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T H E
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WWW.NUJ.ORG.UK | FEBRUARY/MARCH 2013
WILLPRINTSURVIVE? An industry on life support
Contents Main feature
14 Print for the scrap heap?
Ray Snoddy analyses the strains facing newspapers and magazines
t’s not that long since we all wished each other a happy and prosperous new year. If you’re Chinese, your new year is just beginning. So looking to the future is still on our minds. Our cover feature takes the long view of an issue at the heart of the future of newspapers. Ray Snoddy looks at the very big and broad subject of the future of print. And as media organisations pump resources into digital and pare back traditional print, our news pages reflect yet more job cuts and uncertainty. So, unfortunately there’s not much prospect for prosperity for many of our members . That means the work of the NUJ is even more important. The union is crucial in fighting for jobs and tackling many other problems. General secretary Michelle Stanistreet shines the spotlight on bullying in her column. So, too, did the Leveson inquiry and the phone hacking scandal and other incidents have shaken the once mighty News International. The company now also faces uncertainty over the editorship of The Times and Sunday Times following the forced resignation of James Harding from The Times. Ironically Mr Harding was forced out of the NUJ three years ago because of his own implementation of many forced departures at the paper. If prosperity isn’t on the cards for most of our industry and happiness may be a little ambitious, the union will continue to fight for fairness.
Christine Buckley Editor Editor Christine Buckley email@example.com Design Surgerycreations.com firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising email@example.com Tel: 020 7657 1837 Print Warners www.warners.co.uk Distribution Packpost www.packpostsolutions.com
NUJ 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP firstname.lastname@example.org www.nuj.org.uk Tel: 020 7843 3700
Manchester office email@example.com Glasgow office firstname.lastname@example.org Dublin office email@example.com
Cover picture Kevin Curtis/ Gettyimages
03 Strike vote at Guardian and Observer NUJ fights major threat to jobs
04 Uncertainty at Times stable Murdoch’s plans delayed
05 Hopes of NUJ financial recovery But no room for complacency
06 UN action for journalists demanded
Defend information workers worldwide
07 Trinity Mirror plans job cuts
Concern at impact on local papers
10 Tweeting for professionals
Advantages and pitfalls of Twitter
18 An endangered species
Where have all the book reviewers gone?
09 Michelle Stanistreet 17 NUJ and me 21 Technology
Arts with Attitude Pages 22-23
Raymond Snoddy Page 26
Letters Pages and Steve Bell 24-25
Strike vote to defend jobs at Guardian and Observer
ournalists at the Guardian and Observer are preparing to defend colleagues’ jobs and working conditions after a massive strike vote to counter management redundancy plans. More than 80 per cent voted in favour of strike action in an NUJ chapel ballot to stop efforts by Guardian News and Media to shed 100 editorial posts as part of a scheme to save £7 million from the newspapers’ annual budget. Brian Williams, father of the NUJ chapel at the Guardian, said: “This ballot result speaks for itself. The chapel’s strong message is the basis on which we will negotiate for the future stability of the company, reflecting the concerns of our journalists and their commitment to their publications and our readers.” Talks to resolve the dispute are continuing through the conciliation service ACAS. NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said the union still hopes for a negotiated settlement rather than stopping production of the newspapers. “With the cooperation of the NUJ there
have already been 50 voluntary redundancies at the publications. We have suggested a range of cost-cutting measures that could be implemented, including cuts to executive pay, job-sharing arrangements and more parttime working. We had hoped that Guardian News and Media would have seen by now the wisdom of withdrawing the threat of compulsory redundancies. The attempt to force through further redundancies is endangering the whole culture of the Guardian as its staff and readers understand it. “Our members have sent a crystal clear message to management; the editor Alan Rusbridger and his colleagues must now reflect on what the massive strike vote is saying about our journalists’ confidence in their employer.” Guardian News and Media has targeted posts across news, sport, features, pictures, comment and weekly publications for the disputed jobs cuts plan.
More than 80 per cent voted in favour of strike action in an NUJ chapel ballot
Action increAses Over BBC jOB CuTS
BC journalists are preparing for national strike action over compulsory redundancies. A meeting of NUJ representatives agreed to extend a current work to rule by Scottish members to operate across the BBC. They also decided to take strike action, unless the BBC redeploys staff under an agreed scheme. From the beginning of February,
members in Glasgow, Edinburgh including the Scottish parliament, and Selkirk in the Borders, have been working to rule. There are nine compulsory redundancies outstanding at BBC Scotland. The action is also in response to planned compulsory redundancies at Newsbeat, Five Live, Asian Network and the World Service. The job
losses are part of the BBC’s socalled Delivering Quality First cuts programme that plans more than 2,000 job losses. Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish organiser, said: “In the lead up to the independence referendum in Scotland we need experts in education, business and politics – ironically, these are three areas where cuts are being made.”
Talks at FT and Independent
alks with the NUJ are continuing at the Financial Times and the Independent over redundancy and restructuring plans by the London-based publications. The FT wants to cut 35 jobs, 25 in the UK and 10
overseas. “A priority for us must be to know how work will be redistributed in the event of any agreed reduction in staffing,” said NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick. “Journalists at the FT are deeply concerned at
the workloads being imposed on some colleagues.” The Independent wants to merge some job functions and reduce jobs. But the NUJ is demanding that any developments must be open and transparent.
Johnston Press extends Pay freeze The NUJ is seeking urgent talks with Johnston Press after it announced it would be extending its pay freeze. In an email to staff Ashley Highfield, chief executive, said he would be deferring the salary review until at least July. it was anticipated that salary reviews would take place from January. Mail Print ads fall but digital rise Daily Mail & General Trust experienced a nine per cent fall in print advertising at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday in the final quarter of 2012, but Mail Online helped fuel a rise of more than 50 per cent in digital ad revenues. The publisher’s national newspaper arm DMG Media reported a seven per cent year-on-year fall in total revenues to £204m. local world talks to keeP rights NUJ officials have held talks with management at Local World to protect recognition and working terms agreements since the group took over Northcliffe Media and Iliffe News and Media titles. guardian settles with televisa The Guardian settled a legal dispute with Televisa, the Mexican broadcaster, after it published articles raising questions about bias in Televisa’s political coverage. Other news organisations, such as CNN, followed up the Guardian’s stories. There was no financial settlement between the parties. what now, after the leveson rePort What next for press regulation and ethics after the Leveson Inquiry? How can conscience clauses in journalists’ contracts work? This is the topic of a meeting on February 28 with speakers including NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet and Helen Goodman MP, the Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, who has responsibility for media reform. Space is limited. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org theJournalist | 3
More uncertainty at The Times and Sunday Times
detective Jailed through elveden The first person prosecuted in the Operation Elveden police investigation of payments to police and officials by journalists has been jailed for 15 months. Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn had contacted the News of the World and offered to sell information to the paper in what the sentencing judge said was ‘a corrupt attempt to make money’. brooks given £10.8M Pay-off Rebekah Brooks received £10.8 million from News Corporation as compensation after she resigned as chief executive of News International at the height of the phone-hacking scandal, UK accounts published by News Corp show. ni agrees More hacking claiMs New International has agreed to settle 130 civil damages claims for News of the World phone hacking with individuals including Cherie Blair, David Beckham’s father, and actor James Nesbitt, at a cost to the company expected to run into millions. NI still faces 167 phone-hacking damages claims filed by September from almost 180 individuals,. PreMier league deal for ni titles News International is to show Premier League football highlights on mobile and internet versions of the Sun, Times and Sunday Times. BSkyB has also secured extended Premier League TV highlights rights to go with its live matches. BSkyB is 39.1 per cent owned by News Corp, owner of News International ft editor censured by tribunal Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, has been criticised by an employment tribunal which said the paper failed to act as a reasonable employer and had unfairly dismissed Steve Lodge, an awardwinning journalist on its staff. The NUJ had challenged his dismissal at the employment tribunal. 4 | theJournalist
Harding had himself presided over many forced departures at The Times
ncertainty over the editorships and direction of The Times and Sunday Times is expected to continue until March. The independent directors who refused to endorse Rupert Murdoch’s choices of editors of the two titles are not scheduled to meet again until March. John Witherow and Martin ivens, the editor and deputy editor of the Sunday Times were named “temporary acting editors” of the daily and Sunday titles, after the directors of Times newspapers, who are charged with guaranteeing the independence of the two
papers, told Mr Murdoch they would not automatically back their appointments. The two were put into position by Mr Murdoch after he forced the resignation of James Harding as editor of The Times. Mr Harding, a former business editor of the paper and correspondent for the Financial Times, was forced to resign in December after five years in the job. He told staff that it had been made clear to him that the company wished to appoint a new editor. Harding had himself presided over many forced departures at The Times and three years ago was forced to rescind his membership of the NUJ because of concerns over his actions in cutting jobs. He left the union after his own branch made a formal complaint. The six independent directors are scheduled to meet ahead of a gathering of the full board of Times Newspapers, the News international subsidiary that publishes the Times and Sunday Times. This was due to take place in February but has been put back to a date in March that has not yet been set. it is believed that the directors are concerned that there could be a merger of the two titles.
nUJ condemns O’HaGan Murder deCISIOn
he union has expressed grave disappointment at the announcement by the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland that there will be no prosecution in the Martin O’Hagan murder case. Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said the NUJ was disturbed by the
announcement. The DPP said the decision was made after careful consideration of “available evidence”. NUJ activist Martin O Hagan, a Sunday World journalist, was shot dead in Lurgan in 2001. Seamus Dooley said: “This union does not accept that the state can walk
away from this case. The murder of Martin O’Hagan was an outrageous act of violence that cannot go unpunished. “We will continue to campaign for a full investigation leading to the conviction of those responsible for the murder of our friend and colleague.”
Time to watch the clock
f staff who regularly work unpaid overtime did all their extra hours from the start of the year they wouldn’t get paid until March 1, according to the TUC. The TUC has named this day Work your Proper Hours Day to mark their hard work. Now in its ninth year, Work your Proper Hours Day is a lighthearted campaign that celebrates the unsung – and unrewarded – hours that staff put in to help their employer and boost the UK economy. Last year, the TUC found that employees across the UK worked nearly two billion unpaid hours, worth over £29 billion to the economy.
Hopes seen of ﬁnancial recovery for union
he NUJ has not had to use the emergency bank loan facility which was arranged last year to meet the union’s financial crisis, general treasurer John Barsby told the union’s ruling national executive council last month. He said that the recovery plan that was approved by the NeC and last October’s Newcastle delegate meeting was having an impact on the union’s finances. After some NUJ staff had decided to take voluntary redundancy, staffing costs had dropped by £25,000 per month. This had cut the proportion of union subscription income spent on staff costs from 52 per
cent to 45 per cent, which was in line with the aims of the recovery plan. The cost of the union’s Newcastle delegate meeting had been cut from a budgeted £180,000 to about £135,000, thanks in large measure to the skill of the NUJ’s administration team in negotiating reductions in the price of good and services. But general secretary
Michelle Stanistreet warned against complacency amid continuing challenging times for the union. She pointed out that there was now a ‘paper’ deficit of more than £5 million in the union’s staff pension scheme, compared with £1.4 million a year ago. This was due to factors outside the union’s control. Michelle has met representatives of the NUJ’s staff unions about the scheme, and a report from an actuary outlining options which could be taken forward was being prepared. She pointed out that the £5 million ‘paper deficit’ was an accounting figure, and the final actuarial valuation was still awaited.
Staﬃng costs have dropped by £25,000 per month
rosaline’s surprise presidential visit
hat do you give the NUJ’s first woman president on her 90th birthday – well, how about a surprise visit from four other NUJ presidents? Rosaline Kelly – president 1975-1977 – confessed herself flabbergasted when she walked into a birthday lunch in Wicklow, ireland. it reprised the party Rosaline threw for friends, hosted by NUJ all-rounder Peter Dodson and wife Trisha in Stockton. President Barry McCall (right) headed the Wicklow contingent – bringing telegrams from Headland House, irish Office and others, including a heartfelt apology from former president David Sinclair (1990-91), prevented from coming by a bereavement. John Devine (1977-78), Lionel Morrison (1987-88), and – off-camera with Fran, Liz and Maureen – John Bailey (1973-74) were the other ex-presidents.
commercial and other activities. A gross value added (GVA) figure, totalling £8.3bn, includes the ripple effect of BBC spending further down
Mr PaParazzi back with new library Darryn Lyons, the self-styled Mr Paparazzi, plans to launch a new online photo agency after buying back the assets of his former firm Big Pictures. He said the new celebstock.com will have a different price point from Big Pictures . Metro lags website use increases Every national website audited by ABC was up year on year in December apart from the redesigned Metro, which saw traffic drop 36 per cent. Metro unveiled plans to go ‘mobile first’ in November with new apps for Android and the Kindle Fire, alongside a website using ‘responsive design’ technology tailored to different devices. thai editor Jailed for defaMing king A Thai editor was jailed for 10 years for insulting the royal family. The prosecution of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, editor of Voice of the Oppressed, was made under the country’s lese majeste law. The editor, whose magazine is devoted to Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, was found guilty of defaming the king.
BBc Boosts eCOnOMY BY £8 BILLIOn he BBC boosted the economy by more than £8bn – nearly twice the amount of its licence fee according to a report commissioned by the corporation. The report said the corporation generated more than £8bn of economic value in 2011/12 by spending £4.3bn on TV, radio, online,
newsPaPer sales slide further Smiths News has underlined the continuing decline in newspaper and magazine sales. A trading statment for the 19 weeks to 12 January showed that newspaper and magazine distribution sales had fallen 1.9 per cent, or 4.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
the supply chain. But there were regional variations. While the GVA in the north of England grew 19.7 per cent on the previous year to £391m on the back of investment in new premises in Salford, The Midlands and East Anglia saw GVA fall 21.7 per cent to £199m. Wales also saw economic benefits slip, by 6.2 per cent to £276m.
coPyright claiMs Made siMPle The nuts and bolts of taking copyright claims through the UK Patents County Court and its new Small Claims Track system will be explained at a special one-day NUJ course on February 28 at Headland House. It will cover preparatory work, setting out the claim, issuing proceedings, court procedure, and the trial. Contact the NUJ at email@example.com or 020 7843 3703. theJournalist | 5
news in brief... Prince albert wins daMages froM ni Prince Albert of Monaco has accepted a high court apology and substantial damages from the Sunday Times over “seriously defamatory allegations” that he had entered a sham marriage with Charlene Wittstock. The prince sued the News International paper following the publication of the article in July 2011 for damages of more than £300,000. huMan rights in JournalisM awards Journalism about human rights will be celebrated again this year with the 22nd Amnesty International awards highlighting injustice around the world. Writers and photographers on newspapers, magazines, television , radio and digital can enter the awards. Details are at www.amnesty.org.uk. world events Magazine launched A new magazine covering world events has been launched. The World Weekly is being distributed free in London and aims to help readers ‘make sense of the world’ by collating articles from titles across the globe. The first issue was targeted at key decision makers with 75,000 copies circulated to hotels, clubs and transport hubs. global ad sPend uP but euroPe falls Advertising spend rose across the world, except for Europe, during the third quarter of 2012, according to Nielsen’s quarterly Global AdView Pulse report. Total spending was up 4.3% to $139bn (£86.8bn) compared to the same three months in 2011. But Europe fell by 4.8% in the quarter and by 3.4% over the nine months. sudan legacy of Mary beilby Member of honour Mary Beilby is being remembered by her Derby and Burton branch of the NUJ with a donation to the CBM charity which distributes medicines to people in South Sudan who suffer from river blindness. Mary, who lost her sight in her 40s, died last year aged 76. 6 | theJournalist
un pressed for action over killings
ormer NUJ president Jim Boumelha has spearheaded a campaign by the international Federation of Journalists pressing for United Nations action to protect journalists after a year in which 121 were killed. The National Union of Journalists has joined with organisations representing media workers across the world to call for action by the UN “The death toll for 2012 is another indictment of governments which pay lip service to the protection of journalists but have consistently failed to stop their slaughter,” said Jim (pictured) who is iFJ President and a member of the NUJ national executive council.. “it is no wonder that these sky-high numbers of killed journalists have become a constant feature in the last decade during which the usual reaction from governments and the United Nations has been a few words of condemnation, a cursory inquiry and a shrug of indifference.” endorsing the call, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Journalists from Britain and ireland have been among the victims of the failure of governments and the United Nations to protect and enforce the basic right to life of our colleagues while going about their work.
“ MARK THOMAS
“For journalists across the world, the deaths of media workers are a deeply felt loss. But it is important that the public – and the governments which are meant to serve the public – will recognise that the killing of journalists is an attack on the decisive role of the work they do and on the free flow of vital information which can help shape a better world.” Figures released by the iFJ show that 121 journalists and media staff lost their lives in targeted attacks, bomb attacks and other crossfire incidents last year, up from 107 in 2011.
For journalists across the world, the deaths of media workers are a deeply felt losss
Helping HAnd FOr aSpIrInG FIve
he Journalism Diversity Fund set up by the NCTJ has awarded five bursaries to young people planning a career in journalism.
The fund was set up by the NCTJ to help students from socially and ethnically diverse backgrounds and can assist them with the cost of course fees and living
expenses. Applications for the next round of bursaries are now open, with details at www.journalismdiversityfund. com/apply/
Bomb attacks on athens journalists
ombs were placed outside the homes of five Greek journalists in January, according to the Vienna-based South east europe Media Organisation (SeeMO). The small homemade devices exploded in front of the Athens homes of the journalists, and a statement from the anarchist group ‘Lovers of Lawlessness’ said the attacks were protests against the supposedly governmentfriendly way in which the five have reported the country’s financial crisis. “This is a new, worrying escalation of violence against media and journalists in
Greece,” said SeeMO’s secretary general Oliver Vujovic. “SeeMO is alarmed at the number of violent cases and different forms of pressure directed at journalists in Greece over the past 12 months.”
Concerns over content as Trinity Mirror cuts 90 jobs
ournalists and politicians have reacted angrily to large job cuts planned by Trinity Mirror at its newspapers across the UK. The NUJ calculates that 90 journalist jobs are under threat, and the union is demanding national talks with the company. NUJ father of the Media Wales chapel Martin Shipton said one of the Trinity Mirror proposals is to close down the Media Wales features department and create a unit based in Liverpool to produce generic features content across the group’s newspapers. “This will result in a loss of Welsh content in our paper and its replacement by standardised British material,” he said. “Trinity Mirror has been making editorial job cuts
for the last 10 years, with ever more disastrous consequences for its newspapers “ Union deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick warned that the threatened cuts package would have a serious impact on the group’s newsrooms across the UK, and damage working
conditions. “it is a shortsighted strategy which will rob communities of good locally-based journalism.” Welsh Liberal Democrat shadow business minister eluned Parrott said: “Basing the features department of Wales’ national newspaper in Liverpool, and producing generic features across the company’s regions would be a deeply retrograde step. it will inevitably mean poorer Welsh content in a Welsh media that is already stretched to breaking point. The concern was echoed by Plaid Cymru media spokesperson Alun Ffred Jones: “it makes no sense at all except perhaps to the bean counters who have no understanding or interest in protecting the local newspaper industry.”
This threatens to accelerate the decline in the popularity of Welsh newspapers as their local identity is weakened
evans attacks anti-Leveson campaign
ormer editor of The Times and the Sunday Times Sir Harold evans has publicly backed the Leveson proposals for statutory underpinning of press regulation in the UK, but he echoed the NUJ’s warning against removing protection for journalistic investigation under the Data Protection Act. He said the campaign by proprietors and editors against statutory underpinning was a ‘gross distortion’. He welcomed plans to guarantee press freedom under law, and said such provisions would have helped him and his journalists in tackling the thalidomide scandal and other issues in the 1960s.
After condemning the ‘sleaze merchants’ who had betrayed generations of journalists through the hacking scandal, he rounded on the newspaper bosses’ campaign against Leveson: “As distressing and depressing as exposure of the dark arts has been, it is deepened by the cynicism and arrogance of much of the reaction to Leveson coming from figures in the press who did nothing to penetrate, indeed whose inertia assisted, the cover-up conducted into oblivion by News international: a cover-up that would have continued but for the skill of Nick Davies and the courage of his editor.”
Union resists STraBane Ban
lans by a Northern Ireland district council to ban journalists from its committee meetings have met with a sharp NUJ response. The alarm was raised by Strabane Chronicle reporter Conor Sharkey when he heard that local council officials were planning to exclude the press from meetings of vital
committees. “This would leave us only monthly full council meetings to gather news and hold our politically elected reps to account,” he pointed out. Now the union’s Derry and North West branch has taken up the issue, and sought an opportunity to address Strabane District Council. Branch secretary Anton McCabe said: “We are
extremely concerned at the proposal being circulated to close committee meetings to the press and public. This is preventing our members from doing their job, which is to report what is in the public interest.”
in brief... when saints go barging in Southampton Football Club’s war with the local Southern Daily Echo has escalated to include interference with other media covering its matches. The Echo’s staff have been banned from the club’s home matches for several years. Last month club staff asked reporters from other publications to leave the car park and terrace area, where they were talking with fans and taking vox pops. ukrainian killer gets life sentence A former surveillance chief in Ukraine’s interior ministry has been sentenced to life for the murder of Internet journalist Georgy Gongadze, who was kidnapped in 2000. His body was later found beheaded. General Oleksiy Pukach confessed to the murder in 2009 and said that it had been ordered by former President Leonid Kuchma. lift the burden Jobs not debt Journalists in Ireland joined national union demonstrations to demand that €64 billion of private banking debt at the centre of the country’s austerity programme should be lifted from workers in the Republic. getting a foot on the ladder Starting out in journalism or looking to pitch and get paid for your work? The NUJ is running two courses – Starting Out on May 17 and Pitch & Deal on May 24. More information from Joan Amory firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7520 8340 standing uP for the union Members of the NUJ are being urged to consider standing for election to a number of bodies which help the union to run smoothly and democratically. There’s a list of vacancies on the website www.nuj.org.uk. Reﬂecting the union’s policy of promoting fair representation for everyone, young members, black members and women journalists are particularly encouraged to volunteer to stand for the vacancies. theJournalist | 7
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08 | theJournalist
General secretary Michelle Stanistreet on the serious matter of bullying
Dysfunctional room at top
n a new study of office politics, the psychologist and broadcaster Oliver James identifies three types of dysfunctional personalities that make life miserable for those they work with – there’s the psychopaths, Machiavellians and the narcissists. All of them sound pretty unappealing company – but he also reckons there’s a fourth type, the “triadic” personality that’s a frightening mix of all three categories. These are the people who lack empathy, are self-centred, devious, manipulative and have an unerring ability to get to the top of the organisations in which they work. And what industry is choc a block with these charmers? You’ve guessed it – the media industry. According to James, the TV industry, in particular, is jam-packed with them. Until recently I might have glanced over this study with nothing more than a wry smile, but following the union’s recent work on bullying and harassment – first unveiling at the Leveson inquiry the endemic bullying and pressure in far too many newsrooms, and more recently in a report compiled as a submission to the BBC’s post-Savile Dinah Rose inquiry – it felt rather too close to the truth for comfort. The evidence we collated demonstrated the need for better workplace protection and the conscience clause the NUJ has been campaigning on for many years. When the BBC launched a review of its bullying and harassment policies in the wake of the Savile scandal the NUJ contacted all members, determined to capture the experience of BBC freelances and former staff as well. The response was overwhelming. As with our Leveson work,
I dealt personally with everyone who made contact – some of the subsequent conversations have been really distressing and truly shocking. The resulting report – over a hundred pages long, and most of it firsthand testimony from journalists who’ve experienced appalling treatment – was sent to the BBC’s leadership team and the Dinah Rose inquiry at Christmas. In total over 800 people have engaged with the Respect at Work review – proof in itself that there’s a problem.
Over 800 people have engaged with the Respect at Work review – proof in itself that there’s a problem
he positive news is that there have been some constructive meetings since, but all eyes will be on the recommendations from Dinah Rose QC when she reports in March, and what the BBC actually agrees to implement as a result. The BBC has no shortage of policies and procedures – much more than that is needed if real change is to take place in what clearly amounts to institutionalised and entrenched impunity for those in authority who choose to bully and harass. Things will have to change for our members at the BBC and the NUJ is determined to pursue that change. Our work over recent months and weeks establishes that bullying is a problem throughout the industry. So the NUJ is launching a unionwide campaign this year to tackle the problem. Bullying has no place in journalism and the wider media industry. Creativity and pressured workplace environments don’t excuse picking people off, making their lives a misery, and turning workplaces into vicious playground bullying. centres. We’re also teaming up with our sister unions in the Federation of Entertainment Unions to work together on a high profile campaign to beat the bullies. And if there’s a problem with bullying in your workplace – let’s work together to make it in an industrial issue. 2012 was a year in which the lid has been well and truly lifted on the endemic nature of bullying and harassment in our newspapers and even in our public service broadcaster. Let’s make 2013 the year in which together we send the bullies packing. theJournalist | 09
Tweeting Tim Dawson weighs up the advantages and pitfalls of Twitter for journalists
esearching an article about the popularity of social media platforms last month, Guardian technology journalist Jemima Kiss asked for opinions on Twitter. Within a couple of hours, she had 75 replies. “I am always looking for case studies or trying out ideas on Twitter”, she says. “I am never without a Twitter feed open on my computer. It’s like having an ear outside the office which is constantly updating me on what is happening in the rest of the world”. Kiss (@jemimakiss, 32,388 followers) is one of many journalists for whom Twitter has become an indispensible work tool. John Rentoul (@JohnRentoul, 21,853 followers), The Independent on Sunday’s chief political commentator is another. “I rely on Twitter to tell me what are the running political stories. It has transformed the way that lobby journalism works. In 1995 when I started in the House of Commons, we relied on the PA wire. Today I can have a much quicker and broader conversation, often talking directly with politicians on Twitter”, he says. Indeed, it is fair to say that the service, which allows users to post up to 140-character micro blogs from their computers, tablets and phones has transformed much of the way that news is created and broadcast. Of course, the vast majority of the 100,000 tweets that are sent every minute worldwide are of limited interest. But when important events take place, the news now nearly always appears first on Twitter. When the aftershocks from an earthquake in Costa Rica hit Nicaragua, it took less than two minutes for hundreds to tweet that there had been a tremor, for example. Hoaxes can spread just as quickly. Last August a Twitter account called @OfficialSkyNews reported the death of Margaret Thatcher. It was retweeted thousands of times, the feed quickly gained 30,000 followers. The story was reported as fact in the United States by the broadcaster ABC, perhaps in part because the former Prime Minister’s Wikipedia entry was helpfully altered at the same time to add corroboration. But establishing the veracity of information is just one of the reputational, ethical and legal considerations for 10 | theJournalist
ng for professionals journalists in the Twittersphere. The range of potential issues is evident from social media guidelines that have recently been adopted by many large news organisations, among them the BBC, the Washington Post, Associated Press and the LA Times. The BBC’s guidance to its journalists encourages them to tweet in a personal capacity, but orders them: “don’t state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your neutrality”. Tweets issued in the name of BBC News must be cleared by at least one other member of editorial staff before they are sent. But the problems can start before you have even taken a job. One of the BBC’s US bureaux hired two journalists fresh from college a couple of years ago. Almost immediately the new recruits’ social media from their student days was placed under intense scrutiny, from which a good deal about their religious and political views was evident. On that basis one blogger questioned the new journalists’ ability to work to the dispassionate standards expected of the corporation. Current BBC thinking is that candidates’ prior social media activity should not generally count against applicants for employment – but the need to think carefully before you tweet is clear. “Tweeting is quite a flippant medium”, says Kiss. “You tend to say things in the same way as you would in a pub conversation. But just like being in a busy pub, you do have to be a bit wary of who might be able to overhear you”. Research by the New York Times, among others, suggests that when tweeting, most people imagine themselves to be addressing a small community, added to which there is a widely-felt drive to report or retweet news first. It is a combination that makes it easy to forget the normal journalistic instinct to verify information. But quite apart from making yourself look a fool, there is the potentially costly problem of defamation. “Tweeting is just the same as conventional publishing”, cautions NUJ freelance organiser John Toner. “Don’t stop using your journalistic antennae when tweeting, and don’t for a moment imagine that prefacing a statement with the word ‘allegedly’ will provide any kind of legal defence”. Toner has already helped one member who faced a potential action for defamation as a result of a tweet. There are more subtle ways that tweeting changes journalism too – sometimes with unexpected consequences. Live tweeting of events such as press conferences, for example, means an end to the days when a pack would agree
the quotes at the end of an event. And with the real juice broadcast instantly, the challenge of adding further value with a written-up piece is all the greater. Twitter is also narrowing some journalists’ focus, argues Rentoul, who declines to say how many hours a day he spends watching his feed. “The herd instinct of the lobby pack has been intensified by Twitter. There is even more pressure to follow the same stories as each other”. The benefits outweigh the disadvantages, however, he argues. “You can have intelligent conversations on Twitter,
exposing YouRself Allowing your personality to shine
through your tweets is widely considered a key to gaining followers. The pitfalls of unguarded tweeting are considerable, however, particularly if your professional reputation depends on your ability with words. According to a Freedom of Information request by Associated Press, convictions resulting from electronic communications increased from 873 in 2009 to 1,286 in 2011. Indeed, a journalist on the Great Yaremouth Mercury lost their job at the end of last year after tweeting on a personal account the name of a man being questioned by police investigating historic child-sex-abuse allegations. Dave Boyle (@theboyler, 1,752 followers) knows more than most about the perils of ill-considered tweeting. He had to stand down as chief executive of the football charity Supporters Direct as a result of sharing rather too much on the microblogging site. After an afternoon in a pub last year watching his team, AFC Wimbledon, secure promotion to the second division, Boyle issued a string of uncivil tweets. Some
made rather grandiose and expletivestudded claims for the import of his team’s success. Others indicated the strength of his dislike for some of the individuals who had allowed the original Wimbledon football club to migrate to Milton Keynes, nine years earlier. In a beery pub conversation, Boyle’s comments would have attracted little attention. But once they were published online, and searchable by anyone with an internet connection, they made his position as the head of an organisation which is funded by the Football Association completely untenable – particularly once they had been picked up by the national press. “I was a bloody idiot”, says Boyle. “It hadn’t really occurred to me that the laws of defamation would apply to me when I tweeted, nor that any but my quite select group of followers would take any notice of what I said”. Quite possibly Boyle’s mistake was to hand his enemies a stick with which to beat him, and for that he paid a considerable price. If there is one lesson to take from his experience, perhaps it is this. If you value your professional reputation, then social media devices, like car keys, are probably best left behind when you visit a licensed establishment.
theJournalist | 11
Twitter? as well as fights. I am not sure how many of my readers I interact with on Twitter, but I am very engaged by quite a large group of people among whom I can check facts and try out arguments”. Twitter can change the business model of journalism, as well as its practice, needless to say. Christian Payne (@documentally 21,675 followers) started his working life as a photographer on a provincial paper. Fearing that his prospects did not look rosy, he went freelance and now describes himself as a ‘social technologist’. “I self-financed an assignment in Iraq and sold a few pictures to the nationals. But when I put the pictures together as a slide show and put it up on YouTube the viewing figures went through the roof,” he says. More followers took notice when he posted up short personal video clips in which he sometimes ‘made an arse of himself’. His first was in the immediate aftermath of seriously crashing his car on the way to an assignment. Like his other material he put it up on the web for free – but the return comes from his expanded audience. “Suddenly work started coming to me, and today I am being offered three times more work than I have the time to undertake”, he says. The United Nations commissioned him to produce video blogs, for example. He has covered numerous conferences and has even travelled from Lands End to John
Links to a lot of companies social medial policies, including AP, the BBC and the Washington Post http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php
For more than 100 years NUJ members and their dependents 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 good work. During this time of austerity and cutbacks NUJ Extra must continue the level of support needed by journalists and their dependents. 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.
12 | theJournalist
The telephone and the world-wide web were arguably more profound in their impact
More detailed advice from the NUJ about using social media http://www.nujnewmedia.org.uk/ﬁles/Social_ Networking_Guidelines.doc
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O’Groats without a penny in his pocket, by tweeting, on behalf of Vodaphone. Payne commands day rates of between £500 and £1,000. Of course Twitter is by no means the first technological advance to which journalism has adapted – the telephone and the worldwide web were arguably more profound in their impact. Indeed, Twitter may prove to be significantly more short-lived than Alexander Graham Bell’s invention. But even if it does not last a generation in its current form, you can be sure that Twitter’s ‘always-on’ water canon of information will endure, and that the world of journalism will be shaped by its considerable pressure for the foreseeable future.
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at work Linda Harrison looks at the pros and cons of working outside an office
The home front
Karam Radwan edits Adoption Today, published by the charity Adoption UK, from home. For her, the biggest advantage is having no commute. “When my son was younger it meant I was there for him at the start and the end of the school day,” explains Karam, who lives 40 miles from the head office in Oxfordshire. “I can do home tasks such as pegging out the washing while waiting for the kettle to boil – though I’m sure this is the bit the boss would frown at. “And most surprisingly to me, I do lots more work. I’m a bit of a chatterbox and can get distracted by conversations around me. “When it’s just you, you can do the equivalent of a day’s work in three hours of uninterrupted work. “I am trusted to work on my own initiative, which is a boost to morale. I am also able to look after my dogs and have ended up with four. I usually have one of them under the desk keeping my feet warm.” But beware, there are plenty of cons to consider too. Rin Simpson is a freelance journalist in Bristol and author of The Indie Shopper blog (www.theindieshopper. wordpress.com). She says: “For me, the biggest advantage is the autonomy. I can pick the stories I want to write, I don’t have to work with colleagues I find unpleasant, I can structure my day to suit me, and so on.
Last year The Guardian reported that at least one person in an estimated 5.4 million British households works from home
o rush hour, no annoying colleagues chattering opposite you – and being able to do phone interviews in your PJs. Yes, the joys of working from home. And more people than ever are turning the morning commute into a leisurely stroll from the bedroom to the home office, cup of tea in hand. Last year The Guardian reported that at least one person in an estimated 5.4 million British households works from home. About half are freelance. The idea really caught on during the Olympics, when an extra one and a half million London workers are believed to have ditched their desks. And not just hoards of civil servants but also employees of companies such as BT, Royal Bank of Scotland and Sainsbury’s. Most freelance journalists and photographers are home based, while some employers allow at least some staff writers or subs this option too. According to a quick survey round colleagues, these include the BBC, The Guardian, PA, Haymarket, Think Publishing in London, Journalism. co.uk in Brighton, and the NUJ. Some national newspapers have staff based at home covering different regions, including The Independent. Journalists working for charities can also sometimes work remotely. On first appearances, it can seem a blissful existence – and extremely liberating and rewarding.
“The biggest disadvantage though is the same thing – autonomy. “Everything relies on me, so I can’t really have a bad day, and I can’t even think about getting ill. It can be isolating and sometimes I miss the buzz of a newsroom and the creative input of other journalists.” Freelance journalist Ruth Stokes adds: “Having access to Twitter and online forums is great, but they’re no substitute for a real life conversation.” Other challenges include dealing with distractions and interruptions – housework, feeding the cat and answering the door to deliveries – plus you often have to sort out your own IT issues. Then there’s the tricky problem of leaving work. Karam explains: “I’m unable to switch off when I have the computer looking at me from the spare room, even when I’m on holiday or at weekends.” At the end of the working day, go to the shops or for a walk. Get in your car and drive round the block if you have to. Just step away from the keyboard. For most, the pros of working from home far outweigh the cons. But don’t rule out braving the morning commute for the odd shift or meeting. “Personally, I like working from home much better than working full time in an office,” says Ruth. “But the best weeks are those that include a bit of both.”
theJournalist | 13
Marc TieleMans/alaMy, TeTra iMages/alaMy
When even Clark Kent has gone digital Raymond Snoddy looks at the prospects for the printed word
14 | theJournalist
he toll of publications, which have shuffled off their physical presence and exist only in what traditionalists would see as the twilight zone of online, continues to grow. The Seattle Times, Sporting News, the 126-year old bible of American sport, Newsweek, New Media Age and even The Dandy have all been forced to take the one-way electronic only path. Why even Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, has quit his newspaper reporting job on the Daily Planet, and become a blogger. Surely the game is up for print and it is only a matter of time – choose your year, or if you are more optimistic, your decade. Not even Superman could do anything in the end about falling print sales and squeezed advertising leading to a vicious downward spiral of credibility and financial viability. Could he? Anyone trying to take the temperature of print at the turn of the year could do much worse than turn to two cities – New York and Dundee – and two venerable publications. In December the once powerful Newsweek went digital only as Newsweek Global after 90 years in print, amid the shedding of a few tears. Most commentators thought the magazine never stood a chance after being sold by the
Washington Post Company in 2010 for $1 to the owners of the Daily Beast, the irreverent online publication. Losses were running at $40 million a year, the lion’s share of advertising in the challenged weekly news magazine market was being scooped up by its old rival Time, and anyway the entire news business has changed out of recognition. In Dundee a few weeks earlier they were contemplating the forlorn fate of The Dandy and immortal characters such as Desperate Dan and Korky the Kat – in print no more after 75 years with only an online edition to keep the memory of cow pies alive. The young readers had gone elsewhere and sales of around 2 million in the 1950s had melted to closer to 8,000. And yet it is Dundee rather than New York where you might get a more balanced, and optimistic, view on the future of print, thanks to another rather different decision taken by DC Thomson, The Dandy’s owners. As The Dandy was entering its final lap as a publication the installation was under way in Dundee of the first state-of-the-art Goss Colorliner CPS press to be produced. It is equipment that can turn out up to 90,000 high quality copies an hour and should be capable of
still doing so up to 2025 and beyond that. Amid ever declining circulations of most, but not all, print publications, it is a powerful multi-million pound statement by DC Thomson, which will use the highly automated press not only to print its own titles but also seek increasing levels of contract printing. Chief operating officer David Thomson said at the time the order was placed: “The press will provide levels of quality and automation required to take our newspapers forward with renewed confidence. DC Thomson is proud to be investing in the future of print.” But does the future of publishing lie with Newsweek and The Dandy or with DC Thomson’s other vision of being able to print newspapers deep into the next decade and even beyond? Newspaper consultant Jim Chisholm has looked at the numbers and has come up with a simple mathematical formula to predict the future of print – if nothing is done to arrest the current decline. “The industry has a half life of 15 years assuming five per cent a year decline on average,” Chisholm calculates with a sense of finality. For Chisholm and many other industry observers the problems being faced by print are obvious – and go beyond the digital threat. Expanding lifestyle choices leaving less time for reading newspapers is a problem, as is “declining levels of participation in society” particularly among the young. The double edged sword of digital as a source of revenue for existing newspaper publishers is a well known conundrum with growing millions assessing newspaper websites where there are no paywalls, but without the same intensity of involvement, and as a result revenue. Chisholm has calculated that, over a month, print continues to deliver over 50 times the audience intensity of newspaper digital websites, a measure based on visits per month and number of pages accessed. The ratio helps to explain the phenomenon that comes up so often in research – the implacably low revenues that are generated by digital advertising compared with print. Research by the Poynter Institute in the US last year on the finances of 38 newspapers found that the papers brought in $1 in digital advertising for every $11 of print advertising. To reach the mythical, eventual “crossover” point, where digital dollars would overtake the print
ones, would require continuing digital growth of more than 50 per cent a year. One executive even bemoaned how much time was now being spent on the relatively small stream of digital revenue. “We spend 90 per cent of our time talking about 10 per cent of our revenues,” he complained.
n the UK, consultant Claire Enders argues there is not a single future for print but different outcomes for different national newspapers, depending significantly on the make-up of their readers and either their youth, longevity or gender. The number of women readers will, for instance, be particularly significant because they tend to live longer and show greater loyalty to print – 70 per cent of books, 90 per cent of magazines and 55 per cent of newspapers are bought by women, according to Enders. She believes the Guardian is in trouble as a print publication because of the relative youth and digital sophistication of its readers, plus the number who come from the battered public sector. “The Guardian will certainly be the first to contemplate the ex-print dimension of its existence and in my view it will do so between now and the next election, or maybe just after the next election,” claims Enders. She adds that she fears The Independent could possibly go bust this year unless a new backer is found because of the political and legal difficulties faced in Russia by the man who bought the Independent and the Evening Standard and launched the “i,” Alexander Lebedev. One positive element for the company is that it his son Evgeny Lebedev who actually formally owns the titles. Victory in the battle for London TV licence could also help underpin The Independent. Enders believes it is the Daily Mail, the Financial Times ((which last month announced a move towards a “digital first” policy) and the Daily Telegraph which have made the most successful transition to a life online with differentiated online products. In the future of print the consultant sees people still buying, possessing and carrying printed newspapers almost as a signal of who they are, while at the same time enjoying one of the cheapest luxury products. On a less theoretical plane, subscription levels, still high in
MONTY’s lOCal sTaNd David Montgomery, former Mirror Group chief executive, is a controversial figure – but few can doubt his belief in newspapers and print. Montgomery created Mecom, a newspaper group centred on Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland. It never fulfilled its potential mainly because the papers were bought at the top of the market and hoped for cost-savings were never fully achieved. Now despite approaching pensionable age Monty is trying again with Local World – the venture bringing together the local titles of Northcliffe and Iliffe with a 20 per cent Trinity Mirror stake. He wants to create a new operating model for print that will make local publishing more productive and efficient. “There is a need to give a fresh start to the sector and that need has been around for many years,” Montgomery insists. First the local newspaper industry tried to defend print by ignoring other platforms. Then it tried to respond by cutting costs, says Montgomery. “People understand that if the industry doesn’t fight back there won’t be any print. Print has to sell itself,” Montgomery argues. He believes the only way to save print is to disseminate all the content a community generates – the majority of it coming from non-journalists – on all the platforms that the audience have access to. “The publisher has to move to seeing the paper as only one component of a much wider content stream,” says the Local World chairman. And Montgomery believes that online is not a threat – the better you do online the better the paper becomes. Many will now be watching to see whether the bold Local World experiment to see whether the Montgomery vision is a new model for printas long as competition authorities don’t stifle the fourth largest local group at birth.
theJournalist | 15
print many parts of continental Europe, will be important. More than 80 per cent of Telegraph readers, for example, have an annual subscription, something that helps to curb circulation decline. Hugo Drayton, the man who masterminded the Telegraph’s original digital strategy, believes that printed newspapers are in long-term decline but not moribund. Publishers still have an attachment because “ the very physicality, the badge that we carry embodies the brand and extends the value” in the way that bytes, however weighty the thoughts, do not. Drayton, now chief executive of InSkin Media, argues that despite everything “the portable, recyclable and good value newspaper will continue in our lifetimes, perhaps increasingly peripheral and with a variety of business models –from free and ad funded up to full subscription, but reassuring and valued.” In the UK regional press there is greater optimism about print as seen not just by the DC Thomson commitment but David Montgomery’s launch of Local World (see sidebar). It is a view shared by Neil Benson, editorial director of Trinity Mirror’s regionals’ division, although he acknowledges that there is a need to challenge conventional thinking and do things differently. “Newspapers are at the heart of our business and will continue to be important for many years to come,” insists Benson. “For us the future isn’t an either/or choice between print
In a study last summer 88 per cent of UK magazine readers still want to consume their articles in print
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or digital; it’s about developing new ways of working that enable us to continue producing relevant newspapers while expanding the breadth and depth of our digital offering,” the Trinity Mirror executive adds. There is a similar picture at UK magazines; while some specialist titles may embrace a digital-only future, the vast majority will choose the dual strategy of print and digital for the foreseeable future. As the consultants Deloitte found in a study last summer, 88 per cent of UK magazine readers still want to consume their articles in print, although the rapid take-off of tablets could change that percentage before long, and probably already has. Even Jim Chisholm – he of the half-life for print hypothesis – has some limited good news. “There is quite a lot of evidence, not in the UK but in the US in particular and in some parts of Europe, the rate of circulation decline is slowing down,” says Chisholm, who condemns cuts in marketing and promotion by British newspapers. Coca Cola, he points out, spends 17 per cent of its turnover on marketing and promotion – newspapers much less than 1 per cent. “There is a danger that the whole experience of print consumption will disappear. I think there is still an enormous amount of life in print but only as long as we continue to innovate and invest in branding,” concludes Chisholm.
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Alan Jones is the Press Association’s industrial correspondent
THE NUJ AND ME What made you become a journalist? The careers ‘adviser’ at my school was the woodwork teacher. His idea of advice was to mention there was a vacancy in a local bank. One day’s work experience at my local newspaper as a 16-year-old, witnessing two reporters fighting and another arguing with the local MP, convinced me this would be a better option.
What other job have you done? Working at a fairground in Rhyl, North Wales, trying to persuade punters to bounce a table tennis ball into a goldfish bowl, to win a live budgie. No-one ever did.
When did you join the NUJ and why? On my first day as a junior reporter on the Flintshire Leader, the editor handed me an application form and advised (told) me to fill it in for my own good. Later my branch had a visit from the NUJ President, Eddie Barrett (yes, the bloke who has edited The Journalist in Christine’s absence!). I still remember the thrill of meeting (and drinking with) a legend at such an early stage in my career.
Are any of your friends in the union? Many of my union contacts have become friends, so it’s difficult to have a proper argument with them. I keep friendly with some people who are not in a union – mainly to have someone to argue with.
What’s been your best moment in your career? Every time a contact calls me with a tip.
It remains the best feeling, job-wise, especially if it leads to a story being read out on the TV or radio.
What advice would you give a new freelance? Make contact with every single union press officer in the UK. You will definitely get stories. (Memo to self, you might regret this advice!)
Which six people (alive or dead) would you invite to a dinner party? Michelle Obama, Nelson Mandela, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Mark Steel and Billy Bragg.
What was your earliest political thought? Growing up in a small Welsh village I never understood why anyone was allowed to buy a second home and only stay there for a few weeks a year, not taking part in the community, when so many of my friends couldn’t find/ afford a home.
And in the union? Strange as it sounds, I think the best memories are when I was FoC during the regional journalists’ strike. Weeks of picketing, hardship, heartache, abuse, arrests – but witnessing first hand the importance of friendship and solidarity.
And the worst ones?
What are your hopes for journalism over the next five years?
Seeing any union open themselves to criticism by making stupid, unnecessary mistakes. It’s hard enough as it is to recruit members and get half-decent publicity without giving open goals to opponents.
That we can move on from navelgazing/self-destruction over phone hacking, regulation and legislation and revert to being a decent, honourable, force-for-good profession again.
Guess who’s coming to dinner?
What is the worst place you’ve ever worked in?
That the profession won¹t recover from the recent traumas, that newspaper sales continue to slide, titles continue to close and job losses accelerate.
Worst physical place was a first floor, window-less, mice-infested ‘newsroom’ at my first weekly newspaper. Worst place for my sanity was the fairground.
What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months?
And the best? I’ve been at PA for many years and have always valued the honest, fast, accurate, news-breaking, unbiased journalism we produce every day.
What advice would you give someone starting in journalism? Be interested in everyone and everything. Be a good listener. Be passionate about fairness. Know both sides of an argument. And don’t listen to advice from old hacks.
For Twitter to catch a horrible virus and disappear up its own hashtag. Fishing for fairground work
Who would you most like to see in the NUJ? Every news editor in the country – and for them to advise (tell) all their staff to join.
How would you like to be remembered? As a decent, principled hack, who loved breaking stories, having a laugh – and a few drinks. theJournalist | 17
The disappearing b Kim Farnell goes in search of an endangered species
here’s no shortage of new books. Despite doom and gloom predictions that ebooks mean the end of print, that we’d prefer to read on the internet and with the recession noone can afford to buy a book anyway, according to Nielsen BookScan there was a 42% increase in book sales in the UK from 2001 to 2011 – from 162m to 229m. Per capita, the United Kingdom is the largest publisher worldwide. That’s a lot of books. And a lot of authors seeking book reviews. And yet with newspapers seeking to cut costs, one of the positions to disappear is that of the book reviewer. Most readers appear to view reviews as a bonus, not as an essential part of a publication. This attitude is behind why the LA Times laid off all its freelance book reviewers and columnists last July. After all, readers can now get the information they want online, and authors can get the reviews they want – if they’re willing to pay. The book review site ChickLitGirls sold positive reviews for $95 upwards. Claiming 2.5 million readers per month, they stated that the number of requests received for reviews meant they had to do this – for your money you also got a picture of the book cover with a link to purchase it from Amazon. At least they promised to like your book. And before the blog went defunct, ChickLit Girls pointed out that Kirkus were charging between $400 and $600 for reviews of self- or e-published books on their website. Kirkus also offered the option of having a negative review removed – after being paid for. These reviews go on a separate part of the website and not in the magazine, so it’s debatable whether anyone apart from the author reads them. So it’s small wonder that advertisements 18 | theJournalist
can be seen on online job sites soliciting or offering to write reviews. Some of these sound to be an absolute bargain – a search on fivver.com shows pages of people willing to supply five star Amazon reviews for $5. Or even a one-star review – after all, these can gain as much attention. I will write a Grossly Overwritten negative Amazon review that will draw a lot of attention for $5 … Here’s what you get: 1. I will buy your stupid ebook or product for .99 or less (buy more gigs for a $$ item) 2. I will tag, like, and mark all others helpful. 3. I will write a review (1 or 2 star) that will be funny, witty, clever, interesting, and also salesy in a weird way. I will write 3 – 5 very good amazon reviews for your book or product. it will be good english and text must be 15 to 20 and different accont (sic). But that’s the really amateur end of the market. Todd Rutherford started a website GettingBookReviews.com in the autumn of 2010. At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. That wasn’t enough for some people. So he began to offer 20 online reviews for only $499. Or 50 for $999. Granted, in a lot of online forums there were complaints – but there were also a lot of orders. He was soon taking in $28,000 a month,
much of this coming for the 20 per cent of self-published authors on Amazon. Obviously Mr Rutherford couldn’t write all those himself so he employed a staff to churn out reviews. Advertising on Craigslist brought in the writers he needed; those prepared to sell reviews at $15 a pop. Unfortunately, having to write so many in a week to pay the bills, doesn’t actually allow any time for reading the book. Of course, the reviewers could submit a negative review if they felt it was warranted – so long as they were happy to accept half pay, that is. And it worked. John Locke is the first author to sell over a million self-published ebooks via Amazon, and his success owes much to the 300 reviews he bought from Rutherford. Early in 2011 the business ran into problems when Google suspended Rutherford’s
g book reviewer advertising account, saying it did not approve of ads for favourable reviews, at around the same time as Amazon was taking down some of his reviews; this saw the beginning of the end for Rutherford’s service. There are alternatives to paying for a review, of course. Author Stephen Leather stated last summer during an on-stage panel discussion at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival that he used fake accounts to promote his own books on Amazon. We deplore the practice of Sock Puppetry: not only because it is dishonest and misleading, but also because it is ultimately counterproductive: if buyers know they cannot trust some Amazon reviews, they won’t
trust any; so authors lose the opportunity to have new readers discover their books by bona fide word of mouth – Laura Saksena, The Society of Authors
lthough some traditional book reviewers do survive, it seems to be getting very dangerous out there. Some reviewers are being asked to rave about the books they’ve been asked to review and simply become part of the publicity machine. The website Goodreads has blasted reviewers for being too negative, and in some cases has outed the reviewers’ full real names, leading at least one reviewer to write about being stalked and receiving threatening phone calls at her home. In 2009 Alice Hoffman used Twitter to
complain about the review she received in the Boston Globe, going so far as to post the reviewer’s email and phone number and encouraging fans to voice their displeasure. Fortunately, she had the wrong phone number. And sometimes it gets legal. In 2009, a federal district court in the southern Russian province of Dagestan ordered a journalist of a local newspaper to pay compensation to a writer who didn’t like a review of his book. The author claimed that both he and his family “experienced severe mental suffering.” And in 2011, the Telegraph paid out £65,000 in damages after a reviewer wrote of Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World that she had not been interviewed by Thornton as claimed and also accused Thornton of giving her interview subjects copy approval. The Telegraph was refused the right to appeal on three occasions after being found guilty of libel and malicious falsehood in the high court. Also last year, a case was brought by Karin Calvo-Goller against Global Law Books, a website associated with The European Journal of International Law following a less than flattering review of her book The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. The review, written by Thomas Weigend, was published in 2007. After Joseph Weiler, the editor, refused to remove it – although offering Calvo-Goller the opportunity to respond – Calvo-Goller filed a criminal defamation case in Paris against both Weigend and Weiler. The lawsuit was dismissed in March 2011 and Calvo-Goller was instructed to pay Weiler €8,000 in damages. Admittedly, all this has made the art of book reviewing sound more interesting. Nowadays, you have to navigate legal minefields, compete with pay-to-play reviews and realise that a sock puppet has nothing to do with soup dragons. But some things remain the same. There are a lot of books out there and more are appearing all the time. And book reviews help to sell books. Can we save the endangered book reviewer? theJournalist | 19
t was just four days before he died of leukaemia that Adrian Sudbury sat up in bed and took a call from the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Ever the reporter, he had a notebook balanced on his knee and immediately started getting quotes for the next day’s edition of the Huddersfield Examiner, where he worked as a digital journalist. And the scoop on this occasion? The Prime Minister was ringing to give his support to Adrian’s groundbreaking work to educate every 17 and 18-year-old in the UK about blood, stem cell and organ donation. Fast forward five years to 2013 and what Adrian started in the final year of his life – with his ‘Baldy’s Blog’, a visit to No 10 and shrewd journalistic campaigning – has grown into a force to be reckoned with. The Register and Be A Lifesaver (R&Be) education project, which is run by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, has reached 64,000 teenagers thanks to scores of volunteers giving 1,100 talks at schools and colleges. The result is that 5,400 young people
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have signed up as blood donors, 1,500 as organ donors and 1,000 have joined the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register. In the years to come, patients around the world will cheat certain death because a donor was inspired to join a lifesaving register thanks to Adrian. Adrian’s mum Kay said: “Adrian would be staggered and astonished by what’s been achieved so far. Of course, we would all rather have Adrian back but what he inspired is phenomenal.” A touching yet compelling presentation, with a video of 27-yearold Adrian speaking directly to his audience, reduces an auditorium of chatty teenagers to pin-drop silence week in, week out. Many of the volunteers have heartbreaking or uplifting personal stories of their own to share about why they are giving their time to R&Be. Kay added: “Initially I thought that schools might book us for just one talk out of sympathy, but that simply hasn’t been the case. They want us back year after year because they think it’s important that their students hear this.” Adrian thought that if the next generation of potential
Adrian would be staggered and astonished by what’s been achieved so far
Journalist Adrian Sudbury used the last year of his life to inspire a lifesaving campaign to recruit the next generation of blood, organ and stem cell donors. Mary Murtagh reports blood, stem cell and organ donors were given the facts that many would be inspired to sign up to lifesaving registers. It was that belief that drove him to use his journalistic know-how to turn his idea into a media campaign. Adrian was initially a reluctant blogger but his candid and personal ‘Baldy’s Blog’ soon earned him a loyal following which inspired media interviews, a visit to No 10 and the ear of government ministers. Kay concluded: “He used his situation in a way that he knew, as a journalist, would get attention. “Adrian thought it was a no-brainer – that if you talked to 17 and 18-yearolds about blood, organ and stem cell donation they’d want to do something about it. “He was adamant that no-one should feel pressured to join a register – he just wanted young people to have the facts and then make up their own mind. He was incredibly positive about the idea because it was so simple.”
R&Be operates in London, the Midlands, Merseyside, Yorkshire and Bristol and is looking for new volunteers. If you want to train, you’ll need to be confident, enthusiastic and available weekdays between 8am and 4pm. If you’d like to train, or if you have a 16 to 18-year-old audience and would like them to hear an R&Be talk, contact katie.campling @anthonynolan.org
4G – WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?
Rosie Niven on the latest trends and kit
erhaps one of the most important developments in mobile technology in 2012 for UK residents was the advent of 4G services. Finally, the UK was able to catch up with the US, Sweden and Germany, who have already started using 4G. The main difference between 3G and 4G is speed. Some optimistic pundits had suggested that it would usher in mobile internet speeds of around 25 times faster than home broadband. So far testing has shown 4G download speeds to be not radically different to home broadband, but five times faster than 3G connections. Only one UK provider, EE, has a 4G network but another auction of the spectrum by Ofcom will bring in competitors who will help to roll out the service across the UK. Ireland will get 4G later this year following a bumper auction from which four phone providers emerged with a slice of the spectrum. The 4G network is available on the Apple iPhone 5 as well as devices from HTC, Samsung, Nokia and Huawei. 4G services will make it quicker to surf the web and download emails on mobiles. This is a major plus for anyone whose work takes them outside the newsroom frequently.
PREVIEW TRENDS FOR 2013 It’s been a long time coming,
but 2013 could be the year when the publishing industry finally finds a way to monetise online content. OK, maybe that’s a little far-fetched, but there are encouraging signs that start-ups are emerging offering high quality paid content. These new sites, like iTunes or Android’s Play Store, offer micropayments for single items, rather than the ongoing subscriptions favoured by publishers such as NewsCorp with its paywall for The Times.
Another positive is that faster speeds mean more online content will be consumed on mobile phones
Online micropayments have become straightforward and acceptable to consumers. Many of us already use them to buy songs on iTunes, apps for our smartphones or in online gaming. Harnessing this technology to create an outlet for quality journalism is a logical step. One emerging platform is Matter, a site providing in-depth science and technology features, which describes itself as ‘a new model for highquality journalism’. Set up by two journalists who crowdsourced seed funding, it sells features in digital form for around US$ 0.99 each. Another purveyor of the awkwardly-named genre of ‘longform journalism’ is the Atavist, a
Another positive is that faster speeds mean more online content will be consumed on mobiles – good news for those who produce that content. Most significant for journalists is the uploading capacity offered by smartphones, which enables them to publish photos, video and other digital content. With some tests showing a tenfold improvement in speed with 4G compared with 3G, there is potential for video and photographs capturing breaking news to be disseminated almost instantly. Obviously, speeds vary depending on where you are. Only London and major UK cities can get 4G and as tests by the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones suggest, speeds are inconsistent. But there will be a few disappointments with 4G for those working in the field. Slight differences in 4G globally mean that a journalist working overseas may not be able to connect with a foreign network. Also, we have to consider the affordability of these data hungry services. To access the brave new world of 4G, you need a 4G enabled handset. Some news organisations, such as the BBC, are already providing journalists with them. But the rest of us will have to wait until we are ready to upgrade, and make a decision then.
collective that commissions and sells non-fiction stories for around US$ 3 a time. The site’s developers have also set up a platform to allow others to publish their own work. It’s too early to tell whether these will be commercially successful. Matter, for example, had just two articles for sale at the time of writing and quality control is likely to become an issue down the line. But with Google looking to revive its paid content ventures, there seems to be a renewed interest in developing digital platforms that sell content. These sites will be watched by journalists and bosses alike. The challenge for journalists will be to make sure they work for us.
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Arts with attitude Some of the best things to see and do with a bit of political bite For listings email: journalist@NUJ.org.uk
iNDEpTH LET IT BE LEGENDERRY 2013 the City of Culture for DerryLondonderry
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Shock rockers, sex therapists, pinochet’s dictatorship, internet stalking and anticapitalism are all here… Music Lordi Album and UK tour Remember Lordi? With their operatic heavy metal and monster-movie stage persona, Lordi seemed an unlikely choice to represent their native Finland in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest. They not only won but also earned the most points in the event’s history at the time. Now the cult shock-rockers are back with a new album, To Beast or Not to Beast, set for release in March and a UK tour, Tour Beast or Not Tour Beast, in May. Kiss, Alice Cooper and Twisted Sister influence the band’s horror-related albums and monster costumes. www.lordi.ﬁ Teenage Cancer Trust concerts Royal Albert Hall, London Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to improving
Celebrations are well under way but the UK’s first ever City of Culture of year-long events should have something to suit everyone’s tastes. What sets the city of Derry/Londonderry apart from other cities is its unique history, its troubled past, its people and their eagerness to move forward. Also, for the first time ever, arguably the world’s most prestigious award for contemporary art, the Turner Prize, is being held outside England and is part of the City of Culture programme. The awards ceremony takes place on December 2 but the work of the four shortlisted artists can be seen at an exhibition at Ebrington Square. Major shows, exhibitions and events run throughout the year. One of the highlights is the Shirt Factory, a multi-faceted year-long art project that takes inspiration from the shirt factories of Derry that aims to explore the legacy of female labour producing shirts that will go on walls and washing lines around the city with individual messages and expressions on each garment. • On April 25, at the City Factory, a play, Factory Girls, tells the story of five women facing the threat of redundancy, who stage a lock-in and take on the boss and union. • Hailed as the Irish Chekhov and regarded as one of the greatest living English-language dramatists, Brian Friel has written more than
the quality of life and chances of survival for the six young people aged between 13 and 24 diagnosed with cancer every day. They need to be treated together, by teenage cancer experts, in an environment tailored for them. To help raise money for the cause, a series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall from March 19 to 24 features Ryan Adams and Beth Orton (19), Russell Brand and Noel Fielding (20), Primal Scream (21), Kasabian (22), Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon (23), Rizzle Kicks and Labrinth (24). www.teenagecancertrust.org Campaign Lost Arts Lost Arts has been set up by eight unions whose members will be directly affected by cuts to the arts: the NUJ, MU, Equity, BECTU, the Writers Guild of Great Britain, UNITE, Prospect and PCS. Its website is now interactive and shows where the cuts are in your area; it has blogs, news and information. Arts organisations, museums and libraries in England are bracing
30 plays. Four of his best-loved dramas – Performance, Translations, The Enemy Within and Freedom of the City – will be staged at the Millennium Forum and Playhouse Theatre. • Political Mother by Hofesh Shechter, recognised as one of the UK’s most exciting contemporary artists, performs his vision of oppression, survival, resistance and existence with a slab of heavy rock riffs, booming drums, cinematic lighting and inspired dancing at the Ebrington Arena on March 8 and 9. • Iconic rockers Primal Scream are celebrating 30 years of rocking and rolling and perform at the Ebrington Arena on March 19. • Among the music, dancing, storytelling and exhibitions, don’t forget St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival on March 16 and 17 at Queens Quay and Guildhall Square where the aim is to make it a spectacular family occasion. “Above all 2013 will be a year of joyous celebrations,” says Shona McCarthy, chief executive of Culture Company. “Derry has always been a place of music, poetry, art and in 2013 this city intends to dance. If we get it right, it will just be the starting point of a wonderful future.” There are hundreds of free events, thousands of tickets and endless ways to participate. Check out dates and events on www.cityofculture2013.com
arts themselves for further public funding cuts of £11.6m following the government’s autumn statement. The Arts Council England chief executive Alan Davey said he had been told that cuts to the DCMS budget would be passed on, equating to a one per cent cut in 2013/14 of £3.9m and a two per cent cut of £7.7m in 2014/15. You can follow @LostArts on Twitter and alert them with cuts to local arts. If anybody would like to contribute a blog on the arts situation where they are, get in touch with Maddy Radcliff on 020 7840 5550/07557 924 664 www.lost-arts.org/ Film The Sessions In selected cinemas now The true story of a 38-year-old disabled American journalist/poet in an iron lung who wouldn’t take his fate lying down and seeks to lose his virginity with the help of a sex therapist. Starring John Hawkes as journalist Mark O’Brien and Helen Hunt as Cheryl Cohen-Green, the sex therapist. Your perception of disability, sexuality and maybe even love, will be transformed. www.foxsearchlight.com No In selected cinemas now No is a Chilean film about an indemand advertising man working in Chile in the late 1980s and captures the historical moment when advertising tactics came to be widely used in political campaigns. The campaign in question was the historic 1988 plebiscite of the Chilean citizens over whether or not to accept a continuation of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. After 15 years of military rule the advertising man created a series of films and promotional material in the hope it would encourage the Chilean public to vote ‘No’. Meanwhile the boss of the advertising agency is working on a ‘Yes’ campaign. www.imdb.com Book, website and blog Tired of London, Tired of Life – One Thing a Day to do in London. Tom Jones Virgin Books £12.99 Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to be here (London), says the author. So he collected the UK capital’s hidden delights in this
Man Ray’s solarised portrait of Lee Miller, c. 1929. Image courtesy Lee Miller Archives
Lordi: new album and tour
continuing project, showcasing some interesting experiences the city has to offer in a month-by-month guide that was first released in 2012. Examples for February and March include drinking in the Crown Tavern, Clerkenwell Green, where Lenin and Stalin are supposed to have first met. Search the archives for photographs, postcards and magazines at the Rotherhithe Picture Library, an educational charity. Go see the Dalston Peace Mural depicting the 1983 Dalston Peace Carnival or for the future, take the Karl Marx and Frederich Engels pub crawl on May 5 (Marx’s birthday) starting at the Museum Tavern next to the British Library. The author has now taken it a step further with a website and aims to give new things to do in London and enhances this with a blog of the places he has visited. www.tiredoflondontiredoflife.com
apparent that good intentions can’t keep them out of harm’s way. www.faber.co.uk
Books The Blind Man’s Garden Nadeem Aslam Faber £18.99 Set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the months following 9/11 – this is a story of war, of one family’s losses and of the simplest, most enduring impulses. Jeo and Mibal, are foster brothers from a small Pakistan town. They secretly enter Afghanistan; not to fight with the Taliban, but to help care for wounded civilians. It becomes
Exhibition Man Ray Portraits National Portrait Gallery, London Until May 27 Man Ray’s revolutionary photographic techniques such as solarisation and early experiments with colour are featured in this major retrospective of the influential artist’s photographic portraits. Featuring over 150 vintage prints from his career in America and Paris taken between 1916 and 1968. www.npg.org.uk
The Democracy Project – A History, a Crisis, a Movement David Graeber Allen Lane £14.99 Thoughts on dissent, anti-capitalism and new political ideas by Graeber, author of the much admired Debt: The First 5000 Years and a leading member of the Occupy movement. Fractured Times Eric Hobsbawn Little, Brown £25 The final book from Britain’s most distinguished historian, who died last year. Its essays focus on high culture and its fragmentation, and range from surrealism to the women’s movement to cowboys. www.littlebrown.co.uk
prEviEw A story of war
Read all about it volunteer to distribute free books in your community on world Book Night April 23 is a key date for literature – the birth and death day of
The Sessions: a journalist fights his fate
William Shakespeare. World Book Night aims to raise the profile of reading through a mass engagement project to inspire those who don’t regularly read. Passionate experts representing librarians, booksellers, writers and the media choose 20 books. Publishers supplyi the books and shops and libraries are collections points for volunteers to distribute the books. They inscribe their name, the library and bookshop plus a number, enabling books to be tracked. Some 20,000 volunteers give 20 copies of their favourite book to people they know who don’t regularly read. World Book Night also distributes half a million books to prisons, care homes, hospitals, sheltered and social housing, the homeless and charities. Get involved at www.worldbooknight.org
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A friendly computer bone to pick, rory I yield to no-one in my warm regard and admiration for my former colleague, Rory Cellan-Jones (last issue: The NUJ and Me). As the FoC at the BBC TV newsroom chapel during the ‘eighties, I valued his often constructive and thoughtful input into our discussions. But I have to pick a friendly bone with him over the issue of computerisation. Where he got the idea that the chapel contended “they (computers)would never catch on”, I’m not sure. On the contrary, the chapel officers knew perfectly well that they would. In fact, when the BBC was proposing their introduction in the new Breakfast tv programme, I wrote a paper at the time positing their wide-spread adoption throughout all the BBC. We argued that journalists were acquiring a new skill set and that their pay packets should reflect that. The chapel strike that took one Nine O’Clock News off the air eventually resulted in a new pay and conditions deal. I can’t recall too many members telling me or other chapel officials that they were embarrassed to accept it. Actually, we got some flak for settling too readily. Love the gadget reports, though, Rory. Mike Mckay
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Grappling with Rupert Murdoch’s mathematics I write with reference to the ‘In brief’ item on Page 3 headed ‘Leveson Inquiry In Numbers’, and most specifically with the statement that Rupert Murdoch, in evidence, said that News Corporation investigators ploughed through 300 million emails during their internal investigations into phone hacking. I am not, of course, taking issue with the comment but I should merely express my astonishment at this figure! My mathematics expertise is no greater than 1964 ‘O Level’ standard, so feel free to correct what follows should you find I am absolutely inaccurate, but I hope I’m not too far out. To facilitate ease of simple mental arithmetic, I suggest that an average of twelve seconds is allowed per 24 | theJournalist
email, this including a portion of the preparatory time, note-taking and all the many other aspects involved. Three hundred million emails thus equate to 60m minutes, 1m hours or 125,000 eight-hour working days. My estimate is that this equates to 1,250 days (close to five working years) for 100 dedicated investigators. And that is just for looking at the emails, not taking into account any action that is taken as a result! I’d like to hear sone observations on this. Kevin Hughes Deputy FoC Morton Newspapers
Journalists in rural areas – look out for murder! Here’s a tip for fellow NUJ members working in rural areas. You’ve got a murder on your own doorstep! The motive is robbery.
154,000 permanent farm and horticultural workers plus an estimated 250,000 seasonal and gangworkers have their nationally negotiated terms and conditions legally protected by the Agricultural Wages Board. Currently the Coalition government is trying to kill off the AWB in parliament, with LibDem Defra minister David Heath wielding the knife . The result? A bumper harvest of £250 million pickpocketed by the employers over the next ten years, yet more devastation for the rural economy, a labour crisis (a rapidly ageing, highly skilled and underpaid workforce) and a real threat to sustainably produced food in the UK as global famines loom You can multiply the robbery at least fourfold as hundreds of thousands in rural industries use AWB rates as a benchmark. Unite the union is leading the resistance with Labour’s help; the
House of Lords landed an important counterblow last month. And the saving for this demolition of a useful protection for farm workers? It spent about £25,000 last year! Somebody better ask David Cameron what’s going on. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot he was a member of the NFU. I hope journalists working the rural patch will be able to report the continuing resistance to this outrageous plan. Chris Kaufman PR and Communications Branch (and former Agricultural Wages Board negotiator)
PR about relationships as well as numbers I was interested to read Christopher Price’s article (January Journalist), after hearing the statistics about there being four PRs to every journalist. I work in the technology sector, specifically writing about cyber security and associated areas, and it can often be said that the content we deliver is PR-led. Why? Because that is where the ideas come from. Do I like it? Not really, but where else do I get my stats and evidence from, and how do I get introduced to the speakers, researchers and analysts without the middle man? In an ideal world there would be four journalists to every PR, but there should be no need to do a firefight with PRs, as it is their job to serve you with what you need and your job to work with it. In my experience it is about creating a healthy working relationship and getting the best from that, rather than seeing PRs as an annoyance who plague your day with nonsense. Theirs is a thriving sector, ours is not, but it is up to us to do the best we can. Dan Raywood Online News Editor SC Magazine
Good to see more resources for Exeter Your story on Page 8 of the December/ January issue that the Western Morning News is basing two reporters
in exeter, at the offices of sister Northcliffe title, the express & echo, brought back many memories. I started my journalistic career at the express & echo in 1968 as an indentured apprentice, when it had its offices in Sidwell Street. The WMN then had a district office with four reporters, under leadership of Derek Lean, plus photographer Fred Collins. At that time the e&e was also an evening paper, with some 20 reporters/subs, and we also ‘blacked’ our stories for the weekly Western Times. How times have changed, but it’s good to see an editor wanting to offer again to exeter a ‘proper daily news service’, albeit via the web! Jon Day Life Member
It was ever thus – you only have to ask Byron The evidence that things are ever changing but stay as they are is proved
again by (satarist) Lord Byron who in 1809 wrote in his poem english bards and Scottish Reviewers thus: “Oh Amos Cottle, for a moment think, what meagre profits spring from pen and ink“ Roy Jones Member of Honour North Wales Coast branch
Glad to be in company with John and Roy In 1984 I was elected a Member of Honour at the Union’s annual conference, and I was delighted to read in The Journalist that I am now joined by those two excellent comrades John Barsby and Roy Jones. John was a great union man when we both served on the Broadcasting Industrial Council, with John Foster an inspiring official. As for Roy Jones, I often had lively chats with him at annual conferences, and I’m sure his award is a thoroughly deserved one.
Please keep letters to 200 words maximum
Now in my mid-80s, I must say how much I miss the conferences as a rank and file delegate from the Manchester branch. And as someone now living on a beautiful Hebridean island of Islay may I say how wonderful it is to be in touch with union affairs through The Journalist. Alan Knowles Member of Honour Laphroaig
Come on Essex – it only takes a little effort Compliments to Nina Bryant and Will Lodge in their attempt to form a comprehensive NUJ branch for essex. Forgive an old man reminiscing, but it recalled for me a journey from Grays to Brentwood one summer night in 1962 to join Steve Turner – yes, that Steve Turner – to rescue the books and help bring the then essex branch out of the red. I’m glad to say that our joint efforts succeeded.
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The Brentwood outing was one of many grassroots union experiences on which trade union activism was bred and fed. Much later I managed to do a turn as Honory General Treasurer and Steve served as NUJ General Secretary until he later formed a rival organisation. Good luck to the new venture. It only takes a little effort each month to provide a forum for like-minded journalism trade unionists. Here in the North east we re-formed our branch covering three towns two years ago. We’re proud to say we have never missed a month in scheduled meetings and always topped our quorum. Best attendances were for life membership presentations when 30 and 45 members were present. Come on essex, it’s worth a go. John Bailey Member of Honour Sunderland, Shields & Hartlepool
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Raymond Snoddy on lack of urgency in media management
Not a time for just a new tentacle
he most difficult signs to pick up in a crisis are the dogs which are not barking. After the initial flurries of excitement post Leveson and Pollard, the truly remarkable thing is just how little has since happened. Despite at least a year of the clearest possible warnings for the newspaper industry, there seems little sense of urgency in producing a credible, united response to those who want to see statutory underpinning of a new independent regulator. Over at the BBC the silence has been even more deafening. Former head of Sky News Nick Pollard delivered his indictment, saying he found nothing but managerial “chaos and confusion” in dealing with the Newsnight and related Saville scandals. Very senior people were found not to have taken responsibility, were happy to adhere to rigid management chains of command and live in their own silos within the BBC. Yet the Corporation is still being run by “acting” executives; no sign of new jobs for those deemed to need them, although deputy head of News Steve Mitchell will retire a little early in the summer. Of course, the Saville/ Newsnight crisis brought down a director-general after 56 days. But rather more sweeping changes are needed to the BBC culture to prevent the next storm arriving out of a clear sky. One old BBC hand wrote recently that the BBC was like an octopus after suffering the loss of a tentacle. It retreats for six months into a cave and then re-emerges good
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One old BBC hand wrote recently that the BBC was like an octopus after suffering the loss of a tentacle
as new with a brand new tentacle. This time the octopus should not be treated so patiently. The structure of BBC News and its relationships with the rest of the Corporation needs fundamental reform. The old silos have to be dynamited. Those responsible for damaging the BBC’s greatest asset – the trust of the public – cannot be allowed to continue as if nothing has happened. The December announcements were probably only the first round and Lord Hall, the new DG who takes over on April 2, will produce a comprehensive plan for the future. It might be a good idea to get a second opinion from outside the BBC. Because, after all, Tony Hall is a former head of BBC News. It would be wise to offer Pollard a short-term contract to create a blueprint. It would be radical, though not entirely crazy, to put Pollard in charge of BBC news for 12 months to make the necessary changes while also implementing the planned integration of News with the World Service. He could then hand over to the next generation. In a way Pollard was virtually applying for the job when he set out his manifesto for the future of BBC News – from a journalist’s perspective. In part his splendid advice went: “Hire good journalists and trust them. Gather credible evidence and rely on it. Have editorial executives who inspire confidence and loyalty in programme staff. Insist on mature and open discussions about the strength of stories. Be prepared to hand over a story to another programme if it needs more work.” As for newspapers it really is time to get a move on. The Hacked Off campaigners are getting raucous. Prime Minister Cameron went out on a limb in defence of non-statutory regulation. If the industry doesn’t produce a satisfactory response to Lord Justice Leveson those who oppose statutory intervention on principle will be left without a leg to stand on.
For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy
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
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NUJ CODE OF CONDUCT Members of the National Union of Journalists are expected to abide by the following professional principles
A JOURNALIST: 1 At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed.
and takes no unfair personal advantage of information gained in the course of her/his duties before the information is public knowledge.
2 Strives to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair.
9 Produces no material likely to lead to hatred or discrimination on the grounds of a personâ€™s age, gender, race, colour, creed, legal status, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation.
3 Does her/his utmost to correct harmful inaccuracies. 4 Differentiates between fact and opinion. 5 Obtains material by honest, straightforward and open means, with the exception of investigations that are both overwhelmingly in the public interest and which involve evidence that cannot be obtained by straightforward means. 6 Does nothing to intrude into anybodyâ€™s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest. 7 Protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work. 8 Resists threats or any other inducements to influence, distort or suppress information,
10 Does not by way of statement, voice or appearance endorse by advertisement any commercial product or service save for the promotion of her/his own work or of the medium by which she/he is employed. 11 A journalist shall normally seek the consent of an appropriate adult when interviewing or photographing a child for a story about her/his welfare. 12 Avoids plagiarism. The NUJ believes a journalist has the right to refuse an assignment or be identified as the author of editorial that would break the letter or spirit of the code. The NUJ will fully support any journalist disciplined for asserting her/his right to act according to the code.
The Journalist, the magazine of the NUJ, February / March 2013 issue.