M A G A Z I N E
T H E
N AT I O N A L
U N I O N
J O U R N A L I S T S
WWW.NUJ.ORG.UK | JUNE/JULY 2011
Focus on major changes at the BBC
Contents Cover feature
16 Exterminating waste?
Costing the BBC’s reorganisation
alue for money and money for value are two key issues in this edition of The Journalist. David Hencke casts a scrutinising eye over the economics of the massive structural changes the BBC is undertaking as it relocates large chunks of its operations in the pursuit of streamlining and efﬁciency. He ﬁnds much cause for concern as many millions are spent at a crucial time for the corporation while it attempts to implement sweeping budget cuts. In terms of money for value, the NUJ has won a crucial victory in its campaign to win fair pay and rewards for interns after an employment tribunal awarded a member signiﬁcant back pay. With internships replacing many proper jobs and as young people struggle to get started and make a living from journalism it is crucial that work rather than work experience is adequately rewarded. Otherwise jobs are eroded and internships become the preserve of the wealthy who can afford to work for nothing. And ﬁnally, a last goodbye to Jeremy Dear who hands over to Michelle Stanistreet as general secretary. By any measurement Jeremy has been outstanding value for the NUJ and for trade unionism. As a leader who has helped the union punch way above its weight, he will be very much missed.
Christine Buckley Editor
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04 Salmond lobbied over far right threats Journalists are sectarian targets
05 Victory in battle for interns pay
Employment tribunal rules in favour
06 Strike to defend quality journalism London journalists make a stand
08 NUJ delegate meeting Four pages of reports
14 Still coming up from the streets Twenty years of the Big Issue
20 A disaster in the making
Crisis simulation helps media
07 Jeremy Dear 13 Unspun: the view from inside PR 28 Training Courses 29 Technology
Arts with Attitude Pages 24-25
Raymond Snoddy Page 30
Letters and Steve Bell Pages 26-27
The Journalist editorial advisory board can provide advice and guidance about content published in The Journalist
BBC moves cost enough to run Radio 3 and 4
he BBC has spent close to £160m that could have been used on better journalism in two of its major office relocations and trying to create a paperless production process, David Hencke writes. The money is equivalent to the cost of running both Radio3 and Radio4 for a year or of running BBC3 and the News Channel. An analysis for The Journalist of recent National Audit Office reports shows the corporation lost tens of millions of pounds by not properly handling the projects, which included the move from London to Pacific Quay in Glasgow and from Bush House and
White City back to Broadcasting House. A plan for a new digital management initiative ended with the BBC forced to shed contractors Siemens and instead of saving licence payers £21m – will cost them an extra £38m. Some £46m will be lost in paying extra rent for offices in Bush House because a move back to Broadcasting House is way over budget and up to five years behind schedule. Even through the move to Salford Quays, which over 20 years will be below budget, has left the corporation renting offices that it cannot yet use, according to a recent report by the culture, media and sport committee . The National Audit Office has been scathing about the management of some moves. On the move to Pacific Quay it said: “It was sometimes difficult to engage senior staff in decision making about their area as some seemed to either not fully understand their responsibilities or take them seriously enough.” A BBC spokesperson denied that the corporation had wasted money. They said: “The BBC is careful to ensure value for money and all of these projects will make savings in the longer term. “ Exterminating waste? pages 16-18
The National Audit Office has been scathing about the management of some moves
Newsquest journalists vote to strike
ournalists at Newsquest in south London have voted to take strike action following the announcement of job cuts. The NUJ members had previously passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in their
management after a decision to make an unspecified number of editorial staff redundant while the group’s titles continue to make profits. Meanwhile, the newspaper group has threatened an entire sports and leisure
James retires at 100
ames Kelly, one of Ireland’s best-known reporters and NUJ life member, has laid down his pen after reaching the age of 100. He started writing for The Irish News in Belfast in 1928 and covered every major political development in Northern Ireland in a career lasting over 80 years. Although he retired officially in 1983 while with the Irish Independent as Northern political editor, he returned to The Irish News to contribute a weekly column. His final one was published in May, a record stretching back over almost 28 years, which also made him the oldest newspaper columnist in the world.
department of eight journalists with redundancy. Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ head of publishing, said: “Newsquest is in danger of ruining a group of professionally-produced newspapers, despite their community importance.”
Newsquest has announced job cuts at the Croydon Guardian, Elmbridge Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Streatham Guardian, Surrey Comet, Sutton Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian and Wimbledon Guardian.
Ad sales boost Channel 4 profits Channel 4 increased its profits from £300,000 to nearly £40 million in 2010 after an improvement in advertising, But the broadcaster warned that revenues for this year appeared flat. Channel 4’s total revenue increased 12.6 per cent to £935.2 million last year. But its main network continued to lose money, Trinity mirror suffers fall in ads Trinity Mirror saw a 10 per cent fall in advertising revenue in the year to the beginning of May. The newspaper group warned of the continuing fragile economic environment. Advertising revenue at its national newspaper division, which publishes the Daily Mirror and the People, fell by nine per cent year on year. Archers’ death fillip for Radio 4 Nigel Pargetter’s fatal fall from the roof of Lower Loxley in The Archers and a large amount of big international news stories helped push BBC Radio 4 to its biggestever audience of nearly 11 million listeners in the first three months of the year Patten pushes BBC to apologise early Lord Patten, the BBC Trust chairman, has told corporation executives they should apologise faster if the BBC makes mistakes. He told the House of Lords communications committee he had spoken with management to ensure ‘the BBC apologises faster when it gets things wrong’. Emap chief goes after three years David Gilbertson is leaving Emap after three years as chief executive. A former journalist, he became chief executive when the current Emap was created. He was previously chief executive of Informa. Emap was created as it is now by Guardian Media Group and private equity company Apax when they bought the business to business titles out of the old Emap empire nearly four years ago. theJournalist | 3
salmond lobbied over threats from the far-right
sentenCe for belArus JournAlist Belarus journalist Irina Khalip, a correspondent for the Moscowbased Novaya Gazeta, received a two-year suspended jail sentence for helping to organise and take part in a protest rally. She is married to Andrei Sannikov, who is serving a five-year sentence for causing mass unrest following the presidential elections last December. AustrAliAn peACe AwArd for AssAnge Wikileaks’ Australian founder Julian Assange has been given a peace award for ‘exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights’. The gold award was from the Sydney Peace Foundation, a not-for-profit group associated with the University of Sydney and the city of Sydney. forbes moves into europeAn mArket Global business magazine Forbes is to launch a European edition which will be available bi-weekly in 11 countries. The English-language title will have an initial print run of 20,000 copies, which will be distributed to business executives. AfriCAn CAll for greAter sAfety The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has urged the continent’s governments to defend the safety of journalists and media practitioners. A resolution highlighted ‘the declining safety and security situation of journalists and media practitioners’ and noted that killings, attacks and kidnappings were often committed in an environment of impunity.
They are far-right elements using intimidatory behaviour to attack journalists who dare to write copy they disagree with
aul Holleran, the NUJ’s Scottish Organiser, is to raise concerns over threats to journalists by far-right groups with Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond. The move follows threats and defamatory comments made on unofficial football supporters’ websites. He said: “This is a health and safety issue and a press freedom issue. We are aware of several journalists working in the area of Scottish football that have been threatened and smeared on unofficial supporters’ websites. These people are no ordinary football fans; they are far-right elements using intimidatory behaviour to attack journalists who dare to write copy they disagree with.” One journalist who has been attacked through the websites is Irish Executive Council member Phil Mac Giolla Bhain. He said he had been targeted since writing on the politics of Scottish football three years ago. The targeting of journalists comes amid increasing tension in Scottish football. Celtic manager Neil Lennon, a high profile Irish Catholic, has been sent bullets and letter bombs and was assaulted at a match in Edinburgh. Mr Lennon has been the target of a vicious online campaign, particularly on Facebook where pages urging his injury and death have been set up. Although as soon as
lebedev swAps bAnking for putin Alexander Lebedev, owner of the Independent and Evening Standard, is quitting his business interests in Russia to join Vladimir Putin’s political initiatives ahead of next year’s presidential elections. Mr Lebedev said security service pressure on his banking business was such that it was impossible to continue. The move is surprising because for years he has positioned himself as an opposition figure.
administrators take them down, others then tend to spring up. Paul said: “Alex Salmond has already spoken out against this behaviour as unacceptable and I hope we can agree steps to prevent publication of this bigoted diatribe which borders on fascism. “I know that Mr Salmond and the SNP want to be seen to be cleaning up Scotland. They can start with these toxic websites that defame and threaten our members and other people. The world is watching Scotland.” The Scottish government is to fast track tougher measures to deal with football bigotry. Ministers are looking at making sectarian conduct at football matches a specific criminal offence which would carry a five-year jail sentence.
bIG Issue to helP the uneMPloYed
nemployed people are to be allowed to sell the Big Issue for the first time. Amid public sector spending cuts and widespread job losses John Bird, the founder
of the magazine which was created to help the homeless, said that the long-term unemployed and those who have lost their jobs and don’t want to be dependent on benefits should have a chance to sell
the magazine. He predicted that people who had worked in professional roles could sell the Big Issue as more lose people lose work. Vendors, who until now have had to be homeless or vulnerably housed, buy
the magazine for £1 and sell it for £2. The Big Issue is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year after starting in London and then spreading to other cities. Still coming up from the streets, pages 12-13
Jenni russell takes orwell prize
he Orwell Prize for political journalism has been won by Jenni Russell for her columns in the Sunday Times and The Guardian The judges said that she won because of her analysis and comment on topics including class, Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, and the disabled They said: “Jenni Russell was the stand-out journalist in an outstanding field. Her empathy for the world beyond Westminster gives her writing an extra dimension often lacking in political insiders.” The blog prize went to Graeme Archer for his posts at ConservativeHome. He was commended for his coverage of issues including the coalition government and the rights of gay couples.
4 | theJournalist
Landmark victory in battle for interns pay
he union has won its first victory in the campaign for cashback for interns. Former intern Keri Hudson was awarded £1024.98 in damages – £913.22 in national minimum wage back pay and £111.76 in holiday pay – from TPG Web Publishing at an employment tribunal in central London. The tribunal found Ms Hudson had a right to be paid for intern work which she had carried out over two months at TPG’s My Village website last year. The tribunal heard that despite the fact she worked each day from 10am to 6pm and had been personally responsible for, and in
charge of a team of writers, for training and delegating tasks, collecting briefs, scheduling articles and even for hiring new interns, the company had told her she was not eligible for any pay because they considered her an intern. In her evidence Ms Hudson said she had been asked when the site was taken over by TPG Web Publishing Ltd if she would stay on and work for the new company. She was assured her pay would be fixed. After five more weeks she was informed she would not now be receiving a payment for the work she carried out – she resigned and took out a grievance. The tribunal found she was a worker in law even though she didn’t have a written contract and was therefore entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage and holiday pay. Roy Mincoff, NUJ legal officer, said: “This sends a clear message to media companies that if they treat interns like cheap labour, the NUJ will take you through the courts. If in reality interns are workers, they are entitled to the national minimum wage and holiday pay and NUJ will fight for these rights to be enforced.” The union encourages other interns who believe they should have been paid to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If in reality interns are workers they are entitled to the national minimum wage and holiday pay
Looking towards a co-operative future
s traditional business models in journalism flounder, can cooperatives and other notfor-profit set-ups offer both readers and journalists a brighter alternative? This was the main theme of a recent conference run by the NUJ in conjunction
with Co-operatives UK and the media department of Goldsmith’s College. Local media could be ripe for the co-operative model, Dave Boyle of Cooperatives UK, the umbrella body for co-ops, told the conference. A ‘second wave’ of co-operatives is already
developing, incorporating ‘community assets’ such as pubs and football clubs. Why not news too? As the big local media companies – hamstrung by huge debts and unrealistic profit expectations – increasingly retreat, cooperative ventures could fill the void.
The conference heard from NUJ members seeking to get their own co-operative projects established, such as the Port Talbot Magnet in South Wales. Elsewhere in the UK, the long-established West Highland Free Press thrives along co-operative lines.
Eyes down for Johnston journalists
ohnston Press group has resorted to offering its journalists the chance to play free games of online bingo. However, the regional press group has barred them from winning the top prizes. The company – which has made 230 editorial staff redundant in the past year and had previously frozen salaries for nearly two years – is
telling its staff that they can now play 40 free games of Johnston’s online bingo, proclaiming that this ‘staff offer is even better’ than the 30 free games available to the group’s newspaper readers. Jenny Lennox, NUJ negotiator for publishing, commented: “It seems that the real lottery for journalists at Johnston’s is whether or not they will still have a job in a year’s time.”
Pakistani reporter found dead Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani journalist working for Asia Times, has been killed 80 miles from Islamabad. He was a prominent journalist who investigated links between the military and al-Qaida. The body of the correspondent was found days after he disappeared on his way to a television interview in Islamabad. Detention over politkovskaya Russian authorities have detained the main suspect in the killing of the investigative journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya. Rustam Makhmudov, the man accused of shooting Politkovskaya in 2006, was detained in the province of Chechnya. NUJ launches new pride website The NUJ has launched a new website for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members following a decision by the union’s delegate conference to endorse the project. The NUJ Pride website is the new forum which celebrates and supports the union’s LGBT members and those who support them. www.nujpride.org.uk Baby p reporting is criticised Journalists have been criticised over their coverage of child protection issues in a report ordered following the death of Baby P. The report by Professor Eileen Monro claimed that ‘one-dimensional’ reporting could potentially make the child protection system less safe for children. Reader’s digest loses second boss David Titmuss, the chief executive of Reader’s Digest UK, has left the company after just six months in the role. His departure means that Reader’s Digest UK has lost two chief executives in 10 months. Former chief executive Chris Spratling left in July 2010 after engineering a management buyout backed by Jon Moulton’s private equity company Better Capital. theJournalist | 5
London journalists strike to stand up for quality
Bells toll for closure in Epworth The local office of the Epworth Bells and Crowle Advertiser, which has covered Epworth and the Isle of Axholme in North Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire for more than 130 years, has been closed by Johnston Press. NUJ northern organiser Chris Morley said: “Anyone searching for a definition of ‘local’ and a tight-knit community could do no better than to look at Epworth and the Isle of Axholme . Sprint from merger to a demerger Reader demand has caused two weekly Newsquest titles that merged only months ago to return to separate titles. The Ilkley Gazette and the Wharfedale & Aireborough Observer merged in February amid falling sales. Both papers were also moved to tabloid from broadsheet. Health service ban on information The NUJ in Ireland is urging the country’s Health Service Executive to lift a blanket ban on the release of patient information to the media. The directive announced by the HSE prohibits the release to the media of all information relating to the patients under its care, including those in hospitals. Sunday service for the News Letter Northern Ireland’s daily paper the News Letter produced a Sunday edition for the first time since the 1990s when it covered the Assembly elections. The paper was forced to produce the special edition because the results of the count were delayed.
As a relatively young NUJ chapel when we join together we have the power to make ourselves heards
ournalists in north London staged one of the first strikes to focus on the quality of journalism with a two-week walkout at Sir Ray Tindle’s North London and Herts Newspapers group. The well-supported strike highlighted the fall in quality of local news because of the reduction in jobs with three reporters serving nine publications. Jonathan Lovett, father of the chapel, said that the strike wasn’t about pay or redundancies but about quality. He said: “The quality has slumped dramatically and people have noticed and our readers deserve better.” The strike captured the attention of the community with journalists throwing a street party and staging a mock funeral to mark the slow death of local news. Jonathan said: “Our strike
Johnston press investors lobbied Shareholders in regional press group Johnston Press were lobbied by the NUJ at the annual general meeting. They were given letters detailing the company’s cutbacks in its editorial teams despite proclaiming in the annual report that local content is important and that ‘content is king’. The union also highlighted chief executive John Fry’s £1.18 million pay package.
has shown that as a relatively young NUJ chapel when we join together we have the power to make ourselves heard. The support we’ve had from other journalists and the community at large has also demonstrated to us that our cause is just and our struggle for quality journalism deserves to succeed.” The Enfield group complains that more than a third of editorial positions have been eroded because
staff have left and have not been replaced. Jonathan has urged local people to write to Sir Ray and press him to boost the journalistic workforce. NUJ head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick said: “The strike was proof that journalists care. This is the frontline in a battle that is going on throughout the regional press.” Journalists are reballoting to continue the action.
US body funds investigative work
new website of investigative reporting on Northern Ireland is proof that funding can be found for investigative journalism. The Detail employs six journalists and an editor. It has received funding for two years after Atlantic Philanthropies, controlled
by billionaire Irish-American philanthropist Chuck Feeney, provided £640,000. By receiving this funding The Detail was able to access £150,000 from Film Northern Ireland. Media company Below The Radar owns the website. Its managing director, Trevor Birney, was for five years current affairs
editor at Ulster Television, the ITV franchise covering Northern Ireland. He said that The Detail’s aim was to publish stories other media outlets didn’t have. “There is a mandatory coalition here,” he explained. “That means there is no opposition. The media’s role is very important.”
Charles wins appeal to remain in Britain
C mark thomas
harles Atangana, an economic and current affairs journalist, has won his appeal against Home Office plans to deport him to his native Cameroon, where he had been imprisoned and tortured for his exposés of corruption. The move comes after a lengthy legal fight. Charles’ case has been supported across the NUJ, in
particular by his own union branch in Glasgow, where he had also worked as a community volunteer John Matthews, chair of Glasgow branch, said: “The Glasgow branch was Charles’ first defence against the threat of forced removal and deportation from a city he calls home. I’m delighted that we led the way in fighting against Charles’ removal.”
6 | theJournalist
General secretary Jeremy Dear on why he will always believe in the power of the collective
Thanks to all who are the union
know it’s hard to believe but inside this shameless egotist there is a humble person struggling to get out. And it was incredibly humbling to read the comments in the last issue of The Journalist, to receive the good wishes I did at the Delegate Meeting and to have received so many notes from members, reps and other unions thanking me and the NUJ for standing with them on picket lines, in disciplinary hearings, in court or in a range of workplace battles. It’s a little like reading your obituary before you’re dead! More importantly, reading and hearing such things, reafﬁrms absolutely my faith in the power of the collective. When I joined the NUJ we were heading in to oblivion. We were a laughing stock to our enemies, a quaint old institution to our friends. What little power we had was being quickly drained away by Margaret Thatcher and her anti-union henchmen. Yet years of hard work by reps, ofﬁcials, staff, members and lay ofﬁcers hauled us back from the brink, helped us win back collective bargaining rights at hundreds of workplaces, grow our membership and help secure some important victories for journalists and journalism along the way. It remains a fact that in workplaces where unions are recognised hourly pay is on average 15.3 per cent higher than in non-union workplaces. And such union ‘premiums’ exist not just on pay but also in relation to
hours, holidays, health and safety and redundancies. The premium shows the real value of union membership. The fact that the premium is so much higher where the proportion of employers who are in the union is higher is a good indicator of the value of strong union organisation. Instead of asking if someone can afford to be a member the real question is can they afford not to be?
Union ‘premiums’ exist not just on pay but for hours, holidays, health and safety and redundancies
he value of union membership can be demonstrated in so many ways – from the millions of pounds a year we help members secure through negotiation or legal action for unfair dismissal, discrimination, copyright grabs or other poor and unlawful treatment of staff and freelance journalists at the hands of employers, to the victories we have secured over protection of sources or against gagging orders and injunctions or our latest victory securing money owed in back pay for an intern. In each of these cases case it has taken a member prepared to stand up, a rep prepared to stick their head above the parapet, a chapel prepared to act and a union ready, willing and able to back members ﬁghting for their rights. And we all know in our industry that has not always been an easy thing to do – Dave Wilson ‘s ﬁght to defend our rights at work took more than a decade to wage, and win, Robin Ackroyd’s case took more than six years as he fought successfully to protect his source. So whilst I am very grateful for all the kind words it is my turn to thank all those lay reps, ofﬁcials and members who stand up for economic and social justice, who stand up for journalists and journalism day in day out – who are the union. So if you are not a member, join. If you are a member get active and ask a colleague to join. If you are active, consider becoming a rep. Together we can and do make a difference.
For all the latest news from the NUJ go to: www.nuj.org.uk To take part in debates go to The Platform on the website theJournalist | 7
The NUJ’s delegate meeting in Southport had many issues to discuss as the tumultuous changes sweeping through the media industry continue. representatives debated the most eﬀective way to respond to job cuts, pension changes and the mounting threat to quality journalism
Co-ordinating action against spending cuts
It wasn’t one organisation pulling against another but everyone pulling together
Seamus Dooley, irish Secretary, said that the interests of working people had been made secondary when the irish bailout package was negotiated with the international Monetary fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank. Some unions, including the civil service union PCS, are looking to try to co-ordinate strike action in Britain at the end of June. South Yorkshire branch moved a composite motion calling for the NUJ to back co-ordinated action, which said: “The response of the trade union movement in countries such as Greece and france should act as a model for resistance here.”
” PHoToGrAPHS BY MArk THoMAS
he NUJ will work with other unions and campaigning groups in a broad initiative against Government public spending cuts in Britain and ireland. Delegates backed British plans to involve as many members as possible in anti-cuts activity, including co-ordinating strike action with other unions and urging the TUC to organise a 24-hour national strike. Meanwhile the irish Executive Council is to increase its work with the irish Congress of Trade Unions to mount ‘an on-going campaign of resistance to the austerity programme’ in ireland. The moves follow mass rallies in london and Dublin. The TUC-organised march and rally in March saw 500,000 people take to the streets in london in the biggest demonstration since the Stop the War march eight years ago and the biggest union demonstration for a generation. in Dublin in November the irish Congress of Trade Unions organised a march attended by 100,000 people. it also published ‘The People’s Voice’, a newspaper which formed part of its ‘Better, fairer Way’ campaign Hundreds of journalists marched with the NUJ on the days. The union will work with anti-cuts groups at local and national level. NUJ president Pete Murray (pictured) said that the TUC march was ‘absolutely inspirational’ because groups acted in unity. “it wasn’t one organisation pulling against another but everyone pulling together.”
PCC attaCKeD OVer PhONe haCKING
he failure of the Press Complaints Commission to investigate phone hacking at the News of the World led conference to call for a debate within the union about the future of press regulation. For the National Executive Council Barry White (pictured)
said that phone hacking and entrapment used by the News of the World without a public interest justiﬁcation was ‘a disgrace to journalism’. “The disgrace is compounded when the industry’s supposed selfregulatory body attempts to brush aside allegations.”
Conference agreed that the NEC should open discussions with the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and other media reform organisations that support calls for the abolition of the Press Complaints Commission and its replacement with a more independent regulatory body.
8 | theJournalist
he growing tendency for media owners to move editorial staff onto ‘management contracts’ caused concern to delegates. A successful resolution from Trinity Mirror Group Chapel pointed out that about a third of staff in the editorial operation at the Manchester Evening News were now employed on such contracts, so they were excluded from NUJ chapel collective bargaining arrangements and negotiations, even though they were eligible for NUJ membership. Similarly, managements at Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press had made strenuous efforts to exclude key journalists from collective bargaining during recent statutory trade union recognition applications. Delegates affirmed the union’s belief in the need for strong collective bargaining agreements covering all but the most senior managers in every newsroom. They said that such agreements are the bedrock of strong workplace union organisation. Conference attacked attempts by senior management to divide and undermine the NUJ by removing journalists from collective bargaining arrangements. The NEC and the union’s Newspapers and
Agencies Industrial Council are to review current bargaining arrangements for all NUJ newspaper chapels immediately, and produce a model policy which will identify those newsroom roles, if any, which can be excluded from NUJ collective bargaining arrangements. The policy is intended to act as a point of reference for chapels in future when seeking recognition of the union for collective bargaining.
he use of anti-terrorism laws to interfere with the right to take photographs in public places was condemned by delegates who shared the alarm of London Photographers Branch at
the increasing number of journalists being detained or harassed as they attempted to gather information. Delegates were told that laws designed to create a hostile environment for terrorism were being used to
create a hostile environment for photography. Conference welcomed the success of the ‘I’m a photographer not a terrorist’ campaign in publicising the issue and winning public support. Its success
The policy is intended to act as a point of reference for chapels in future when seeking recognition of the union for collective bargaining
had been acknowledged by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The NEC is to consider how a card with condensed ‘laws of engagement’ could be made available to journalists setting out the law regarding press freedom and restrictions.
Violence overblown in student protest coverage
ome coverage of student protests in defence of higher education was condemned by delegates for ‘over-emphasising the violence of a minority of demonstrators. Conference welcomed protests by school and college students, and instructed the NEC actively to support campaigns against education cuts, and to compile guidelines for journalists on reporting demonstrations, protests and disorder. Moving the resolution which pointed out that the ‘abusive and dangerous practice of kettling demonstrators’ had been ignored by some media outlets, David Crouch of Pearson Group chapel said: “The coverage was all about violence, while the actual protests were massive and peaceful. If there’s one cloud in a blue sky we don’t report it as a cloudy day.” The resolution also noted “the continuing tendency in the mainstream media to rely on the myth of anarchist or hard left infiltrators coming to demonstrations to cause trouble, which has been consistently rejected by witnesses on the ground.”
conference in brief... ‘No’ to annual conferences Delegates decided by 76 votes to 63 not to resume annual conferences, despite claims that ADMs were central to the union’s democratic structure. Opponents argued successfully that the cost of annual conferences would hit the NUJ’s ability to do its main job of defending members. LGBT forum to aid union activity A new forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender journalists will encourage them to become more active in the NUJ. The forum will operate under the Equality Council and will be organised primarily using webbased networks. A clearer picture of membership There’s to be a diversity audit conducted by the NEC to get a clearer picture of the composition of the media workforce in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other factors. A future delegate meeting will then consider proposals for changes in structure, organisation and recruitment to reflect this analysis. Stop ‘scrounger’ labelling Pinning a ‘scrounger’ label on disability benefit claimants causes hurt and hostility, and it should be stopped, delegates heard. The media had a duty to report the issue fairly, conference agreed, and noted that the cost of benefit fraud was eclipsed by the billions lost through computer error and underpayment. fair reporting on the economy The importance of accurate reporting on the economy was stressed by conference when it called for work with the TUC and Irish Congress of Trade Unions to persuade media companies to co-operate in a critical review of economic coverage. The voice of workers needed to be heard in such coverage, delegatees agreed, in addition to those outside the wealth creation process. theJournalist | 9
Call for new pensions deal
TUC campaign for a ‘new deal’ on occupational pensions was called for by delegates who urged NUJ chapels to adopt better pension provision in their pay claims. Moving a comprehensive resolution defending proper pensions in both the public and private sector, general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “The growing gap between public and private sector pensions is not the fault of so-called ‘public sector fat cats’ but of private sector employers whose own pensions are really fat while their private sector employees get so little. “While it is true that we all pay for public sector pensions, we should not forget that the public also pays for pensions in the private sector.” The delegate meeting congratulated “the fantastic and courageous stand taken by BBC members in defence of decent pension provision. But it notes that in 2010 thousands of newspaper journalists lost their right to decent retirement benefits with the closure to new accrual of final salary pension schemes, including at such companies as Trinity Mirror. Johnston Press and Newsquest.” The resolution condemned the actions of the media
companies and pointed out that executives involved in the closure of final salary schemes had grossly swollen their own pension pots through employer contributions which were four times that for staff. The NEC was instructed to support the work of the union’s NUJ 60+ and the National Pensioners’ Convention in campaigning for a decent state pension for all and to encourage NUJ members to support public campaigns in defence of pensions and against raising the retirement age.
The growing gap between public and private sector pension is not the fault of so-called ‘public sector fat cats’
reCrUIt, reCrUIt, aNd reCrUIT aGaIN
he importance of recruitment as the life blood of the NUJ was stressed by speakers in a crucial debate about how to bring more journalists into the union and encourage existing members to stay with the NUJ. The union rulebook is to be amended so that every branch and chapel will elect a ‘membership and recruitment/retention ofﬁcer’ who
will be encouraged to attend special training courses to equip them to do the job. Moving the resolution for the NEC, Jeff Apter (pictured) said that just as important as electing new branch recruitment ofﬁcers, every branch should target at least one workplace to recruit staff there, set up new chapels and build for recognition. “This work isn’t only vital for our
ﬁnances,” he said. “It is vital for our future as a union which can respond to changes in the industry itself by going to where potential new members are. And it is also vital if we want to ﬁght for what new members want from the NUJ.” Tim Jones of Newcastle pointed out that many journalists who left newsrooms to take up jobs in press and public relations didn’t realise
that they could remain members of the NUJ, where their interests could be protected.
Support chapels to ﬁght for jobs and quality journalism
he link between protecting the quality of local journalism and the NUJ battles with the Newsquest, Johnston Press and Northcliffe newspaper empires was stressed by delegates when they unanimously voted to support chapels resisting job cuts and other management attacks. Bob Smith from Bradford reminded delegates that his boss, Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson, had been paid £609,000 last year while closing employee final salary schemes at the newspaper group. He said: “Newsquest is heading for an iceberg,” he said, “but you can be sure that Captain Davidson will not go down with his
ship. He will be on the first life raft out of there.” NUJ general secretary elect Michelle Stanistreet said: “our members are to be congratulated for fighting for quality local journalism and for their tenacity.” She urged delegates: “Do all you can to support the strikes that are coming.” Nottingham branch’s Mick Duckworth said that working conditions at the Northcliffeowned Nottingham Post had become ‘traumatic’. He said: “They have treated journalists disgracefully and there seems to be little evidence of anything being done about the decline of the newspaper.”
10 | theJournalist
Pressure grows over Welsh language broadcaster cuts
onference backed plans for the NUJ to join broadcast union BECTU, the Writers Guild, Equity, the Musicians Union, Welsh language campaigners Cymdeithas yr iaith Gymraeg and other organisations to launch an umbrella group to fight the cuts to the Welsh language channel S4C. The Government plans to cut funding to the Welsh language channel S4C by 17 per cent. The move comes as Welsh is now an official language of the country, and after there has been steady growth in bilingual and Welshmedium schools. ken Smith, chair of the Welsh council, told delegates that the cuts, which take funding down to £76 million, would mean ‘going back to the sixties and seventies’ and that the
attack on public sector broadcasting would have implications across the media in Wales. He said: “When there is greater devolution there will be less coverage.” Martin Hughes said that the broadcaster’s ‘role in the revival of the language cannot be underestimated’ and that its proper funding was important for the future of the language. The new coalition of groups fighting the cuts will champion the development of a new multi-media S4C. The group is calling for an independent funding formula for the Welsh language channel, based on inﬂation and enshrined in statute. Welsh language campaigners have also welcomed support from some politicians including lord Geoffrey Howe – deputy prime minister, chancellor and foreign secretary under Margaret Thatcher – who spoke against the Government’s plans for S4C. in the Spring lord Howe told parliament that the plans would be ‘politically unwise and disastrous for the institution’. S4C has attempted to raise funds with drastic measures such as selling off furniture.
The Government plans to cut funding to the Welsh language channel S4C by 17 per cent
hoNoUrINg sPeCIaL UNION ChaMPIONS
elegates saluted two very special women who were declared NUJ Members of Honour. Veteran left campaigner Anita Halpin (pictured above) received a prolonged standing ovation after general secretary Jeremy Dear declared: “We all owe Anita a huge debt of gratitude for her successful work as our honorary general treasurer in turning around the union’s ﬁnances. But, of course, we owe Anita so much more. In over thirty years as an NUJ member Anita has always been there, whenever there was a banner to carry or some thankless task to perform. She’s been there, too, when difﬁcult decisions needed to be taken, even unpopular decisions sometimes, so long as they were in the interests of the members and the union she loves.” Jeremy paid tribute to Anita Halpin’s
work within the wider trade union movement, noting that she was the ﬁrst member of the NUJ ever to be elected to the general council of the TUC. Conference also applauded Anita’s husband Kevin, praised by Jeremy as “another formidable ﬁgure and a legendary champion of trade unionism and the left.” Northern and midlands organiser Chris Morley presented the Member of Honour citation for Mary Bielby, who had been secretary of Derby and Burton branch for 25 years. He said Mary, who has had a lack of sight since 1968, was a person of indomitable spirit. “Mary is one of the unsung heroes of the NUJ, as steady as a rock and literally enabling the union to exist in her quietly understated way.” In addition to her tireless work for the NUJ Mary is actively engaged with ﬁve local community organisations.
conference in brief... settiNG staNdards for BloGGiNG With the rapid development of the ‘blogosphere’, delegates saw merit in a network of blogs whose creators adhered to the NUJ’s Code of Conduct. Conference felt blogs were gaining acceptance as ‘a vibrant and authorative part of the new media landscape’. photoGraphers to Get Nec seat Photographers are to elect their own respresententative to the union’s executive council after conference agreed there was a lack of photographer representation. However, delegates rejected a call for a directly-elected photographers’ council representing all members who identified themselves as photographers, photojournalists or video journalists. offshore damaGe to Quality aNd JoBs Concerns among journalists in the book and magazine industry at the impact of ‘oﬀshoring’ specialist work were shared by conference. Delegates agreed the NEC should develop guidance for union chapels on how best to resist moving work and jobs overseas and to defend quality journalism. studeNts are ‘the uNioN’s future’ Student journalists and their importance in securing the future of the union and the media industry was stressed by delegates who agreed that student members should automatically qualify for temporary NUJ membership when they ceased to study and they should enjoy a 50 per cent discount on their temporary membership fee. Speakers pointed out that many students beginning a career in journalism had to choose unpaid work in order to build their professional reputations. coNfereNce clocKs up the votes During the three-day delegate meeting, 155 delegates voted on 122 motions and 133 amendments.
theJournalist | 11
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THE VIEW FROM INSIDE PR Name: Mary Maguire Job description: Head of press and broadcasting at Unison
Local impact of biggest cuts in a generation
ver since my ﬁrst newspaper run sold out, I’ve been fascinated by news. I was eight years old and had written, designed and printed 10 copies all by myself. It was mainly school news, what was on at Saturday morning pictures and a cake recipe. As an incentive to my embryonic readership, I’d stuck a penny chew on the front of each copy with sellotape. Since then, the way news is relayed has changed dramatically, but intrinsically news is, well, news. As a union press ofﬁcer, the news (and views) I furnish to reporters highlights an injustice, a rotten boss, a bad law, or unearth corruption. And, hopefully, it raises public awareness of a key issue for us. So many times I’ve worked up a news story, full of people, detailed effects and lots of wow stats. But along comes a z-list celeb arrested for knocking off a bobby’s hat, or a minor royal crosses the channel on a breadboard, and it’s all wasted. A big story leaves little room for anything else in newspapers. So it is for broadcasters, who have to squeeze the story into air-time, counted in seconds. A press ofﬁcer feels the same way a reporter does when a story is spiked. Gutted. News is more celebrity driven and, with 24 hour news, the internet, twitter, and other social media, it has
to titillate and entertain as well as inform. And as unions are not very good at sex and drugs and rock and roll, we have to constantly think of new ways to interest the media. We know what reporters want – a news story that their editor will want to publish or broadcast. We try to help them uncover the truth that someone, somewhere wants to keep secret, to quote Lord Northcliffe. And so it was with the cuts story – 40 per cent chopped off public spending with the prospect of 750,000 jobs to go (government ﬁgures) and the impact. Write the story once, and what’s the encore? It didn’t matter how much we protested, warned, estimated, there was nothing new to report. Threaten to strike and you were in, warn of the impact on communities and you were out. We didn’t have something tangible and immediate such as 30,000 people losing jobs overnight and a Woolworths chain closing. And that clever bit of coalition government spin that ‘there is no alternative’ created a brick wall. The part the banks played in the crisis was a distant memory. The worst cuts for a generation wouldn’t happen in one go. They would
come in dribs and drabs but to every community. So we worked on local impact, keeping local and regional media informed. And we continued to pump out an alternative vision. Fast, accurate information about what was happening on the ground was vital. Our researchers produced detailed analysis of how many unemployed people chased each job, broken down by town – a good local story. Next was analysis of how many local businesses depended on the public sector for work, showing an interdependent economy. We looked at the impact of cuts on local people, on public services and on local economies. We regularly briefed commentators, leader writers and specialists. I had case studies coming out of my ears, but occasionally the case study had the wrong colour eyes, had too many children, or too few, earned too little, or too much, or just didn’t ﬁt the script. Sometimes, they were too frightened to speak out. Eventually, after months of leg work and picture stunts galore, the needs of the media and the union collided and we had a good running story of broken promises, cuts, devastation. Libraries, hospital wards and care homes closing, a frontline crumbling (they were sacking nurses, for Heaven’s sake) and a generation’s future blighted by mass unemployment. Of course it wasn’t just a Unison story. The hug-atree crowd, the save-ourlibraries campaign, sister unions, many community organisations were involved. The challenge is how to keep the story alive...
theJournalist | 13
Helen Clifton looks at 20 years of the pioneering Big issue magazine
Still coming up from the streets
reated in the dying days of the Thatcher era, the Big Issue magazine was a radical symbol of a determination to do something about the problem of the growing number of people sleeping rough on Britain’s streets. Sales of the counter-cultural publication peaked at 280,000 copies a week across the UK in 1997. It is estimated that, over its 20-year lifetime, 20 million people have read the magazine; and exclusive interviews with stars such as George Michael have scooped the nationals. It spawned regional English editions in the South East and the Midlands. Magazines in Scotland, Wales and the South West and the North of England were launched 18 years ago. The current Sunday Express health and social affairs editor Lucy Johnston moved to London aged 21 to volunteer for the new magazine. She eventually became news editor, then assistant editor, working for the Big Issue for five years. “I worked in bars, I did whatever I could to try and fund my work and pay the rent. I felt strongly that I wanted to participate in this effort to help homeless people,” she remembers. “We didn’t know whether it would work, whether we would have any money, whether we would be able to pay anyone. It was chaotic, but very, very exciting. It was pioneering – it felt like we were really changing things.” Working on a shoestring, Johnston produced campaigning stories about Masai land rights, and changes to the laws governing paedophiles. “We only had two computers and I remember writing out my stuff on the ﬂoor with a pen,” she adds. “We didn’t have access to any cuttings, so a lot was generated from libraries. I kept hundreds of newspapers in my bedsit. It was hard, but somehow the lack of resources made us more determined.” Jeremy Dear, the outgoing NUJ general
secretary, has equally fond memories of his three years as editor of the Big Issue Midlands in the late nineties. “We worked under a railway arch. It was a pretty run-down area, and we had rain dripping on our computers. We had to keep moving them so they wouldn’t get wet,” he recalls. “We were in a little office in front of the distribution point. There were doors being broken and rows happening, and it was a completely chaotic environment to work in. But it was brilliant. “We often broke stories that were picked up by the Birmingham Post, Mail and sometimes the BBC. I remember doing stories about Islamic fundamentalism years before people were talking about it. We always wanted people to buy it because it was a good read.” Despite inevitable dips in circulation, people still buy the weekly magazine in their thousands; the combined national readership stands at almost 600,000 on sales that are now 124,000. Why is the magazine still going strong? “If you tell stories in a brave and interesting way, then there is a market,” Dear says. “And I think the Big Issue has demonstrated this over all the years it has been there.” “People just really bought into the idea of people helping themselves,” says John Bird (pictured) , still editor-in-chief and one of three shareholders. He set up the magazine in 1991 with co-founder Gordon Roddick, who created the Body Shop with wife Anita. Although homelessness is arguably less visible than it once was, there are still 3,000 vendors of the Big Issue across Britain. And, Bird argues, the Big Issue’s mission over the next 20
14 | theJournalist
a day in the life of... years must be to find a permanent solution to homelessness. “We set about creating the Big Society 20 years ago. Now it has just become a party political issue, often to the detriment of the poor. “We have never dismantled the long-term problem of homelessness. We give people the means to get off the streets but not the tools to change their lives. We have only put our toes in the water.” The Big Issue Foundation, which gives support and advice to vendors, was set up in 1995; editions are sold from Japan to Namibia. The Big Issue Invest was set up in 2001 as a social enterprise fund to finance social businesses. And a large 20th anniversary festival is being held in Finsbury Park in September.
failed foray into Los Angeles cost the company dear – Bird dodges giving a figure – but US street papers exist in cities from Chicago to Florida. The magazine is still produced with meagre resources. In 2008 the Wales office migrated to Scotland, leaving one writer in Cardiff. Both issues are now produced by a team of nine full and part-time staff. And as the magazine moves into a decade of job losses and economic gloom, there are many echoes of the era in which it was launched. Coupled with the continuing decline of print, can the Big Issue survive another 20 years? “The problem of homelessness is now as bad as it ever was,” says Paul McNamee, Big Issue Scotland Editor. “As long as that is the case, there will always be people who will buy it. “We will be looking over the coming weeks, months
Billie Bickley, 37, began selling the Big Issue London in 1998. She left home aged 14, and was homeless for 18 years. “I had a violent, alcoholic mother,” she explains. “I went to Coventry station and got on the first train to Euston. I’ve been here ever since.” A homeless couple introduced her to heroin. She began dealing for money, and became addicted. “It was a way of blocking things out,” she explains. “I was also taking crack cocaine – anything I could get my hands on.” For eight years Billie slept in a King’s Cross bus shelter. She clocked up 96 offences, avoiding hostels because of her habit. “When you are an addict, you’ve got be on the streets to make money,” she explains. “So
you might as well be on a street corner.” In 2002, a Big Issue worker persuaded Billie to have a medical. She had Hepatitis C, tuberculosis, and 72 abscesses. “I just decided I had had enough,” she says. “Between 2002 and 2005, I got clean. And I have got my life back.” Billie has not been in prison since 1998. She has lived with partner Aden in Elephant & Castle since 2005. Now a fundraising ambassador for the magazine, she has worked the same West End pitch for seven years. “People who sell the Big Issue are down and out. We are on our knees. If people could see how people try to get their lives back on track, they would understand the issues. “The Big Issue have been absolutely amazing. Without them I would be dead.”
and years at ways of making digital pay for vendors. The relationship with the vendors has grown and been reinforced over the years. I’m sure there is not any lack of sympathy.” Bird is more bullish. Rather than the celebrity-driven front pages of the past, he says, the magazine needs to become more hard-hitting if it is to galvanise readers. “The Big Issue needs to be reinvented. It can’t go back to what it was. It has got to become a campaigning journal.”
all images:big issue
theJournalist | 15
Exterminating w As the Daleks slip away on gardening leave, David Hencke examines what’s behind the bigger changes sweeping through the BBC
erhaps it’s not a thought the government will wish to contemplate, but future BBC financial growth through the licence fee could depend to a great extent on Britain’s trends towards increased sexual infidelity and more immigration. The only way the BBC can get more cash is by expanding the number of households, due to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to freeze the licence fee until 2017 (It raised nearly £3.5 billion at the last count). With many cash-strapped young people staying longer at home, only a rise in EU immigration and a life-style echoing some EastEnders characters or a certain high profile BBC presenter will bring in more money. Divorce and separation, as a BBC insider told me, always means one partner has to get a new TV set. This rather flippant view is borne out by the BBC annual report, showing that two thirds of the extra licence fee cash came from the last £3 increase. But it disguises a much deeper and more shocking problem. The entire package means the BBC gets less revenue and takes responsibility for much more (The BBC World Service and expanding high speed broadband as two main examples). BBC management’s record in running what it does is emerging as absolutely appalling. Consider the investigation by the National Audit Office into the non-broadcast spending of the BBC. This hefty undertaking accounts for over 11 per cent of licence fee income. What the investigation shows is far from pretty and should make devastating reading for people who are about to lose their jobs. So far, it has examined two major BBC projects which have brought a lot of angst and chaos to the BBC – the creation of a paperless office and the major office moves to Salford Quays in Manchester, Pacific Quay in Glasgow and across London to a refurbished Broadcasting House. Its findings point to the fact that the BBC has overspent by £160 million, compared with the original estimates which the board approved, on two of the moves and the creation of a paperless production system. 16 | theJournalist
Its findings point to the fact that the BBC has overspent by £160m
According to figures in the latest annual report, such blundering would have easily paid for running both BBC News Channel and BBC4. Or, in radio terms the entire cost of running Radio Three and Four for the financial year 20092010 could be met. So, how could the BBC be so incompetent the moment it is not doing its primary job of providing good journalism and entertainment? The National Audit Office’s findings and the Public Accounts Committee report on the Digital Management Initiative, as the paperless office project is called, make grim reading. The original plan was to create a new system allowing flexible editing across all the BBC’s sites. The BBC gave a £79 million contract to Siemens in 2008 without any competitive tendering. It was due to be rolled out every year until 2015 when it would provide savings to the BBC of £99.6 million. In other words, spend £79 million to save £99.6 million; nearly £21 million savings to the licence fee player. The end result will be totally different. The work will not be completed until 2017 – two years late – and will cost £133.6 million and provide savings worth £95.4 million. In other words, it will cost the licence payer £38 million. The contract fell apart in 2009 when Siemens couldn’t deliver and the BBC took the work in-house. As the auditors found out, the lack of a competitive tender meant the BBC had no idea whether Siemens had priced the contract competitively or how good the new system would be. When they took over, the auditors say they had ‘incomplete knowledge of the system design’ and were ‘not in a position to develop a detailed recovery plan until the contract was terminated’. In simple English, the BBC hadn’t a clue. Since then, through other savings of £27 million and by promising to extend the system to other departments, the BBC has mitigated the damage. But it is hardly value for money. If this £133 million scheme was a mess, the £2 billion the BBC has put aside for the move across London, and the moves to Manchester and Glasgow, is even more of a disaster. The London move from White City to Broadcasting House forms the biggest part of the package and was originally priced at £991 million in 2003. But it will now cost £1049 million. It was supposed to be finished in 2008. It will not now be completed until April 2013. Property developers have been rubbing their hands as the BBC wastes £50 million in extending leases and using buildings years after they should have left.
g waste? Some £46 million has gone to the owners of Bush House in extra rent. There is also the £9 million cost of extra technology for the move. The BBC also gave away £3.6 million by waiving its right to claim back money from contractors in a so-far failed attempt to keep the development on schedule. The move to Pacific Quay in Glasgow has left another rather expensive bill for the licence payer. The original cost of the project was to be £126 million in 2002. The auditors found
this rose to £161 million in 2003 when the building size was increased by 30 per cent. It rose again to £173 million in 2004, and when digital production and high definition TV came along in 2005 it reached £188 million. The BBC is now hiding behind commercial confidentiality in refusing to disclose any further increases. Salford Quays is the only project where the cost has come down. Originally billed to cost £953 million, it is now likely to cost £877 million. But this is achieved mainly by reducing the amount of studio space. Here, the BBC rents the space over a 20-year period from Peel Media, but even then there has been a small delay with Salford becoming operational from May rather than January. The cost of the move from London to Salford comes to £189.3 million, including redundancies and retraining, and that is within the overall target figure. The BBC has also had to seek guarantees from Peel Media’s parent company, Peel Holdings, that should they go bust the BBC will still be able to use the studios for the 2,300 staff it intends to base there. Otherwise there could be a blank screen where BBC Breakfast should be.
theJournalist | 17
bbc The auditors have been scathing about the way the BBC reached decisions on approving and running the ÂŁ2 billion projects. On Broadcasting House they said: â€œThe Broadcasting House project was approved by the BBC Governors in April 2003 on the basis of documentation that did not identify clear objectives, measurable benefits, or a detailed assessment of the project risks and their financial implications.â€? On the Pacific Quays they comment: â€œIt was sometimes difficult to engage senior staff in decision making about their area, as some seemed to either not fully understand their responsibilities or take them seriously enough.â€? No wonder a Commons Public Accounts Committee report concluded last year: â€œProper consideration of the BBCâ€™s accountability for its use of public money cannot wait for Charter renewal in 2016.â€? For the staff moving out of London, BBC accountability does not seem to be on the agenda. A BBC spokesperson says so far more than 850 staff â€“ 55 per cent of the staff required to move from London to Salford â€“ have agreed. This falls to 46 per cent for the flagship BBC 1 Breakfast programme, although the BBC is trumpeting that high-profile presenters Bill Turnbull and Susanna Reid will move to Manchester. For those not going, the official BBC line is: â€œWe make every effort to identify a suitable alternative position for
55 per cent of the staff required to move from London to Salford have agreed
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them in their current location where possible. Only after the opportunities to relocate or to be redeployed have been exhausted will the possibility of redundancy be considered.â€? Reports coming back suggest that redundancy is now more on the agenda, following the governmentâ€™s big assault on the BBC budget, as the options for redeployment are just not there. What these findings tell us is that the BBC is wasting cash on non-journalistic activities while cutting back on programmes, with current affairs staff getting the sack and channels being axed. More will emerge when the auditors start tackling overheads and handling of efficiency savings. The BBC denies that it is wasting money across the board. A spokesperson said that all of the projects would make money in the longer term. They said: â€œPacific Quay is already delivering better value for money, and we are confident that will also be achieved for Broadcasting House. Once completed the total cost of property management at the BBC will fall by ÂŁ50 million a year.â€? Could I suggest that the current BBC director general Mark Thompson, who is paid ÂŁ619,000, has his salary halved, with the money saved being used to recruit a high-flying executive who can negotiate mean contracts. Then, at least the BBC can get the maximum out of its dwindling budget to spend on real journalism and good entertainment.
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The IPCC is continuing to appeal for anyone with images from the student demonstrations between 6 and 6.20pm on Thursday 9 December 2010 at the junction of Parliament Street and Bridge Street, to contact them.
Financial advice for hacks from a hack and qualified financial adviser. Contact Nigel Bolitho of BV Services, authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. E-mail: Bolitho@enterprise.net phone 01954 251521 fax 01954 252420
Investigators working on the case of Alfie Meadows, who alleges that he as hit with a police baton which meant he needed brain surgery, have examined hours of CCTV footage and other images but want to ensure all possible evidence has been gathered. Anyone with images from taken at this time and location is asked to contact the IPCC on 0800 0969071 or email Westminster@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk.
18 | theJournalist
Jilly Cooper, the bestselling author, is a long standing union member
THE NUJ AND ME What made you become an author? I was always writing stories as a child. I used to write about girls with ponies. I never got much further than chapter one, and the last chapter where I won every rosette in the gymkhana!
Which other job might you have done? I honestly don’t know. I was sacked from 22 jobs before I started writing short stories. I don’t think I’d really be ﬁtted to anything else.
I loved the Middlesex Independent. Local papers were such a lark. And I loved working on the Sunday Times, although I used to write far too much and cried when they cut my copy. I loved writing a column for the Mail on Sunday too. But best of all I’ve loved writing for myself – I’m so disorganised it’s easier to keep one’s own rhythm.
When I joined the Middlesex Independent when I was about 20. I was terribly proud of my membership.
Are many of your friends in a union?
What advice would you give a new freelance?
I presume all my journalist friends, but no others I don’t think.
Always look for new and original ideas.
What has been your best moment in your career?
Who is your biggest hero?
Being offered a column on the Sunday Times was miraculous. But the moment my novel Riders went to No.1 took a lot of beating.
I have so many, from Montaigne to the bull terrier who comes home last in the Incredible Journey. Richard Ingrams, because Private Eye was so achingly funny when he edited it and now The Oldie is wonderful.
What is the worst place you have worked in? Tellex Monitors in about 1959. The managing director was the most frightful bully. The ﬁrst week he said I was so useless he was going to reduce my pay from £15 a week to £12. We had to watch television all day and write down the names of the company’s clients. I kept falling asleep and missing things.
And villain? Anybody who is cruel to animals, or children, or anyone really. I’d like to put that woman who dropped that cat in a dustbin in a dustbin herself and leave her to rot.
I’m mad about David Walliams and Matt Lucas. I adore Paul O’Grady and I’d like to have Godfrey Smith who edited the Sunday Times magazine and is the funniest man. My other guests would be Barbara Pym who is my favourite writer; Homer to see if he were real; Shakespeare and Beethoven.
What was your earliest political thought? I read Punch a lot as a child and there was a drawing of a handsome prisoner of war gazing across the English Channel. The caption was: ‘Send him home Mr Churchill’, and I suddenly realised Germans weren’t all evil people and they deserved consideration.
What advice would you give to someone starting in journalism? Keep sentences short and never have paragraphs of more than two sentences. Remember colours. A man riding down a road on a horse is not nearly so attractive as a man in a red coat riding down a green grassy lane on a grey horse.
When did you join the NUJ and why?
PHOTOS BY PICTORIAL PRESS LTD/ALAMY, ISTOCKPHOTO
And the best?
Which people (alive or dead) would you invite to a dinner party?
What are your hopes and fears for journalism? ...Dinner guests: Lucas and Walliams
Newspapers are the guardians of our democracy. What breaks my heart is that local papers in particular are having such a rough time. I despair of the world without newspapers.
What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months? The Government to change its attitude towards libraries and pour a lot of money into them and not allow a single one to close.
Who would you like to see join the NUJ? Joan Collins is a marvellous writer. Whenever she writes the Spectator Diary it’s a real laugh. She’d bring a lot of fun and glamour and gaiety to the NUJ.
How would you like to be remembered? That I cheered people up. theJournalist | 19
A disaster in the making
n the first day the flooding hit London, West Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall. Four days later the situation had deteriorated rapidly, with large parts of the country affected, including a huge tidal surge swamping eastern counties from the Humber down to Kent. Luckily, Exercise Watermark was only a test. The major emergency planning operation was designed to check on the responses of local authorities and the emergency services. Such scenarios are played out regularly across the UK, but while the media will be involved in the real thing, involving them in the planning stage is more problematic. Helen Hinds is head of resilience planning at Newcastle City Council and has long experience of media handling for scenario exercises. “We might get them in to give a presentation and we use journalism students for mock press
Phil Chamberlain on how crisis simulation exercises help the media and the emergency services cope when the real thing hits them conferences for press officers and that seems to work well,” she said. But, the problem can be, according to Hinds, that letting the media loose during a scenario often means that it becomes an exercise in handling the media rather than testing the procedures. “Having the media involved can be scary for those taking part,” she said. “People do find the media intimidating.”
It is a view with which former Sun journalist turned media trainer George Dearsley has some sympathy. He has co-ordinated many crisis simulation exercises including two held at a major UK airport and one at the NEC in Birmingham. “It comes as a shock to many press officers to see Fleet Street’s finest in full flow,” said Dearsley. “It can get quite rough for those in the press room handling calls. “The exchanges can become really feisty at times. Recently, on a mock exercise to handle the crash of a private jet at a major UK airport tempers got a little frayed on both sides. “I recruited six journo pals to play the role of the media. But because the exercise didn’t start until 7pm two of them couldn’t resist calling in at the pub on the way there. Well, they wanted realism… “There were some comical exchanges with the ‘reporters’ asking press officers questions like:
20 | theJournalist
REALITY BITES During the summer of 2005 in London many of
or Hinds the problems come when the national media arrive on the scene without that established relationship. During the London bombings in 2005 it was the international press, which didn’t know the protocols the home media were used to, which caused particular problems, such as trying to gain access to hospitals. Back at the scenarios and it is clear that home
grown media enjoy tweaking the tail of press officers. One television reporter and cameraman were recruited to be the media players by an organisation checking to see if their emergency planning procedures were working. “We did what was briefed and interviewed various people in the car park but then decided to take it one step further,” the reporter said. “We sneaked back into the building and up into the top floor where the brass were making their emergency plans. No-one stopped us and they were shocked to see us,” she added. “Moral of the story; never leave the press unattended.” Over the last decade more effort has been put into establishing a dialogue with the media. There are regional media emergency forums where media representatives and members of the resilience forums meet on an ad hoc basis. The national forum has representatives from the Newspaper Society, Society of Editors and all the major broadcasters as well as the Press Association. At its most recent meeting it discussed a protocol for a news blackout in the event of a Mumbai-style attack on London. Along with a pandemic flu outbreak that is, currently, the
It comes as a shock to many press oﬃcers to see Fleet Street’s ﬁnest in full ﬂow
RONNIE MYERS, EMERGENCY PLANNING SOCIETY
was it the same airline that flew Jim Reeves and Glenn Miller? “Luckily the media handlers were too young to know what they were talking about. “I also winced a few times at the rudeness of some of my colleagues. Then I realised that I had probably been just as bad in my time when chasing real accident stories.” At a regional level local authorities and the emergency services already have a relationship with their neighbourhood media. That can help smooth issues when it comes to covering reallife emergencies. For instance, there was wide praise for the role of the local media during the floods in Cumbria in 2009.
the tensions between the emergency and the media were played out. The tube and bus bombings saw well-drilled plans put in to place with a co-ordinated response from the various emergency services and Transport for London. The setting up of a news coordination centre was seen as a key success. It is designed to present a coherent response to media requests and ensure the government’s key messages are delivered. Of course not everything went smoothly and media brieﬁngs given out on the shooting of Charles de Menezes later
that month were a notable failure. What took many by surprise was the input from citizen journalists – now taken for granted. Blogs, eyewitness accounts, mobile phone footage and texts ﬂooded the media and rebounded on emergency communication teams. It undoubtedly increased the number of wild rumours that had to be countered. It also gave the media an alternative, and uncontrolled, source beyond that supplied by Gold command, the structure used by the emergency services to manage disasters.
Two weeks later, the police got the media to impose a news delay on ﬁlming of arrests in West London. Such voluntary blackouts are becoming regular requests. During the hunt for gunman Raul Moat last year Northumbria Police twice asked for a media blackout to either aid their investigation or out of public safety concerns.
most feared scenario being prepared for. A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: “Through the forum the media get a much better understanding about what the Government thinks about its communications and we get an understanding of the time pressures the media are under.” The BBC has its Connecting in a Crisis initiative – www.bbc.co.uk/connectinginacrisis – which explains how the emergency planners can use the BBC at local, regional and national level during crises. It has examples of protocols and good practice from around the country. Back in Newcastle and Hinds is planning a simulated building collapse, having already tested procedures in the event of a flooding. However, real life always throws up incidents which neither the planners nor the media might have thought of. “A few years ago, if I had proposed a scenario about foot and mouth no-one would have said it was realistic,” she said. And however much effort some organisations put into training, from hiring actors to play casualties and covering them in realistic gore, human error than throw everyone. Dearsley said: “At one full scale exercise we knew there were supposed to be two dead but the press office kept insisting everyone had been accounted for. We learned later that a policeman had inadvertently thrown into a skip two mannequins that were meant to represent the victims, thinking they were rubbish.” theJournalist | 21
INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM SUMMER SCHOOL 15-17 July 2011 Cass Business School | REGISTRATIONS OPEN! With stories from WikiLeaks dominating the news agenda over the last year, the main strand will be whistleblowing. We will also look at the issue of taxation and how to investigate money trails as they disappear over the horizon into offshore secret havens. We will have talks on a range of datajournalism tools and techniques with a special focus on digital activism and using the social media in investigations. And once again, we will be repeating our most popular annual offerings; the: story-based inquiry track and Computer Assisted Reporting training alongside talks from expert speakers and investigative journalists.
Prices: Full £450 | NUJ £325 For more information and to book please visit the summer school website: www.tcij.org/summerschool2011 Contact: 0207 040 8220 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications for the post of Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists are invited from members of the Union. The post is subject to a ballot of the membership in accordance with Rule 10(b) and Electoral Reform Services has been appointed as the independent scrutineer for the election. The successful candidate will hold the position for ﬁve years, after which he/she will be subject to re-election at intervals of ﬁve years. Details of the terms and conditions of employment and application forms may be obtained from the Administration Department, NUJ, Headland House, 308 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP. Telephone 020 7278 7916. Closing date for receipt of applications: 12 noon on Thursday June 30th 2011
The I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! campaign has produced an illustrated 20-page pamphlet chronicling the group’s success over the last 3 years, fighting the indiscriminate stop & search powers used by police against journalists. To receive your free copy, send a double stamped selfaddressed A5 envelope to: Photographer Not a Terrorist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8DP
Image: Jess Hurd / Concept: Jason N. Parkinson Design: Jonathan Warren 22 | theJournalist
Don’t freelances look young these days?
t’s said that a budding journalist was once directed to a box containing a single piece of paper with the words: “Good luck – you’re on your own.” Such urban legends will resonate with the growing number of young freelance journalists. While going freelance used to be largely the preserve of those with a proven track record in the newsroom, it is increasingly a necessity for mid and even entry-level journalists, in a climate where first jobs have all but been superseded by unpaid internships, and cutbacks are biting elsewhere. Add to this that staff jobs which do exist are largely marketing or high-level administrative roles masquerading as journalism to attract literate applicants, and it’s clear why many feel they have little choice but to work for themselves. Rachel England, 26, went freelance at the beginning of this year, having been made redundant from her job as assistant editor for an environmental industry publication just two years after finishing her training at Cardiff. “I definitely feel like I’ve been forced into freelancing,” she says. “Certainly freelancing at this stage of my career is brutal, which is something my freelance peers agree on. We’ve
While working for yourself once came after a staff career, many new journalists must now go solo, finds Maxine Frances Roper not had sufficient time to build useful relationships with employers, who tend to rely on their tried and trusted freelances.” Matthew Caines, 23, co-founder of the journalism blog Wannabe Hacks, became a full-time freelance straight after graduating from Birmingham University, where he was features editor of the student newspaper. He studied history and had no formal training in journalism, but began writing food pieces for trade publications, having worked parttime as a sous chef while a student. He progressed to fashion pieces, working mainly for men’s lifestyle webzine Sartorial Male, and now writes for the Guardian’s Professional section. Though circumstances initially forced him into freelancing, he’s happy with the outcome: “Jobs are too over-subscribed and ask for experience. Where are you going to get that from without a job in the first
First jobs have all but been superseded by unpaid internships and cutbacks are biting elsewhere
place? Freelancing offers the chance to work at home, with your parents and without rent, and gives you that industry experience. Maybe one year down the line you’ll have 10, 20, even 30 articles under your belt and a clippings book that stands out much more than any other graduate.” Rachel says she has gleaned her most useful survival strategies from online networking with other freelances through forums such as JournoBiz, which cover everything from crafting pitches to the perennial issue of setting rates and chasing payments. Just as journalists who are starting out should avoid the serial internship trap, freelances who are just beginning must avoid the ever-present temptation to write for free. As John Toner, freelance organiser for the NUJ, warns: “Some people have the attitude that freelances can do some work for them as a favour because they assume they are getting paid work elsewhere. Or friends will ask a freelance to work for free, but how many such friends can a freelance afford to have?” Just as students are having to adapt their career expectations, so too, are journalism course providers, who are taking a wider approach to training than they have in the past. According to Lorraine Davies, director of the Periodicals Training Council, the majority now focus students on portfolio working, with a career that mixes permanent employment, fixed term contracts and freelancing opportunities. For the first time, a recent graduate from the MA in journalism at Goldsmiths has been invited back specifically to talk to current students about freelancing, and ‘keeping your head above water while waiting for the right job to come up’. Course leader Angela Phillips is optimistic about the prospects for young freelances: “Ironically, they are often getting better opportunities than in the past, because staff cuts mean that there is a real need for welltrained casual staff. The casuals, and freelancers, are then ready to pounce on the new jobs as they come through, so it’s not all doom and gloom!” theJournalist | 23
Arts with attitude Some of the best things to see and do with a bit of political bite For listings email: journalist@NUJ.org.uk
INDEPTH BELL ÉPOQUE 30 YEARS OF STEVE BELL
Until 24 July Cartoon Museum, London www.cartoonmuseum.org www.belltoons.co.uk
Catch them while you can and they’re still free or subsidised because the Government’s cuts in public funding could affect any of the events, shows, exhibitions or theatre taking place in the future. At least enjoy what’s available in this edition. Lost Arts The UK has an unrivalled reputation for the quality of its arts and culture. Its reputation has been earned over many years and is due in no small part to public funding. But the arts now have to share the burden of an economic policy which has led to substantial cuts in public funding. Cutting arts funding is counterproductive for economic recovery. Statistics show that every £1 invested in the arts produces more than £2 for the Treasury. The cuts will lead to job losses and have a negative effect on other services and tourism.Lost Arts,
For a man who sits alone in his office at
home in Brighton, cartoonist Steve Bell certainly reaches out to one couple in north London. His If strip in the Guardian is the first thing Dr Iro Staebler and his wife, film scriptwriter Jane, turn to when the paper falls through the letterbox. Like many, many more people, they’ve followed Steve’s rants for many years and have loved his depictions of politicians such as John Major with his underpants outside his trousers, Thatcher and Blair’s eyeballs, George Bush as a chimpanzee and his current condom of David Cameron and Nick Clegg as a waste of space beefcake. On a typical working day, Steve listens to the radio and fumes. Then he transfers his frustrations into words and extremely cutting images for the Guardian and magazines including Private Eye, the New Statesman, the Spectator, Radio Times, and, of course, The Journalist. He has won many awards, including What The Papers Say cartoonist of the year, Political Cartoon Society Cartoon of the Year Award in 2001 and 2008 and Cartoonist of the Year in 2005 and 2007, the British Press Awards Cartoonist of the year in 2002, the Cartoon Arts Trust Award eight times…the list goes on. Born in Walthamstow, east London, in 1951, Steve realised early on in his school days in Slough he enjoyed art instead of rugby. His father’s career took the family north where he took an art foundation course at Middlesborough College of Art. He then moved to Canterbury to continue his arty fartiness but boomeranged back to the north tempted by the ‘colouring-indepartment’ of Leeds University. He grew his hair and, armed with a degree in
which comprises groups representing arts workers including the NUJ,wants to hear about affected projects. www.artscuts.co.uk Tolpuddle time Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival and Rally July 15-17 With its vibrant mix of politics, poetry, theatre, music, activism and fun, this year’s Tolpuddle requires everyone attending the festival (except for the Sunday Rally) to buy a wristband. It is becoming so popular that numbers and costs need to be managed. So if you plan to camp, you need to book in advance. Entry on Sunday 17 is free. For more information, tickets and your wristband, visit: www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk Save Your Placards Were you at the anti-cuts demonstration in London on March
fine art, Steve fancied long holidays and short days. He went brieﬂy into teaching in Birmingham but he realised it was hard not to tell uppity students to piss off. In 1977 he decided to stop messing about and get on with some serious, though funny, drawing. His Maggie’s Farm strip appeared in Time Out and City Limits magazines from 1979 until 1987 and he got the gig on the Guardian in 1981. Bell Époque is the latest of shows that have appeared worldwide, along with 27 books and several films. It’s a fantastic body of work that needs time to absorb everything, including his depiction of himself as a kind of cross between Dennis the Menace and Desperate Dan. “I’m quite a shy and withdrawn sort of person,” says this genial giant, who draws with his left hand. “I’ve always been drawn into leftie politics. The Guardian don’t censure me, they trust me to get on with it. I do a lot of seething and enjoy working on my own because I’m self-motivated. “This exhibition covers all my work back to the early days. History repeats itself. In the early 80s cuts started to bite and now it’s the same. I try to pursue the truth of what politicians are like.” Ex-Python Terry Jones, in the exhibition’s catalogue, says: “The image of our current government, as pigs with their heads in the trough, says more than reams of editorials. It cuts the crap.” You won’t find any crap in this exhibition, only the work that has made Steve Bell the funniest, rudest and most astute political cartoonist working today. Alf Martin
24 | theJournalist
arts 26? A team of art students from London University’s Goldsmiths College is asking demonstrators to donate placards, costumes and other protest material to the Museum of London’s collection. Guy Atkins, one of the organisers from Goldsmiths says: “Britain has a rich heritage of protests, from the Suffragettes, to the Poll Tax demonstrations, to the Iraq War protests. But how these movements are remembered has largely been decided after the event, and not by those involved with the protests. We want to challenge that.” Send your placards to: either Guy at Goldsmiths or Cathy Ross, director of Collections and Learning at the Museum of London at: www.gold.ac.uk or www.museumoflondon.org.uk Exhibitions Liverpool City of Radicals Throughout 2011 Liverpool City of Radicals is a programme of exhibitions, debates and events looking at radical Liverpool. Celebrating a century of radicalism, the year will provide a context for an investigation into the city’s history – culturally, socially and politically – as a place of radicals. Organisers are inviting individuals, grass roots arts, community and other organisations to be part of a programme of exhibitions, events, debates and activities based around the idea of the radical. www.cityofradicals.co.uk Art in Revolution: Liverpool 1911 Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool June 24 – September 25 An exploration of a ground-breaking exhibition held in Liverpool in 1911, which displayed international Postimpressionist artworks alongside local avant-garde artists. Art in Revolution also examines the reaction of Liverpool’s artistic and political establishments to the major unrest in the city, which resulted in mass demonstrations and troops on the streets. www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ events/walker Ten Years After Gallery 1885, London July 4 – 22 Contemporary photography by NUJ member Derek Mossop.
The solo exhibition includes work from his series: ‘In my vanilla life’; Landscapes in Transition’ and the ‘Odyssey’ series. Gallery 1885, Bowden Street, London SE11 4DS. Tel: 020 7587 1809
Radical life: Liverpool’s heritage in culture and politics as a place of radicals
Fixer: Journalistic ethics are the focus of this play set in the Niger Delta
Ten Years After: contemporary photography by NUJ member Derek Mossop
Theatre Fixer Oval House, London June 21 – July 10 Journalistic ethics are at stake when an oil pipeline in the Niger Delta is blown up by militants. Everyone wants control of the story and they’re prepared to pay. Playwright Lydia Adetunji has been described by The Observer as ‘one of the brightest stars in British political theatre’ www.ovalhouse.com Readers can get a two for one offer on full-price tickets for shows between June 24 – 30. Call the box office on 020 7582 7680 and quote The Journalist. Music Festivals There are loads of festivals to choose from in the coming weeks as the summer season gets into full swing. While Glastonbury may be sold out and the large ones are on many people’s lists, here are a few of the not so well known: GoldCoast Oceanfest Croyde Bay, North Devon June 17 – 19 It’s a festival with a conscience that includes eco-projects and looking after the environment as well as headline act Seasick Steve. www.goldcoastoceanfest.co.uk
Raising funds for the community: Alresford Music Festival
The Big Mix: music , comedy and art events in east London
Alresford Music Festival Hampshire June 18 This is a not-for-profit charity festival with acts like Pressgang, voted best Celtic rock band 2010, taking part to raise funds for local charities, Juvenile Diabetic Research Foundation and Alresford Youth Association. www.alresfordmusicfestival.com The Big Mix Shoreditch, London June 18 Formerly known as the Brick Lane takeover, it features music, comedy, art and cabaret in various venues. In aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. thebigmix.org.uk
Dentdale Music and Beer Festival West Yorkshire June 24 – 26 The festival is run on a voluntary basis and started after the foot and mouth outbreak in the early 2000s. It is free and this year’s headliner for the three-day event is Scottish sensation Dick Gaughan, whose songs feature his passionate political beliefs. www.dentmusicandbeer.com Fringe in the Fen Fenstanton, Cambs July 9 – 16 A week long festival, all profits go to Macmillan Cancer Support. It features blues, jazz, classical, brass bands and a whole host of music and arts. www.fringeinthefen.co Tramlines Sheffield July 22 – 24 Tramlines is a festival unlike any other. It’s free and delivers a line-up that would normally cost a packet. The music policy includes everything from huge bands to little known musical oddities, playing to a handful of devotees in the back of a pub. www.tramlines.org.uk Kendall Calling Lake District July 29 – 31 Winner of the UK’s Best Small Festival 2010, Kendall Calling is the place to see a vastly eclectic mix of musical genres, from emerging local talent to sell out artists. Acts confirmed so far are The Cribs, The Levellers, Echo & the Bunnymen and Blondie. www.kendallcalling.com To check out a vast array of festivals for the rest of 2011, go to: www.thefestivalcalendar.co.uk Dance Political Mother The Choreographer’s Cut Sadler’s Wells, London July 12 – 16 Two dance sensations at Sadler’s Wells. Critics heaped praise on Political Mother after its run at the theatre in 2010. Now it returns, revamped for more than 30 performers. Award-winning associate artist Hofesh Shechter reworked his programme Uprising/In Your Room into an unforgettable dance gig in The Choreographer’s Cut. theJournalist | 25
were the printers heroes? I respect the integrity of journalists who refused to go to Wapping – a choice I didn’t have to make, as I joined The Times some time later (Refusenik with No Regrets, April/May). But I am not convinced by reminiscences that paint the print unions as heroic defenders of free labour and the press. In my view their interest was in jacking up their members’ pay whenever possible, often by stopping the presses and thus destroying journalists’ work. They rode roughshod over journalists, employers and readers, yet seemed surprised to find few friends when their own livelihood was threatened. How many journalists are sorry to have production taken out of print union control? S. Mortimer Chipping Campden
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH The class ceiling is getting tougher to break Outgoing general secretary Jeremy Dear pointed out in the last edition: “Less than 10 per cent of those entering journalism come from a working class background.” This though merely hints at how difficult it remains in our profession to penetrate what I term the class ceiling. Although I’ve had freelance features published in the Guardian, Observer, FT, New Statesman, Lloyd’s List, and on various Channel 4 websites, I’m pessimistic about the prospects of journalists from backgrounds such as mine getting appointed in any significant numbers as editorial staff at this prestige end of the industry. A Sutton Trust survey in 2006 showed that 54 per cent of the UK leading national newspaper editors, columnists, broadcast editors and news presenters went to private schools and 33 per cent to grammar schools, while more than half those that had been to university were Oxbridge educated.
Only 14 per cent had attended comprehensive schools. With the abolition in England of free access to higher education, and the shrinkage of broadcasters’ and publishers’ editorial departments since the recession, working class young people will find it tougher still to gain any foothold in journalism, let alone rise to the better-paid jobs and cream positions. Mike Gerber London
Hands off Formula 1 in the BBC spending cuts I would have expected Raymond Snoddy (No need to kill the radio star April/May) to have done more – well, actually, any – research on Formula 1 before his throwaway comment that ditching the sport from the BBC is worth consideration because ‘many of the races happen in the middle of the night UK time’. Just for his enlightenment, there are 19 races this year (18 if Bahrain is not rescheduled)
with the earliest at 7am UK time (Australia, Korea and Japan). For the 4.1 million viewers (average live audience 2009; Source – BBC Sport internal reporting) who tune into the BBC to watch F1, setting an alarm clock on a Sunday morning is of no great inconvenience. Dropping Wimbledon is ‘unthinkable’, Raymond says. Why? It’s hardly generated a conveyor belt of British talent. I’m sure even he must know that Britain has produced just two Grand Slam event winners since 1936 whereas Britain has produced 10 F1 World Champions (14 titles in all) since 1950, two of them in the past three years. Find a different target, Raymond. David Hobbs Managing Editor, Autoblog UK
E-book royalties may not be as good as they seem Royalties of 25 per cent on e-books might not be the good news for authors that Kim Farnell suggests in
the last issue of The Journalist. While such a figure (some publishers offer considerably less) may be a higher percentage rate than typical print royalties, it fails to consider many issues, not least the significantly reduced costs to publishers of producing an e-book compared to its print equivalent, even allowing for a publisher’s initial expenditure on developing a digital infrastructure. It should be noted, too, that in the days before electronic rights had noticeable value, book publishers routinely offered 50 per cent for any such use of an author’s work. For publishers and many readers, e-books may be the future but it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that authors enjoy their fair share of that future. Mick Sinclair Freelance journalist and author
Dear decade one of the best in the union’s history I am sorry to read of Jeremy Dear’s departure, as for my money – or rather life membership – he has been a quite outstanding general secretary. I have fond memories of all the general secretaries of the NUJ since I joined many years ago but they will agree with me that Jeremy has been the best GS the union has had this century. His energy, his clear politics, his internationalism (save a fondness for South American populist colonels who dislike free media), and his aggressive defence of his members’ interests are a better record than most TUC general secretaries can offer. He is a young man and has so much to contribute but the Dear decade will be one of the best the NUJ has had in its history. Denis MacShane MP NUJ President 1978-1979
Jeremy was the best general secretary ever I would like to add my strong vote of thanks to Jeremy Dear who I consider the best general secretary the union has ever had.
26 | theJournalist
It was the general secretary himself who came to support me when, as a union activist, I had a grievance with the anti-union Northcliffe Newspapers group in Bristol. It was uplifting to know that Jeremy could fit me into his busy agenda to represent me at a hearing. We were both delighted that Northcliffe would have to allow a full-time union official into the Bristol head office of the Western Daily Press for a grievance hearing at a time when they were not prepared to recognise the NUJ. It was quite humorous as an assistant editor was delegated to chaperone us for fear that Jeremy may rally the troops inside the building. His visit was also part of a moraleboosting battle for recognition by the sister Bristol Evening Post chapel which was eventually won. Jeremy has led the union through a difficult time but he has probably commanded more respect from members than any other NUJ general secretary. That respect has also been mirrored within the union movement as Jeremy
Please keep letters to 200 words maximum
became the first NUJ leader to be elected to the TUC General Council. Brian Best Paris branch
the same generation to lead a new revolution – half a century on. Chris Meehan Cheltenham
Congratulations to our first woman at the top
Picture this: a beginner’s guide to photography
I am a life member and congratulate the NUJ for electing our first woman general secretary. With another union-bashing conservative led coalition – the movement may have its work cut to stand still, let alone make progress. Surely, the NUJ has an untapped resource of retired members who can contribute to journalism and the trade union movement. We live in the information society and knowledge economy so our experience is a priceless act. We want to encourage intergenerational co-operation in the hybrid world of print, broadcasting and on-line media – in processing news. Thinking outside the box, we can venture into the European Union – and globalisation of the United Nations. If there was a cultural revolution in the 1960s led by the Beatles when we were starting out, then surely we are
A friend, a fellow journalist, recently bought her first DSLR camera and was looking for a course introducing her to making the most of her new toy. I had a look at the NUJ’s offerings and was very surprised to see that you don’t offer such a course. Given the multimedia, digital world we all live and work in, this seems a very surprising omission – especially as photography is such a core component of journalism, be it print or online. It also seems a no-brainer to offer courses in photography even if people don’t end up going on to use the skills professionally. The NUJ must be brimming with expertise and it would be an excellent source of revenue for the union. Indeed, you could offer all kinds of courses, from beginners’ getting-to-grips with a DSLR through to advanced stills and moving pictures courses as well as in Photoshop. Please
Email your letters to: email@example.com Post them to: The Editor, The Journalist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP
do consider running such courses – I for one would certainly be interested in signing up. Kate Bevan London
Breaking news rolls until the cows come home The ‘breaking news’ strap is now so ubiquitous on 24-hour-news channels that it seldom elicits more than a yawn from viewers. However, sub-editors, desperate to feed the rolling news requirements of websites, are now getting in on the act with sometimes ludicrous results. As a tired old hack in retirement long enough to be a life member of the NUJ, could I remind them that simply calling a story ‘breaking news’ does not have the same effect as adding a pinch of yeast to a flat, stodgy bread roll. Recently, the Gloucestershire Echo managed to take this trend to its hilarious limit on its This is Gloucestershire website with the headline: ‘breaking news – cow stuck in railings.’ Declan Cunningham Cirencester
theJournalist | 27
professional Training courses Non Members
To book a place on any of these courses or if you would like some advice or have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7843 3730.
Tues 21 June
Develop a PR Strategy
Mon 27 June
Making Internet Journalism Pay
Weds 29 June
Business For Journalists
Thurs 30 June
Economics For Journalists
Fri 1 July
Pitch and Deal
Tues/Wed 12/13 July
Introduction to InDesign
Fri 22 July
Pitch and Deal
Tues 26 July
Business For Journalists
Weds 27 July
Economics For Journalists
Mon 12 Sept
Making Internet Journalism Pay
Tues/Wed 13/14 Sept
Writing for the Web
Fri 16 Sept
Social Media For Journalists
You can view course outlines at www.nujtraining.org.uk
June – september London
The NUJ offers a wide variety of short courses in professional subjects. Whether you want to learn the best way to video blog or sell your services as a freelance, you can get to grips with the techniques you need over one or two days. The courses will help you increase and refresh your skills whether you’re at the start of your career or further along the professional path.
Lost Your Job? If you’ve lost a staff job you could be entitled to a free course. Bookings must be made within three months of losing a job and are free at the union’s discretion and subject to availability.
*For Students and members in their first year of employment
Economics and business for journalists Gary James Merrill The credit crunch, the recession and government spending cuts are stark reminders that economics, the so-called ‘dismal science’, touches everyone’s lives. No matter what your speciality as a journalist, you are never far away from economics. It’s the same with business. Large corporations provide most of our food, energy, work and money, and they are increasingly involved in the provision of public services such as health and education. It is ironic, therefore, that few working journalists have any formal training in either economics or business. It is also rather worrying that neither journalism schools nor industry training bodies, such as the NCTJ/BJTC, consider
an understanding of economics and business to be a vital part of a journalist’s knowledge base. I devised a pair of complementary courses to give journalists and other media professionals a working understanding of both, designed for those with little or no previous experience in either discipline. They begin with explanations of basic terminology and then link seemingly mystical concepts – like GDP, inflation and government debt – to different areas of journalism. The final sections of the courses look at some of the debates surrounding economics and business. With politicians telling us that ‘there’s no alternative’ to current economic policies and big companies insisting on pay rises for executives and job cuts for the rest, it is essential that all journalists have an
appreciation of a the full spectrum of views and theories. Economics and business are heavy on the jargon, but this can be used as a smokescreen to obscure misdeeds, deceit and injustice. These courses aim to provide the knowledge and confidence to cut through the smog and ask probing questions of anyone who wields economic or business power. Both courses are highly interactive, questions are encouraged and, through the use of exercises, attendees will discover that economics and business are neither boring nor impenetrable. Gary James Merrill is a freelance journalist and has taught journalism at Cardiff, Glamorgan and Bedfordshire universities. www.freewords.co.uk
28 | theJournalist
A STEP OUTSIDE THE ‘DAILY ME’
Michael Cross on the latest trends and kit
’ve just enjoyed a review of Manhattan’s latest hot-table restaurant. I’ve no particular plans to visit the eaterie, but it was a good read, and an insight into the restaurant business. Thank you, FT Weekend magazine. But, in a digital world, is this sort of random reading experience on the way out? Thinkers such as US legal scholar Cass Sunstein say that, by encouraging us to read only what we have actively searched for, the web will reduce our information intake to The Daily Me; a compilation of stuff we know will be of interest, with no irrelevant news or irritating columnists. Cyberspace will become a series of ‘echo chambers’, where we read, and engage with, only opinions similar to our own. Maybe that’s already happening, on social networks. For example I follow about 700 Twitterers, many because they share either my North London postcode or my interest in an arcane aspect of public policy. It’s sometimes a shock to realise that these attributes do not apply to the population as a whole. It’s potentially dangerous, as well. As Sunstein comments in his book Republic.com, the predictable outcomes of any situation in which like-minded people speak only with
RYCOTE AUDIO KIT About the most useful piece of technology I ever owned
was a little cloth bag ﬁlled with dried beans. It served as a tripod, microphone stand and even pillow. And it didn’t cost me a penny. The only snag was that it didn’t look very professional, especially when it went unpleasantly mouldy. No danger of that with this ultra-professional box of tricks from Rycote, maker of ﬂuffy microphone windshields used in broadcast. The £100 Portable Recorder Audio Kit is aimed at people who want to improve the quality of sound from
In a digital world is this sort of random reading on its way out?
digital (and tape) recordings. It’s not just for broadcast or webcast – anyone who’s transcribed an interview with a subject who drummed their ﬁngers on the table while an air conditioner droned in the background will understand. The kit includes a suitably ﬂuffy windshield, which ﬁtted neatly over the stereo mikes of my Olympus. But as I don’t do much outdoor interviewing nowadays I was more interested in the other two gizmos, a screw-in handle and a plastic cradle for isolating the recorder from vibrations. Its baptism came during one of those dismal round-table events that are wrist-busting to capture on shorthand. All I can say is that the cradle (available on its own
themselves is ‘fragmentation and extremism’. What to do about it? Everyone has an interest in leading online readers down new paths, but providing links can be a hit or miss business. We’ve all seen those Google ads promoting holidays at the site of some national disaster. A ﬁrm called Outbrain is promoting a more sophisticated approach, both in technology and business model. Outbrain offers publishers a recommendation engine that points individual readers to links from third-party publishers paying for the privilege. It claims the choice of stories is calculated with 20 algorithms, based on factors such as semantics, popularity and references on social networks, and that click-through rates are much higher than for random links. I checked out the system on the Chicago Tribune website, starting by looking at coverage of Syria. Underneath was a ‘Recommended for you’ list, leading with ‘Police Say 87-Year-Old Grandmother Raped By Grandson’. That probably would not have made my Daily Me. And neither would another (unrecommended) piece, under the irresistible headline: ‘Man Shot in Buttocks on South Side’. The truth is, like most journalists, I’ll read anything.
for £57.60) made an enormous difference to the recording quality, compared with that from a separate recorder I’d just chucked on the table. The cradle can also be clipped to a camera’s ﬂash shoe, or to the foampadded handle for brandishing at less-than-willing interview subjects. One word of warning – the kit is only really much use if you have a fairly serious recorder with a screw-stand ﬁtting (I used it with an Olympus LS-11). The only other drawbacks are the price, which is a great deal more than a bean bag, and the fact that a ﬂuffy windshielded recorder mounted on a cradle is hardly inconspicuous. But in the current climate of opinion about journalistic techniques, that may be an advantage.
theJournalist | 29
Raymond Snoddy on on how super injunctions have been derailed partly by those who implement them
Let’s hear it for the judges
t is time for the attacks on Her Majesty’s media judges who hear super-injunction cases to cease. This ﬁne body of judges has been misjudged by the rude journalistic fraternity who have little appreciation of the subtlety and sophistication needed to create a privacy law after many hundreds of years. The criticism has obviously been misplaced and intemperate. There can be no doubt that Mr Justice Eady showed good sense when he failed to overturn a gagging order protecting the privacy of the unfaithful Premiership footballer Ryan Giggs. And surely Mrs Justice Sharp deserves a sympathetic hearing for deciding that Fred the Shred Goodwin should be protected from the public exposure of his affair with a fellow RBS employee. Can there be any remaining doubt among right-thinking people about the analytical powers of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Justice Judge, when he observes that technology is out of control? All of them should indeed be cherished – but only as characters out of Gilbert and Sullivan. They and their distinguished colleagues should be applauded above all else for one important service. They have done more than anyone else to discredit completely the entire system of superinjunctions that they have allowed to grow like Japanese knotweed. Surely the penny – or should that be shilling – has now dropped that in the world of the internet the certain way of attracting worldwide attention is to take legal proceedings to preserve secrecy. If any doubts remain, the picture on
the front page of the Sunday Herald in Scotland, followed by thousands of fans at the Manchester United versus Blackpool game chanting the name of Ryan Giggs for other than footballing reasons, should clinch the case. The internet is a force of nature beyond the reach of conventional arguments of legality. The game is up for super-injunctions and the public will continue to vote with their mice for a greater degree of freedom of information than they have traditionally known in the UK. The genie is out of the bottle and not even Lord Justice Judge – an eminently decent and reasonable man – can put it back.
The certain way of attracting worldwide attention is to take legal proceedings to preserve secrecy
he only interesting question is what happens next – apart from the inevitable parliamentary committee. Concepts such as the public interest and what the public is interested in exist on a continuum and judgements have to be made on where lines should be drawn. At one end it is worth trying, as hard as possible, to protect some aspects of the lives of even the rich and famous: areas such as medical records and identity of children. At the other end it is difﬁcult to imagine how any sentient judge should have thought it a good idea to try to protect anonymity in the Traﬁgura ‘pollution’ case. In between there are the wretched footballers and their out-of-control lives with mistresses and prostitutes. Do they cash in on sponsorship deals? They should be aware that sponsors are usually not in the business of rewarding sleazy behaviour and why should their own personal business affairs be based on a lie. Difﬁcult issues, of course, but let’s not be mean spirited and instead salute unreservedly the judges of the High Court who have done so much – inadvertently – to advance the cause of freedom to know.
For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy
30 | theJournalist
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June July issue of The Journalist, the bi-monthly magazine of the National Union of Journalists