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 | MAY/JUNE 2015
ontheedge Election reporting on the road
Main feature 14 On the election trail Campaigns change and stay the same
elcome to this edition of The Journalist, which reaches you as we’re about to get a new UK government. This has been one of the most unusual general elections in memory because of the sudden importance of the smaller parties. Despite the lack of colour in the campaigning – no-one caught with a microphone still on saying what they really think, no John Prescott punch moments – many political commentators have named it as their most interesting election because of the uncertainty. We got one of the best and most experienced political watchers – Michael White of the Guardian – to use this unique election as a reason to look back over the many campaigns he has covered. In our cover feature he writes about not just the changing political story but also the changing nature of the job. I particularly liked his reminiscences on the emergence of mobile phones when – with horror – it became apparent to seasoned reporters that newsdesks would soon be able to actually get hold of them. The changing nature of our work is also picked up by Ray Snoddy as he reﬂects on how to help young people into journalism by harnessing their enthusiasm but giving them a measure of realism. Our Starting Out feature is written by a student – Abigail Lofthouse – who has plenty of both. I hope you enjoy these pieces and the rest of the magazine.
Christine Buckley Editor @mschrisbuckley
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Cover picture Steve Bell
News 03 Wales and Yorkshire lead campaign NUJ urges support for local press
04 Prescription for better reporting Major seminar on health journalism
05 Focus on photography Birmingham debate on industry future
06 Dangerous work for women TUC backs NUJ resolution on violence
07 Campaign on police surveillance Young workers support union move
Features 10 Let’s go to Southampton Behind the scene with NUJ journalists
18 A climate of confusion Challenges of environmental reporting
Regulars 09 Viewpoint 19 NUJ and me 20 Technology
Arts with Attitude Pages 22-23
Raymond Snoddy Page 21
Letters & Steve Bell 24-25
news in brief...
Wales and Yorkshire lead on local news campaign
joined to make a bipartisan statement in support of the NUJ campaign. Cllr Dyfed Edwards, Plaid Cymru leader of Gwynedd Council, said: “Journalism is the cornerstone of local democracy. I may not agree with every word written in the Daily Post or Herald but I will defend their right to print it.” In West Yorkshire, 50 community representatives joined the union to voice concerns about the impact of job cuts on local newspapers. The move came in response to further job cuts at Johnston Press including the Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post, Halifax Courier, Scarborough News and Harrogate Advertiser.
A Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group NUJ chapel spokeswoman said: “Our members believe passionately in the importance of local journalism but are being prevented from giving readers the level of news and sports coverage they deserve because of a lack of staff and investment in our papers – and any further jobs cuts will only add to this problem. The union has called for: • a national inquiry into the state of local news. • local papers to become community assets to prevent titles closing overnight and to give potential new owners the time to put together bids. • action to stem job cuts and preserve quality journalism.
© JASON HARRIS
he NUJ’s campaign to arrest the decline in local newspapers – Local News Matters – has gained pace with protests against cuts and support from community leaders. More than 100 people gathered in Caernarfon to protest against Trinity Mirror’s proposal to close its ofﬁce in the town. The crowd included NUJ members, former journalists including two former editors of the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald, community leaders and members of the public. Speakers included Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards and Plaid Cymru and Labour general election candidates Hywel Williams and Alun Pugh who
I may not agree with every word written in the Daily Post or Herald but I will defend their right to print it
Desmond on rack over Ukip £1.3m
he union has attacked Express group owner Richmond Desmondfor giving £1.3 million to the UK Independence Party while denying a pay rise to journalists for the seventh year running. Mr Desmond gave £1 million to Ukip in the latter stages of the general election campaign, following a £300,000 donation to its leader Nigel Farage last December.
A spokesman for NUJ journalists at the Express said that the union’s latest call for a pay rise had been denied because it would cost the group £800,000. The Express group NUJ chapel say that journalists have become 20 per cent poorer in real terms since 2008 because of the pay freeze. He said: “This is an insult to hardworking people.”
NUJ LOOKS AT REVAMPING ITS HEAD OFFICE
he NUJ is considering ambitious redevelopment plans for its London headquarters. The union is exploring planning potential for Headland House in King’s Cross with Camden Council. The plans include
developing a drop-in media centre and a café area. The NUJ is looking at development possibilities in order to utilise a £1.2 million surplus which it has built up, and to enhance the worth of Headland House in light of
increased property prices in the King’s Cross area. The union lets out two ﬂoors of the building to outside groups following a reduction in the numbers of staff over recent years.
I’M A LUMBERJACK ....AND I’M OK(ISH) The worst career option for young people, according to a US study, is journalism. Careercast.com cites stress and the downturn in publishing as factors. The second least recommended career is a lumberjack because of the danger and isolation. The survey is carried out in co-operation with careers teachers, and focuses on guidance for secondary school-aged students. Raymond Snoddy, P 21 NORTH EAST DAILIES SHARING CONTENT A content-sharing deal between two north-eastern dailies could affect editorial independence and media plurality, the NU has warned. Trinity Mirror-owned Teesside Gazette in Middlesbrough will provide up to 20 stories a day to the Newsquest-owned Northern Echo in Darlington. REGIONAL PRESS AWARDS FINALISTS The Regional Press Awards has named the Aberdeen Press and Journal, Birmingham Mail, Eastern Daily Press, Liverpool Echo, Sunday Life and Irish News as finalists in the daily/Sunday newspaper of the year award for titles with circulations greater than 25,000. YES OR NO MINISTER ON MEDIA CONTACT The last government introduced a new rule requiring all civil servants to have ministerial permission to speak to the media. The Civil Service Management Code now says: “All contacts with the media should be authorised in advance by the relevant minister unless a specific delegation or dispensation has been agreed which may be for blocks of posts or areas of activities.” ACTION ON WORLD COPYRIGHT DAY Journalists’ unions marked last month’s World Copyright Day with a call on Twitter and social media for fair contracts for journalists and to denounce absences of protection against the stealing of authors’ rights. The twitter campaign used the hashtag isitfair. theJournalist | 03
news in brief... NEWS WEBSITES WORTH 92P A MONTH British people are prepared to pay only 92p a month to access news websites, less than email, search engines or online video, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau. However, the survey of more than 2,000 adults found consumers were prepared to pay even less for social media, online games and price comparison sites. THE US’S POLITICO LAUNCHES IN EUROPE The European division of the US’s media outlet Politico launched last month with more than 40 journalists across the continent. Politico aims to become “the dominant politics and policy publication in Europe”. Politico claims it will have more journalists combined in Washington and Brussels than any other outlet. LOADED IS UNLOADED FROM NEWS SHELVES Loaded, a title synonymous with the mid-1990s lads’ mag boom, has closed after 21 years. April was the last issue of the monthly magazine. Loaded was once one of the leading titles in a booming sector, with sales of 350,000 in 2000. Circulation had dropped to 35,000 by 2011. JURY ACQUITS FOUR SUN JOURNALISTS Four senior Sun journalists were acquitted after a trial over alleged payments to public officials. They are Fergus Shanahan, executive editor; Geoff Webster, deputy editor; John Kay, chief reporter; and Duncan Larcombe, royal editor. Kay said: “It has been three years of absolute hell wondering and wondering what was going to happen.” NORTHERN AND SHELL DIGITAL CHIEF Northern and Shell has appointed Simon Haynes, former managing director of IgnitionOne, its head of digital. At IgnitionOne he focused on media distribution, data management and analytics. He previously worked at Digiland Media and Gorilla Nation Media.
4 | theJournalist
Prescription for better health journalism
The class was the latest move by the NUJ in its campaign for better standards, training and resources for health journalism and PR
e accurate (check), be sceptical (doubt), be sociable (get out there, use social media, get a website), be speciﬁc (drill down to issues, use FOI) and be savvy (start with good data, and always question it). These were the ﬁve key points to health reporting which Andrew Gregory, health editor on the Daily Mirror, outlined at an NUJ masterclass. Andrew also told of his experiences in dealing with reporters who had to handle health and other areas as part of their daily jobs, which he described as a ‘ridiculous’ state of affairs. He was joined by Shaun Lintern, a reporter on the Health Service Journal, who broke the story of the Mid-Staffs scandal. He emphasised the need to ‘go the extra mile’ and look further than the
executive summary in ofﬁcial documents. He also outlined the growing importance of social media, and said that he ‘never looked at press releases’, relying instead on Twitter and his own extensive contacts. Caroline Molloy, editor of Our NHS, told how her website looked for stories that weren’t being covered elsewhere, especially for NHS cuts and privatisation. She illustrated this with several stories, all of which had triggered further coverage in ‘mainstream’ media, for example the privatising of cancer care commissioning in Staffordshire. An important role of the site also lay in defending NHS staff. She said there were three ‘great myths’ about NHS privatisation that journalists need to be wary of: that the
public don’t really care that it’s happening, that it isn’t really happening, and that it is really happening but it’s hard to understand why. The class was the latest move by the NUJ in its campaign for better standards, training and resources for health journalism and PR. For more details contact Frances Rafferty at the NUJ (email@example.com ).
BBC PLACEMENTS FOR DISABLED WORKERS
re you a disabled media worker who wants a short-term work placement with the BBC? Extend is a BBC-wide placement scheme which offers appropriately experienced and/or qualiﬁed disabled people a chance to gain six months paid work within the BBC. There
are placements available across the country, in both programming and support areas. Over the last 18 years, Extend has recruited 628 disabled people. Although there is no guarantee of a full-time job at the end of the placement, last year more than 75 per
cent of the Extendees gained further work at the corporation. The scheme pays a pro rata salary of £20,800 for placements outside London and £25,205 for London placements. For further details see the careers section of the BBC’s website.
Channel 4 pop-ups for diversity
hannel 4 is holding a series of pop-up events aimed at encouraging young people from diverse backgrounds to get into the media industry. The programme will try to reach a thousand 16 to 24-year-olds, especially those who might not normally consider a career in media, each year. The ﬁrst event will be held in Bournemouth on May 9, followed by events in Norwich, London, Wolverhampton and Preston. Previously, the broadcaster has held talent days, attended by more than 3,000 young people. But it hopes the new series will have a greater reach to those far removed from a natural route into the media.
clearer picture needs to emerge on what can be done to protect the copyright of images, particularly on the internet, if professional news photography is to survive, according to a debate organised by the Birmingham & Coventry branch of the NUJ. The struggle faced by photographers was brought into sharp focus at a ‘Photo Finish’ meeting organised by Chris Morley (pictured), Northern & Midlands organiser for the NUJ, where the question was: has the shutter come down on news photography? Ignorance about copyright infringement and the ‘nicking’ of images off the internet is rife in the industry, but the NUJ has pledged to get tough on newspaper proprietors, while also pushing for better training for all journalists on copyright theft. Former Birmingham Mail editor, now media trainer and broadcaster Steve Dyson, who chaired the meeting, summed up people’s concerns. He said newspaper owners should be held to account on why they are taking so many photographic resources out of their operations. Barbara Lindberg, a Dublin-based freelance photographer, who was one of the speakers, said that photographers needed to stand up for themselves and to try to increase
Birmingham puts news photography in focus
their income streams by challenging image infringements. Photographer Bob Smith, now freelance with more than 30 years’ experience, said: “People are nicking pictures because training is often lacking – they don’t understand that it’s wrong to lift images. Every picture is a copyright of someone.” But Barbara Goulden, of the Birmingham and Coventry branch, said she felt the ‘stickability’ of news websites – how long people spent viewing a page – was an asset for photographers. “Photographs, along with picture galleries, are fantastic for making people look at a page for longer,” she said. “All companies care about is the number of clicks they get on their websites in order to sell ads.”
The NUJ has pledged to get tough on newspaper proprietors, while also pushing for better training for all journalists on copyright theft
COUNCIL EXCLUDES PRESS AT FIRST MEETING
he NUJ is protesting after Northern Ireland’s newly-established Fermanagh and Omagh District Council marked its ﬁrst ever meeting on April 1st by excluding the press. Chair Tom O’Reilly of Sinn Féin ruled that the press
should leave because the council was going to discuss voluntary severance of staff. Ulster Herald Father of Chapel Alan Rodgers advised O’Reilly that if the meeting wished to exclude press and public it must pass a resolution in accordance
with the provisions of section 42(5) of the Local Government (Northern Ireland) Act 1974. The chair said he would not enter discussion with the journalists present, and demanded they leave. When they refused, he
suspended the meeting. Freelance Adrian Mullan spoke on the journalists’ behalf, and said they would leave out of courtesy. A council spokesperson said the ruling “is in accordance with the legislation.”
Database for breaches of journalists’ rights
he Council of Europe has launched an online platform dedicated to recording violations of journalists’ rights in member states in order to promote their safety. This follows the signing
of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe, the International Federation of Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists, and other organisations. Under its terms the partner
organisations will submit for publication on the platform alerts on all types of violations of journalists’ rights to bring them to the attention of the Council of Europe’s member states and institutions.
in brief... GUARDIAN GETS ITS FIRST FEMALE EDITOR Katharine Viner is to be the first female editor-in-chief of the Guardian. Ms Viner, currently editor-in-chief of the paper’s US website, will take over from Alan Rusbridger in the summer. She was appointed by the Scott Trust but also won the majority of votes in a poll of Guardian staff conducted by the NUJ. CWU TO HAVE NEW GENERAL SECRETARY The Communication Workers Union will have a new general secretary after Billy Hayes, the incumbent leader, was beaten in a ballot by his deputy Dave Ward. The union, which represents postal and telecoms workers, elected Mr Ward with 20,353 votes against 16,851 for Mr Hayes. Mr Hayes has been general secretary since 2001 and Mr Ward his deputy (postal) since 2003. PRODUCT PLACEMENT AT BBC WORLD NEWS The BBC is to begin allowing paid product placement in programmes on its BBC World News international TV channel. Product placement will apply to feature programmes on topics such as sport, travel and technology. But it will not feature in news. The NUJ has condemned the move as creeping commercialisation. CITY AM LAUNCHES NEW SUPPLEMENT City AM, the free London daily paper, has launched a new monthly magazine – Money. The supplement is run by the business features editor, Tom Welsh, and will be targeted at “self-directed investors”. The deputy editor is Annabelle Williams, who joined from Investment Week. VIBE AIMS FOR YOUNG BELFAST AUDIENCE Johnston Press has launched its first digitally-led print title, Belfast Vibe, targeting 18 to 35-year-olds. The website is accompanied by a free weekly magazine covering “trending news, viral content feeds, ‘street life’, and general lifestyle topics, as well as celebrity and sports stories”. theJournalist | 5
news in brief...
TUC women back calls on violence and sport
NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR IS THE TIMES The Times was named newspaper of the year at the Press Awards The judges praised its ‘searing investigation’ into the Rotherham sex abuse scandal. The reporter who covered that story, Andrew Norfolk, received the Cudlipp Award for outstanding popular journalism.
PLEBGATE OFFICER WINS LIBEL DAMAGES PC Toby Rowland, the officer at the centre of the Downing Street Plebgate incident, has accepted £80,000 damages in settlement of his libel action against former chief whip Andrew Mitchell. Last November Mitchell lost a libel action against News Group Newspapers. IPSO FUNDING CHIEF OPTS TO STEP DOWN Paul Vickers, chair of the Regulatory Funding Company, which funds the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), has resigned. Mr Vickers, formerly secretary and legal director of Trinity Mirror, said he didn’t want his position to be used by Ipso’s enemies “as a weapon with which to beat it”. DERBY TELEGRAPH REBUKED FOR PHOTO A newspaper that published a picture of a schoolgirl who had been injured in a road accident has been censured by Ipso for three breaches of the editors’ code of practice. The regulator ruled that the Derby Telegraph had invaded the girl’s privacy, had intruded into her grief or shock and, thirdly, had breached the clause that protects children under 16 from being photographed. 6 | theJournalist
Acts that threaten women journalists also threaten a free and independent media
© ISLEMOUNT IMAGES/ALAMY
NEW JOB FOR FORMER TIMES MEDIA EDITOR Alex Spence, former media editor of The Times, is to be Politico’s European media correspondent. He left The times after an article he wrote about the paper’s sister title, The Sun, dropping Page 3. The Sun had published no topless photos of models on page 3 for a month but later published another in what turned out to be a joke. It has now ended its long tradition so the story proved correct.
omen journalists working in dangerous environments such as wars and violent demonstrations can face the additional peril of sexual violence and intimidation, NUJ delegates told the TUC’s women’s conference. Lena Calvert, the NUJ’s equality ofﬁcer, told the conference that women reporters in Egypt’s Tahrir Square were sexually assaulted by male demonstrators and that women journalists were also targets in the UK. She said women photographers had reported being verbally abused at football matches, there were instances of sexual harassment at work and that women face threats via social media, some of which include death and violent sexual threats. The NUJ’s motion on violence against women working in the media asked: “How many women’s voices are silenced as a result of the fear of online trolling, death and rape threats, harassment, violence and sexual assault?” It said: “Acts that threaten women journalists also threaten a free and independent media.” Delegates were asked to check the NUJ’s reporting guidelines on reporting sexual violence because media coverage inﬂuences society’s perception of such crimes.
The motion was carried unanimously. The NUJ also called for a greater role for women in sport, both in participating and reporting. A second motion said: “Conference welcomes the recent improved promotion of women’s sport but deplores that women still earn less than men and that male sport receives more ﬁnancial support and therefore women are still under-represented.” That motion was also carried unanimously. NUJ guidelines are available at: www.nuj. org.uk/documents/nuj-guidelines-on-violenceagainst-women/ and www.nuj.org.uk/ documents/nuj-guidance-online-abuse/ www.nuj.org.uk/documents/nuj-guidanceon-safety-of-women-journalists/
VICTORY ON PAY FOR SPECIALIST WRITERS
pecialist writers at the Huddersﬁeld Daily Examiner have been moved up a pay band after a lengthy negotiation between the chapel and management. Reporters covering crime, health, education, local government and magistrate’s courts have achieved
parity with other Trinity Mirror titles in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales. The roles had not historically beneﬁted from extra payment as managers argued that reporters on the small daily had to do a variety of news roles and weren’t purely specialists. But the company’s wish to introduce
newsroom 3.1, and increase the level of specialist content from those given the role of Agenda Writer, proved to be a turning point. Nick Lavigueur, FoC, said: “I’m delighted with the outcome of this negotiation, the ﬁrst signiﬁcant pay rise for members in a long, long time.”
First woman editor at Belfast paper
ail Walker has become the ﬁrst woman editor of the Belfast Telegraph, replacing Mike Gilson, who left in January. She started at the newspaper as a graduate trainee in 1990 and was most recently the newspaper’s deputy editor (features). Richard McClean, managing director of the newspaper, said he “was delighted with Gail’s appointment in the face of a very strong ﬁeld
of candidates. With Gail’s experience she will continue to make a major contribution to the future of the Belfast Telegraph”.
news in brief...
Surveillance campaign goes to young workers
he NUJ’s campaign against police surveillance was taken to the TUC’s Young Workers’ conference by three delegates from the union. The young workers’ conference is a meeting of young trade unionists – aged up to 27 – which advises the TUC General Council on issues affecting young people at work. The NUJ’s motion, which was unanimously backed by delegates, called on the TUC, with the support of the young workers’ forum, to: Oppose and expose the growing use of surveillance against journalists, trade unionists, activists and other individuals. Campaign for restrictions on the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) and other similar pieces of legislation. Condemn the registration
of campaigners and journalists as ‘extremists’ and support legal challenges to such designations. Encourage trade unionists and activists to apply for subject access requests under the Data Protection Act in order to expose the level of the state. The NUJ’s motion had been supported by delegates from the National Union of Teachers and Ucatt, the construction union. Conference delegates also discussed motions on
housing; student debt; austerity; the voting age; and the recruitment and retention of young teachers. One motion on mental health, which was moved by the Communication Workers’ Union, will now go on to be debated by the full TUC congress – the annual gathering of all TUC afﬁliated unions – in Brighton in September. Bectu young trade unionists won the TUC Youth Campaign award for their campaign for London’s Ritzy cinema in Brixton to pay the London living wage. The high proﬁle campaign highlighting the pay levels from the cinema’s owner Picturehouse hasn’t yet secured the living wage rate of £9.15 an hour but the cinema staff have seen their pay increase substantially after a series of strikes at the Ritzy.
The NUJ’s motion had been supported by delegates from the National Union of Teachers and Ucatt, the construction union
PAY PROGRESSION WIN AT BURTON MAIL
ournalists at the Burton Mail have clinched a new pay deal and the ﬁrst formal pay structure. Some salaries will rise by up to 13.5 per cent. NUJ members had rejected a two per cent across the board rise. A framework now allows trainees to progress by £1,500 to £17,000 within
18 months and a newly qualiﬁed senior to rise from £20,300 to £21,500 with at least three years’ experience. A further step for ﬁve years gives a minimum of £23,000. Previously, there was one ﬂat level for trainees of £15,000 and for newly qualiﬁed seniors of £20,000.
Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser, said: “This is by no means a king’s ransom and comes after a lot of frustration over pay under the company’s previous ownership. But it is at last recognition that editorial pay must be seen to progress and recognise loyalty and experience.”
Johnston Press makes £24 million loss
ohnston Press lost £23.9 million last year although the rate of decline of its revenues slowed again, for the third year running. The publisher, whose titles include the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, reported total sales of £268.8 million, a 7.3 per cent decline. But when an extra 53rd week included in last year’s results is stripped out the fall was 4.4 per cent. In 2013 sales dropped 5.2 per cent and in 2012 they fell 7.4 per cent. Digital revenues increased by 20 per cent to £28.8 million. Combined print and digital advertising revenue fell 4.2 per cent to £167.2 million.
MORE CUTS AT THE BRIGHTON ARGUS Two of the Brighton Argus’s five photographers are to be made redundant and two of the three features writers are to leave. Mike Gilson, Newsquest Sussex group editor, announced the cuts in a letter to staff. Last year, all subeditor posts were lost as production was moved to a hub in Weymouth. BLACKPOOL GAZETTE EDITOR IS TO LEAVE Jon Rhodes, editor of the Blackpool Gazette is to leave after more than a decade at the title. Gillian Parkinson, Johnston Press North West editorial director and editor of the Lancashire Evening Post, is to take responsibility for the title. Rhodes said that in the last two years the total audience had grown to more than 300,000 readers a week. JONES BAGS THREE WALES NEWS AWARDS Media Wales reporter Ciaran Jones won the Journalist of the Year award in the Journalists’ Charity Wales Media Awards. He also won the awards for print news reporter of the year and young journalist of the year. The award for outstanding contribution to journalism went to Derek Bellis who has covered Welsh stories for seven decades. PEARLMAN TAKES CHARGE AT GRAZIA Natasha Pearlman has become the new editor of Grazia. She is a former Daily Mail, News of the World, Fabulous and Elle journalist. She succeeds Jane Bruton, who left the title she launched in the UK after 10 years to join the Telegraph as director of lifestyle and deputy editor. THE LADY TURNS 130 AND MAKES A PROFIT The Lady magazine marked its 130-year birthday with a three per cent increase in sales (28,537) recorded for the second half of 2014 compared with the same period a year earlier. Matt Warren, the magazine’s editor, has said that the title has gone from losing £1 million a year, four or five years ago to being in the black now. theJournalist | 7
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viewpoint Dominic Bascombe wants the press to better reďŹ‚ect society
Why does the media badly lack diversity? he most ethnically diverse environment I have ever worked in was at The Voice newspaper in London. The staff there came from the Caribbean, Africa, the Asian subcontinent, the Middle East, and across the United Kingdom. Such levels of diversity in the media industry in the UK are not a common sight. Our industry is still largely â€˜pale and maleâ€™. Itâ€™s not as if the reasons for diversity arenâ€™t already that well-known. A diverse media reďŹ‚ects society, it legitimises what is being said, and simply put, black and minority ethnic (BME) journalists are as good as any other journalists so why wouldnâ€™t you employ them? Most recent ďŹ gures suggest that some 94 per cent of journalists are white; a shocking ďŹ gure that doesnâ€™t come close to reďŹ‚ecting the wider society. Why is media diversity so hard to achieve? It could be that those charged with hiring ďŹ nd it easier to choose those who are recommended by people they know, who, funnily enough, tend to look like themselves. Or it could be that there is a small pool to choose from and there simply arenâ€™t many BME candidates in that pool. That might apply in Scotland where the number of BME journalists Iâ€™ve come across could be counted on one hand. But it wouldnâ€™t apply somewhere such as London. Another argument used to be that BME journalists werenâ€™t skilled enough. But we know that to be nonsense as the diversity of graduates in higher education grows.
Most recent figures suggest that some 94 per cent of journalists are white
Itâ€™s no surprise then that more and more people are keen to go to online media outlets to express their own and ďŹ nd other common voices. At a recent discussion with students at a Glasgow college, one student told me that she was really disappointed with the way the mainstream media had been reporting on the referendum ndence. on Scottish independence. She felt that few voices in the mainstream media were reďŹ‚ecting what she wanted to hear i.e the endence. So she argument for independence. ad to engage in the turned online instead debate that she felt was being ignored by the mainstream. For many people, this has become the norm. Online provides an opportunity for mmunity us all to ďŹ nd our community y voices and our community around the world. ng that I And itâ€™s something recommend. Writing, ďŹ lming, atever photographing, whatever you do â€“ ďŹ nd your voice er and connect to other similar voices. However, mainstream media has recognised that d. things have changed. They too want to bee online and reach a wide audience. sire by It all reďŹ‚ects a desire edia to put the mainstream media forward the social media voices that they know are garnering attention there. But I still believe that we need to chip away att the mainstream as well..
So there need to be positive schemes aimed towards BME journalists that give a helping hand into mainstream media organisations. Ultimately we need more BME journalists in the media, on the opinion pages, in the directorsâ€™ chairs, on the boards. But there also needs to be more people from outside of London, more ordinary people who didnâ€™t beneďŹ t from private education, more women, and more people who donâ€™t have a well-connected family member to pull them up. Dominic Bascombe is the NUJâ€™s assistant Scottish organiser
g.uk For all the latest news from the NUJ go to www.nuj.org.uk theJournalist | 9
Linda Harrison visits a city shaped by its docks, cruise ships, a diverse society and local people who love to talk
he stricken cargo ship Hoegh Osaka made headlines around the world earlier this year when it grounded in the Solent. The vessel, which was carrying 1,400 luxury cars, ran aground not long after leaving Southampton. “I ﬁrst saw the pictures on Twitter on the Saturday night and by the Sunday morning I was on the beach reporting on it,” says Jessica Parker, Hampshire & Isle of Wight political reporter for BBC Radio Solent. “I saw the giant hull of this magniﬁcent cargo ship listing on its side. You get quite a few big stories relating to the port.” Few cities have been shaped by their docks like Southampton – and few ports generate such big stories. “Southampton is a fascinating area to report from because it has everything you need to make interesting and diverse
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stories,” explains Jo Palmer, Hampshire reporter for Radio Solent. “On a commercial level, there are the huge swathes of goods that come into our docks before being driven to shops all over the country. Then there are the cruise ships and the spectacle they bring. And Southampton is of course steeped in history – not just The Titanic!” Jo adds that her job is made more interesting by the people who live in the city. “On a journalistic level, all you really need to know about Southampton is that it is my preferred option to vox,” she explains. “I can get seven completely different voices on pretty much any topic out there within ﬁve minutes of stepping foot into the city. Most importantly, Southampton folk are the type to stop.” Radio Solent is based at the BBC’s ofﬁces at Broadcasting House in the centre of Southampton. The building is also home to South S Today, the BBC’s regional TV news programme for the t South of England. This covers a number of a areas, including West Sussex, Berkshire and the Isle of Wight. Other programmes made there i include Inside Out South. ITV is the other main broadcaster in the r region – ITV Meridian has studios in Whiteley, near Fareham. Meanwhile, Wave 105, based n at Fareham, is one of the most popular commercial radio stations. Wave is part of c Bauer Media Group. Newsqust is the major print employer in Southampton. It owns the Southern Daily Echo newspaper, which has a long history in the city. James Franklin, politics reporter at the Southern Daily Echo, says: “The paper is well embedded in the community. People know we’re here. The phone hardly stops with people ringing in with stories.” James adds that he covers a very vibrant area in terms of news. “We’ve recently had a by-election and a council leader resigning in disgrace,” he explains. “It’s a thriving news patch. And with a general election coming up, it’s going to be pretty busy this year.” Most of Newsquest’s operations are based at its Southampton ofﬁce but it also has ofﬁces in Romsey and Winchester. It owns a number of other titles, including the NewsExtra and Advertiser series plus free glossy lifestyle magazine Hampshire Society. Tara Russell is senior features writer at the Southern Daily
Echo. She agrees that there’s plenty of hard news in the area; the crown courts in Winchester and Southampton generate lots of stories. “We’re based in Southampton but our paper reaches out to Hampshire, Winchester, the New Forest, Romsey and the Isle of Wight too,” she says. “It’s a wide patch but the centre is in Southampton and a lot of our readers are there. “It’s a great patch to work in. It’s so varied with completely different news areas, so it’s an interesting place to be a journalist, it’s really buzzing. And there’s a diverse community; it’s great to get under the skin of that.” This community includes plenty of journalism students – Southampton Solent University offers various options to study journalism and media. Another print title is independent newspaper the New Milton Advertiser & Lymington Times. The paid-for weekly has been running for more than 80 years and is based in the market town of New Milton, on the edge of the New Forest. Plus there’s daily newspaper The News just down the road in Portsmouth, which has a district ofﬁce in Fareham. The News is owned by Johnston Press. Glossy magazines Solent Life and The Informer are also based just outside Southampton. Lifestyle publication Solent Life covers the South Hampshire region and has two
Where the work is • Newsquest:
has about 200 employees at its Southampton office, including non-editorial staff. Its main title is the Southern Daily Echo based in Southampton (with smaller offices in Romsey and Winchester). Other titles include the NewsExtra and Advertiser series – free weekly papers which have three editions: Southampton, Winchester and Eastleigh. Newsquest also publishes the Hampshire Chronicle, Romsey Advertiser and the free weekly newspaper the New Forest Post plus the free glossy lifestyle magazine Hampshire Society.
has around 120 staff, including non-editorial. Its building in the centre of Southampton accommodates BBC South Today and BBC Radio Solent. Staff work across South Today, Inside Out South, Sunday Politics South, Radio Solent and online news for the region.
• ITV: has about 40 employees working out of ITV Meridian’s studios at Whiteley, near Fareham, including support and technical staff. Other staff are in Reading, Didcot, Brighton, Maidstone, Poole and Westminter for ITV News Meridian.
editions: Solent Life Wessex and Solent Life South Downs. The Informer is a monthly magazine providing local community news and information and is delivered free to around 40,000 homes and businesses. auren Sutton is a content marketing manager at a digital agency in nearby Swanwick. Originally from Oxford, she says that there are decided pros and cons to working in media in the area. “I like living here and it deﬁnitely has its perks,” she explains. “The air seems to be cleaner and there are some stunning views. Plus, it’s very cool living near the sea – you get that almost childlike excitement about being so close to the coast. “For me, house prices and general living prices here are much more favourable. I bought my ﬁrst property in Hampshire 18 months ago and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I was still in Oxford. Property prices are rising but it’s still affordable and I know several ﬁrst-time buyers and renters in and around the city. “There’s also a lot of greenery, so you do feel like you’re in the countryside, even when you’re right in the city centre. We have several parks and it makes the world of difference rather than being surrounded by concrete at every turn. “However, I constantly get told that if I want to work in magazines or newspapers and earn a living wage, I need to head to London. The travel links to London are pretty horrendous, though, so if you want to commit to a commute it’s intensive, expensive and hugely unreliable. The trains are delayed on an almost daily basis and never have any room at rush hour – standing space only. I think it holds back the city hugely because more people would probably commit to travelling for work if the network was better, faster and more efﬁcient.” In terms of entertainment, James adds that the city seems to have more to offer residents every year. He says: “There’s plenty of new development, so living here there’s more and more on offer; from going to the theatre to eating out. And then there’s the ideal location of Southampton – the New Forest and beaches of Bournemouth aren’t that far away.” It’s also easy to pop across to the Isle of Wight as its just 20 minutes’ across the Solent. Regarding the nightlife, the city’s two universities keep things busy. “Certain areas are very lively pretty much every night of the week,” says Jessica. “The universities deﬁnitely bring a lot of life to the city.” And of course there’s usually plenty of life going on at the docks, especially when there’s a cruise ship visiting. “Southampton is the cruise ship capital of the country,” adds Jessica. “I can go out onto my balcony and watch the cruise ships, they’re like ﬂoating tower blocks and they’re usually pumping out music as they leave the port. It’s quite a fun thing to see.”
Words from the streets Jo Palmer, BBC Radio Solent: “It’s not uncommon for several generations of families to have stayed within the city. But Southampton has also become a melting pot for pretty much every nationality over the last 60 years. Throw in students, along with the more well-healed in dockside apartments, and you have the perfect mix.” James Franklin, Southern Daily Echo: “You’re in a city full of excitement. There’s a burgeoning younger generation and all that goes with that – plenty of live music and good pubs.” Rochelle Warner, copywriter and blogger: “Southampton is one of those towns where productions tour before or after the West End so it’s great for culture and the arts.” Jessica Parker, BBC Radio Solent “I live near the football ground and ahead of home games you get tonnes of Saints fans pouring towards St Mary’s [stadium]. Football is huge here and there is a renewed sense of optimism.”
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Mad dogs, photographers and the midday sun MARK THOMAS
ress photographers amass an array of protective gear. I am on my third helmet and fourth gas mask. I have a kitchen cupboard devoted to safety kit; eye wash, water ﬁltration, mosquito nets and glow sticks. Equipment varies from job-to-job, meaning you never know when you might need a spare tampon to pack a bullet wound or some Vicks Vaporub to combat the stench of rotting bodies in an earthquake zone.I have completed Hostile Environment Training, Public Order and First Aid courses. I am good at risk assessments and having exit strategies. But nothing prepared me for what I faced last year – skin cancer. After delaying my visit to the doctor because of other work traumas I was initially treated by my GP with a topical steroid cream for a skin fungus. When that failed to clear up my sore patches I was fast tracked for biopsies via the Dermatology Department at the Royal London Hospital. I found myself in a waiting room surrounded by elderly people.I was pretty much half the age of most of the patients. Frankly, it was quite a shock when I was told that the lesion on my chest was a Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) –not an aggressive cancer, but cancer nonetheless. Being diagnosed was surreal. You keep repeating it in your head, “I’ve got cancer”, not quite comprehending it. I was asked to strip down to my underwear to be examined and told that my proliferation of freckles on my back was also a tell-tale sign of sun damage. I had a second lesion on my forehead, a pre-malignant actinic keratosis, also due to UV exposure. The patch was sun-related skin damage and only a marker of skin cancer risk and was successfully dispatched with a treatment echoing the Victorian era – scrapped and cauterised. The chest BCC was treated with Photo Dynamic Therapy, a relatively new treatment using a chemical cream
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Jess Hurd warns that there are unseen risks in working outdoors that sensitises the tumor cells which are then blasted with infrared light, thus preserving the integrity of the remaining healthy cells. I was assured by consultant dermatologist Dr Catherine Harwood, that this created less scarring and a better cosmetic ﬁnish. I was told that I have a high pain threshold, which in my job is always good to know. Both treatments were successful and thanks to the NHS I have now been discharged. The medical professionals who treated me said that I was very young to have skin cancer and the job I have done for the past 20 years undoubtedly bears some responsibility. Much of our work as newsgatherers pits us against the elements, whether it involves standing outside courts or covering street demonstrations – usually in midday heat, when the sun is most dangerous. According to Cancer Research UK, incidents of skin cancer are on the rise. Malignant melanoma is the most
An effective pill to end sunburn has not yet arrived, so find shade wherever you can
deadly form and more common with increasing age, although for young adults (aged 15-34) it is the second most common cancer. Some 37 people every day are diagnosed with melanoma with 90 per cent surviving 10 or more years. The less aggressive BCC is the most common form of skin cancer, but still relatively uncommon under the age of 40, but incidence is increasing. Professor Harwood says it is important to be ‘skin aware’:“Most of the increase in skin cancer is due to excessive UV exposure – especially in people with fair, sun-sensitive skin types – and this exposure is fueled by natural UV (more travel abroad, more leisure time) and, increasingly, artiﬁcial UV through sun bed use. In addition to sun protection, looking out for any new and changing skin lesions and reporting them early is very important” So for the generation that grew up with sunbeds, this is a cautionary tale. An effective pill to end sunburn has not yet arrived, so ﬁnd shade wherever you can, apply sunblock or cover up. It appears mad dogs and photographers go out in the midday sun, but we don’t all have to be scarred by the experience.
StartingOut Abigail Lofthouse says you make your own luck when you’re seeking the experience to land your first job uck. I’m sick of the word. People tell me I’m ‘lucky’ because I’m involved in student media or because I’ve got work experience secured for the summer. Little do they realise how much time and effort these things actually take. I know not everyone can do an unpaid internship, but especially at my university, publications and student media are begging people to get involved. Even if it’s what they want to do in the future and it’ll beneﬁt them endlessly, only a fraction of people actually make the effort. There are many valid reasons for not being able to get involved: having to work to pay for university or being ill during term-time. I’m not targeting students who physically can’t do anything more than university work. I’m more bothered about those students who cry “I just don’t have any spare time!” and then miss a lecture because of a hangover. The main thing that I’ve learnt about starting out in journalism is that you have got to seize every possible opportunity. You’ve got to make time for things. You’ve got to miss a night out once in a while. If an opportunity comes your way, even if it means that you will be busy before a coursework deadline, you’ve got to grab it before it’s gone. Don’t wait until you’ve got ‘time’ because then it’ll probably be too late. This happened a lot in my ﬁrst year. I’d plan to write for a magazine or a student publication and agree a deadline months in advance, but by the time I got to writing it they didn’t
want it any more. This year, however, I’ve grabbed every opportunity possible – I’m the copy editor for both The Galleon and Pugwash, two of the University of Portsmouth’s publications. I’m also writing for magazines outside of university and I’ve done my ﬁrst journalism work placement at a local newspaper. I do this because I want to be a journalist, even if it means I have to ﬁnish university work months before the deadline. Putting in this extra time and effort has hit my social life hard, but I’m using university for what it’s meant to be used for: to get my dream job. If aspects of my life have to suffer for that, I’m more than happy. We need to get over the idea that university is a chilled-out time when you make loads of friends and go out every night. It’s a ridiculously expensive pathway to a speciﬁc job – it’d be crazy if it went to waste. n my course, if we apply for a job in journalism, unfortunately we may be seen as less qualiﬁed than journalism students. We take Creative and Media Writing, so we miss out on media law, shorthand and our university’s NCTJ accredited journalism course. I should have chosen Journalism, but I didn’t know how much I wanted to do it until I actually started this course. It’s my fault, but because of this, I’ll have to do twice as much extra-curricular work and a postgraduate course to get anywhere. I know taking every opportunity
isn’t always possible. There’s no way I’ll be able to do unpaid internships during the whole summer because I’ll be waitressing to pay off my overdraft. But, I’ll still be doing as much as possible. t’s obvious Britain isn’t a meritocracy from all the public schoolboys who run the country. So if you don’t come from privilege you’ve got to put yourself out there to get anywhere. It’s scary releasing your work into the world. Your ﬁrst day of work experience will be incredibly nerve-racking. You’ve just got to think – everyone’s been here once. A professional journalist reading this right now might remember their ﬁrst ever paid article and shudder at the thought. Journalism is what I want to do. I want to hold power to account and accurately inform the public. I want to be actively involved in the future of society, politics and everything else journalism can impact and change. I don’t care if I have to start out by making coffee after completing an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate course. If I have to work nights, so be it. You may not have as much money as the next student, but you can have just as much motivation. Get out there and grab every opportunity there is.
We need to get over the idea that university is a chilled-out time when you make lots of friends and go out every night
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The way we were... on the election trail Michael White, the veteran political commentator, considers how campaigns have changed... and remained the same
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did my ﬁrst spot of general election reporting at a signiﬁcant turning point, though it was raining too hard for me to care, let alone realise. It was the Monday before polling day in June 1970 when Harold Wilson’s Labour government was widely expected to chalk up a third successive victory. As such it would be its second against the high-minded and unbending Ted Heath, a meritocratic Tory leader picked to out-grammar-school the wily Wilson, but actually his antithesis. Arthur Scargill, we later learned, always preferred Heath, an affection he would demonstrate by driving Ted from ofﬁce. On this particular Monday I was the summer relief reporter, on trial for three months at the London Evening Standard (editor Charles Wintour, father of Anna and Patrick) and assigned to cover Heath’s visit to the marginal constituency of Putney where a young Tory thruster called John Wakeham was trying to unseat Labour CND veteran and future arts minister, Hugh Jenkins. We also visited Eton and Slough where another Thatcher cabinet prospect, Nigel Lawson, was also failing to defeat ﬂame-haired leftie, Joan Lestor. It was a grey day and any useful copy I ﬁled would have appeared under the name of the Standard’s legendary political editor, Robert Carvel (father of John, but also son of John, the Carvel of 1947 budget leak fame). On polling evidence Bob had predicted on page one that ‘Harold’s Got It In The Bag’, which I privately doubted but felt curiously unable to explain to the great man when we shared an Underground platform one evening. Yet, that very Monday bad trade UK ﬁgures were published, distorted by imports of jumbo jets and industrial diamonds, as I recall. In 1970 these things mattered (so they should now) and Labour’s complacent economic narrative imploded. Heath won. What an age ago it now seems, closer in spirit to Dickens’s Eatanswill election (was Lawson chased through Slough? I think he was) than our current stage-managed, made-for-TV, soundbite and social media campaigns. They feel forced and sterile by comparison. But there is little point in regretting what we can’t change and, besides, human nature is like a river: its emotions may be channelled and subdued by the imperatives of 24/TV rolling news, but they ﬁnd their way through the cracks of Twitter and new parties. So the two main parties may still be standing. But they got 89.5 per cent of the vote between them in 1970. Today they manage around 65 per cent and are assailed and diminished by upstart minor parties no one then took seriously – the dear old Liberals, assorted nationalists and Greens ( were they still the Ecology party?) and Empire Loyalists, not Ukip. In 1970 Heath was still three years from taking us into Europe, ﬁve years from Wilson’s In/Out referendum which, like all referendums was supposed to be decisive unless it produced the ‘wrong’ result. Nigel Farage was just six, though already mouthy and obnoxious, according to his own memoirs. For me the watershed 24/7 moment between old school
election notes 2010 GETTY IMAGES
elections and today’s came much later. In 1987 I was ﬂying to the Western Isles on a Liberal-SDP ‘Alliance’ plane with Labour’s former foreign secretary, the glamorous Dr David Owen. He was still bent on breaking the mould of a twoparty duopoly, instead of underpinning Margaret Thatcher’s hegemony by splitting the non-Tory vote (which is what had actually happened in 1983). On the tarmac someone emerged from a conversation on a brick-like thing called a mobile phone (the battery was even bigger) to say that his newsdesk wanted a reaction from Owen to a speech Norman Tebbit, Tory chairman, was about to make. Gosh, I thought. Things are speeding up. My colleague had been traced by his desk to get a quote on something that had not yet happened. They wouldn’t have found him so easily if he’d had to make a bad reverse charge call from one of Stornaway’s few public phone boxes, the red ones nowadays used as urinals. I had been working in the US and had come home to help with the election. In Washington DC we all used Radio Shack Tandy laptops – the reliable Model T Fords of the early tech era – but were behind Europe on mobile phone usage because the US hard-wired phone network was so ubiquitously reliable.
ax machines were helping to speed things up, as were lightweight TV cameras which used tape, not ﬁlm. The infant internet had already got Ronald Reagan’s covert Iran-Contra arms dealers into trouble which the White House basement plotters couldn’t have anticipated, by unwittingly leaving an e-paper ( they called them ‘prof’ messages) trail behind them on the backup system. And why not? In 1987 Edward Snowden was only four and understood the net even less than the rest of us. I think pagers came later, but that may be because I resisted my ﬁrst mobile for so long, rightly suspecting it would make me more of a newsdesk slave than I cared to be. “ Never phone the desk from anywhere that might indicate the proximity of music, drink or laughter (ie fun) in the background,” had long been my advice to younger colleagues. But what if the desk could ring you? Nightmare on Fleet St! Of course, things rapidly got worse (better in newsdeskspeak) as faster technology and greater media deregulation intensiﬁed both speed and competitive pressure. I can’t remember which election was supposed to be the ﬁrst in which online technologies would dictate the outcome, but there have been several. As the likes of Howard Dean and Barack Obama were quick to grasp, social media can be highly effective in mobilising activists and raising money, most of it below the media radar too. But old-fashioned determinants like leadership and character, policy direction (not too much detail, please) and volunteers willing to knock on doors, still matter more. After all, Britain only managed its ﬁrst leaders’ TV debate in 2010 (50 years after the pioneering Nixon vs Kennedy
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The soundbite, pre-rehearsed and ever shorter, is no substitute for a sustained argument, properly reported
Is it simply old age and nostalgia which makes past elections look nicer? Or is it just that we now know what happened next? The 70s were scary in a different way, overtly class and ideological politics, bombs going off. The economic gods of left and right have since failed and given way to those old stalwarts of nationalism and populism: not just in battered Britain, but from Syriza in Greece to the Tea Party in red-state America. Old fashioned, cap-dofﬁng deference has eroded (good) along with ancient party loyalties. But what is replacing it in the age of austerity? A lot of disaffection and anger, some of it channelled into religious fundamentalism, some into small-is-beautiful nationalism which also claims to be leftwing, still more into apathy. That would surprise the giants of the past, as it does me. Of course, the verdict that really matters on our new identity politics is delivered in the votes counted on May 8. Michael White is an assistant editor (politics) of the Guardian and a life member of the NUJ
Don’t frighten the voters All elections invite voters to
choose between two propositions, ‘time for a change’ or ‘don’t let them ruin it.’ But it is rarely more obvious than in 1979 when Labour’s Jim Callaghan, was better liked and more trusted than Margaret Thatcher, but his government’s ‘social contract’ with the unions had finally imploded into the Winter of Discontent. Jim’s last, chauvinistic hope was to run a longish campaign in the hope that Thatcher would say something foolish or nasty enough to lose. Fat chance. In jolly company that included the Mail’s Ann Leslie
and Elinor Goodman, then of the FT, I spent the campaign on the Thatcher bus or plane (she didn’t like trains) where she never put a foot wrong. Not much copy, more a series of TV photo ops, but we had fun. On the last night she even came back for a drink. Maggie (she was already Maggie) dashed all over the place, packing chocolates on
Cadbury’s production line at Bourneville, famously nursing that calf in Suffolk, bustling with energy, a force of nature, but careful not to scare voters. She even let Chris Patten, always a bit of a pinko, draft her manifesto in which the word ‘privatisation’ did not appear. It was shortly after Airey Neave’s murder and the IRA was rumoured to have a Sam 7 missile with her name on it. Us hacks felt that our plane must be the Tories’ decoy target. But our luck held and so did hers. “If we’re not careful we’ll have a dead calf on our hands,” Denis T warned in Suffolk. The Mirror rang every day to check. The calf survived. So did Thatcherism.
clashes) and its outcome proved to be important, but transient. Clegg Mania didn’t last until polling day and is unlikely to happen again soon. David Cameron was right to complain that those debates sucked a lot of the energy out of the 2010 campaign in ways the fragmented multiple debates have not yet managed this time. What is replacing it is not yet clear. It was always a paradox of the TV age, most evident at party conference time, that adapting politics to the demanding needs of the camera would make them more risk-free, less spontaneous and appealing to viewers. So it has proved. When we travelled with Margaret Thatcher in 1979 the then opposition leader still made a few major speeches, even at night, too late to catch the polished packages of the telly pol corrs. When Neil Kinnock staged his over-exuberant Shefﬁeld rally in 1992 the BBC’s John Cole, always conscientious, was at the rally to do a live broadcast, but it started late and proved too tribal for TV. Not likely to be repeated, eh? Kinnock’s goose was already being cooked by ﬂoating voters, scared of tax-and-spend. By then I was the Guardian’s political editor, stuck in London doing the nightly write-through. But my polling day prediction (‘Late Surge Gives Tories Hope’) was as cautiously contrarian as I dared be. John Major duly won. Major tried to inject some spontaneity into things with his soap box, just as Blair’s ‘masochism strategy’ later took on angry nurses in TV studios. But the genuine open public meeting had long since died and with it the chance for a good heckle. “Don’t take that (crying) baby out, madam, we’re talking about its future,” Harold Wilson once nimbly improvised. Less successfully, he once asked rhetorically “Why am I talking tonight about the navy?”. A heckler cried “because you’re in Chatham.” Navy ? Chatham? It was a while ago. The soundbite, pre-rehearsed and ever shorter, is no substitute for a sustained argument, properly reported. That doesn’t happen much anymore either. Instead politicians and media ﬁght for control of the campaign agenda. Social media lets voters join in too. It can be brilliantly revealing, but usually sheds more heat than light, more trolls than statesmen. Yet the longing for authenticity is as real as it is among music fans buying tickets to hear on-stage stars they can more easily download. So when a senior politician is ambushed – Blair by the cancer victim’s wife, Prescott by the egg-thrower, Thatcher out-argued by Bristol’s Mrs Diana Gould on TV – it reverberates for days, unscripted and enjoyable. YouTube and Twitter amplify the impact a million-fold. Good or bad? Revealing or trivial? It varies, but it is where we are. Vice News, BuzzFeed, the high-tech cameras we all now carry inside our phones, it changes the campaign game and politicians who try to control events are doomed. Think Gordon Brown, emerging from his exchange with Rochdale’s Gillian Duffy, and being churlish about her on an open mic. Think that Miliband bacon sandwich or George Osborne’s much-mocked weakness for high-visibility jackets and that strange hair-do he can’t quite get right.
The view from
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How to make your voice heard in health larm blaring out, birds singing cheerily and the soft tones of John Humphrys of R4 fame will soon be ďŹ lling the room with the news of the day. This is where my working day begins. And today the NHS is top of the agenda once again. Campaigning PR, like other forms of journalism, is not for clock watchers and not for those seeking fame and fortune. But once I awake and switch on, I know I am in the right profession. Today the group I work for â€“ Keep Our NHS Public â€“ is enjoying a bumper day. A key activist is on Today and later will be on the BBC News Website and Newsnight. This success is on the back of some steady media coverage which can be difďŹ cult to obtain when your group is one of many campaigning and speaking on the most important issue leading up to the general election. But at this early hour in the day, I am happy and full of energy. The highs and lows in this job are often in parallel with how well the media is receiving you, what coverage you are getting, and most importantly if your key messaging hooks are having an impact on the public.
A short bus ride to the ofďŹ ce â€“ the amazing Hackney Volunteer Centre where we rent a desk â€“ is our base of operation. Here I sit with other NGOs busy working away trying to get our respective messages out there. Suddenly the phone rings. Itâ€™s the boss! I am so lucky to have a practical and fair minded employer, when I know that for many brothers and sisters in the union reading this, it is not the case. Of course it is our right to be treated fairly and properly at work. But it is great when we can just get on with the job in hand rather than having to worry about bullying or other forms of unfair treatment. he phone call is brief and we discuss the press release and social media messages I will be sending out during the day. The NHS is such a huge monolith that to cover all aspects of what is happening is impossible. So much of our focus is on reacting to reactionary government
policies and promoting an alternative to the privatisation agenda. Our activists have branches across the country and I try my best to promote their vital work in the community both in the local and national media. My diary is awash with forthcoming events. We have another national coordinated day of action coming up this weekend and I will be manning our social media hub to get the message to the press and public that there is resistance to privatisation and unshakeable love for our NHS. After speaking to a member in Southend, it is lunchtime. But there is no time to enjoy the sun starting to break through. A quick dash to the Co-op for a meal deal â€“ usually an uninspiring ham and cheese sandwich is what awaits me â€“ and back to the have been any press emails. ince starting the job in September we have seen our media proďŹ le and inďŹ‚uence soar. It would be totally wrong and arrogant to take all of the credit for that. As a PR, we do have skills which grassroots organisations need. However without the dedication of our members who do their work for no pay and who create a climate which we can promote in the media, there would be no coverage. It is early evening now and I am sparing a thought for what we are up against. At times, I feel like a media guerrilla, with limited resources and guile, trying to amplify a small yet vital voice within the mainstream media. Despite my years of journalistic experience and professional training, nothing prepares you quite like ďŹ rsthand experience when you are made responsible for an organisationâ€™s voice, directing it and making it sound appealing to a sometimes difďŹ cult mass media. OfďŹ cial hours are done now and no campaigns event to attend so it is back home. And even though you must switch off, it is always hard to because tomorrow on the sun rising, battle begins once more.
More news at www. keepournhspublic.com @keepnhspublic @johnjournalist
theJournalist | 17
Richard Black on why climate change is a challenge to journalism as well as to the earth
A climate of
confusion t was only my third month in the environment correspondent’s job, but reality had hit. In my right hand, a listener’s letter accusing me of being in the pay of Greenpeace; in my left, one claiming I ﬁlled my pockets with oil company lucre. Welcome to the world of climate change ‘balance’. Of all the issues I covered during 15-odd years as a BBC science and environment correspondent, climate change was the most complicated, the most diverse, most persistent, most profound. And the most politicised. The reason why it’s politicised is fairly obvious. It is impossible to curb climate change without massively reducing the use of coal, oil and gas on a timescale of decades. It’s not Greenpeace saying that, or Polly Toynbee, or the LibDems, but science. It might turn out to be wrong of course, but there it is. Rich countries including
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the UK have pledged to cut carbon emissions ﬁrst; and the UK’s most immediate target is virtually to end the use of coal and gas for electricity generation within the next 15 years. These are profound changes. So it is not surprising to hear arguments against them. Some say that eliminating fossil fuels is impossible, and so it’s wrong to try; that it would bankrupt rich nations and keep poor ones in poverty; that the science must be wrong and/or crooked because the implications are so unpalatable. Some who make these arguments are entirely honest and well-intentioned and provoke constructive debate, but others are not. The Guardian’s recent revelations that Dr Willie Soon, a scientist at the prestigious HarvardSmithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the US, received $1.25 million from the fossil fuel industry while writing scientiﬁc papers disputing the place of fossil fuels in causing climate change, illustrates the difﬁculty in discerning
I have a science degree, yet still found keeping up with the huge amount of new research challenging
the legitimate “sceptics” from the funded. And on the other side of the fence are environment groups that are prone to exaggerating the scale and pace of likely climate change and citing renewable energy as a panacea. It is a recipe for chaos and confusion; and caught in the middle is the poor hack. I have a science degree, yet still found keeping up with the huge amount of new research challenging. Economics presents another set of complexities. The international politics need their own dictionary to decipher. The realities of modern journalism – constant cutting, pressure to pump out content 24/7, click chasing and the decline of specialism – mean there is less time for necessary research. Since leaving the BBC, I launched last year the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a small non-proﬁt organisation aiming to support informed debate. Part of our remit is to support journalism with information, ideas and contacts. We arrange public debates and private background brieﬁngs; we are building a library of backgrounders on issues such as the ‘global warming pause’ and energy prices. We will either answer your questions or ﬁnd an expert who can. A survey we commissioned shows a problem. Only one in nine Britons knows that more than 90 per cent of climate scientists support the mainstream view of man-made climate change. More than half think the public opposes renewable energy such as solar panels and wind turbines, even though support is about 75 per cent. The coming months will be ﬂooded with important climate and energy developments. There will be a key UN climate summit, decisions on cutting UK emissions and reforming the energy system..These are important issues and as journalists we can’t afford to have either Greenpeace or the oil industry paying the piper.
What made you become a journalist? I realised it was the only way I could earn a living doing what I liked – nattering and sounding off.
And the most frustrating? A Ge Getting the attention of over-worked and over-anxious co commissioning editors!
What other job might you have done? I was a keen amateur thespian as a student and worked with some very talented people, but I was always an amateur at heart. I like teaching, though, and might end up doing more of that.
What is the worst place you’ve ever worked in? Being a researcher/production assistant in telly was not a bundle of laughs. I doubt it’s got better.
When did you join the NUJ and why? After one or two slightly rough experiences at work I knew it made sense to join. Was proud to have my forms signed by two good comrades, Roy Jones and Barrie Clement.
And the best? The Financial Times. It is a remarkable outﬁt. Its quality and success are not down to chance.
Are many of your friends in the union? Yes indeed.
What advice would you give someone starting in journalism?
What’s been your best moment in your career?
Be open to new experiences and challenges. Do the best work you can, and keep your boss happy.
Two joint ones – a decent scoop when I (accidentally of course) got the then Pearson chief executive to be rather critical of her own paper, the FT. And meeting Geoffrey Goodman (see below).
And in the union?
©PSL IMAGES/ALAMY, ©HOT SHOTS/ALAMY
Undoubtedly bowling out the late and much missed Bob Crow. It was in the TUC versus NUJ cricket match on the eve of TUC congress. Eye-witnesses still cannot quite understand how I pulled it off.
Who is your biggest hero?
NUJ & Me Stefan Stern is a management and business writer, a columnist for the FT, and a visiting professor at Cass Business School
Geoffrey Goodman, the Mirror’s veteran industrial correspondent, who died two years ago. A great journalist and a wonderful, generous, inspiring person.
And villain? Is this thing on? There aren’t many 100% villains in this trade, except for the people who target journalists in war zones.
And the worst ones?
Which six people, alive or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
There were one or two unpleasant moments at the BBC.
Sigmund Freud, Marilyn Monroe, Rosa Luxemburg, Nye Bevan, Michael Foot and Geoffrey Goodman.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job? I’m freelancing again now, so obviously the variety, and opportunity to work with different people. The day you feel nothing when a piece with your name on appears would be a sad one.
What are your hopes for journalism over the next five years? That newspapers ﬁnd a way to stay in business and that opportunities continue to expand for new entrants to the trade. More staff jobs and less casualisation.
How would you like to be remembered? “Not bad, but he wasn’t as good as that Chris Proctor. Him I liked”. theJournalist | 19
TechDownload Keeping online work private can be vital. Kate Bevan suggests some useful tools.
byte size... SAFE BROWSERS ARE ESSENTIAL All Chrome and Firefox users, not just those concerned with protecting data, should install a couple of important security extensions. HTTPS everywhere makes sure that the data you send from your browser is encrypted and thus safe from snoopers, while Ghostery tells you who is tracking your browsing. Disconnect blocks tracking cookies; the EFF’s Privacy Badger extension also performs those functions while also addressing some niggles that other extensions create.
BEWARE OF THOSE BEARING FREE WI-FI Public Wi-Fi is best avoided if privacy is important, but if you must connect to a hotspot, there are a couple of steps you should take. Verify that the hotspot really is what it says it is: hackers spoof hotspot names, so unknowingly you’re connected to the bad guys’ hotspot, from which they can steal data. Ask the provider to verify the network name IP address. Use a browser rather than an app and make sure the address starts with https:// – the ‘s’ means the connection is encrypted.
STAY UP TO DATE WITH ANTIVIRUS Make sure your antivirus software is up to date. Remember, Macs and Android devices are also at risk from malware that can steal your information, so install antivirus on those devices, too. 20 | theJournalist
A WORD IN YOUR EAR hat apps such as Google Hangouts and Apple’s Facetime are widely used, but the security-conscious user should look elsewhere to keep their chats private. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties advocate, has a good list (https://www.eff.org/ secure-messaging-scorecard) of instant messaging (IM) apps that considers a number of criteria including whether your messages are encrypted, if the service provider can decrypt and read your messages and whether the code is open-source.
Of the apps on its list, I’ve used Telegram, which is easy to install and works on pretty much any platform you might use, including Windows Phone, which is often the poor relation when it comes to security apps. Fellow geeks give Telegram a thumbsup, too, but Cryptocat and Pidgin are among the apps that also tick all the privacy boxes.
> Stepping back to good old-fashioned email If you want to keep emails private, you’ll need to encrypt them. One approach is to stop using webmail providers such as Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook.com, and instead
use an old-fashioned email program on your desktop with encryption software. Thunderbird, the open-source client developed by Mozilla, the developers of the Firefox browser, plus GnuPGP, which
HOT E TH OFF D! PA
data Scramble les your m scra b Encryption n’t read it, ing eyes ca sitive data so pry to store sen se n se s ke a ol, such as and it m at you contr s rather th s ce vi e d data on ard drive d external h rs USB keys an services. Windows use d u se, o ri cl rp in te n En a th ate or im lt U 7 s w o have with Wind or Enterprise cker ro P .1 8 s w o it lled B lo or Wind cted tool ca e sp re ke e stem which ≠≠≠≠ g operating sy users also e th to in t buil . Mac easy to use ich is admirably in Disk Utility tool, wh til u b have the drives. will encrypt
encrypts your mail, and the Enigmail extension, will do the job: there’s a set-up guide online at https:// support.mozilla.org/en-US/ kb/digitally-signing-andencrypting-messages. If you
want to use a web-based email service, the best known is Hushmail, but there are others, too: Hacker 10’s list is a good place to start http:// www.hacker10.com/tag/ hushmail-alternative.
A VIRTUAL PRIVACY ne key tool is a VPN, or virtual private network. This is software that sets up a secure connection between your computer and the internet. VPNs use encryption and other technologies to ensure that what you’re sending can’t be intercepted or read by third parties. There are plenty services on the web that anyone can use, both free and paid-for. I prefer to use a paid-for service because
that means you’re more likely to get support if you need it, and it won’t have use restrictions such as limits on the number of times you can connect.
on media Raymond Snoddy on the challenges for the next generation
Advice for the worst of jobs â€“ or the best ne of the trickiest challenges journalists can face is being invited to talk to media students, or asked for advice by parents whose offspring say they want to become journalists. The temptation to reach for the single glib word â€˜DONâ€™Tâ€™ has somehow got to be resisted. But what to say to those ďŹ red up with enthusiasm and idealismâ€“ setting out the realities without being crushingly pessimistic. The days have long since gone when a new arrival in London from Co. Antrim could get on the 207 bus along the Uxbridge road and get a job on the Middlesex Advertiser and the start of a career in newspapers. The paradox is that more and more young people want to become journalists at the very time that the number of professional posts continues to shrink, along with rates of pay. How many, doomed perhaps to scratch out a freelance living, will be able to cope ďŹ nancially or even think of getting a mortgage. How honest are the organisers of journalism degrees and purveyors of media studies courses on the employment prospects of their graduates? Then there are those chained to their computer terminals for whom long, liquid journalist lunches are little more than folklore. You do your best and say that those who really, really want to become journalists will ďŹ nd a way. As the late expert on newspaper training and typography Bob James put it: â€œJournalism is the worst of jobs â€“ unless you happen to think it is the best.â€?
There are those chained to their computer terminals for whom long, liquid journalist lunches are little more than folklore
The necessary skills and aptitudes never change â€“ persistence, curiosity, imagination, developing a nose for a story â€“ which nowadays must be combined with effortless online and digital skills across an endless variety of media genres. Then there is thee eternal advice â€“ get or, any door and that in through the door, ng noticed on the now includes getting internet. Itâ€™s not alll gloom. New forms erprise are rising to of journalistic enterprise hed players such as challenge established Vice and Buzzfeed. There will be many lists are much prized more. Data journalists ries they can carve for the original stories bers. out from the numbers. emains that not all But the reality remains who want to work as journalists will Yet journalism, be able to make it.Yet ys been a staging for some, has always tions, politics, post to public relations, writing or the law. In Sallagh in the Antrim hills al to Richard there is a memorial grated to Campbell who emigrated the US in the 19th century alist and to work as a journalist me Court ended up a Supreme judge . The good news iss that a g is never journalism training tive PRs wasted. Most effective rnalists, and have ďŹ rst been journalists, o the heart of the ability to get to the matter quickly and express yourself clearly aree eminently transferable skills. Lord Adonis, Ed Balls and tarted as Michael Gove all started journalists. al Many commercial ncreasing organisations are increasing hiring journalists not just to make their internall and external
communications more professional, but also to help guard their online reputations. A good journalist can cut through the wafďŹ‚e of corporate meetings and quickly dash off commercial copy for any organisation that deals directly with consumers. Another long-term advantage, which will be wasted on the young at least for now, is that no-one has the power to force you to retire. A formal post in an organisation comes to an end but thanks to the internet a journalistâ€™s career can be a life-long experience, if you want it to be. Still the best, rather than the worst of jobs.
For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter tter go to @raymondsnoddy theJournalist | 21
arts by Amy Powell Yeates Exhibitions depicting responses to conflicts around the world and corporate greed; Ireland’s War of Independence in theatre; the fights union activists face against corporations, and Parmjit Dhanda’s personal struggles in British politics in books; and the festival season is on the horizon.
Bonaparte and the British: prints and propaganda in the age of Napoleon The British Museum, London Until 16 August 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo – the ﬁnal undoing of Napoleon Bonaparte. The exhibition includes works by British and French satirists who were inspired by political and military tensions to exploit a new visual language combining caricature and traditional satire with the vigorous narrative introduced by Hogarth earlier in the century. It includes work by James 22 | theJournalist
Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, Richard Newton and George Cruikshank. www.britishmuseum.org Geta Bratescu Tate Liverpool 30 June-18 October Born in Romania in 1926, and working for much of her life within a Communist state, Bratescu’s practice has manifested as performance, textile work, paper collage and ﬁlm, each medium reﬂecting political and social themes. This introduction to Bratescu’s singular vision comprises a selection of works from 1960 to the present day, which showcases her commitment to the drawn line, manifested in a variety of forms. www.tate.org.uk Theatre The Full Monty National tour Currently booking until 3 December In 1997, a British ﬁlm about six out-of-work Shefﬁeld steelworkers
email: For listings NUJ.org.uk journalist@
with nothing to lose captured the nation and became an unforgettable cult hit. Simon Beaufoy, the Oscarwinning writer of the ﬁlm, has created a heartfelt adaptation for stage, directed by Daniel Evans, that’s been receiving standing ovations around the country following its premiere at Shefﬁeld Lyceum Theatre in 2013. www.fullmontytheplay.com
stage adaptation directed by Simon Dormandy and Toby Sedgwick (War Horse, The 39 Steps) promises to be inventive and highly theatrical. www.nufﬁeldtheatre.co.uk
The Hudsucker Proxy Nufﬁeld Theatre, Southampton 9-30 May 1 December 1958. Waring Hudsucker, president of the giant Hudsucker Industries, has just thrown himself from the 45th ﬂoor. The board of directors has a cunning plan: put an idiot in his place, depress the stock price, buy up all the shares and make a million. However, Norville Barnes might not quite be the proxy they are looking for. Based on the Coen Brothers’ joyful, wise-cracking romantic comedy tale of corporate greed, this new
Hadaway Harry South Shields Marine Trust, Durham Gala Theatre and other venues June and July Harry Clasper, the north-east’s ﬁrst sporting superstar and inspiration for the Blayden Races, is remembered in this play written to mark the 170th anniversary of the world rowing champions title coming to the north east for the ﬁrst time. Written by Ed Waugh, a Tyneside playwright and NUJ member, the play tells how Harry and his brothers took the title from London rowers in 1845. Harry was a Durham miner before
Manchester International Festival 2015
Manchester’s biennial arts festival of new work celebrates its fifth event in 2015, and outgoing founding director Alex Poots’s plethora of bold, vibrant and unique programming is set to be a real treat. At Bridgwater Hall, you will find The Immortal being performed by
the BBC Philharmonic, the first full-scale commission for young emerging composer Mark Simpson. The Skriker, a revival of Caryl Churchill’s play about fractured England, directed by Sarah Frankcom and starring Maxine Peake, with music by Nico Muhly and Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), is sure to be a highlight. An example of the fantastic collaborations between artists spanning artistic genres that MIF does so well is Tree of Codes, a contemporary ballet inspired by the book of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer. It unites dance companies Paris Opera Ballet and
Company Wayne McGregor, visual artist Olafur Eliasson and Mercuryprize-winning composer Jamie xx. Fans of dark comedy should be sure to catch Tom Basden’s The Crocodile, directed by the bright, upand-coming director Ned Bennett, based on Dostoevsky’s short story of the same name. It is presented by bold comedy innovator The Invisible Dot which is also presenting a new show by comedian Adam Buxton and a late-night comedy cabaret at the festival. MIF15 runs from 2-19 July; there is plenty more on offer for all ages in a variety of venues, old and new – including creative learning activities – so be sure to check the website for more details. www.mif.co.uk
© JONTY WILDE
Exhibitions Conscience and Conﬂict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle Until 7 June Featuring works by artists including Picasso, Henry Moore, Edward Burra, Wyndham Lewis and John Armstrong, this exhibition aims to demonstrate how a diverse generation of British artists, from abstract to realist, united to respond to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) in their ﬁght against fascism. While many went to ﬁght in the war, others created posters campaigning for aid for refugees. www.twmuseums.org.uk
he Some of t s to best thing h a o wit see and d al bite ic it l o p f o bit
arts becoming a professional rower. Rowing, or acquatics as it was known then, was one of the main workingclass sports before football. email@example.com
Books Blacklisted: The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain New Internationalist, pbk, ebook, £7.99 Blacklisted, a new book by awardwinning human rights campaigner David Smith and investigative journalist and NUJ member Phil Chamberlain, tells the story of the illegal strategies that transnational construction companies resorted to in their attempt to bar union activists. www.newint.org My Political Race Parmjit Dhanda Biteback After nine generally happy years as the Labour MP for Gloucester, Parmjit Dhanda woke one day to ﬁnd a
decapitated pig’s head had been left in the middle of his drive. This was despite his actually being a Sikh and not a Muslim. In his political memoir, with a foreword by Alan Johnson MP, Dhanda speaks out for the ﬁrst time about some of the prejudices he has faced in British politics and how things might change for the better. www.bitebackpublishing.com
Cambridge Folk Festival Cambridge 30 July-2 August This family-friendly folk festival takes place in the tranquil setting of Cherry Hinton Hall. Festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own instruments. The line up features Joan Baez, Joan Armatrading and Peggy Seeger and The Unthanks. www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk © BEN MORSE
The Shadow of a Gunman Abbey Theatre, Dublin 12 June-1 August The ﬁrst of Sean O’Casey’s Dublin plays, The Shadow of a Gunman is set during Ireland’s War of Independence.Civilians have been dragged into a guerrilla war of ambushes, raids and reprisals. Donal Davoren has recently moved into a Dublin tenement. His neighbours believe he is an IRA gunman in hiding. He embraces this deception and earns the affection of the charming Minnie Powell. However, when the city is placed under curfew, his fantasy starts to feel very real. Wayne Jordan (The Plough and the Stars, Twelfth Night) returns to the plays of Sean O’Casey to direct this
co-production between the Abbey Theatre and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. www.abbeytheatre.ie
Festivals Brighton Fringe Brighton Until 31 May The fringe festival that takes over Brighton and Hove annually, presenting a variety of events from comedy to music to dance and theatre, is back. This year’s line-up includes up-and-coming comedian Joe Wells’s show 10 Thing I Hate About UKIP, following his acclaimed debut show Night of The Living Tories. Meanwhile, Daphna Baram, an Israeli human-rights lawyer, journalist and rioter-turned-comedian, performs her new show, Something to Declare. www.brightonfringe.org
We’re here when bad news hits... Contact the NUJ legal service first and keep 100% of your compensation within the union scheme – whatever the injury, however complex the claim. NUJ members get expert legal advice and support on: Personal injury – at or away from work, on holiday or on the roads Serious injury – including brain and spinal cord injuries Industrial disease or illness Will writing and conveyancing at a reduced rate Employment law (accessed via your chapel or NUJ national officer) NUJ members’ families can also get legal support on: Personal injury away from work, on holiday or on the roads Clinical negligence - special terms apply Conveyancing at a reduced rate Contact the NUJ legal service today on 0800 587 7528
Standing up for you theJournalist | 23
YourSay... inviting letters, comments, tweets
Please keep comments to 200 words maximum
Al Jazeera leads the way on news women If you want to see more women in news (A shortage of women seen in broadcast news, March/April), watch Al Jazeera (the London version). It’s full of women. And not just impossibly glamorous (but also sharp and excellent at their jobs) women. Many of them have the years of experience that would render a woman invisible on the BBC. The BBC could learn from Al Jazeera in other ways too. Al Jazeera doesn’t pay expensive HS2 fares to bring a commentator into the studio: they use Skype. Al Jazeera also doesn’t create expensive ‘celebrities’. They simply use someone who has expertise in the subject in hand. The result is informative programmes where the presenter doesn’t get in the way of the subject. That’s what I like about Al Jazeera: it doesn’t patronise me, by thinking I need gimmicks to interest me in the content. The problem I have with the BBC is that it does patronise me: it assumes that I’m NOT interested in the subject, and that it must use celebrities, fancy camera tricks, inappropriate ‘comedy’, expensive sets and locations, etc, to tempt me to watch. It’s a shame, as the BBC could do so much more if it spent the licence fee more productively. Helen Johnson Northallerton
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Be stress aware: don’t risk death with too much work Further to my former Birmingham Post & Mail colleague Chris Morley’s piece on overworked journalists in the March/April Journalist, my full-time journalism career came to a shattering end after 27 years in December 2013 when I was almost killed in suffering a stroke. Although the hydrocephalus (excess water on the brain) with which I was born may have been a contributing factor, the doctors are all adamant that my stroke, as well as the epilepsy I began suffering in 2006, was caused by the mental and physical damage done by almost three decades of unsocial hours, bad eating and sleeping patterns and deadlinedriven stress. 24 | theJournalist
As journalists, we do the silly hours because we love the job, we want the story. But do we realise the harm we are doing? Many of us don’t. Since my brush with death, I go out of the way to tell people that work simply isn’t worth the risk of killing yourself for. Martin Warrillow Tamworth
Analyst’s gloom on local newspapers is misplaced Why is any credence given to anything that the research ﬁrm Enders Analysis says about the future of local media (Raymond Snoddy’s ‘The future could be bright, it could be local’, The Journalist, March/April). In June 2009 Clare Enders, its chief
executive, predicted that up to half the 1,300 local titles would close by 2013 in her evidence to MPs on the House of Commons, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Er hello, that was rather embarrassingly wide of the mark, Clare! The Reading Post has gone now but how many other paid-for (not free) papers have disappeared? Ten per cent, at most? It’s bad but it’s not catastrophic in the worst recession in 80 years. It’s time for everyone to recognise that local papers are much more resilient than the self-serving advocates of the digital revolution have been predicting for the last decade. And as for the BBC trying to the ﬁll regional news gap (Page 5 news
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Post to: The Journalist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP Tweet to: @mschrisbuckley
story, March/April), that is a complete non-starter. Even today after years of ludicrous management cuts there are still at least 70 local newspaper reporters working in the Hampshire area alone. The licence fee would have to double. Andrew Napier Winchester
Too much on employers’ brave new digital world I thought the front page of this month’s edition of The Journalist would interest me and be relevant. Sadly, no on two fronts. The article on local news (The future could be bright, it could be local) makes no reference to Ireland, a country which has a long tradition of local newspapers producing the best of news and journalists. Its other discrepancy was a lack of depth and a leaning toward the employer’s view of the brave new world of digital. Would it not be more relevant to get some input from the staff journalists on their experience of cuts? The article is more suited to the business pages rather than a trade union magazine. Conor Ganly Portlaoise
No mention of the Jewish victims of Charlie Hebdo It was not just journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo who were slaughtered by Islamists in Paris on January 7th. It was good that the NUJ was strongly represented and I too went and signed the condolence book outside the Charlie Hebdo ofﬁce. But the same attack also included Jews at a kosher super-market and I was surprised that in the letters on the attack, the word Jew was not mentioned, nor indeed the Islamist ideology that the killers proclaimed as justifying their acts. First they came for the cartoonists... Dr Denis MacShane London
inbox Calling time on spoon-fed, black and white reporting Journalism is the ‘activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television’. It has always been linked with a desire to do two things sell copy and inform. Unfortunately though, more often than not, the former takes precedence. Journalism should be about storytelling and reportage, not storytelling for maximum effect, but investigating complex and important stories in an unbiased and rounded way. Journalism would be much more interesting if it were to contain stories that weren’t contrived, clichéd fact explosions but instead a true story with all the inherent nuances and complications. More power to a newspaper that does away with the current boring format of pages and pages of small stories which have been told time after time. A newspaper that prints truly interesting articles, and refuses to toe the line by reporting depressing and tear-inducing copy. I refute the idea that we love to learn about misery and despair, that it is some sort of dark human guilty pleasure. Many people love to watch ﬁlms
about heroism; ones that feature triumph over adversity and bravery in the face of danger. So why are 90 percent of newspaper articles so melancholy? Ed Jones London
Why can’t we publicise incidents of bullying? I note the letter from Jeanette Covington in the March/April Journalist in which she praises NUJ representation in a workplace matter, adding: “I am not at liberty to share the outcome of my case but I can say that I was extremely happy with the conclusion”. While she does not suggest in her letter that her case is related to bullying, I must ask if we as a union are herewith missing an important opportunity in tackling the issue of bullying. Natural justice requires that justice is seen to be done but curiously, upheld complaints against bullies are currently kept secret, supposedly due to the data protection act. However, in formal court cases or tribunals perpetrator’s rights to privacy are rightly overridden. But isn’t a grievance against a bully also part of a formal legal procedure under law? And doesn’t the data
protection act section 35 rightly allow for privacy exemptions in these legal proceedings also? How much more of a deterrent against bullying would it be if upheld complaints were publicised as natural justice demands? Is there any genuine legal constraint against this? The BBC had no difﬁculty in providing a running commentary on the recent Jeremy Clarkson disciplinary case, the details of their ﬁnal decision against him and the rationale which led to that decision. Does the NUJ need to take a test case to prove the point? Curious NUJ member
Stop all this look and listen on our airwaves Why do politicians of all stripes insist on starting almost every sentence with “Look”, as if addressing a bunch of idiots? If you spoke to someone in a shop or the street like that, you would probably be rewarded with a smack in the face – and deservedly so. Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are the worst offenders, with David Cameron not far behind. And the habit is no less prevalent among lesser-known politicians. The presenters James Naughtie and
John Humphrys on Radio 4’s the Today programme are also guilty of this, as is the smirking Evan Davis on BBC2’s Newsnight. I had to switch off the otherwise intelligent Radio 4 programme The Life Scientiﬁc when a guest gratuitously started most of his sentences with “Look”. “Listen” is a variation on the “Look’ annoyance. It seems to imply that the listener might be hard of hearing or possibly not paying sufﬁcient attention to what the politician or the journalist is saying. Politicians and broadcasters need to learn that listening to them would be far easier without such meaningless distractions. Graham Noble London
Seeking London College of Printing 1970s students It’s hard for me to believe but many of the journalists who I taught at the London College of Printing during the 1970s are now not far from retirement age. I would be very pleased to hear from any of them and to learn how their careers worked out. email@example.com Maurice Jay Life member
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n o s rk la C d n a I II rd a h ic R f o s n The lesso proved a vote Remarkably, Mr Clarkson’s activity al media’, a soci ‘sod say d coul winner: before you expressing lised eria mat had tion peti million-strong ld wou r loye the view that any reasonable emp cations indi ion mill reinstate Jeremy immediately. A Ed. for nity ortu opp en den of support! This was a gold ested harv have d coul he nd and r One quick right-hande s the weeks ticked by before the questions like, ‘If all manner of support by raising me glaringly general election, it becam re on earth can you can’t punch people att work, whe ng apparent that Labour had the wro you punch them?’ wa clearly candidate. Ed Miliband was of Ed was The loutish, bullying, macho side tho ghtful. decent, principled and thou was made of little y, rly, ilarl mila never fully exploited. Sim and social, al an ity for this ular The media at the time, both tradition pop t reat grea of dishonesty at a time qualitiess, favouring ted the wan was dismissive of these so-called sors advi Ed’s ly Sure c. spin doctors characteristi ur sp Labo y Savv ies. bull and ves ’, thie tive ‘expert’ and thugs, media to describe him ass ‘imagina stressing Ed’s done him no have would have readjusted the proﬁle, it would opportunity ‘professional’? Equally, say, the o ner’ with plan hooligan gangsta side: but sad to ful care harm to be revealed as ‘a isely prec were was lost. se The ’. acity ‘old fashioned aud ty trending spent who s It was obvious to anyone with a twee chap the on d owe best the attributes and a highly liked well arly icul part ts one vaul that the machine Easter weekend stealing jewels from ing up to the runn ks wee the in re y. ﬁgu pan d Com ecte resp fe Deposit of the Hatton Garden Safe ctive a ard III : attra ballot was the formerly regal Rich that e ose prop one no did Why dering and ce murd features in his case included prin with d ciate asso be Ed by this in ed into throne usurping. Ed could have tapp this popular group? Mid M dleton the ng erni conc ats thre que making obli Think of the kudos he had d of Windsor off-spring, hinting that the House could have gained by occ sionally aps occa of the been round long enough and perh wearing a balaclava for the duration r. He did none of it rather adm sporting subtly pointed headwea to him d campaign! And who told sor failing to advisors caster, Don in these things: clear evidence of his er East t nt spen lamely that he had mspect circu g react to Dicky Three focus groups. bein than r er rath , ency his constitu onarch emerged ex-m the ent mom very the t? heis From about his whereabouts during the in the ascendant. me obvious from under a car park, his star was beca n lesso d ecte negl r othe One r ly killed hadn’t real en Gard on First came the suggestion that he Hatt from media reports of the d it may if he did, is res ﬁgu those princes much at all, and even over ion sion reci incident: that imp he s of this the heel ple, exam have just been high spirits. Hot on for h, ph, grap egra Tele The . l transformation, not a problem £200 with y moral reassessment came a physica awa got had ves thie the d an his height suggeste rod and ram to g enin ight stra e to £40 spin ‘£30 his for with the Express settled ents of quitting the million, while y, ssar nece was doubling by the day. Within mom re no ﬁgu ‘a ul Royals’ million’. The Mail felt on the ‘awf the and w’, park he had somersaulted Fergie kno r neve y simply saying ‘we may Poe Laureate; the Poet e ‘more than list: within weeks he was feted by Evening Standard settled for a vagu r. este est Leic ent for the prud and soon he’d become a legend in been have ld wou It £53 million’. sh ty, ing shif ple exam s’s So why wasn’t Ed cashing in, look ate the pres Labour team to emulate oa ing a lack bemoan s. dom non expressing wintry discontent and xample, when discussing, for exam e the campaign of nags? Similarly, it would have don sed a good few media mis d ban Mili her Brot jun or g juni no harm had Ed been pictured givin to adapt to changing ng faili opportunities by staff a smack in the mouth. This members of his staff h didn’t he go for the eart on Why es. ming Mr Clarkson, public tast char the for tive posi e hug a ed prov g off at least one family popular vote by seeing ching, dubbed -punch slapping a close chum of Cameron and, post member, robbing the odd bank and by no less than a ‘genius’ and an ‘incredible talent’ few underlings? than Boris Johnson.
v sors Ed Milliband’s PR advi missed some tricks in the o tor news, says Chris Proc
26 | theJournalist
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