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www.nuj.org.uk | october/november 2014
Fresh thinking for media survival
j o u r n a l i s t s
Contents Main feature
14 Old dogs, new tricks
Changing media for the digital age
ur main feature looks at the burning issue affecting our industry - how to make journalism pay in a digital age. Raymond Snoddy, who wrote the piece, has said in an earlier column, it is our longitude quest. We are in unchartered waters as digital and social media reshape news. While obviously not a new issue, it is getting ever more urgent. Almost every week more jobs go as news organisations try to make themselves leaner, as revenues drop and news is available everywhere at the touch of a tablet or smartphone. The dramatic change in the media industry has impact beyond headlines of job losses and newspaper closures. There is increasing evidence of stress and mental health problems affecting journalists as the various pressures they encounter become difficult to bear. A feature on mental health shows how hard life can be when you work in the media. But on the upside we also have a piece by a young blogger on how journalism helped him deal with autism and indeed go on to make him a name while still at school. Perhaps our young writer will go on to study journalism at university as many thousands of young people are doing right now. By the time they graduate the world of journalism will be a different place. But let’s hope it and they still have a strong future.
Christine Buckley Editor @mschrisbuckley
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Cover picture Steve Bell
03 Strike threat wins at BBC
Management concessions on job cuts
04 Major victory at Johnston Press
NI chapels secure better wage increase
05 Apprenticeships for NUJ in Scotland Modern pathway to journalism
06 TUC demands pay rise for UK
Reports on conference highlights
08 Working for 3.3 pence a word
Union slams ‘global content creator’
13 Journalism and autism Inspiring tale of a young blogger
18 Let’s go to Manchester
A visit to England’s second city
09 Michelle Stanistreet 17 NUJ and me 20 Technology
Arts with Attitude Pages 22-23
Raymond Snoddy Page 21
Letters 24-25 and Steve Bell
BBC rethinks job cut plans after strike threat
he BBC has agreed to a range of concessions over job cuts following the threat of strike action by the NUJ. BBC NUJ members had voted by 73.6 per cent for strike action over the corporation’s plans to cut jobs, which would have affected 500 people in news and the world service, and then create 266 new posts. The agreement following talks with Tony Hall, director general, and Valerie HughesD’Aeth, the BBC’s new head of HR, was: • A recruitment freeze across news – to last as a minimum to the end of March, with a review in six months, with exceptional cases able to be hired only with the agreement of the joint unions. • A moratorium on compulsory redundancies across news, to run as a minimum to the end of March, subject to a six-month review
• No voluntary redundancies to leave before the end of December, although exceptional cases could be agreed with the unions. • Agreed that news management must devise and present their strategy as to how they believe work can be done – and standards maintained – if proposed redundancies take place. • Workload concerns to be addressed in this context – with an accompanying work pressure review, which will be done jointly with the unions. • The BBC corporate centre has agreed to reaffirm its commitment to redeployment across all divisions and ensure that all areas are operating accordingly to our agreed policies and procedures. • A review to monitor progress by the end of this year. Along with calling off strike action, the NUJ has also agreed to halt its work to rule and appraisal boycott. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “We’re pleased that common sense has prevailed and that a sensible solution has been negotiated following talks with Tony Hall. “NUJ members are deeply concerned that the proposed job cuts will have a devastating impact on their ability to produce quality content.”
BBC NUJ members had voted by 73.6 per cent for strike action over the corporation’s plans to cut jobs
Fresh pay gains accepted by unions
UJ members at the BBC accepted a revised pay offer by the BBC of £800 for those earning below £50,000 and £650 for those earning above. The BBC originally offered a one per cent pay
increase. The NUJ and sister unions Bectu and Unite voted for action, which threatened the first day of the Commonwealth Games, and the BBC came back to the negotiating table. BECTU and Unite members
also voted to accept the new deal of £800 for those earning below £50,000; with £650 payable on 1 August, and a further £150 on 1 January 2015, and £650 for those earning above £50,000.
The BBC made concessions on a range of pay anomalies and grading issues and proposed a pay increase for 2015 of 2.5 per cent, with the same rate applied on all grade thresholds and all allowances.
From readers to members…
uardian News and Media has launched a new membership scheme, an events programme and plans for a dedicated space in which to host events. The initiative is the latest
move in the Guardian’s strategy towards becoming a media brand rather than a traditional newspaper.
The newspaper group is inviting readers to become friends, free of charge, partners for £15 a month or
patrons for £60 a month. Patrons will be offered priority booking and discounts on events as well as some access to The Guardian including newsroom tours and print site visits.
Fairhead is first woman bbc chair Rona Fairhead, a former chair and chief executive of the FT, is to become the first woman to chair the BBC Trust. Fairhead, who is also a qualified pilot, was selected by the Government after Lord Coe, the Conservative peer, pulled out of the competition in July. She led the FT from 2006 until last year. Davis steps into paxman’s shoes Evan Davis is to become the new lead presenter of Newsnight following Jeremy Paxman’s departure in the summer. Former BBC economics editor Davis has been one of the Today programme presenters since 2008. He joins the team of Kirsty Wark, Emily Maitlis and Laura Kuenssberg, who will all continue to present the show. Liberation cuts a third of its staff Libération, the daily French newspaper that was founded by the philosopher Jean-Paul Satre, is to fire a third of its workforce in order to save it from closure. Some 93 jobs are to go from a total staff of 250. Libération’s editor, Laurent Joffrin, told his journalists it was “an unavoidable decision to save the paper.” Hope for world’s press revenues The revenue decline for the world’s newspaper industry will end next year, according to a new global entertainment and media outlook report by PricewaterhouseCooper. It forecasts that revenue will climb again in 2015 as growth begins to exceed decline in mature markets. Venezuelan title runs out of paper Venezuela’s oldest newspaper stopped publishing because it couldn’t source printing paper. El Impulso, an 110-year-old paper, said it hoped the closedown would be short. It said: “The obstacles we’ve faced to get paper, which we’re running out of, represent just one link in a difficult chain of adversities inherent to the country’s serious economic situation.” theJournalist | 3
Pay victory hard won in Northern Ireland
in brief... Sunday mirror and The People Merge Trinity Mirror is merging the editorial teams of the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People with the loss of up to eight editorial jobs. The move comes two years after the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror editors were sacked and the two titles went to a seven-day publishing model under editor-inchief Lloyd Embley. Archant moves work to norwich Archant is to move production of 25 weekly newspapers to Norwich, The newspapers serve London, Kent, Hertfordshire and Cambridge and are currently produced in Ilford, Ashford, Stevenage, St Albans, Welwyn and Huntingdon. Some 24 production jobs are at risk but 11 new jobs will be created. IPSO names matt Tee chief executive The Independent Press Standards Organisation has appointed Matt Tee as its first chief executive. He is currently chief operating officer for the NHS Confederation and was previously permanent secretary Government Communication. He has also been chief executive of NHS Direct, director general of communications at the Department of Health and head of news at the Department of Trade and Industry. City Tv goes into administration City TV in Birmingham has gone into administration. But there is expected to be interest from other operators in taking over the licence. City TV had beaten four other bidders to win the local TV licence and had planned to transmit 34.5 hours of news per week, alongside arts and sport programming. Daily editions as free weeklies close Local World has closed three free weekly newspapers, replacing them with daily editions of the Cambridge News. The Royston Weekly News, Saffron Walden Weekly News and the Huntingdon/ St Ives & St Neots News & Crier were closed in September. 4 | theJournalist
All three chapels backed a pay demand of five per cent
fter almost a year of negotiations the NUJ has accepted a pay deal covering members in the Derry Journal, the Belfast Newsletter and Morton Newspapers. All three chapels backed a pay demand of five per cent buoyed by the victory of the chapel in the Yorkshire Post who secured an £800 rise. Wages in Johnston Press NI had been frozen since the last pay rise of two per cent in 2010/11. All payments will be backdated to the pay review dates. For the Derry Journal this will be July 2013. New posts created as a result of the recent editorial restructure will not benefit from this pay deal but the company has committed to entering into negotiations with the NUJ on behalf of those members shortly. Johnston Press’s claim that it couldn’t afford to meet the union’s demand was ridiculed following large bonuses paid to company directors. A petition citing the directors’ pay and calling on management to concede the pay claim received strong support from all quarters. Through a concerted recruitment campaign by the chapels the NUJ’s numbers swelled and the union built real collective strength. .
Nicola Coleman, NUJ Irish Organiser, said: “The NUJ chapels in Northern Ireland are the only ones in the JP group, apart from the Yorkshire Post, who achieved anything in excess of management’s original offer. While we accepted a compromise on our demands, this is an achievement to be immensely proud of. It proves that together we really are stronger.” Paul Wilkinson, Morton FOC said: “That we have secured an enhanced pay offer, a notably significant achievement, is thanks to the collective resolve, active participation and demonstrable unity of members, who must now remain resolute, active and united going forward”. Michael Wilson, Derry Journal FOC, said “This pay deal may not have been ideal but it does highlight our collective strength.”
Ireland ends charges on FOI requests
he union has welcomed the decision of the Irish government to abolish up-front application charges for freedom of information requests. The move represents “a victory for open democracy and for common sense,”
said Irish secretary Séamus Dooley. “The proposed removal of the €15 application fee for nonpersonal FOI requests is a welcome development and is something the NUJ has been demanding for some time.
“The charges, and recent threats to impose increased costs, flew in the face of the stated objectives of the minister for public expenditure and reform It made no sense to retain the fee structure while seeking to modernise how
public bodies handle public requests. “We have always argued that the principle of a fee ran contrary to the spirit of freedom of information legislation, which is about an ethos of open government.“
Local World steers a digitised course
ocal World has set its sights on becoming a ‘digitised transactional business’ with no mention of newspapers in its strategic report. The group, headed by David Montgomery, also gave its former chief executive a £650,000 pay-off when he left just under a year after taking up his position. Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser, said: “Local World is a new company born without the twin millstones of historic debt and pension fund deficit to drag it down, so its future should look bright. Indeed, the £18.5m operating profits show newspapers do continue to make big money, as digital revenues were still less than a tenth of the total revenue.”
Back to the Future for Modern Apprenticeships
he NUJ in Scotland is combining something old with something new to create a modern pathway into journalism. A Modern Apprenticeship in digital journalism has been developed by the union in conjunction with the Scottish Government’s Skills Development Scotland, Creative Skillset, the Scottish Qualification Authority and the Scottish TUC. And now the first apprentices have been recruited for the pilot project at Forth Valley College’s Stirling campus. NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said the launch of the project was a historic event for the industry, far more significant than many realised. “It has opened up the
door for the Scottish media industry and the Scottish government to take a really positive step into the digital age. This creates many opportunities to develop strong practical links between the employers, educational establishments and potential trainees aspiring to become journalists. It will provide them with the skills required for the future success of our industry. ”The modern apprenticeship project is being led by the NUJ in Scotland, building and developing links between the union and the employers in the workplace. Apprentices being paid union rates are a step in the right direction to improving staffing levels in newsrooms, relieving pressure on existing staff, providing quality training and producing highly skilled journalists of the future.” “We are also hoping to extend training under the modern apprenticeship programme. We are reaching traditional mainstream, new and community media from the Scottish Borders to the Highlands and Islands, including Orkney and Shetland, through a variety of training models, including block release and distance learning. An advanced MA is also planned.”
Media jobs for the chosen few
areers in journalism are increasingly becoming the preserve of a privileged, privately educated elite, according to a new study conducted by the Social Mobility and Child
Poverty Commission. It found that that 54 per cent of the ‘top hundred media professionals’ had been educated at private schools, as opposed to seven per cent of the
population. This is a greater proportion from privileged backgrounds than 28 years ago, when the figure was 47 per cent. The study also found that almost half of UK national newspaper
Posthumous honour for Bob
or only the second time in the union’s history, the NUJ Gold Badge has been presented posthumously, when members of the family of the late Bob Horn attended a meeting of Sunderland, Shields and Hartlepool branch. Bob was first elected treasurer of Sunderland
branch in 1963 in his first weeks as a trainee journalist on the strength of his six months’ experience as a bank worker! NUJ northern organiser Chris Morley, who presented the Gold Badge to Bob’s brother David and his nephew Robert, pointed out that the union stalwart had held the treasurer post for five decades,
seeing the union through two national newspaper strikes and a three-monthlong dispute in the 1980s over the introduction of new technology, and also two branch mergers which created the present Sunderland, Shields and Hartlepool branch. A full obituary of Bob Horn is on the NUJ website.
The the project was a historic event for the industry, far more significant than many realised
columnists graduated from Oxford or Cambridge. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the findings were ‘alarming’. “We have a situation where the boys – and it is often the boys – are recruiting people just like themselves.”
Russian journalist killed in ukraine Russian journalist Andrey Stenin, missing in eastern Ukraine for a month, has been confirmed dead, RIA Novosti, the news agency where he worked, reports. He was in a vehicle traveling in a convoy of escaping civilians when it came under heavy fire. Northern Ireland threat condemned Threats to a Northern Ireland journalist by a dissident Republican group have been strongly condemned by the NUJ. Irish secretary Séamus Dooley said: “This is the latest attack on working journalists in Northern Ireland. “ Police seizure is condemned Civil liberties campaigners and newspapers joined the NUJ in condemning the seizure by police of the mobile phone records of Sun journalist Tom Newton Dunn in their search for a whistleblower. Guidelines on reporting LGBT The NUJ has launched new guidelines for reporting on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Mike Smith, equality council representative, said: “We are on deadline to create, sub, edit and publish under huge pressure and often with little time or resources, so we don’t need long, prescriptive guidelines telling us how to do our jobs. But I also know much has changed in reporting LGBT issues, terminology, use of language and phrases that it can get confusing.” the Rising cost of newspaper reading The Observer has become the UK’s most expensive Sunday paper, with the price increasing this month by 20 pence to £2.90. The paper has more than doubled in price over the last 10 years, from £1.40, and while circulation has halved. The Sunday Times costs £2.50, the Independent on Sunday is £2.20 and The Sunday Telegraph £2. The Observer’s daily sister The Guardian is the most expensive mainstream UK national daily at £1.60. theJournalist | 5
in brief... TUC attacks Trade partnership deal Congress condemned the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which is being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. TTIP is a free trade treaty that would give unprecedented power to corporations. The TUC believes the TTIP would threaten the future of the NHS and other public services as they would be open to privatisation. Qatar is Shown the Red Card Congress showed Qatar the red card after hearing about the appalling exploitation and suffering of migrant construction workers in the country. Delegates unanimously passed a motion by construction union UCATT which detailed how thousands of migrant workers have died during Qatar’s construction boom and thousands more are likely to die during preparations for the 2022 World Cup. the dangers of umbrella groups Congress heard that in ‘umbrella companies’, workers are forced to pay both employers’ and employees national insurance contributions. Wages are frequently paid at minimum wage rates and pay is then boosted through expenses and performance related pay. Workers pay £20-£30 a week to be employed by an umbrella company. Colombia Justice Delegates heard from Martha Diaz, the leader of a local government union. Diaz told how she had survived an assassination attempt by right-wing paramilitaries when she was abducted, tortured, shot twice and left for dead. Trades Councils Split Congress Consensus at Congress ended on a motion from the Trade Union Councils’ Conference. It argued that a delegate from its conference should in future be able to move a motion as a delegate. Such was the disagreement that a card vote was necessary. The motion fell by just under 200,000 votes. 6 | theJournalist
Britain needs a pay rise as focus is on general election
he slogan of this year’s TUC Congress was Britain Needs a Pay Rise, which resonated among delegates especially during the keynote debate on the Cost of Living Crisis. Delegates from unions representing workers in both the public and private sectors told how members were increasingly struggling to make ends meet due to pay cuts and pay freezes. They outlined how workers in full time employment were increasingly relying on pay day loans and food banks to make ends meet and feed their families. It was against this backdrop that Frances O’Grady the TUC General Secretary, who has breathed new life into the union movement since taking the role, made her annual address. O’Grady warned that the next general election in ‘240 days time’ was “a fundamental choice, about the kind of country that we want to be – not just for the next few years but for a generation”. In a country where “top chief executives now earn 175 times the wages of the average worker”, O’Grady asked: “Are we going to settle for a nastier and poorer Britain. A
“ Downton Abbey style society, in which the living standards of the vast majority are sacrificed to protect the high living of the well to do”. O’Grady also used her speech to attack the current Government for introducing the bedroom tax, fees for employment tribunals and for making benefit claimants wait five weeks before receiving any money. The TUC general secretary was also sharply critical of Conservative Party plans to increase the thresholds in industrial actions ballots which she said are intended to “ban strikes by the back door”.
Workers: Wait for Wage Boost
or only the second time Congress was addressed by the Governor of the Bank of England. Britain’s top banker, Canadian Mark Carney, delivered a highly detailed lecture on the current state of the UK’s
economic system. Carney warned that interest rates were likely to rise by next Spring, although he also believed that they would not return to the level they had been prior to the “great depression”.
Are we going to settle for a nastier and poorer Britain. A Downton Abbey style society
In bad news for workers, already struggling to pay mortgages and with mounting debts, Carney predicted that pay rates would not increase until the middle of 2015.
Umunna pledges ET reform
ith the two Eds – Miliband and Balls – not speaking at this year’s Congress Labour’s set-piece speech was delivered by Chuka Umunna the shadow business secretary. Umunna’s speech, in which he argued that Labour was developing a pro-worker and pro-business agenda, was politely rather than enthusiastically received by delegates. On fees for employment tribunals, Umunna said: “Affordability should not be a barrier to workplace justice.”
However, he did not commit Labour to abolishing fees. Instead he said: “If we are elected the next Labour Government will abolish the current system, reform the employment tribunals and put in place a new system which ensures all workers have proper access to justice.” The shadow business secretary also committed the next Labour Government to “launch a full inquiry, held publically, into the inexcusable blacklisting of workers in the construction sector.”
Government commission needed to save local newspapers
n moving the NUJ’s motion on the future of local newspapers, union President Andy Smith painted a bleak picture of the current challenges facing journalists working for local newspapers. Smith described how the NUJ was constantly being
contacted by members who were dealing with endless rounds of “redundancies and reorganisations” and their “sheer frustration at seeing papers they are passionate about being destroyed to protect their owner’s obscene profits.”
The motion described how more than 140 newspapers had closed since March 2011, with paid-for daily newspapers losing subscribers at 14 per cent a year and that a quarter of local government areas are no longer covered by a daily newspaper. Despite this bad news, Smith said that he was convinced that local newspapers “do have a future as readers want and need a reliable provider of local news”. He told delegates that local news was “about something in your local street thatyou will want to read about”. However what the public did not want and would not buy were papers reliant on
“recycled press releases and readers photos.” The motion commits the TUC General Council, “to support a campaign for a Government-commissioned inquiry into the future of local newspapers, to consider new models of ownership and how newspapers can be protected as community assets, limiting owners’ ability to close publications overnight and allowing time for consultation to protect their future. The motion also reaffirmed Congress policy to campaign for a reform of media ownership rules. Smith told delegates that it was vital: “to promote plurality and diversity in the local media.”
all images jess hurd
If it is about something in your local street you will want to read about it
Rights of freelances must be recognised
he NUJ’s motion on international support for freelance and atypical workers was passed unanimously. The motion focussed on the International Labour Organisations Global Dialogue Forum on Employment Relationships in the Media and the Culture Sector which was held in May 2014. (See Journalist July/August) The forum, which included employers as well as union representatives, recognised that fundamental principles and rights apply to all workers regardless of their employment status.
Moving the motion NUJ delegate Sian Jones, the chair of the PR and Communications branch, said: “Freelance and atypical workers are at risk and vulnerable. They usually don’t get sick pay, holiday pay or pension contributions.” She added: “They also find it very difficult to raise issues in the workplace.” The motion suggests that due to the success of the forum the TUC should become more involved in international affairs and interunion cooperation to both boost recruitment
and in campaigning “to defend and enhance the rights of workers, nationally and internationally.” The motion calls on the TUC’s general council to encourage and, as necessary assist affiliates to take part in similar forums and that the TUC’s delegation to the ILO’s 322nd Session in November should “seek to implement the conclusions of this Global Dialogue Forum.” In Jones’ words: “Let’s put the protection of freelances at the heart of the ILO.”
Union Movement to Defend the BBC
UJ delegate David Campanale, a producer at the BBC, seconded the Equity motion on defending the BBC. He spoke of his belief in the ongoing importance of the BBC for civic society, saying: “The BBC at its best is a celebration of common good.”
He reminded delegates that the BBC remains the ‘go to channel’ when a crisis occurs. “In moments of national importance people turn to the BBC,” he said. The motion drew attention to the “increasingly emboldened anti-BBC lobby whose aim is the break-up and sell-off
of the BBC and its publicly owned assets to the private sector”. David Campanale attributed this to the fact that the “BBC treats its viewers as citizens and not consumers.” The motion, which was carried without dissent, commits the TUC to support
the Federation of Entertainment Unions’ campaign “to defend both the principle of public service broadcasting and also the BBC as the UK’s primary public service broadcaster funded by the licence fee.”
theJournalist | 7
Union goes on offensive over £5 for 150 words
in brief... Express and Star to print overnight The Express and Star, Britain’s biggest regional newspaper, has switched to overnight production, though editor Keith Harrison denied that it is now a morning paper. The move coincides with the reintroduction of Saturday editions across Staffordshire, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton. Media talk turns to crowdfunding The producer of The Guardian’s weekly Media Talk podcast has used crowdfunding to raise the money to keep the programme going for another year. The Guardian axed Media Talk along with its Music Weekly at the end of May. Producer Matt Hill plans to continue to produce the podcast every two weeks. Advertiser moves office next door The Berwick Advertiser is to end 114 years of publication at 90 Marygate, in the town centre, and move to new offices next door. Owner Johnston Press has sold the old Tweedale Press Group building. Editor Phil Johnson said the old premises were “not fit for purpose” and that the new space would allow for a faster broadband network. Newsquest sells its Swindon hub Newsquest, owner of The Swindon Advertiser, is selling Newspaper House, which has been the newspaper’s base for around 140 years.The move of printing and production from Victoria Road means that the newspaper now uses only the top floor of the threestorey building. MPs earn £150,000 from journalism MPs declared nearly £150,000 for journalism work in the first half of 2014, according to the register of financial interests. According to an analysis by Press Gazette, George Galloway, Respect MP for Bradford West, earned as much money from journalism as from his MP’s salary in the first four months of the year. 8 | theJournalist
How can writers earn enough to live if this is what groups believe their work is worth?
he NUJ has denounced a freelance fee offered by Quill Content, global content creators, of £5 for 150 words for an arts and entertainments app. Sandra MacKenzie, senior editorial manager of Quill, said she needed writers who are “passionate about art, music, theatre, food and drink” to turn information about events into a “personable, chatty description that really sells the event”. She said she wanted freelance writers to produce 10 to 15 pieces a week at £5 for 150 words, the equivalent of 3.3 per word. John Toner, NUJ freelance organiser, said: “This is an insult to professional writers to be told that they are expected to provide sparkling copy to sell events at such a pitiful rate. Quill Content’s rates are exploitative and a disgrace. How can writers earn enough to live if this is what groups believe their work is worth? It is always a good idea to check the NUJ’s Rate for the Job and Freelance Fees guide when negotiating a fee.” Ed Bussey, founder and chief executive
of Quill, said: “Quill brings together an unparalleled global network of writers and content producers, from journalists and bloggers to highly experienced industry experts and professionals. We do not work to a set ratecard and our pricing is determined on a client-by-client basis. We are proud to facilitate a very broad spectrum of work that can range from short pieces on mainstream topics to lengthy and complex white papers. All this work is costed accordingly.
Young and old should join together
he union’s 60+ council is calling for younger and older members to work as allies, rather than to see each other as rivals. Roy Jones, the council chair, said that the idea that the old and young are in competition is wrong. “We are allies, our (60+) successes or failures will help or hinder those younger, both before and after reaching 60.
“There is nothing more important to both, either, than maintaining and advancing the value of the state pension. “We are not, or should not be, in competition for jobs with, allegedly, the 60+ working at the expense of the young. Our aim is jobs for all. The over 60s work mainly for two reasons, they enjoy it or they need the money.”
He said the claim that older people are “a burden on society” had been refuted in a survey by the WRVS in 2010 showing that the over-60s contribute £41bn a year more to society through taxes and work as carers and volunteers than they receive in pensions and benefits. Jones added that all journalists should be concerned about the use of language in reference to the old.
Edinburgh celebrates 50 freelance years
dinburgh Freelance Branch suspended standing orders in July to celebrate its 50th birthday. The branch was formed after Thomson Regional Newspapers took over the city’s Evening News in late 1963 and immediately closed the Evening Dispatch, cutting half the staff of each title. Two NUJ members were made redundant and two others left because they did
not want to work for Roy Thomson. The four founded a freelance news agency – United News Service. The NUJ’s rules specified that if a branch contained nine or more freelances, they had to form a separate branch – and the four Thomson fugitives pushed the number in Edinburgh branch over the limit. The branch met for the first time in the Edinburgh
Press Club on July 6, 1964 with George Millar, who left the Dispatch voluntarily, as chair. There were 10 members including the four from UNS and six others, including former NUJ president Magnus Williamson. “We only knew that our anniversary was coming up because Gordon Smith, one of those made redundant, is still a branch member,” said branch secretary Mark Fisher.
Michelle Stanistreet warns against sweeping claims of biased reporting
The dangers of friendly fire
hooting the messenger has been an easy reflex in the face of unwelcome news since ancient times. It was no surprise then, that facing an audience of activists from across the Irish trades union movement in Belfast to talk about the challenges of international reporting, many were keen to vent their displeasure at the way in which the BBC has reported the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The most vociferous critics numbered only a handful, but they were determined that with a journalists’ representative before them, they were going to hammer home their points. ‘There are MI5 agents inside the BBC who edit all of the journalists’ copy before it is broadcast’, said one. Another suggested that there was a deliberate policy of describing Palestinian losses of life as ‘unintended deaths’ when in conflicts elsewhere in the world such indiscriminate killing would be called ‘slaughter’. A third was angry that airtime was given over to the Israelis to explain the actions of their forces. Our team at the ICTU’s Global Solidarity Summer School – the panel included Assistant General Secretary Seamus Dooley and vice president Tim Dawson, with Irish Executive Council delegates Gerry Curran and Ronan Brady – were clear in our defence of NUJ members. I know how seriously BBC journalists take their commitment to impartiality and balance. I also know how much pressure is applied to those reporting the Middle East if a hint of bias can be
detected, and the flak that can emanate from all quarters. Critics pointed to those who have joined demonstrations about the bombing of Gaza, including protests outside BBC offices throughout the UK. Broadbrush criticisms were levelled at reporters who some believed demonstrated clear bias in their use of language in reports. Of course, as we made clear at the meeting it is not possible to talk about a homogenous BBC line on any story when you factor in the sheer breadth of reports across the corporation’s many programmes and channels, on TV, radio and online.
The reality of journalism as a civilian occupation where some of us risk being murdered simply for doing our jobs clearly resonated
he horrific beheading of James Foley was just the latest targeting of a journalist, and it was clear that the reps and officials in the audience were shocked to learn of the hundreds of journalists who have lost their lives in the course of their work in recent years; 17 were killed and 19 injured in Gaza alone. The reality of journalism as a civilian occupation where some of us risk being murdered simply for doing our jobs clearly resonated. That so many of them are working on a freelance basis, with risk firmly transferred from media companies to individual journalists, is emphatically a trade union issue. The real bravery displayed by many correspondents working in conflict zones does not mean that their work is above criticism, of course. Nor, given the myriad pressures under which journalists operate should their work not be subject to intense scrutiny. Treating journalists as the proxy for their subjects, however, is lazy, destructive and helpful only to those with something to hide. All too many of those journalists who try to ensure that truth is not war’s first victim face the daily possibility of being shot as they go about their work. The very least that those of us who rely on their dispatches owe them is to ensure that they are not silenced by the ostensibly friendly fire of those who should be our allies on the home front.
For all the latest news from the NUJ go to www.nuj.org.uk theJournalist | 9
Insecurity, pressure and the way they work put journalists’ mental health at risk, says Rin Hamburgh
here has been a lot of discussion in recent years about the way the media reports stories involving mental health. But what is less frequently talked about is the fact that journalists are often sufferers themselves, dealing with a range of disorders including stress, anxiety and depression. Perhaps it’s not surprising, given the nature of the industry. But it’s not just the long hours and the pressing deadlines that are a 10 | theJournalist
problem. The Leveson inquiry highlighted the culture of bullying that is prevalent in so many newsrooms, while the problem of ‘trolling’ was brought to the fore by the recent case of Angela Haggerty, whose online tormentors were jailed for six months. Then there’s the fact that the industry is widely regarded as in decline, with publications folding, staff being made redundant, and a growing number of freelances competing for ever-shrinking commissioning budgets.
It’s this last factor that Guardian journalist Mark Rice-Oxley – who documented his breakdown in Underneath the lemon tree: a memoir of depression – believes is key. “People think the stress is the deadline, the story, the pressure,” he says. “For me all that was quite exciting. It wasn’t that that pushed me over the edge. If anything, it’s that the industry has suffered such a difficult decade, not making money, jobs insecure. “Journalists are tradespeople, not
professionals; if their industry falters they feel they don’t have much more to offer. It’s those things that are nagging away at people’s minds much more than the shouty editor with his deadlines. “News organisations can be strange and terrible kingdoms,” he adds. “They can be reminiscent of a Tudor court - am I in or out, am I going to get the next promotion? There can be tremendous insecurities, which I think do far more to unsettle a steady mind than missing a deadline or getting a story wrong.” Cumulative stress is ‘far and away the most frequent form of stress experienced by journalists’, according to a stress-awareness e-training package produced by CIC in collaboration with Reuters Foundation and AlertNet. Caused by a combination of factors, it builds up over time and reduces resilience and productivity, potentially leading to breakdown. Positive psychologist and personal coach Miriam Akhtar worked in radio and television for 20 years before burnout led her to retrain. She now counts a number of journalists amongst her clients. “A lot of people who work in the media are clever, creative and consumed by their work and that sets up a risk. When your life gets out of balance, your whole identity is tied up in your work, it stirs up a risk of anxiety and depression. “We know creative personalities are at risk of mental health disorders,” she adds. “A lot are on the lowest slopes of bi-polar - they’re either wired or tired. When they’re doing their work, they have lots of energy, enthusiasm, they’re going for it, working all hours. The downside is being really tired, and that’s where it mirrors
When life gets out of balance, the risk of mental health issues comes to the fore. Of course, it’s characteristic of many industries, but it’s particularly bad in the media
freelances under pressure A survey by the NUJ’s
Freelance Industrial Council revealed that 52 per cent of freelance journalists have suffered depression at one time or another, with 10 per cent of those saying that freelancing was largely responsible. Many admitted to feeling demoralised and, when asked what factors contributed to this, cited lack of budget for freelances, lack of responses from editors, and
rejection among the causes. Adam Christie, joint president of the NUJ and Vice-Chair of the FIC, says it’s no surprise that many journalists are considering different careers. “When you say you’re a freelance journalist, people think that you ring up
bi-polar. The risk is that you slump into a down where you’re at risk of depression. “Media people are clever, creative and consumed by their work,” she says. “When life gets out of balance, the risk of mental health issues comes to the fore. Of course, it’s characteristic of many industries, but it’s particularly bad in the media.” Keeping a check on your emotions and making sure you don’t drift towards the negatives can be particularly difficult for freelances, who don’t have a team around them to act as a support system and to spot the signs of potential difficulties. Cath Janes had a complete breakdown and attempted suicide in 2010. Although her mental health problems were triggered by post natal depression, she admits that the pressures of being a freelance ‘significantly worsened’ her situation. “The problem with freelance journalism is that if you don’t find the work there is no work, so the pressure to keep my career alive was enormous, even if that pressure came from myself,” she says. “Journalism is known for its competitiveness and I had no intention of losing. “More than feeling the pressure to keep working, though, was that as a freelance there were none of the checks and balances in place that could have saved me had I been a staffer. Working alone in my office every day meant that I was able to push myself harder and harder but there was no colleague or boss to spot that I was slowly going bananas.
a newspaper and flog them an idea but we know that the opportunities for doing that are a fraction of what they were,” he says. “We know from freelance market monitor pieces of work that we’ve done, certainly for those who made a living by pitching features, that that market has very largely disappeared. People have had to look at very different ways of trying to use their skills to generate an income. And for some of us, suddenly having to cope with that may be particularly difficult.”
“I’m not saying that this was not my responsibility, because it obviously was for me to see that there was a problem. But as a freelance it is easy to kid yourself that everything is OK or that you can just get through the next day or interview, even when you are falling apart.” So is there an antidote to the media’s mental health crisis? For Mark Rice-Oxley the solution was to take a step back: he now spends one day a week with his children and actively tries to relax more. “When I’m away from work, I try not to achieve,” he says. “I’m quite a competitive person but I try to do things that I’m not very good at and where the end goal isn’t very important, like wandering around killing things in the garden. It’s really healthy to find something that’s a release. “Thirty or 40 years ago, people were happy to step onto a squash court, play for 40 minutes, and step off. Now it’s all about personal best can I do this quicker, faster, higher. But that’s wrong - leisure and exercise need to be release rather than more pressure.” With one in four people in the UK experiencing mental health problems in the course of a year, it’s probably a stretch to suggest that journalists have a rougher ride than anyone else. But it’s also important that we reflect on how the industry is contributing to the problems that clearly do exist, and that we take steps – individually and collectively – to ensure that we protect ourselves and each other as best we can. theJournalist | 11
A healthy intelligence? The Health Service Journal has an online intelligence tool to provide NHS suppliers with information on hospitals. Is this journalism, asks Alan Taman
ow far does a title have to go to remain commercially viable before its editorial staff cease to be reporters? The distinctions between advertising copy and other reportage are (usually) clear. But how does setting up an information service on organisations the reporters write about, then selling that information to other organisations who want to be clients of the investigated companies, sound? Journalism – or market research? That is what the Health Service Journal (part of the Top Right Group, formerly Emap) has done. Its ‘Intelligence tool’ (‘HSJi’) offers upto-date, comprehensive information on every NHS organisation (470 in total), gathered by its editorial team. Subscribers pay an annual subscription of £2000 to receive intelligence on the organisation they want to supply goods or a service to. This is centered on three areas: intelligence investigations, briefings, and data profiles. Intelligence investigations are indepth investigations by HSJ journalists of the key priorities facing NHS organisations. The reporters research the organisation, identify priorities facing it, and then take a view on whether they are doing well or badly. For briefings the team takes a similar approach but instead of looking at an individual organisation it looks at a subject or a trend in great detail. The team will also analyse which NHS
12 | theJournalist
organisations are most affected by whatever trend or subject is being investigated. Data profiles have a series of data points, over 50, for each of six different types of NHS organisation. A separate research team collects information on these working to guidelines created by the HSJ’s reporters. HSJ editor Alastair McLellan believes that HSJi is an extension of journalistic skills: “HSJi is absolutely founded on the editorial excellence of the HSJ team. We could not have launched this unless we had people who are real experts, not only able to research and write about this subject but also to give their own opinions. So it’s extending the traditional journalistic role into a bit more of what you might call an analyst-type role. But it is absolutely an extension of our journalist role.” The NUJ’s MoC for the HSJ Sarah Calkin, works there as a senior reporter. She confirmed this, and pointed out more benefits: “Everything we do for the Intelligence enhances our news coverage because we are becoming more expert. It’s a slightly different writing style because there isn’t the need for the momentum; an investigation is looking more at an organisation and saying what’s going on. ‘The HSJ news team has expanded since the Intelligence started, so that’s a good thing. We have had four new reporters, reflecting the fact that the
HSJi is absolutely founded on the editorial excellence of the HSJ team
rest of us are spending less time on news. We tend to spend about half of our time on HSJi and half on news.’ Since its launch in March, HSJi has attracted more customers than planned (154 organisations had signed up by the end of July, yielding over one and half times the revenue target). But could this service represent a ‘back door’ to private healthcare companies who could use the information to cherry-pick front-line services away from the NHS? “HSJ will never, ever do anything to undermine the NHS”, said McLellan, “We know that the NHS is the most efficient and effective way to deliver health services to the country. We believe in the evidence base: that a universal healthcare system delivered free at the point of need is the most efficient way to run healthcare systems in any country.” Understanding and then writing about health takes knowledge and skill, and health journalism faces unique challenges (see The Journalist, August 2013). In tapping into its reporters’ considerable skill and expertise in a rational, imaginative and, so far, successful way to generate this service, HSJ has demonstrated that journalists and journalism are not condemned to obscurity as technology changes. Nor are they doomed to become market analysts. Alan Taman writes and researches on health journalism and PR. Contact: email@example.com
Writing my way through Nicholas Fearn, a young blogger, on how journalism helped him deal with autism
he world of journalism is ravaged by criticism from the outside community, and it is often associated with industry turmoil and controversy, such as the News International ‘Hacking Scandal’. But for me, it is a way of being able to communicate my thoughts and processes with the world, which is a common difficulty for those diagnosed with autism. It is my life. My interest in writing and producing content started when I was a young boy, obsessed with writing scripts for Christmas performances. Ranging from well thought-out battles between ruthless knights and the conversing of mystical princesses, my mini plays truly did entertain the family. They happened yearly and kept me quiet. But this little hobby soon started to die out when it came to secondary school. Heck, I would have been the talk of the yard if anyone found out about my creative side. Instead, I focused on my studies and getting on in my young (soon to be teen) life. However, the constant accompaniment of bullies meant life at school was harder than I first thought. It was terrible. And things soon escalated. I would be in the classroom and be faced with upheaval and the
bombardment of unthinkable taboo. The teachers ignored this, which led to many more grievous encounters, as well as sleepless nights. My passion for writing continued as I documented everything in the form of a diary. Soon, my parents learnt of the happenings at school and I was taken to the local children’s health clinic. After several years, I was finally diagnosed with a form of autism and anxiety disorder. This was clearly the magnetic substance within me that attracted those horrendous bullies. I was not happy, though. The idea of being different mentally set reality aside from me. I generally hated everything about myself. That was until I watched a programme on autistic heroes and came to love myself. I was changing. It took a while for my life to become more positive, but it did happen. I was able to take to my differences with love and happiness after a few counselling sessions, and the suggested idea of writing my thoughts and feelings down into a diary soon turned into numerous blog articles. I would write about everything, from being myself to the food I ate and the things I wanted to achieve. It provided me with hope and destiny, and my passion for writing continued to grow and grow. After just over a year of blogging about my autism, I soon turned to my love for everything technological and combined it with my writing ability. I created a new blog, and there I mused about all aspects of technology. The reality of a young autistic individual
The idea of being different mentally set reality aside from me. I generally hated everything about myself
turning negativity around into positivity in the form of blogging caught the attention of the local media. People were now interested in me. An article was published about my work, and for once in my life, I felt proud. I continued to work on my new blog and soon left the disastrous secondary school in which I was exposed to so many evil forces, to join a more understanding school. Not long after this, I wrote to the local paper’s managing director to see if I could get some work experience. In the end, I did. I gained so much valuable experience, and new doors started to open for me. This includes various blogging and writing opportunities in which helped kick-start my young journalism career. Though really, things are only just starting. However, there is one important thing about this story, and it is not inevitable success: it is that disability or no disability, we are all human beings, and success comes down to positivity and sheer hard work. And not once have I looked back in negativity; every day is a new day for me, and I will continue to spread ethical awareness, both in life and in this industry, for years to come. Be happy. That is it. theJournalist | 13
Shedding light on media prospects Raymond Snoddy looks at the most innovative ways of trying to make money from news in the digital age
he Oxford Mail recently claimed to be the first British newspaper to deliver news alerts direct to readers’ phones using the messaging app WhatsApp. Meanwhile Archant, the regional publisher, announced that its London24.com site, which uses copy from the publisher’s 14 local newspapers in the capital, had achieved its best ever monthly traffic figures – more than 1 million unique users in July. And in a move that should encourage newspapers to take on more video news for their web sites the press has been given the right to film, tweet and blog from council meetings in England in an initiative from Local Government secretary Eric Pickles. The Herald in Glasgow has gone against national trends and produced a year-on-year increase of 2.4 per cent in paidfor readership, while paid online subscriptions passed 10,000 for the first time. The trick seems to have been the success of selling both ‘digital only’ and combination digital and print packages. The developments are all commendable, if modest, pin-pricks of light and hope in the battle to combat falling newspaper sales and revenues with new products, new ideas, new content and new sources of income. Across the developed world the newspaper version of the search for the Holy Grail is under way to try to find a way of reaching the crossover point where new digital initiatives replace the advertising lost from traditional sources, probably for ever. The jobs of many journalists will depend on the outcome of the drive for innovation. The scale of both the problem and the potential solutions are enormous. The latest advertising forecasts from WPP’s Group M suggest that although total UK advertising revenue will rise by 5.4 per cent this year, national newspaper advertising will fall below £1 billion for the first time. The regional industry fell through the barrier in 2013 and faces a further 8.3 per cent decline to £905 million this year, according to Group M. The size of the potential solution can be seen in the latest data from the National Readership Survey, which now combines paper and digital readers. The data shows that 14 | theJournalist
nine out of 10 adults are regularly consuming publisher’s content across newspapers and the web and the NRS is about to add mobile consumption to its statistics. The total may be impressive – the challenge remains how to turn that 90 per cent reach into sustainable revenue. Rufus Olins, chief executive of Newsworks, the newspaper marketing organisation, is optimistic that new ways will be found to boost the finances of publishers and ultimately protect the jobs of journalists. “There has been an injection of new people into the newspaper business who are bringing fresh ideas and energy into a business that is not just about putting words on paper but is about capitalising on their brands and their content and their audiences,” says Olins. “View the industry through that prism and all sorts of exciting ideas present themselves,” the Newsworks executive adds. One of those new people in the British industry is Jason Seiken, editor-in-chief and chief content officer of the Daily Telegraph, a former senior executive of PBS the US broadcaster, who has hailed experimentation in the British newspaper industry as “a glorious petri dish of business models.” Seiken, who has already introduced the use of drones and controversially got rid of many senior journalists, was talking about the different approaches to charging for digital ranging from the advertising-based model of The Guardian and the Daily Mail right through to the paywalls of The Times and The Sun. But in August Seiken explained how some small and counter-intuitive innovations can make a considerable difference. Distributing fewer stories overall and concentrating more on Facebook than on Twitter, he told The Guardian, had helped to boost the Telegraph’s digital traffic by more than 20 per cent in June. Younger audiences were also targeted by Project Babb,
newsbrands, new thinking Ask Rufus Olins, chief executive of newspaper marketing body Newsworks for examples of new thinking in the newsbrands business and he suggests four. 1: A new understanding of the importance of the context in which advertisements appear and the content that provides that context. The industry is trying to measure the difference between an ad that appears in a trusted environment and one in the mass of internet eyeballs and clicks. “More and more questions are being raised now about undifferentiated information
providing a new stream of irreverent football coverage aimed at the social media. The new approach attracted one million visits during the World Cup summer. In the US Howard Finberg, development director of the Miami-based Poynter Institute for Media Studies, believes that important things are happening in the newspaper industry and that over the past 15 months there has been a greater sense of urgency about the need for broadlybased change. “ I think a lot of organisations – not all of them but a lot of them – are recognising that it is not just about changes in technology, not just about changes in the nature of content but changes in the culture and the approach of how you organise your work and work flow that need to change,” says Finberg. He believes that a seminal moment recognising the need for urgency came with the leaking of an internal New York Times document earlier this year. It warned of serious declines in traffic to its home page and set out a manifesto of what had to change. The ideas included finding ways to repackage some of the 14.7 million articles in the newspaper’s archive, making greater use of quizzes, always popular with readers, and using social media more effectively. The team also argued that better use of data was required so that readers can be offered a more personal service and that the New York Times had to be able to tag continuing
and the fact that if you look at an ad for one second it’s seen as a view,” says Olins. “One of the new ideas – how do we differentiate ourselves from people who don’t provide content. I think it could be a very important battle going forward,” he adds. 2: There are huge opportunities in video, he believes. Editorial teams have the skills, so why not work with star directors to produce “beautiful films” funded perhaps by commercial firms, if the connection is clear. 3: Native advertising – ads that mimic content -on new platforms may raise issues
of editorial independence but also present revenue opportunities. It’s a question of producing ads appropriate to the medium. “If you are running a piece of advertising on a mobile phone it’s going to be different from advertising in a newspaper,” Olins suggests. 4: The use of Big Data, the huge amount of information held by newspapers to provide readers with new services beyond editorial content. “I think there are going to be some very interesting new ideas coming out of that,” Olins forecasts.
stories to make it easier for readers to navigate their way through the latest developments. In the UK there are many examples of innovation, often coming from executives from outside the newspaper industry, involving both an expansion of digital but also looking for new sources of advertising. Ashley Highfield, chief executive of Johnston Press and a former director of technology at the BBC, can point to 16 million unique users a month via digital – a 50 per cent increase over the past 12 months. But the search for new sources of advertising has taken Highfield back to television. Sky was looking for partners for its AdSmart local advertising service and has not only teamed up with Johnson, but even took a small stake in the company. The plan is to be able to offer medium-sized companies in Johnston Press publication areas local television advertising campaigns on Sky. “We want to become a one-stop shop for all the advertising and marketing needs of small to medium-sized enterprises,” Highfield explains. The experienced British newspaper consultant Jim Chisholm absolutely supports the need for change but adds sardonically “there are no case studies about the future.” Nonetheless innovation is vital for survival in a mature industry that, unchanged, he believes has a half-life of only about five years. Chisholm is sceptical about talk of “turning corners” or “bottoming out” and says that on average digital revenue growth stands at between a tenth and a third of the print loss so far. theJournalist | 15
This does not necessarily mean publishers are doomed to losing money. “In truth many publishers can be more profitable by being smaller, because the old newspaper model had a uniquely high proportion of variable costs,” says Chisholm. The consultant cites a number of strategies for enhancing the economic position of newspapers: • Repurposing content: Le Monde has always done it with supplements and books and he suggests, for example, the Observer Food Monthly could easily become a publication in its own right • Increase emphasis on mobile : revenues from mobile will double each year for the next several years • Create more sub-brands to address specific segments of your audience • Piggyback on events and famous personalities: the VG newspaper in Norway sponsored the current Norwegian world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and helped create such a furore that for a time chess sets sold out in the country • Consider the case for moving from daily to weekly publication. Chisholm has done three exercises on the subject and in two of them the publication ended up being more profitable. It is a view argued vehemently by David Boardman in the very different circumstances in the US. Boardman,
The young who spend the week online are prepared to buy newspapers for a leisurely weekend read
former editor of The Seattle Times and president of the American Society of News Editors believes the future lies in concentrating on the web on weekdays and then using the savings to hire more and better journalists to produce a super-duper Sunday or weekend edition full of investigative journalism for which you can charge a premium. The young who spend the week online are prepared to buy newspapers for a leisurely weekend read, he argues. Some lessons for newspapers could also come from the magazine industry which, across Europe, has been pushing ahead with innovation programmes. Taking their cue from Silicon Valley, publishers such as Finland’s Sanoma and Axel Springer in Germany have been experimenting with internal “innovation suites” to speed up the development of new digital products. But for Finberg of Poynter the challenge for newspapers is now very clear. It’s not just about developing new revenue streams and new technology, or talking about digital first, changing work flows, the people you hire, or using social media more effectively. “It’s about all of those things put together in a cohesive way that changes the approach to serving the community. We are starting to see some organisations approach this as a holistic challenge and that gives we some measure of optimism,” says Howard Finberg.
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Paul Routledge is a political columnist with the Daily Mirror
the nuj and me What made you become a journalist?
And fears? That they become office-bound computer slaves, remote from the life they record.
What¹s the biggest threat to quality journalism?
When did you join the NUJ and why?
What advice would you give a new freelance?
The reckless rush to digital media, which takes journalists away from the people they write about and accelerates the trend towards entirely office-based reporting and analysis that can’t replace personal contact and experience. In my reporting career, I was present at Piper Alpha. Lockerbie and Dunblane. Those stories could only be done properly by journalists with onthe-road skills.
On the day I started with the Northern Despatch, Darlington, in July 1965, and because I’d worked on a political/union magazine, The Week.
Use your imagination about outlets for your work, and don’t be too fussy about employers, except for Murdoch and Rothermere.
What are your hopes for the trade union movement in the next five years?
Are many of your friends in the union?
Who is your biggest hero?
I got the bug working for the student newspaper at Nottingham University.
What other job might you have done/have you done? Originally I wanted to be an academic. I’ve also done lots of short-term manual jobs.
Almost all my journalist friends are NUJ, I also have friends in other unions.
What’s been the best moment in your career? When I phoned over the miners’ strike victory to The Times in the early hours of 19 February1972, from a box in Whitehall that stank like a urinal. I had to wedge the door open – my only experience of foot-in-the-door journalism.
And the worst? When I got my Wapping dismissal notice from The Times after five months on strike at the other side of the world. Jeff Overs/getty images
And the best?
upcoming generation, like Dan Johnson of the BBC, have the nerve to do the job right.
What’s the worst place you’ve ever worked in? The London office of the Manchester Evening News. It was a sweatshop – but it was my entry to Fleet Street in January 1968.
A toss-up between Labour Editor of The Times in the seventies and eighties and where I am now, at the Daily Mirror.
What advice would you give someone starting in journalism? Throw yourself at the job, never give up.
Lawrence Daly, the late general secretary of the NUM.
And villain? Rupert Murdoch.
Which six people (alive or dead) would you invite to a dinner party? Lawrence Daly, Mick McGahey, Mick Costello, Jimmy Airlie, Rodney Bickerstaffe and Ann Field (former Natsopa MoC at Times Newspapers). But it might degenerate into a piss-up. Correction, make that ‘would’.
What was your earliest political thought?
That workers employed in non-union workplaces such as call centres, distribution centre and the hospitality trade realise that they would be better off in a union.
And fears? That employers will frustrate union attempts to reach these people, aided and abetted by a Tory government.
What’s the biggest threat to effective trade unions? The loss of collective nerve among workpeople, whether manual or white-collar, which creates a sense of defeatism hard to overcome by the up and coming generation of union activists.
“So this is what it’s all about”, after reading raw copy from shop stewards for The Week in the early sixties.
Who would you most like to see in the NUJ?
What are your hopes for journalism in the next five years?
How would you like to be remembered?
To stay in it. But seriously, that the
Robert Peston, if he isn’t already.
As a journalist who fought the good fight. theJournalist | 17
Linda Harrison visits a city whose media has been transformed by the BBC’s arrival
he BBC’s move north to new studios in Salford created its fair share of controversy. ‘Unpopular’ and ‘expensive’ were two criticisms of the relocation from London to MediaCityUK. Another was that it failed to create anywhere near enough jobs for locals. Today, the BBC is a massive operation at Salford Quays, employing thousands of staff and producing programmes such as its flagship morning news show BBC Breakfast. It’s also home to BBC Children’s, BBC Sport and Radio 5 live. The BBC isn’t the only media employer at MediaCity – Granada
18 | theJournalist
also has studios there – but it’s certainly the biggest. Regional programmes include news from BBC North West Tonight and current affairs show Inside Out North West plus Sunday Politics and Late Kick Off. Online there’s BBC North West, which has four news websites covering Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Lancashire and the Isle of Man. There are also three local radio stations – BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Lancashire. The move to Greater Manchester (Salford is a separate city to Manchester) still seems to get a mixed response from local journalists. “You probably won’t find many Salford media people working at MediaCity,” says Stephen Kingston, editor of award-winning community magazine The Salford Star, who’s lived and worked in the area for 30 years. “I could write a book on why this is so. There are a lot of reasons and it’s complex but the simple answer is that the people who were charged with getting communities involved, particularly involving the local creative/media community, were just not interested and didn’t do their highly paid jobs.” Kate Bee is one of the many BBC staff who moved north as part of the relocation. The broadcast journalist for BBC Breakfast is a complete convert to life in Manchester, even though she’d never been to the city before. “I feel that Manchester’s got everything London has but on a much smaller scale,” she says. “In London I always had to get on the tube to get anywhere – here I live in the Green Quarter near the city centre and Victoria Station. It’s a very quiet area so I don’t feel I’m in the city centre, yet there are amazing restaurants, theatres, cinemas and shops nearby, nothing’s further than about a 20 minute walk. I really like that. “It’s also massively cheaper to live here than in London. I feel my quality of life has got much better, your money goes a lot further.” Alice Gregor is a broadcast journalist with BBC Radio Manchester, which was launched in 1970 as Manchester’s first local radio station. She works across a wide spectrum, including news reading, reporting and production. She says: “I think Manchester is hands down the best patch. It’s better than London in my opinion, eke in the sense that it’s got the massive breaking news stories but it also has a community feel. You can do local radio journalism really easily. You get to do both. “There’s a real pride here, everyone’s very proud to be in Manchester. There’s a lot of crime but there are also a lot of positive stories.”
words from the streets • Kate Bee, broadcast journalist for BBC Breakfast: “Parts of Manchester still feel quite unique – the Northern Quarter has some brilliant cafes and quirky restaurants and record shops. There’s also a busy music scene – everything that goes on in London seems to go on here too.” • Stephen Kingston, editor of the Salford Star: “Never stuck for a story and never a dull moment.” • Stuart Greer, multimedia journalist with MEN Media: “If I were to describe Manchester in two words it would be ‘cool’ – it’s a cultural hotbed, a place that buzzes with ideas and opportunity – and ‘wet’ because of the endless rainy days which fail to dampen the spirit.” • Freelance journalist and lecturer Rachel Broady: “I’m from Manchester and despite having lived in Yorkshire, London and Australia for journalism work, I always come back.”
Away from MediaCity, Trinity Mirror is the area’s major newspaper employer. The big title in the MEN Media portfolio is the Manchester Evening News (MEN). The publisher also has several regional papers, including the Heywood Advertiser, Macclesfield Express and Rochdale Observer. Stuart Greer, a multimedia journalist with MEN Media, says: “The Manchester Evening News positions itself as being the voice of Greater Manchester and takes this claim seriously. There is a balance of old school reporters with old school values and young, energetic and ambitious reporters using all the modern techniques to seek out exclusives. In truth, there’s very little in the way of print or online competition. But the MEN is never complacent and leads the news agenda in the region. “Manchester has a strong political, cultural and sports scene, and a fair share of crime – but most importantly people who are willing to open up and share their stories.” Independent radio stations include Bauer Media’s Key 103, Capital and Real Radio. There are also a number of magazines in the area – entertainment and listings title The Skinny and music publication Chimp magazine to name but two. Both are also online. Citizen journalism includes the free independent Salford Star plus non-profit news website Mule (‘News with a kick’). “Salford is an incredible place to be a journalist, particularly a community centred journalist,” says the Salford Star’s Stephen Kingston. “We’re right at the epicentre of a massive social cleansing project, which is seeing central Salford being almost cleared for an expansion of Manchester city centre. The dodgy property deals and Salford Council’s insistence on funding prestige projects while making huge cuts to services
for ordinary Salford people makes for a full time job – even though we’re all voluntary and don’t get paid. But someone’s got to hold the buggers to account!” He adds that the city’s seen huge changes since the Salford Star launched in 2006. “The Council seems determined to wipe out the old and herald in a brave new sterilised ‘young professionals’ city, which as the Manchester model shows, doesn’t work,” explains Stephen, who’s written for The Times, Elle and the Manchester Evening News as a freelance journalist. “Manchester has some of the highest poverty and deprivation levels in the whole country.” Other online publications include lifestyle magazine Manchester Confidential – including a what’s on guide and food and drink news – and Mancunian Matters, with news, reviews, features and sport from across Greater Manchester. “There is a real swagger to the city,” adds Stuart Greer, ”a confidence in its own ability, as well as a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit which has been passed down from its industrial past.” Rachel Broady is a freelance journalist from Manchester who teaches at HE level, including Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. “Manchester is a great cosmopolitan city but it is becoming more sanitised and characterless as time passes, sadly,” she says. “It is a really newsy area with a fantastic cultural and political history, architecture, arts venues... You can’t run out of story ideas.” According to Stuart Kingston, Manchester has everything you could want – and when you need something else you’re only two hours from the UK capital and an hour from the coast or stunning lakes and mountains. “Compared to somewhere like London, Manchester is a manageable place to live and work,” he explains. “You can be in gritty urban decay one minute and the countryside five minutes later. Those that move here – like I did – never want to leave.”
where the work is • The BBC More than 2,500 people work for the BBC in MediaCity in Salford Quays. Three divisions – BBC Children’s, BBC Sport and BBC Radio 5 live – are based at BBC North, accounting for more than 800 staff. Other operations include BBC Breakfast, 6Music, BBC Radio Manchester and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. • Trinity Mirror The publisher’s flagship title is the Manchester Evening News (MEN). The daily
paper has an office in Piccadilly Gardens while the editorial address is in Oldham. There are about 15 other papers in the MEN stable including the Macclesfield Express and Rochdale Observer. • ITV The Granada studios are in MediaCity, with about 50 staff in news and 360 for ITV Studios and 3Sixtymedia (post production). Shows include Jeremy Kyle, University Challenge and Ade at Sea. The Coronation Street set is also being relocated there.
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taking reporting into virtual reality
Rosie Niven on the latest trends and kit
n journalism, one of the most talked-about technologies is Glass, the latest wearable device from Google. In video games the equivalent is the eagerly awaited Oculus Rift, a head-mounted virtual reality display that puts the user at the centre of the action. But there are suggestions that a tool that was developed for gaming might also offer possibilities to journalists. In July, MIT’s Technology Review interviewed former Newsweek journalist Nonny de la Peña, who has spent seven years trying to demonstrate how virtual reality can help to communicate and inform. Her virtual reality documentaries include Project Syria, about refugee children, and Hunger in Los Angeles, a film about the use of food banks in the US. Viewers wear virtual reality goggles with a wide field of view and can explore their environment, which is rendered in 3D. They are, however, unable to affect the narrative. De la Peña says the technique heightens and alters human understanding of news stories and claims that she could never go back to traditional storytelling media. She told MIT Technology Review that what she calls ‘immersive journalism’
preview interviewing aids Soundcloud Soundcloud is often described as YouTube for audio. Itis popular with musicians and DJs, but it can be useful for journalists too with basic editing and sharing functions. The Android and iOS apps allow you to record and upload directly from your phone. The web browser version allows you to upload prerecord files too. All versions of Soundcloud allow you to make your recordings private
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The use of virtual reality headsets is just the latest crossover between gaming and journalism
and allow you to trim and add fadein and fade-outs. Soundcloud works best for audio that you want to share with others and edit on the go. Those who prefer a simpler way of capturing audio on mobile devices and saving it privately should explore other audio recording apps. Price: Soundcloud is free from the iOS App Store and the Android Play Store. oTranscribe oTranscribe is a browser-based app, designed by a journalist for journalists to easily transcribe their
draws upon the same skills and effort necessary for all reporting. “Source material captured at real events is necessary to really make these pieces work,” she said. The use of virtual reality headsets is just the latest crossover between gaming and journalism. A more traditional example of using interactive games to illustrate news stories is the Guardian Global Development Network’s “breaking into Fortress Europe” challenge. Players become a 28-year-old widowed mother trying to escape from Aleppo to Europe by any means necessary. The game shows how Europe’s border controls work and the journeys that refugees face. Other ‘newsgames’ allow players to be the reporter in different scenarios. These have ranged from filing onthe-ground reports from Darfur to unlocking the mystery of a school food poisoning outbreak. But some of the most popular games are the simplest and the silliest: UsVsTh3m’s Watercannon Boris was a fun way of highlighting the London mayor’s controversial new strategy for controlling crowds in London. On the other hand the website’s Slap Michael Gove and Slap George Osborne games have no particular information role, but they are strangely addictive.
work. It is a free open-courced programme. The beauty of oTranscribe is that it puts your transcription and recording controls in the same window so you don’t have to switch between Word and iTunes or Windows Media Player. You upload your audio to oTranscribe – it accepts several file types and allows you to convert noncompatible ones. Playback is controlled by hotkeys and you can also add timestamps. Your transcription is automatically saved every second. Price: Transcribe is available at http://otranscribe.com/.
Raymond Snoddy on the tricky and thankless task of chairing the BBC Trust
A thought for the chosen one
ity poor Rona Fairhead as she is unfortunate enough to get to chair the BBC Trust. The only thing that she can look forward to is a near daily lambasting by MPs and the Daily Mail, for what she does, what she doesn’t do and what she was unable to do because of the rules that govern the complex relationship between the Trust and the BBC management. Even an old political bruiser like Lord Patten was shocked by the storms that regularly burst over his head. Being the last Governor of Hong Kong was, Lord Patten admitted, easy stuff compared with running the BBC Trust. In contrast with Patten, Fairhead, former chief executive of the Financial Times Group, has virtually no public or political profile. She will have to prove quickly that being a decent, capable and intelligent businesswoman is enough to take on a job that can reduce grown men to tears. Her experience as a nonexecutive director of HSBC, which has recently had to pay a £1.2 billion fine in the US because of breeches of moneylaundering laws, won’t help. Neither will the obvious parallels between the £1.1 million she received after deciding to leave Pearson because she failed to get the top job, and the row over generous payments to departing BBC executives. Survive all that and Rona will face a bulging in-tray. The most toxic item will be the report into the activities of Jimmy Savile. All hell could break loose if it is found that BBC executives acquiesced in, or at least turned a blind eye to, a legion of sexual assaults on BBC property. The controversy over the BBC
licence fee in the run-up to Royal Charter renewal will provide a different sort of challenge. Fairhead is a free market person with a husband who is a former Conservative councillor and a friend of Chancellor George Osborne. She will have to show considerable intellectual independence to realise that the licence fee is still the best way to fund public service broadcasting and make the case for its survival. She will also have to resist what many believe is Osborne’s distaste for the BBC and willingness to see it chopped back in size.
Even an old political bruiser like Lord Patten was shocked by the storms that regularly burst over his head
he Trust will have to review director-general Lord Hall’s decision to turn BBC Three into an online only channel. It looks unwise to diminish an obvious link with younger audiences. Having wasted £100 million on its failed digital project the difficulty will be to find alternative ways to save money. Lord Hall has also decided to open up virtually all of BBC production to competition, in effect turning BBC production into a service supplier like any other. Staff jobs, skills and commitment could be undermined and ultimately packaged up for sale to major American media players. Will Rona be smart enough to realise that this offering up of sacrificial victims without any political quid pro quo is a much less good idea than it first appears? The new Trust chair will also have to move quickly to clarify the rules of engagement between the body that is part regulator and part guarantor of the BBC’s independence and the BBC management. If the BBC Trust is to work effectively the damaging rows will have to stop. Friends of Rona Fairhead talk of her northern grit. All that grit will be needed – and something else more important – an understanding of how important the BBC is as a British institution, despite everything.
For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy theJournalist | 21
Arts with attitude Some of the best things to see and do with a bit of political bite For listings email: journalist@NUJ.org.uk
The fight for freedom documented, the story of a Most Wanted Man, the unions, war correspondents and the miners strike in theatre, and community, identity and sexism in football. Exhibitions Liberty80 Manchester Royal Exchange 1 October-1 December The Liberty80 Anniversary Exhibition celebrates 80 years of campaigning organisation Liberty holding the powerful to account, showing battles fought and won for freedom, fairness, justice and equality, with some striking parallels between 1934 and the present day. Photographs and exhibits document a variety of campaigns and events, including Liberty’s Charge or Release campaign which fought the government’s plans to extend the precharge detention limit from 28 to 42 days; the successful campaign against proposed compulsory identity cards and the accompanying ‘big brother’ database; and also the work of some
high-profile supporters such as the celebrated fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. An event with Liberty’s Director ‘On Liberty: Shami Chakrabarti’ will take place on 18 November alongside the exhibition and is being presented in conjunction with The University of Manchester. www.royalexchange.co.uk Film A Most Wanted Man Momentum Pictures Released nationally from September When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg’s Islamic community laying claim to his father’s ill-gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest. As the clock ticks and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man’s true identity: oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist? This contemporary, cerebral tale of intrigue, love, rivalry and politics is based on John Le Carré’s novel of the same name and stars the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. www.momentumpictures.co.uk
indepth A COMEDY OF BETRAYAL
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The stalwart of satire Mark Thomas talks about his new show that tells a complex tale of infiltration and lost friendship Activist-comedian-writer Mark Thomas has spent much of the last year travelling around the country talking to fellow anti-arms campaigners about Martin Hogbin – formerly a great friend, latterly suspected of being an undercover employee of BAE Systems. ‘Some of them had an indescribable bond with him’, he explains. ‘They knew his family, they had been tear gassed with him and chained to petrol pumps on protests.’ This is all part of the development of his new live show, Cuckooed, which ran as part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival at the Traverse Theatre before embarking on an extensive UK tour. Although Thomas initially defended Hogbin vigorously, the case against him has become so strong that he now believes there is no question of his betrayal and, while Hogbin has never admitted guilt, in 2007 BAE Systems did admit its use of infiltration techniques to obtain confidential information from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). Thomas and his friends have been living with the consequences of Hogbin’s disloyalty for over
10 years, so what spurred him to tell the story now? ‘It felt timely to share it,’ he says. ‘I want to show how devastating this kind of infiltration is. For those involved it can lead to a loss of identity, trust in instincts and political judgement. Your sense of reality becomes completely blurred.’ Threaded through the story is the usual wit and humour that characterises Thomas’s shows. The comedy came naturally, he shrugs, ’because I am talking about people I love.’ Approaching shows with this kind of collaborative input is, unsurprisingly, of great importance to Thomas. In his 2009 show, The People’s Manifesto, he encouraged audience members to imagine up suggestions for governmental policy, however absurd; the end result was a book of the same name. Indeed, it was thanks to his most recent show, 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, that an audience member came up with the definition for the noun ‘Farage’ – pronounced to rhyme with garage – as ‘bin juice’. ‘I urge you to go out and use that word’, he declares gleefully, and he is distributing stickers to that effect. If anyone will find a way to make it catch on, it will surely be him. www.markthomasinfo.co.uk
arts Theatre War Correspondents National tour Currently booking until 25 October While reporting the outbreak of war, a journalist is held at gunpoint, caught in the no-man’s land between two nations. War Correspondents is the second performance combining theatre and new songs created by composer Helen Chadwick and choreographer Steven Hoggett (co-founder of Frantic Assembly and Olivier award-winner for Black Watch) and follows the success of Dalston Songs. For her latest project, Chadwick and creative associate Miriam Nabarro have interviewed journalists covering many conflicts, including those in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and Liberia. War Correspondents has been commissioned by Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, Sage Gateshead and New Writing North for Durham Book Festival. www.helenchadwick.com United We Stand National tour Until November Townsend Productions returns, following its productions of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and We Will Be Free! Tolpuddle Martyrs Story, with a new play by Neil Gore about the 1972 national building workers’ strike for better pay and conditions. Incorporating political songs of the early Seventies and poems by activist and actor Ricky Tomlinson (of The Royle Family) from his time in prison, the production aims to bring the full story of the dispute to life and to reflect the great tide of anger that rocked the very foundations of the established political elite. www.townsendproductions.org.uk Made in Dagenham Adelphi Theatre, London From 9 October Essex, 1968. When the women machinists of the Essex plant discover that their pay grade will be dropped to ‘unskilled’, Rita O’Grady is the unlikely but inspiring individual who leads her colleagues in a strike for equal pay with their male counterparts against the might of carmaking giant Ford, paving the way for the Equal Pay Act 1970. Inspired
by the real-life events that formed the basis for the much-loved film of the same name, this new musical adaptation is brought to life by a bold creative team including a book by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors), lyrics by Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer The Opera) and direction by Rupert Goold (Enron). www.madeindagenhamthemusical. com
A sociological study of women’s experiences of men’s professional football in England
The many of perils of being a war correspondent
In Time O’Strife National Tour Until 25 October On the 30th anniversary of the 1984 miners’ strike, the National Theatre of Scotland revives Joe Corrie’s 1926 classic play about a Fife mining community buckling under the strain of a seven-month lockout. Driven by live, gutsy, folk-punk songs and intense, bold choreography, this lively production by Graham McLaren aims to highlight the poignant and stark reality that class conflict between those at the bottom of the social heap and those in power is a perennial problem. The production received a plethora of praise from the critics and audiences when it premiered at Patthead Hall, Kirkcaldy, last
year, and it is now embarking on a national tour. www.nationaltheatrescotland.com Books Female Football Fans: Community, Identity and Sexism Carrie Dunn Palgrave, hbk, ePub eBook Most sociological work on football fandom has focused on the ‘malestream’ – the experience of men – and usually talks about socially deviant behaviours such as alcohol, fighting and general hooliganism. Yet there have always been female fans of football – even if they have been ignored or written out of the literature. This book aims to show that there are some unique facets of female experience, including a strong engagement with the new cooperative supporters’ trust movement, and fascinating negotiations of identity within this male-dominated world. NUJ member Dunn draws upon indepth, responsive interviews to put together a broad picture of women’s experiences of men’s professional football in England. www.palgrave.com
preview We’re not going back National tour Until 18 October 2014 United We Stand: the 1972 national building workers’ strike brought to life
Three sisters from a Yorkshire pit village take a stand against pit closures in We’re Not Going Back, c. Split Design
Radical theatre company Red Ladder premiered its brand-new
musical about the 1984/85 miners’ strike at the Durham Miners’ Gala in July. Now, the production is on a tour of intimate UK venues. The story follows the fortunes of three sisters living in a South Yorkshire pit village – Olive, Mary and Isabel – hit hard by the government’s war against the miners and determined to set up a branch of Women Against Pit Closures. Forced into poverty, miners and their families become part of a strike that will resonate through the coming decades. With music, comedy and grit, the three sisters embrace the values of the ’84 strike and underline the empowerment, determination and vulnerability those communities were faced within this war. Written by ex-Chumbawamba guitarist and writer Boff Whalley, and directed by Red Ladder’s artistic director Rod Dixon, the project has been commissioned by the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regions of Unite. www.redladder.co.uk www.marxismfestival.org.uk
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daily papers not dead
Can anyone find Bob Barclay of PA, Telegraph?
Does anybody know the whereabouts of retired Express group photographer Bob Barclay, formerly of the Press Association and Daily Telegraph? We were friends and occasional colleagues from copy boy days in Glasgow in the sixties but lost touch as our paths went in different directions some years ago – Hebridean islands for me, a studio business in Surrey for him after retirement, I think. I have asked our NUJ head office to check their members’ roll for a contact number/e-mail address and I have left my own with them quoting my Life Membership number. My calls were stonewalled over potential confidentiality issues. My e-mails to them with my contact details to be passed to him remain unanswered. Not even confirmation or otherwise, as requested, as to whether Bob is still with us. I’m hoping he or anyone else with news will contact me: email@example.com . Gerry Burke ex-Daily Express, Glasgow Herald
Move wasn’t anti-Semitic but a vote for justice
Union took film company to task over photographs
Almost immediately after I read in The Journalist of the closure of the Liverpool Daily Post, my computer showed a Daily Post list of 244 articles from a paper covering ‘the cities of Liverpool and Manchester, England’. This list was not new, but it showed that the Daily Post had two halves – about half the stories on the website were Welsh, not English. The papers eventually split, with that selling primarily to the middle classes on the Wirral dying, only to spawn a separate paper, of two editions now, serving the east and west of north Wales, and based in Llandudno Junction. It supposedly outsells the Cardiff-based Western Mail. The editor of the Welsh edition of the Post once told me why so little was made of the change: Liverpool was scared of the reaction of the advertisers. So they kept the change quiet! This success of the new Daily Post proves that the idea of a daily paper is not dead; just that it must adapt and change. And even the Western Mail is hardly dying. It is selling fewer copies than in days gone by. But which English daily covers Wales and the National Assembly? Both the Post and the Mail still have a heavyweight job to do... Clive Betts Caerffili
I write in response to Malvin Van Gelderen’s letter (The Journalist, July/ August 2014) about the NUJ’s vote to boycott Israel many conferences ago. He claims the NUJ demonised ‘the only democratic country in the region’ He adds that the only other country acted against by the NUJ in the past 20 years was South Africa. I believe the vote against both states was justified, since there are many parallels between apartheid South Africa and Israel’s treatment of Palestine. There are around 17 million refugees worldwide and five million are Palestinian, the largest single group and a far greater number than those from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the other countries he mentioned. The vote against Israel was not ‘antiSemitism’, as Mr Van Gelderen claims but a vote for justice.
He warns that Jewish members will continue to resign because of this vote. That in itself is anti-democratic. If you believe something is wrong, stay and fight your corner. Propose a motion at your branch and defend it at the next Delegate Meeting. This is what union democracy is all about. Patric Cunnane Folkestone
We’re in the dark over Press Card renewals I discovered my Press Card had expired last November when I needed to renew my I-Visa to work in America. I assumed that my new card must have got lost in the post – it’s been renewed automatically ever since the laminated Press Cards were first issued by the union. But it was never renewed or posted. I discover that now you have to renew your Press Card online. The NUJ
stopped renewing them automatically to save money. The net result was that this cost me rather a lot of money. I had to pay £100 for an International Press Card because – the NUJ assured me – the embassy would demand to see it. It didn’t, so that was £100 down the drain, but I wouldn’t have had to pay at all if we’d been properly notified by the NUJ. The only announcements about the Press Card change were via email – if the union happened to have your upto-date email address – and through a story in The Journalist, which, sadly, I missed. Not good enough: if the NUJ automatically posts out new cards for years, members should be notified in the same way about changes to this procedure. We are in the communications business. Roger Corke
Several months ago, after a ‘hard day’s night’, I crashed in front of the television and tuned in a very, very early morning documentary about a literary personality. I slowly realised a certain familiarity – I saw my photographs. Some were on the walls of the person’s house, (that’s ok, he was a collector) but a couple were scanned using a rostrum camera and that’s not ok! I immediately got in touch with Headland House and told them that I was never asked for a license to use and that the film company stole my work and that I never got payment for their use. I’m fairly easy to get a hold of so I assume the film company simply thought the photographs were orphaned or, simply, ‘here’s something for nothing’. After an exchange of letters between
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our national freelance office and the film company, they apologised, but certainly more importantly, paid compensation money and will change all references to my photographs to include copyright holder information. Tell this little story to all union sceptics. Larry Herman London Photographers’ Branch
Thanks to Nicola we have better pay and fresh unity On behalf of the NUJ chapel at Northern Ireland’s Morton Newspapers group – a Johnston Press company – I wish to record our deep gratitude to NUJ Irish Organiser Nicola Coleman, for her tireless support, invaluable advice and advocacy. We have just accepted an enhanced pay offer (see News pages), achieved thanks to a refreshed unity and resolve among a newly expanded membership. This is all largely, indeed almost entirely, due to Nicola’s encouragement, determination and her endless patience. Morton Newspapers and associated JP titles effectively span the entirety of
Northern Ireland and Nicola, whose responsibilities encompass both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with the attendant challenges of two legislatively distinct jurisdictions, routinely travels the length and breadth of the island to encourage, support and represent the NUJ’s members. To my certain knowledge she burns the midnight oil, so to speak, with frightening regularity. Achieving the degree of resolve and unity we currently enjoy has been a long slog and Nicola has persevered where fainter hearts would have stalled. By way of her expert evaluation, ardent advocacy, staunch support, relentless representation and enthusiastic encouragement, Nicola sets the bar very high indeed for union officials. But at the same time she impresses upon the sometimes recalcitrant recruits and the wavering members alike that, more than any official, it is they who collectively empower their union. May I record our enduring gratitude
Email your letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org Post them to: The Editor, The Journalist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP
Please keep letters to 200 words maximum
and appreciation for all of Nicola’s efforts. Paul Wilkinson FoC Morton Newspapers Ltd
Homeworking’s bare facts I noted with interest the You Are What You Wear sidebar within the article on working from home (The Journalist, July/August). It suggested that clothes could have
a significant impact on focus and productivity. As the home-based publisher/ editor of H&E naturist magazine, I would suggest this approach doesn’t necessarily work for me… For me, getting ‘in uniform’ requires literally no effort whatsoever! Sam Hawcroft Hull
twitter feed Tweet us your feedback: @mschrisbuckley
Polly Bird @PollyBird_ 22 Jul 14 @mschrisbuckley Useful piece by Ruth Addicott. Sometimes we need a nudge to interact with others. Denis MacShane @DenisMacShane 14 Jul 14 @mschrisbuckley Steve Bell’s “The Owners” should be published as a book. Genius Mary Cummings @WrkYourWay 05 Jul 14 Great read this month @NUJofficial mag @mschrisbuckley, would love to know where the ex-wives story turned up :-)
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d ce ti o n n u g in o g f o rt a ic The stylist Chris Proctor gets some tips on what to wear, and what not to, on television
suit, pointing the studio, dressed in a skydiving calling out and w belo en with a stick at a scre erate for Doris. Her mod is This s. term meteorological n she appeared most celebrated broadcast was whe she shouted her as in the nude, running over a field one would have No day. g predictions for the followin adoes. torn F5 ing hesy prop noticed if she’d been gers from but the on, hes met a stylist last month. I hear snig clot his s keep w Sno Mercifully Jon tograph pho the ined exam have s who e thos inous sock would glare of his rainbow ties and lum t, it was to the right, but it is a fact. All righ mander. The eye is cause alarm to a Texas blind sala ezvous, but dinner and not a professional rend the Chancellor or of drawn to them, at the expense had been it was fascinating to learn that Zoe rviewing. Did the inte be to whoever he is supposed ity adage? sibil styling journalists. invi the of w Snowman not kno ght they never to wear I had no idea what stylists did. I thou once me told y ‘The did. In fact, he necks of grande the nd arou ves scar ante diam rally I did. I have tossed bright colours on the telly. So natu opera or they rest of us have the dames intent on impressing at the never looked back.’ Meanwhile, . I thought they draped ostentation onto Elton John never looked forward. Gardens world, sreaders inhabited a different, Home and You see, while Zoe is correct, new pers ekee , head gam or even , where everyone had menservants telly the on g bein aren’t. They love journalists fitted in. often how and butlers. I couldn’t see where ted coun ever you e Hav o. the radi . Most of our es? We’re not a particularly scruffy crew nam rs say their own that vaguely match, Today presente trade can scrape together clothes to the ning liste ’re ‘You out of place at and generally we don’t look horribly me ram prog y Toda our y noted for a reception, but we’re not especiall with Evan Davis and bags bulge en’s wom Our . ence nific mag sartorial John Humphrys.’ This e our menfolk’s with notebook and spare pens whil it, and in as a 1970s aubergine. is factual, I adm pockets are inevitably as stuffed ing against truth in noth I’ve ciple prin pping goss while Would they Besides, we’re occupied eavesdro journalism. But do listeners mind? it to say that few s events if day’ everyone else is buffing up. Suffice the of rant igno choose to remain tague or Mon h of us are style gurus. Sara by rted repo g they were bein g? doin Lem Zoe was t wha So Mishal Husain? ce to a new TV ent It seems she had been offering advi I despair for Zoe and her magnific sreaders should dress to tries channel about what clothes its new she le and logical struggle. Whi d. ‘Line them ld is agog wor the wear. ‘So what do you do?’ I wondere half ity, nym presenters for ano f?’ It seems not. up and toss them each a tie or a scar . ideas from there. for news of them forecasters Stylists decide a theme and develop The fact is that presenters, weather ders? srea new for e them the was t es. wha briti And and newsreaders crave to be cele Zoe told me. ‘If want. But they ‘I aimed to make them invisible,’ Anonymity is the last thing they to first thing is all be invisible ld your task is to present the news, the shou We t. are wrong. Zoe is righ er for viewers to n they deserve. take away distractions, so it’s easi ntio atte the get ies so that our stor y dresses, strip ties, loud So .’ sage mes the focus on lity cult nonsense is unnecessary tartan socks all end All this persona and tops ent resc fluo es, brac h it all, I say. bras and reprehensible. Do away with sprint journalist up on the cutting floor. new a Oh. Except for bylines. As ngly logical. e are very ther On consideration, all this is staggeri that ly nite assert defi s is HG Wells’ Griffin. myself I can er spap new The ideal person to read the new why ons reas cal positive and logi ders? y, Sadl nes. So who’s going to tell the newsrea byli r thei in reta ld shou journalists the axiom to ed tion men has le one no utab y ainl irref my Cert space prevents me from refining ers of the French be to s pen hap Doria Tillier, who used to tell view just arguments at this juncture. It could expect. Last . style with Grand Journal what weather they do to true, that’s all. Something by ropes over time I saw her she was suspended
26 | theJournalist
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