very convenient – two hours to London and one hour to the beaches of The Gower.” Nick Powell is head of politics at ITV Wales. His job has also changed immensely over the past 25 years – before devolution, he spent three days a week at Westminster. He adds: “Before the Assembly we used to cover politics in Wales. Now we cover Welsh politics. There’s a big difference. It’s been an absolute privilege to cover the Assembly from day one.” Away from TV, commercial radio in Cardiff includes Capital Wales (formerly Red Dragon FM) and Real Radio. Meanwhile, Wales’ capital city has a large student population, including many media students. Cardiff University’s School of Journalism has run its well-respected postgraduate Diploma in Journalism courses (broadcast,

magazine and newspaper) for many years, and also runs other media courses. Martin says changes in the city in recent years have had a positive effect on those living there. “The arrival of the Welsh Assembly and the development of Cardiff Bay have turned Cardiff into a genuine capital city,” he explains. “And sporting success has added to the feel-good effect.” Freelance writer and editor William Ham Bevan, who moved to Cardiff from London in 2008, agrees it’s a great place to live. He says Cardiff works well for freelances because there are good places to work and meet other freelances, such as the Chapter Arts Centre cafeteria. There’s also the Cameo Club, a members’ club and ‘media haunt’ in the evenings, and often the place to spot the cast of Welsh-language soap Pobol y Cwm. William, a former staffer at the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail and former deputy editor of the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, adds: “For a freelance, it’s not easy to find work locally. All my clients are from the other side of the Severn Bridge. But Cardiff’s a reasonable size with good infrastructure and accommodation, making it a great place to live.”

main media employers BBC Wales BBC Cymru Wales is based at Broadcasting House at Llandaff, in the north of Cardiff, although it’s been reported to be looking to move. It has about 1,000 employees across Wales, with most in Cardiff (700-800). With the independent sector in Wales, it produces TV programmes for the BBC’s digital channels Three, Four, CBBC and BBC HD. Cardiff Bay’s BBC drama village is home to dramas Doctor Who, Casualty and Welsh language soap Pobol y Cwm. The BBC also works with S4C, contributing around 600 hours of BBC Wales programmes a year to S4C’s overall schedule. Online output includes bbc.co.uk/wales in English and bbc.co.uk/cymru in Welsh. Media Wales (Trinity Mirror) The Media Wales offices are based in central Cardiff. About 100 journalists work at the Media Wales HQ.

As well as the South Wales Echo and Western Mail (and printing free title the South Wales Metro), it also has nine weekly titles. These are the Cynon Valley Leader, Glamorgan Gazette, Gwent Gazette, Merthyr Express Series, Merthyr Express Edition, Rhymney Valley Express Edition, Pontypridd Observer, Rhondda Leader and Wales On Sunday. ITV Wales ITV Wales is based at Culverhouse Cross on the outskirts of Cardiff. It too is looking for a new home in the city. It employs around 90 people across News, Programmes and Operations. Regular programmes outside of the news, which are produced in-house, include Wales This Week, consumer show The Ferret, and weekly politics show The Sharp End. ITV Wales also produces Welsh language programmes on a commercial basis for TV channel S4C.

theJournalist | 11


blogs that pay With the internet a basic source of information for millions of people, Tim Dawson has been looking at how journalists can turn blogging into cash

Derek Croucher Alamy

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decade ago, Glasgow-based freelance Lucy Sweet was one of Britain’s top-earning freelance journalists. Her television reviews for The Sunday Express netted her £650 a week, and with regular work for The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Herald she appeared well set. Then, one by one, she was hit by budget cuts among her print clients and for a while her outlook was challenging. Today, however, she earns her living almost entirely from blogging. “My main blogging client is the consumer website bitterwallet.com which specialises in funny angles on consumer news pieces. I source two news stories a day and write 150-200 words for each, into Wordpress. I’m paid a tenner a post, which isn’t wonderful – but I like the regularity of that and in these times it’s good to have a regular wage to rely on.” In addition she writes a weekly celebrity blog for the online magazine Dame, based in Los Angeles, which pays $60 a post, a monthly celebrity column called Travels Through Trash, as well as writing regular features for parentdisch.com which pays £100 for 800 words. She’s one of the growing army of freelance journalists earning some or all of their living from blogging. At one end of the scale is NUJ member Martin Lewis, who sold his stake in moneysavingexpert.com for £87m in 2012. At the other are hundreds of mainly special-interest bloggers whose income is sufficient only to subsidise their hobbies. There are no easy metrics to get a sense of how many people are doing this. In the intensely competitive world of parent-oriented sites, however, more than 1,000 blogs were entered into last year’s annual ‘Mum And Dad Blog Awards’ (the-mads.com). Awards also exist for blogs about food, wine, politics, business, fashion – which is indicative of blogging sectors that are both large, and that take themselves seriously. Easier to find is data about the impact of blogs on the public. Research last year by Neilson, suggests that 70 per cent of consumers trust online reviews (and trust in this medium has risen year-on-year). Trust in advertisements on television and in newspapers is below 30 per cent. In response to this, digital advertising spend is rising – up by 12.5 per cent in the UK last year – just as spending on traditional media is falling. Maggy Woodley started her blog, redtedart.com three-anda-half years ago in the hope that it might be a way for her

12 | theJournalist

to sell some paintings. Finding that to attract an audience, she needed to add content regularly, she started writing up craft projects that she did with her children – and the site started to take off. “I get around 280,000 unique visitors a month now and the site generates around £1,000 a month from advertising,” she says. Ads are served on her site by both Google and niche agency Handpicked Media – and obviously she is fortunate that there is a close relationship between crafting and focused purchasing decisions. Considered something of a guru among craft bloggers, Woodley has worked hard to build her audience. “One of the most important things to do when you start blogging, is to network and to find your community,” she advises. Needless to say, this is largely done via social media – getting involved in conversations on Twitter and joining discussions and groups on Google+. She has some specific technical tips – like taking part in ‘Linky parties’ where bloggers exchange bits of code to allow a small sample of their site to be displayed on those of others in the ‘community’. “Pinterest made a


blogging

massive difference to my audience too,” she says. Advertising is not her only source of income. With her blog as a shop window, other freelance commissions have come her way from Tesco.com and The Times among others. And, impressed by the footfall her writing attracts, Woodley was commissioned to write a book based on her blog by Square Peg – an imprint of Random House. Her first quarter results are not yet in, but according to her publisher, sales are ahead of expectations.

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isa Pearson, aka mummywhispererblog.com, is another blogger who started out for fun, but won the ‘best business’ category in the ‘Mads’ in 2011. Concentrating on strategies to make parenting fun and effective, her first posts were written as much for cathartic effect as anything else. But her husband lost his job and she decided that a more commercial approach might be appropriate. “I tried advertising, with Google ads, but the returns were not great,” she says. “I found the easiest way to make money, was with sponsored posts”. These are a little like advertorial features, in that manufacturers generally approach bloggers with products that they want reviewed. Some simply offer the product, in return for coverage. Blogs with decent traffic, such as mummywhisperer, command fees of around £100 a post. Pearson’s approach was laudably ethical – not sparing her critical judgment, and always signposting sponsored posts. Elsewhere in the blogosphere, things are not quite so cut and dried. Some bloggers keep quiet about what they have been paid, others hide the sponsored posts. With 300 – 500 daily visitors, however, Pearson has recently decided that her brand is better served by concentrating on writing books, which can be sold from her site. Her first, ‘Six Steps To A Sparkling You And Enjoying Being A Mum’ she self-published on Kindle and is currently selling enough copies to generate around £50 a month. On the strength of this, she has been commissioned to write a second book by a commercial publisher. Some bloggers set their sights much higher. In the case of Paul Staines, the man behind the Guido Fawkes blog, comes close to a six-figure annual income. Advertising on the Guido blog nets around £4,000 a month and he makes as much again selling stories to the conventional print media. “We have become a must-read for people involved in politics, across the spectrum, and advertisers value that. We attract advertisers who want to get their message to opinion formers so big, national campaigns tend to be particularly good for us”. Fortunately for Staines, he partially owns Messagespace, which serves ads on to political blogs. How the market for blogs will develop in the future, of course, is no more known that what the future holds for newspapers. Most British bloggers who are serious about the commercial success of what they do seem to agree, however, that we are several years behind developments in the United States. There, elite political bloggers have significant sway over national politics and there are reportedly more than 30 blogs that generate revenue in excess of $5,000 a month. Given the famed guile and resourcefulness of British journalists, it is hard to believe that some won’t join the ranks of superstar bloggers in the next few years.

them not so dry bones Eleven-year-old Jake McGowan–Lowe is proof that

age is no barrier to blogging success. He started jakes-bones. com nearly four years ago because he thought that it would be ‘really cool’ to have a website on which to write about all the bones that he had collected. “I spend around an hour and a half each week working on a new post, and then replying to comments can take quite a lot of time too,” he says. He professes not to be sure why other people find his hobby interesting, save that he is quite young to have amassed a collection of more than 1,000 bones (most of which he keeps in his bedroom). Last year nearly 80,000 people visited his blog and he receives around 500 emails a year and a similar number of web comments. As his site has grown he has become something of a media sensation. Stories about him have appeared in most national newspapers and there was a package devoted to his story on the BBC’s Autumnwatch program. Indeed, as well as the bones that he finds in the fields and woods around his home, near Dunblane in Perthshire, Scotland, his growing reputation has led more and more people to donate bones to his collection. Until this year, jakes-bones.com was not commercially exploited. Last October, however, children’s publishers Tic Tock approached Jake to work on a book about bone collecting that will feature cartoon images of Jake explaining different parts of the skeleton. The terms of the deal are confidential, but it was the result of a quite lengthy negotiation. “When Jake first asked me if he could do a website, I agreed, so long as he committed to taking it seriously for at least six months”, explains his father, photographer and NUJ activist, Nick McGowan-Lowe. “On that basis, I agreed to do some of the technical stuff and to make it look nice. The surprise was the way that it took off – partially because he initially did not have much specialist knowledge, he explained things in a way that lots of people found accessible and interesting.”

theJournalist | 13


Keeping health reporting healthy Alan Taman explains why health reporting needs urgent care – and what the union is doing about it

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ou might not hear about the next hospital scandal until well after you should have done. Or when you do, more people will have been put at risk than could have been. One reason is a drop in the number of health specialist reporters, at a time when the NHS is facing massive reorganisation. There is growing concern about the need to keep quality health reporting alive and well. Shaun Lintern broke the Mid Staffs story for the local paper, the Express & Star. Now working for leading health policy weekly Health Service Journal, he recounts how lucky he was: “We had some great editorial leadership around the Mid Staffordshire scandal. It was as a result of that I became health correspondent. The newspaper committed me to go to the Inquiry which was a great source of news.” Shaun spoke with hundreds of local families, hearing how lives were being lost through appalling standards of care. But towards the end of the Inquiry, he noticed a sea-change in newsroom attitude: “After a year or so, there was a pressure on all the reporters, to have to do other things. My editors were starting to say ‘do you really have to go?’. They allowed me to, just, but they were starting to question it. I don’t think my old paper would let someone go now. They haven’t replaced my old position as health correspondent. But can you blame the news editor, who has competing interests to fill the newspaper? Probably not: it’s the same issue everyone’s facing.” A lack of specialised knowledge in health brings its own problems. Even with good general training and perfect instincts, a non-specialist or inexperienced reporter can easily miss things the specialist would spot, or have a nose for: “You can’t just waltz in on day one and understand the system and where to find the stories”, says Shaun, “We need to accept the fact that specialists are specialists, they shouldn’t be expected to dive straight into their specialism and be an expert. It takes time to train and to make the contacts. When I’ve seen other reporters trying to do it on a piecemeal basis

14 | theJournalist

they struggle. I was able to carve out enough of the day to concentrate on the health service but even then I had the competing pressures of having to do other stories. That’s the fault of newsrooms and editors not having enough staff to do everything. “A well-organised newsroom should be able to make time for specialists, and they should see that as crucial to getting the stories that will help sell their paper. If your specialists are constantly taken away to do other stories then yes, they’re going to cover the opening of the new shop but they’re not going to get you the exclusive that might lead your paper the next day. There’s a trade-off that editors need to realise they’re losing by taking their specialists off their specialism.” With fewer health specialists to help junior reporters, the lack of knowledge – combined with increased pressures to churn out desk-bound stories on virtually anything – can have serious consequences for health reporting, and health. An historic example of the lethal combination of bad reporting on health and bad health provision risked lives in Wales recently: measles amongst young people. The MMR scandal – itself atrocious science – was made much worse by stories at the time which exaggerated the risks, persuading many people not to immunise their then infant children against measles. The consequences didn’t show for a long time, the time it took for the measles virus to reach and spread through an unimmunised population, now teenagers. Bad reporting in health because of a lack of specialised knowledge isn’t confined to history. Shaun is damning of some reports on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), a way of managing terminally ill patients in hospital. The LCP was found wanting in some cases by a recent inquiry which has recommended its withdrawal, but some reports glossed over the real issue, which was how it was used: “The way that has been reported has been inaccurate. The issue is not the pathway, it’s the implementation and poor practice. That’s what the reporters should have focused on but instead they focused on the pathway itself without asking anybody in the medical profession what it actually is.”

The other side The pressures on health reporting are mirrored in health PR, which has been growing in health organisations and faces its own problems. As a health freelance who worked for over eight years as a senior hospital PR, I saw many changes in management – each time the attitude towards the press would shift depending on how each chief executive regarded the media.


health gettyimages

steps to health The NUJ is launching a

campaign to find out how many health journalists and health PRs there are, and to coordinate efforts to maintain standards of health reporting, develop specialist resources, and reach health specialists – reporters and PRs – working in isolation. The specialist chapels (such as in the health press) have already been contacted and are providing vital information. But many general reporters are called on to cover health with little or no specialist training or support, and many hospital PRs work alone. And, of course, many health specialists are freelance. The campaign needs to hear from them: • Are you a health journalist? Or have you been asked to cover health? If you are a health journalist, or have been asked to cover health but have no specialist training, please fill out the survey on http:// www.surveymonkey.com/s/

healthjournalism so the union can take the campaign forward with accurate and up-to-date information. • Are you a health PR? Please fill out the survey on http://www. surveymonkey.com/s/healthPR. This will help show the pressures health PRs face. • A good resource for health journalism is: http://www. europeanhealthjournalism.com • If you or your Branch or Chapel would like to hear more, please let the campaign know via the survey links. • NHS PRs throughout the UK have already been asked to take part in an independent survey on health PR ethics. Initial indications are that this is something health PRs are concerned about (contact Alan Taman for more details). The results of this research will be used by the NUJ to take the campaign forward. Add your opinion by completing the survey, linked above.

theJournalist | 15


health Many hospital managers don’t appreciate the role of the media, and why you simply cannot ‘control’ information given to the press in the same way as you run a hospital ward (see bit.ly/13UbUPS). Educating senior managers to the realities of what journalists need is a big part of the job, and if they are of the ‘all journos are slippery bastards who are out to get us’ tribe it takes a lot of courage to tell truth to power when you risk being labelled ‘disloyal’. Many PRs work alone or in small teams, so going against the prevailing culture when you know it’s wrong can be even more difficult. A good health PR – like a good journalist – will want to build a professional relationship with reporters and managers and keep it that way, even when things are tough. Shaun has experienced good and bad PRs: “I’ve come up against obstructive, defensive, occasionally downright untruthful PRs. All that really does is make it like a red rag to a bull. Hospitals and NHS organisations should see good PRs and good relationships as beneficial. A good PR knows when the hospital’s done something wrong and they know that by owning up to it that will make the Trust and the organisation look better. Trying to kill the story doesn’t usually, if the journalist is any good.” The NHS faces the most sweeping change in its history. A combination of ill-prepared, under-resourced journalists and poorly supported, over-managed PRs could mean a ‘perfect storm’ of bad news being missed, misjudged, misrepresented, or denied, despite the NHS’s watchdog, the CQC, being given

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When the hospital’s done something wrong owning up to it will make the organisation look better; trying to kill the story doesn’t

The campaign for health journalism As a recent NUJ Masterclass on the reorganisation of the NHS showed (http://www.nuj.org.uk), there are fears about whether the ‘new’ NHS will work as well, or will be vulnerable to increased privatisation and vanishing accountability. There has never been a greater need for health reporting that is to the highest standard, armed with specialist insight and matched by professional health PR which recognises that. One of the most promising decisions to emerge from that meeting is to start a campaign to uphold standards in health reporting and PR, backed up by reliable resources and also focusing on engaging health PRs. But one of the most urgent tasks is to ascertain how many health specialists there are across the UK (see panel). “The next Mid Staffs” will happen. No one knows where. But it would be irresponsible of journalists not to try their level best to find out why, sooner rather than later.

Alan Taman (aptaman@aol.com) is a member of the NUJ Public Relations and Communications Council and is vice-chair of Birmingham and Coventry Branch.

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04/08/2011 13:58


on media

Raymond Snoddy assesses publishing’s most controversial figure

Life in the old dog yet

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upert Murdoch will never be short of critics – and usually with good reason. There was the deeply implausible, less than ‘most humble’ day of his life before the Commons, in reality a line dreamt up by his unofficial personal PR man Lord Bell. Now there will the further tricky appearance before the Commons Media and Sport Select Committee in the autumn to attempt to explain his rather unfortunate, recorded remark that bribing public officials was part of ‘the culture of Fleet Street’. He can’t have another most humble day, but he could try the line that he was talking about the past, the bad old days, because as everyone knows, strictly speaking, Fleet Street no longer exists as the epicentre of the newspaper industry. It might be worth a try anyway. There has also been the longrunning saga of ‘forgetting’ to tell the independent directors (INDs) of The Times about the removal of James Harding as editor, and the attempts to appoint replacements at both The Times and Sunday Times without the involvement of the INDs. What cannot be in doubt, however is, despite everything, Murdoch’s enduring commitment to newspapers. It is still true, even now, when their days as cash cows and arbiters of political power are all but over. First the money was found for new printing presses for News International when not many were interested in investing more than £700 million in a declining industry. The best evidence of an almost

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romantic belief in words printed on paper can be seen in Murdoch’s efforts to create a good home for the new News Corp, complete with renamed News UK. The News Corp chairman has been under pressure for years from American investors, not the slightest bit interested in newspapers, to get rid of the old-fashioned drag on the share price.

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What cannot be in doubt, however is, despite everything, Murdoch’s enduring commitment to newspapers

f he was only interested in maximising New Corp’s share price then the hacking scandal and the closure of the News of the World would have been the perfect time to ditch all his UK newspaper interests. Instead, the split of the old News Corporation, largely into television and newspapers, probably represents the best outcome possible for The Times, Sunday Times and Sun. Time Warner has already done the same thing and the Tribune Co, publishers of the Chicago Tribune, has suggested it too wants to separate its broadcasting and press interests. Putting Mike Darcy, the accomplished number two at BskyB, in charge at News UK was another sign that Murdoch was serious about the papers. From his years at BskyB, Darcy is a specialist in TV subscription and has already shown his interest in developing new streams of revenue for News UK with the deals on Premier League and FA cup goal clips. It is perhaps the content most likely to attract subscribers to The Sun online at £2 a week if anything can. Murdoch’s 50 per cent stake in the pay TV company Foxtel has also been thrown in to help subsidise the new News Corp. Under News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson jobs will continue to go as the pressure on costs continues. But at the very least the newspaper interests should be safe from dismantling while the 82-year-old Rupert Murdoch remains on the stage. When he departs, for whatever reason, the insurance policy could rapidly run out.

For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy theJournalist | 17


international news

Union is key to the development of IFJ

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FJ president Jim Boumelha says the NUJ will be central to building the role of the International Federation of Journalists as the focus for 21st century journalism. Jim, a member of the NUJ national executive council, was re-elected as IFJ president at the organisation’s world congress in Dublin June through a close-fought contest which saw the votes of the north Atlantic and northern European delegates pitched against those representing journalists in developing countries. Jim said: “The tightlyfought election for the IFJ presidency and indeed for the rest of the Executive Committee seats shows how far the IFJ has come of age from a North Atlanticdominated organisation of journalists to become a representative international

body, uniting unions from diverse cultures and traditions in a truly global democratic voice of journalists. This should be the proudest achievement of the NUJ, one of the IFJ founding members. “The IFJ is now better placed to confront global media in turmoil and its impact on journalists’ jobs and working conditions and, equally, the crisis of impunity and human rights

in brief...

as journalists continue to be hunted and killed in the four corners of the world ,resulting in losses on a scale hard to bear. “The Dublin congress was pugnacious at times but also gritty and inspirational too, resulting in one of the most ambitious programmes of work ever undertaken by the IFJ. “Central to it will be our involvement in representing the interests of journalists within international institutions – whether the UN and its agencies such as UNESCO or the international labour movement and the ILO. “At a time when the basic principles of press freedom are under attack solidarity between journalists worldwide must continue to be at the top of our priorities,” declared Jim.

Hamas shuts agency and broadcaster Gaza’s Hamas-led government has ordered the closure of two media outlets in the territory – the broadcaster Al-Arabiya and the news agency Maan – accusing them of publishing ‘false’ news. The government says the shutdowns are temporary. AlArabiya, based in Saudi Arabia, and Maan on the West bank, often carry coverage critical of Hamas.

Solidarity between journalists worldwide must be at the top of our priorities

Remembering fallen colleagues

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elegates to the IFJ Dublin congress stopped the traffic in the city to remember journalists who have given their lives for their work. In a solemn Freedom Walk in commemoration of the 408 journalists who died in the service of their

profession since the last Congress, three years ago, delegates walked in silence through the city centre, each holding a red carnation to represent fallen colleagues They passed through the Dubh Linn gardens where IFJ general secretary Beth Costa, and Jim Boumelha laid a wreath at the

monument to Veronica Guerin, the Irish crime reporter murdered in 1996 by drug barons. The Congress, passed motions seeking better protection for journalists and in solidarity with journalists who are threatened, jailed and killed while carrying out their profession.

Conference a triumph for NUJ

18 | theJournalist

mark thomas

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UJ Irish secretary Seamus Dooley got the rock star treatment as the week-long IFJ delegate conference concluded in Dublin this summer. “Seamus, Seamus” chanted the 300 delegates from across the world, in tribute to the impeccable arrangements made by the union’s Irish secretary and his Dublin office team led by Evelyn Hannigan. Widely praised as the best such event for very many years, a highlight of the week was an opening address by the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, who spoke passionately of the need to protect media diversity and pluralism. He warned delegates at the opening ceremony in the Irish capital’s Royal Hospital Kilmainham of the dangers of ‘identikit news organisations chasing the same narrow commercial ground’.

Mail apologises to Ugandan PM Ugandan prime minister Amama Mbabazi is to get ’substantial’ damages and an apology from the Daily Mail after a report in the London paper suggested he was involved in theft of millions of pounds of foreign aid. The Ugandan authorities said irregularities, fraud and forgery had been uncovered on the part of staff working within the Office of the Prime Minister, But there was no suggestion that Mr Mbabazi was responsible, or benefited from the theft of the money. Tehran journalist held in solitary Iranian journalist Fariba Pajouh is reported to be held in solitary confinement since she was arrested last month, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The former contributor to Radio France Internationale was previously arrested in 2009. Reporters Without Frontiers says after that arrest she spent 120 days in jail and has been in poor health since her release. IFJ launches new safety website A new website dedicated to the safety and protection of journalists has been launched by the IFJ at ifj-safety.org/en after the NUJ and others prioritised the issue at this summer’s federation world congress. It will offer advice for journalists working in regions affected by conflicts, political instability, disease and natural disasters. .


technology

are you looking at me?

I

Rosie Niven on the latest trends and kit

n the last issue I wrote about drones and how journalists are using them for reporting, despite ethical concerns about their use. The evolution of wearable technology such as Google Glass has led to a similar debate, with some journalists extolling their virtues to a backdrop of a growing ‘Stop the Cyborgs’ campaign against surveillance. Google Glass is a pair of spectacles with special powers. Users can use voice commands to capture images and video, and start video chats, or ‘Hangouts’, in Google+. It can also receive emails and social media alerts, with developers and hackers pushing the limits of the device’s possibilities with facial recognition and other functions. Some 8,000 ‘Google Glass Explorers’ are testing these out, with the results influencing the product’s future use. One of these testers is US-based broadcast journalist Sarah Hill, who has written about the freedom that Glass offers, enabling her to shoot, stream and share live newscasts hands free. She also suggests that they could eventually allow reporters in the field, or citizen journalists, to broadcast exactly what they are witnessing, or interviews from their point of view.

preview bring back the keyboard Tablets, such as the iPad,

offer a halfway house between the smartphone with its titchy screen and heavier, clunkier laptops. I bought an iPad2 recently and found its touchscreen keyboard better for typing on than a smartphone’s. But there are times when only a proper keyboard will do and thankfully there are products available for the iPad. I decided to try out the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover after seeing a colleague using one with his iPad mini. It connects to your

Some 8,000 Google Glass Explorers are testing these out, with the results influencing the product’s future use

iPad using bluetooth and you can dock it either horizontally or vertically, with magnets holding it in place surprisingly firmly. After one charge – which is supposed to provide six months of typing – I turned the bluetooth on. It took a few minutes for the keyboard and the iPad to find one another but I only had to go through this process once. The keyboard, which is also available for the iPad mini, is large enough for me to type on comfortably, though the left shift key is perhaps a bit too small. The smart keys that I use most are similar to Apple’s standard patterns,

But some of these explorers have also highlighted ethical issues. One managed to record the first arrest captured on Glass in New Jersey in the United States. The footage, which provided a close-up view of the aftermath of a fight and the arrest of one of those involved, has prompted concern from lawmakers and privacy campaigners. In the New Jersey example, the Glass wearer was able to film without being noticed either by the men involved in the fight or by the police who arrested them. It has been noted that this video might not have been possible on a smartphone because the subjects could have intervened to prevent any filming. For advocates like Hill, Glass could usher in a new era in hands-free reporting, but she also suggests that Google will need to make many refinements before they are used more widely, including improvements to the camera, battery and the ability to ‘mute’ alerts and updates. The early reviews and reports produced on Glass suggest that it could be a great way of capturing live events without ever having to get out a phone, camera or notebook. Many journalists will be itching to get their hands on one.

with the function key offering more options. It is nice to have proper cursor keys, which I find more precise than finger on screen. But you still need to use the touchscreen at the times you would normally use a mouse or touchpad. When not in use, you can place the keyboard flat against the iPad screen to create a cover, which puts both devices in sleep mode. This keyboard was easy to use and comfortable to type on for long periods of time. A retail price of £89.99 is a little off-putting, but overall I found this product delivered what it promised.

theJournalist | 19


Martin Jenkinson

debate

Francis Beckett tells it like he thinks it was in the NUJ thirty years ago

The way we were... A “ Where are they now … ADM 1986 in Blackpool

s journalists and others rediscover some of the debates that raged so fiercely within the NUJ and elsewhere about equality, equity and human rights, a sense of deja vu is inevitable.. As the seventies turned into the eighties, I had a grandstand view of the NUJ’s dreadful attempts to throttle itself, as a member of its executive and eventually its president. It was the time that the baby boomers took control of the unions, with awful results. The illusion that the unions were immensely powerful resulted in fierce, bitter, divisive political campaigns for minor union positions. When Bernard Levin led a rebellion against the takeover of the NUJ’s London Freelance Branch by what he saw as the far left in 1976, the monthly branch meetings, which had always struggled to get a quorum, were suddenly crowded out with hundreds of people, whipped in by both sides. Levin used his Times column to call his supporters in and give his side their voting instructions. Such was the perceived power and importance of the unions that no one

20 | theJournalist

thought this at all disproportionate. After the 1977-8 provincial newspaper strike, the biggest journalists’ strike in living memory, came the demand to expel from the union anyone who had gone back to work before it ended. Quite why I agreed to serve on the travelling assize that went round the country expelling journalists from their union, I am not sure. I do remember expressing some doubt about whether this would actually strengthen the union as I returned from one such round of bloodletting, and one of the most enthusiastic witchfinders replied with a misquote from Lenin: there would be ‘fewer but better Russians’. It wasn’t my finest moment, but I’m even sorrier I let myself be bullied into supporting the proposal that the NUJ get behind abortion on demand, despite the harm I knew it would do to the union. I was fearful, I think, of being branded a male chauvinist or a reactionary. Any man who wanted to be elected to anything was careful how he voted on this, as also was any young man hoping for a sexual adventure at the union’s Annual Delegate Meeting.

Neither side was interested in anything else the NUJ did; they just wanted a battleground, and our union would do

On one side were the fiercest of the female baby boomers, taking a break from sitting grimly at the back of union meetings and waiting for some man to say ‘he’ instead of ‘he or she’ so they could tear him to pieces. On the other side were raddled religious monomaniacs taking a break from standing at street corners with placards saying “Be sure your sins will find you out” and picketing theatres showing plays they don’t like. Neither side was at all interested in anything else the NUJ did; they just wanted a battleground, and our union would do fine. “Oppressors of women” shrieked one side, and “murderers of children” shrieked the other, and one of the religious monomaniacs held aloft at the ADM an aborted foetus he happened to have about his person. Not a single mind was changed by our decision. The pros and the antis used us as a battleground for their private war, and left the battleground devastated, as battlegrounds always are. It suited both the trade unions and their enemies to pretend that unions were far more powerful than they were. It suited the unions because it was good for recruitment, and may have alarmed some employers into giving concessions. It suited their enemies because it helped make voters frightened of the unions, and paved the way for Thatcher and Blair to strip unions even of the power to provide workplace protection. We weren’t half as powerful as people thought we were, and when we’d struggled over the power in dozens of smoke-filled rooms, the smoke cleared and the power had gone. Francis Beckett is a former NUJ president and the author of a number of books, including What Did the Baby Boomers Ever Do for Us? published by Biteback.


Q&A

Mike Smith has just retired after nearly 40 years with the TUC

the nuj and me What made you become a journalist? I was always fascinated by newspapers. My grandfather was a printer on our local weekly – The Beverley Guardian – and he took me to see the paper being produced when I was very young. It made a big impression. Much later, within a few days of starting university, I saw a copy of the student newspaper, Liverpool’s Guild Gazette, and decided I wanted to be part of that. I’ve never looked back from there.

What other job might you have done? If I had not joined the TUC I was set for a career on provincial papers, having already worked on the Darlington Evening Despatch and Newcastle based Sunday Sun. I expect I would have ended up as a member of the senior staff on a regional daily or maybe even the editor of a local weekly. I would probably also have done more in the NUJ: the scope was limited once I had a senior post at the TUC and it was hard to be active in one union whilst dealing with others.

istockphoto/Alamy

When did you join the NUJ and why?

Join the NUJ, of course.

What’s been the best moment in your career?

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

Handling relations between the TUC and London Olympic bodies from 2004 onwards: a small part in a big project but I think the unions made a difference.

Thomas Cromwell, Hilary Mantell, Ernest Bevin, Frances O’Grady, Neil Mcgregor, and Bonnie Greer (should be great fun).

And in the union?

What was your earliest political thought?

Being part of the team that negotiated a big pay rise for TUC staff in the late 1970s, making it possible to see a TUC job as more than just a stepping stone.

It’s not fair

And the worst ones? The 1980s – though the early 1990s weren’t much better.

Pension snatcher Maxwell

What is the worst place you’ve ever worked in?

What are your hopes for journalism over the next five years? That the profession will come to terms with the anarchy that is social media and new higher standards will be set.

In a cold, wet field digging potatoes. I only did it for one day on a school holiday and vowed never again.

And fears?

And the best?

What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months?

That the anarchy will swamp the profession.

The TUC – all 37 years.

Who is your biggest hero? Ernest Bevin

In my first week at the Evening Despatch the branch treasurer presented me with an application form; he proposed me for membership and the secretary was my seconder. If he hadn’t approached me I would have sought him out.

And villain?

Are many of your friends in the union?

I’ve never had the courage to go freelance so can I duck this too?

Some of my oldest friends are in the

What advice would you give someone starting in journalism?

union. But the more recent ones tend to be from work, my local Labour Party etc.

Robert Maxwell (worse than Murdochhe was just a thief with no regard for journalism).

What advice would you give a new freelance?

Digging wet spuds

An end to the post Leveson stand-off and the establishment of a complaints mechanism that has the respect of the public, the profession and the proprietors (fat chance I fear)

Who would you most like to see in the NUJ? Everyone who is eligible – the closed shop is a much maligned institution.

How would you like to be remembered? Accurately. theJournalist | 21


Arts with attitude Some of the best things to see and do with a bit of political bite For listings email: journalist@NUJ.org.uk

indepth growing up with this boy Alan Johnson MP recalls his rise from poverty in his moving memoir

ion, told

rminat ship and dete A tale of hard with humour

22 | theJournalist

A racist comedian, a baby born in jail, Tory boyz, Gordon Brown, post office theatre, police violence and our changing planet… Theatre Trevor Noah – born a crime South African comedian Trevor Noah has sold more DVDs than any other stand-up on that continent. His oneman show, The Racist, sold out its run at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival. His show mines race and politics. Son of a black South African mother and a white Swiss father who got together during apartheid, when interracial couples were illegal, “I was born a crime,” Trevor jokes. He starts a new UK tour in November, so book early on www.trevornoah.com Tory Boyz Ambassadors Theatre, London Starts September 24 until November 27 With the recent Conservative divide

While the malingering 13 year old Alan

Johnson sat in his squalid bedroom, practising on his guitar, reading and re-reading his regular dose of music and following the pop charts in Melody Maker, with an obsession for football that was satiated with a team poster in Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly he pinned on his damp bedroom wall, I started work as an office messenger on those two and several other magazines aimed at the youth of the day. I went on to help launch Sounds, became editor of Record Mirror and Kerrang! And by the time I reached 35 years of age got out of music publishing to work alongside trade unions. Alan Johnson became a postman, was a rising star in the Union of Communication Workers, later elected as general secretary. It was here we shared our pasts in, at least, our love of music. In 1997 Alan called on my services again to help produce Labour Party material for him to stand as MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, which he won, later filling a wide variety of cabinet positions in both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown governments, including Health Secretary, Education Secretary, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary. Always the joker, very jovial but extremely able to form a great team around him, Alan never let on about his difficult childhood, growing up in condemned housing in London’s post-war austerity in pre-gentrified Notting Hill. Now, still as MP for Kingston upon Hull

exposed by the vote on gay marriage, the National Youth Theatre brings back the astute 2008 political comedy Tory Boyz to take you behind the scenes of the corridors of power at Westminster, where saving face and avoiding scandal is the order of the day. www.nationaltheatre.org.uk Confessions of Gordon Brown Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Until August 26 Exposing the darkest secrets of being Prime Minister, this one-man play by Emmy-nominated writer and director Kevin Toolis examines the plotting, betrayals and what it takes to knife your way to the top, rule a nation. And how the dream of power all went wrong. www.pleasance.co.uk The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable Temple Studios, 31 London Street, W2 Until December 31 The acclaimed theatre company

West and Hessle in austere times but not in government, Alan’s autobiography This Boy is an evocative memoir of childhood in the 1950s. It features, two incredible women: Alan’s mother Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better life for her children; and his sister Linda, who assumed parental responsibility at a young age and fought to keep her brother out of care when she was still herself only a child of 16. Alan’s embarrassment at where he was living with no electricity, a cooker on the landing and buckets of urine in the bedrooms to avoid having to go out to the yard in the night were alleviated two weeks after his mother’s funeral when she was finally offered a council house ‘with her own front door.’ Alan’s dreams and ambitions of either becoming a footballer, a pop star or a writer – he even learnt to write with both left and right hands because “if I was going to make a living out of writing I would need to be ambidextrous in case I broke my right arm.” – were altered when he realised at the age of 18, married with two children, that he needed to get a proper job as a postman to support his family. This Boy is a beautifully observed, extremely moving but ultimately uplifting story. His story hasn’t ended and he certainly has a way with words, More, please. – Alf Martin www.transworldbooks.co.uk at £16.99 or www.amazon.co.uk at £10.87.


arts Punchdrunk are using a disused postal sorting office – about the size of three football pitches – to tell the tragic story of a soldier who earns extra money by taking part in medical experiments. With a cast of 28 plus musicians, the sorting office will be transformed into the fictional Temple Studios, inspired by Buchner’s fractured masterpiece ‘Woyzeck’, where the audiences navigate their way through scenes taking place simultaneously in different parts of the building. The performance can last up to three hours depending on your journey. www.nationaltheatre.org.uk or www.punchdrunk.com

without technical skills, how to safeguard yourself and your sources and communicate without being overheard. How to conduct sensitive research without having to watch your back. Available online from www.deepwebguides.com or www.amazon.co.uk Trevor Noah’s race and politics

The plotting of Gordon Brown

Exhibitions Scandal ’63: The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Profumo Affair National Portrait Gallery, London Until September 15 Propaganda: Power And Persuasion British Library, London Until September 17 Last chance to see two major exhibitions in London. The original drawings, photographs, newspapers and magazines of the key players in the political scandal that rocked Britain are on display in Scandal ’63. Propaganda explores international state propaganda from the 20th and 21st centuries. An eye-opening, mindboggling, beautiful and surprising examination of how states try to influence its citizens. www.npg.org.uk and www.bl.uk

Chasing Ice £12.99 Photographer James Balog discovers undeniable evidence of our changing

Deep Web, watch your back

Live Oxjam 2013 Throughout October Now’s the time to give and get some help. Oxjam, which began in 2006, is a month-long session of gigs, events and ‘takeovers’ across the country, to sponsored events on top of mountains, raising money to fight poverty and suffering around the world. You come up with the idea and the people willing to take part and you can expect assistance from supporters of Oxjam such as Jarvis Cocker, Fatboy Slim, Damon Albarn plus hundreds of bands playing different venues around the UK. It all takes place throughout October but you need to register before then. www.oxfam.org.uk

preview Glasgow’s giant rises

Books Children of the Jacaranda Tree Sahar Delijani Orion Books £12.99 Sahar Delijani was born in Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran in 1983, the same year both her parents were arrested due to their political activism against the Islamic regime. Deligani, in her first novel, recounts her family’s personal experience in a gripping indictment of tyranny and yearning for freedom. www.orionbooks.co.uk. Deep Web For Journalists – Comms, Counter Surveillance, Search Alan Pearce £6.60 No journalist in the 21st century can afford to ignore the dangers of the digital world. This book shows,

DVDs Diaz: Don’t Clean Up The Blood £9.04 In 2001 on the last day of the G8 summit in Genoa, just before midnight, 300 belligerent police stormed the Diaz school where 90 activist students and a handful of journalists were treated to a frenzy of violence. Viewpoints of the police, protestors, victims and journalists analyse how frustration can explode into uncontrollable violence. Original footage taken at the scene reminds you it’s not fiction. www.amazon.co.uk

planet. Revolutionary time-lapse cameras capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers where years turn into seconds, capturing ancient mountains of ice in motion disappearing at a breathtaking rate. www.dogwoof.com or www.amazon.co.uk

Will it open on time? Glasgow’s The SSE Hydro, a new £125m world-class 12,000-seat stadium with a circular auditorium and domed roof on the banks of the River Clyde, is racing against time. UK energy provider Scottish Hydro will invest £1.5m a year for the next 10 years. Originally due to open on September 15 with Andrea Bocelli, a fire in June put the opening back until September 30 where one concert by Rod Stewart has been extended to four with October 2, 4 and 5 as the other dates. 34 years since his last No. 1, the Scottish rocker took the top spot with his new ‘Time’ album. Rod said: “I have been looking forward to playing The Hydro, watching it take shape. 2013 is a momentous year for me. I cannot wait to get back to Scotland and perform in front of a live audience at this spectacular venue.” In addition to Rod, other artists lined up to play the arena include Jessie J, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, and in 2014 hosting gymnastics and netball for the Commonwealth Games. www.thehydro.com Rod Stewart opens the Glasgow SSE Hydro with four dates theJournalist | 23


inbox

letters... tim ellis

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

tweeted out? The paucity of strongly opinionated letters to The Journalist in recent months is striking. I wonder if constant wittering on Twitter has robbed members of their trenchant views? A recent Edinburgh university study looked at 51 million tweets over 11 weeks and found that mainstream media and websites still tend to break stories first. Not really surprising..As William McCormick QC explained in the recent McAlpine/Bercow defamation case, Twitter is simply a place where people share “random thoughts without necessarily meaning anything”. Graham Noble London

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Looking to future with NUJ pride I’d like to say a big thank you to the NUJ, particularly Jane Kennedy, for all the support and assistance after I was handed the dreaded envelope on Thursday 28 February which spelled the end of my time as editor of the Whitby Gazette. A two-month ‘consultation’ period followed where I was given sound advice by the union while all around me, it seemed, launched a staggering campaign to save my job. A huge thank you to Hold the Front Page which broke the story and a similarly huge thank you to Press Gazette which launched a petition which saw nearly 1,400 people sign up. More than 600 people joined a Save Our Stokoe Facebook group and hundreds took to Twitter with their #saveourstokoe hashtags – my predicament even found its way to lead story on BBC Look North. I was totally unprepared for the sheer level of support from my colleagues and from respected members of the media, both locally and nationally – to all of you a huge thank you. 24 | theJournalist

My redundancy reaffirmed my opinion everyone should be a member of the NUJ as my nightmare scenario was resolved satisfactorily – without the union I doubt it would have been quite so simple. In the meantime, I have secured freelance roles at two weekly newspapers as well as having had the chance to set up my own Stokoe Media communications business. Done properly, local newspapers still have a future and I am glad, despite the frustrations of the past few years and months, I am still in the business – the business which just so happens to be the best profession in the world. Jon Stokoe Whitby North Yorkshire

Here be monsters To dog, to fox, to hound, to hog. All are examples of nouns which became acceptable verbs, perfectly understood, because, although ‘invented’, they used language accurately. Not so the embarrassing one foisted on us by Michelle Stanistreet. In the June/July 2013 Journalist our General

Secretary mars an otherwise wellwritten article with an awkward, newlycoined word – ‘monstered.’ Come on, Michelle! Did you invent this awful word? If so, how could you include such a lazy ambiguity, then expect aspiring writers to respect and use the treasure trove of real words in the English language? Barry Seddon – Life Member Salford

Standing up for young members In my first year as a trainee I felt I had to call on the NUJ’s assistance and the matter ended up in the hands of the union’s lawyers. I am extremely grateful for the solidarity and help I got from chapel members, photographer Trevor Martin and from the NUJ’s full-time officials. This included over a year of informal meetings and phone calls, pre-emptive legal advice, an emergency chapel meeting (and the subsequent issue of a joint statement to the newspaper’s management) and then representation by Scottish organiserPaul Holleran. I was overwhelmed by such concern

and interest from people who were so busy and who seemed far removed from my position as an underling. In particular, I won’t forget seeing senior staff stand up and leave their desks for an emergency union meeting, nor the effect that a suddenly empty office seemed to have on the editorial director. I was initially reluctant to join the NUJ as I could not see how it was relevant, but I will forever be grateful that I did. I could never have predicted what happened during my first job at a newspaper. My family and I would like to thank all who were involved. In the current employment environment I would tell any trainee not to think twice before joining the union. Name witheld

Catch 22 for young members Since graduating from university I have managed to amass two years’ experience as a journalist, mainly working as a broadcast news journalist for TV and radio. Over the last six months I have applied for many jobs, most of them junior roles as a researcher/script-writer etc. (no editorial positions). After invariably failing to be invited to interview, I’ve come to the conclusion that employers simply discount CVs where applicants cannot demonstrate lengthy experience of working in journalism. Indeed, I can cite specific instances of employers stipulating a minimum of five years’ experience for roles which I, and others in my position, are perfectly capable of performing. Of course, this is connected with problems of nepotism, as the only young people who are able to surmount these hurdles to being hired are those with the requisite connections. I think the emphasis on experience as the prime criterion for assessing whether someone is a good applicant or not amounts to indirect discrimination against the young. I think one way of possibly tackling this is for the NUJ to issue industry standards


* @

regarding experience required for specific roles, distinguishing between roles that require little or no prior experience and essentially should be considered trainee posts, and those which require a certain number of years’ experience. This might pressure employers simply not to consider people, for instance, with over ten years’ experience, disregarding everyone else, but to seriously consider a greater range of applicants. Joseph Richardson

Inspiring pioneers The successful hosting in Dublin by the NUJ of the World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists is a feather in the cap of NUJ Irish organisation as well as a tribute to the union as a whole. It led me to read again Clem Bundock’s splendid little book The National Union of Journalists – a jubilee history. In its modest 254 pages it offers an inspiring portrait of how journalists rose from the ‘dubious status of shabby sweated gentility’, and what were their main victories in the union’s first 50 years. It should have a page on our website. Our pioneers still have much to teach

us, and their selfless commitment to building our union, including its international links, remains an inspiration today. John Brophy Dublin Branch

Radical press Tim Dawson asked (Davids versus Goliath, Journalist April May) if the alternative press of the sixties, seventies and eighties have a modern equivalent. He managed to name check almost every radical and alternative title that has been and gone plus a few that survive, except the one ‘thirties daily title that is owned by its readers, was founded in 1930 as the Daily Worker and appears today as the Morning Star. Nick Wright PR and Communications

Remembrance of things past We had a good laugh at work seeing our publication (‘the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents’) described by Zoe Williams (‘The NUJ and me’ Journalist June/July) as ‘the worst place I ever worked’. A pity she didn’t

ç

Please keep letters to 200 words maximum

elaborate and tell us why. I assume this was quite some time ago as no one here remembers her. It is strange that she says ‘ I’m pretty sure no union operates in it’. It may interest Zoe to learn that the NUJ is alive and thriving in the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents team and at Lexis Nexis, our publisher. Brenda Ramsden Book Branch

Huddersfield hiatus? An interesting letter from Jane Yelland in the April/May issue concerning Christianity etc. She quotes the Bible’s book of Proverbs . The first paragraph of Chapter One says these are the proverbs of King Solomon, who lived circa 950 B.C. Still, what’s a thousand years and the thoughts of someone from a different religion to Christianity between friends? Andrew J England Huddersfield Branch Martin Spellman (Letters June/July) missed the point of my letter to the April Journalist. Had he read it correctly he would

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

have observed that at no point did I claim that Amnesty International and the trade unions were Christian organisations. I am well aware they are secular. What I did do was cite Keir Hardie and Peter Benenson as members of the Christian faith who had been instrumental in setting up organisations in an attempt to improve the welfare of their fellow man. They were not alone in this. The evangelical MP William Wilberforce was a major campaigner for the abolition of slavery and was also a leader of the world’s first animal welfare charity, the RSPCA. Across the pond, the Rev Martin Luther King was one of the principal leaders of the US civil rights movement and paid the ultimate price for it. These contributions to social reform were all made by members of the Christian faith – despite it being an intolerant religion with appalling doctrines – as described by Martin in the December/January edition of the Journalist. Jane Yelland Huddersfield

A century of extra help for NUJ members For more than 100 years NUJ members and their dependants have been helped by NUJ Extra and its predecessors. Now NUJ Extra needs extra help from the next generation of journalists. We’re asking members to sign up to make regular donations of just £5 a month to continue our work. During this time of austerity and cutbacks NUJ Extra must continue the level of support needed by journalists and their dependants. In addition to helping a small number

of long-standing beneficiaries, we also help members in tight spots, sometimes a result of accidents and sudden illnesses. We can help out short-term and provide advice and support to come up with a long-term solution: for instance, we once paid for an advert in a major UK national newspaper to help sell a remote Welsh cottage at a price much above the local estate agent’s suggestion, and we bought a freezer for a member with Crohn’s Disease so she could

stock up on special dietary food for when she felt too ill to shop or cook. Now we need an army of NUJ members to sign up to give £5 a month. You can do this through direct debit or through Payroll Giving. By adding Gift Aid, your £5 would be worth £5.25 to us. It’s easy to do – just go to our website (www.nujextra.org.uk) or contact Lena Calvert on lenac@nuj.org.uk and she will send you the appropriate forms and information.

NUJ Extra has been doing that little bit extra for 100 years. Please, we need you to do that little bit extra now.

theJournalist | 25


and finally

Welcome to our glorious future Chris Proctor takes a wry look at the workings of journalism

method, visits then, following the rhythm of my ictions. Stories pred in keys and extrasensory regions lenges and bitter will expect revolts, leadership chal is expected that at criticism, inevitably beginning, ‘It next week’s...’ of our The final stage is the new pinnacle s which new ant inst of profession – the creation Using r. teve wha ort supp of s has no visible sign story the ball, the (optional extra) journo-crystal the tion xciting news for scribblers fresh to rma info ce, produced is entirely devoid of sour to up. trade, or experienced hacks wanting it e mak you k, and often, content. In old-spea I’m develop their skill base! Although re but today we This is the journalism of the futu tly unsure of the exact date, I will shor in the (soon hod met the of e can see the brillianc ine be launching my mega-reliable on-l who grace the to be) legendary writings of those ion module. tuit sts’ nali jour for ing -tell tune se trailblazers ‘For title ‘football gossip columnist’. The r prediction is that speculative Results guaranteed! In fact, if you the ed have singlehandedly establish you are: 100 per it won’t work and it doesn’t, there clairvoyance industry. ly cent correct! No money back. Their copy is ill-researched, inevitab the to onse id I have developed the course in resp devo and us titio repe y lessl incorrect, end sdesk. Editors are demands of the contemporary new they that s show arch rese of fact. Yet has already sed. aren’t looking for stale stuff that h immensely popular and avidly peru fres Real ory. hist ’s that – s happened. That’s not new ! They the stuff we want to Readers like them news hasn’t happened yet. That’s are y The ers! pap sell help will ure that cultivate, and my course is the man among the most visited . way r you you on websites! Advertisers the modern Clairvoyance is an essential tool in queue for space beside ergone a journalist’s armoury. News has und their drivel! e, from past to ulation schematic change as regards tens The case is made. Uninformed spec ‘UK rting was industry. ia future. For example, old school repo med ern mod ant t.’ Not any more! is the key to a vibr ticket to r troops invaded Afghanistan last nigh you is sts’ nali Jour for ing is expected to begin ‘Fortune-tell ister Min e Prim ‘The say, we Now a place at the trough. minious retreat uraging drawing up a timetable for an igno Alligators may suggest I am enco invasion.’ The Far from s. from Kabul following yesterday’s new the my colleagues to make up old hat! My course the for future is the place to be! News is es scrib w fello ip it. My aim is to equ ournalism’. ting dica ‘pre leads you through the stages of ‘fict t star to fail we If d. challenges ahea cal logi ono ‘chr ed term is e stag find all first l The anced module), we’l a date in the future our predictions’ (adv amplification’. Students are given ourselves out of a job. ones, like 25 the Camden to work on. We begin with obvious A glance through the small ads of d astral passwor are December or 4 July, and, using the nts voya clair that New Journal reveals the full course and ect, revealed to students on receipt of subj any on r hou an available for £25 we think might ted evic its fee, we ‘project’ or ‘make up’ what spir have can you fiver a for an extr or ‘guess’ is uls will mog ia happen. The resultant ‘revelation’ from your house. Cost cutting med in advance of the you than ker dispatched to the news editor well quic ers replace us with these interlop le ictab pred date in question. A ing.’ com can say, ‘I never saw that report’. In this Stage two is the ‘advance meeting r it on the conclusion, I hear you groan. I offe y diar of ber you to have module, students are offered a num for tice prac d goo is it grounds that attendees. Say, of list able prob a with g alon s, date anticipated it. journalistthe Tory Conference or the TUC. The Well done! to hand and soothsayer ponders the information

E

mark thomas

26 | theJournalist


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

A JOURNALIST: 1 At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed.

and takes no unfair personal advantage of information gained in the course of her/his duties before the information is public knowledge.

2 Strives to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair.

9 Produces no material likely to lead to hatred or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age, gender, race, colour, creed, legal status, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation.

3 Does her/his utmost to correct harmful inaccuracies. 4 Differentiates between fact and opinion. 5 Obtains material by honest, straightforward and open means, with the exception of investigations that are both overwhelmingly in the public interest and which involve evidence that cannot be obtained by straightforward means. 6 Does nothing to intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest. 7 Protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work. 8 Resists threats or any other inducements to influence, distort or suppress information,

10 Does not by way of statement, voice or appearance endorse by advertisement any commercial product or service save for the promotion of her/his own work or of the medium by which she/he is employed. 11 A journalist shall normally seek the consent of an appropriate adult when interviewing or photographing a child for a story about her/his welfare. 12 Avoids plagiarism. The NUJ believes a journalist has the right to refuse an assignment or be identified as the author of editorial that would break the letter or spirit of the code. The NUJ will fully support any journalist disciplined for asserting her/his right to act according to the code.


YOU HAVE A CASE, BUT DO YOU HAVE THE CASH? What price justice? the government thinks it knows.

£1,200 if you claim for wrongful dismissal. it’s the same for race discrimination. even what the government calls a “simple claim”, such as not being paid what you’d earned, could set you back £400. experts object, but ministers are still planning fees for most employment tribunal cases. they see nothing unfair in this. Nothing wrong that someone who has

not been paid the minimum wage could have to fork out more than a week’s pay to claim it back. and nothing wrong in making the costs system ever more complex. Not only is the government chipping away at everyone’s rights at work, ministers are making it impossibly expensive for many to enforce rights that they would not dare to attack outwardly, such as the minimum wage. it’s one employment law for the rich, another for the rest of us.

Visit our Website aNd deliVer your Verdict WWW.stopemploymeNtWroNgs.org

The Journalist August / September 2013  

The Journalist Magazine, Magazine of the National Union of Journalists

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