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www.nuj.org.uk | june/july 2010

INSIDE: Media studies:

Case for the defence


Free festival tickets

tugofwar Union relations with the coalition


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Contents Cover story 16 War at Work

What faces the unions after the election


ince the Journalist last reached you a lot has happened in areas affecting our industry, as ever. We’ve had the general election that has delivered a Conservative-Liberal Democrat government. Perhaps not the best outcome for the future of the media or the unions. David Hencke looks at the new culture department on page 13 and we consider the prospects for union issues in general on page 16. The NUJ has been caught up in the latest and growing trend by employers to avert industrial action by making a ludicrous claim over balloting. Our turn came when the Johnston Press group of local newspapers claimed they didn’t employ any journalists after we won a 70 per cent vote for strike action. General secretary Jeremy Dear examines the wider implications for the trade union movement on page 9. We’ve also encountered more job cuts in the industry and fresh attacks on copyright. These are challenging times for journalism. On a more cheerful note, thanks to all those people who sent us compliments on the redesign and revamp of the magazine. David Woods, the designer, and I were very pleased to receive such good feedback and we hope that the Journalist continues to enjoy a positive response.

Christine Buckley Editor

Editor Christine Buckley journalist@nuj.org.uk Design Surgerycreations.com info@surgerycreations.com Advertising steve.forsdick@tenalps.com joe.brooks@tenalps.com Print Warners www.warners.co.uk Distribution Packpost www.packpostsolutions.com

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NUJ 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP info@nuj.org.uk www.nuj.org.uk

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

Cover picture Courtesy Glastonbury Festival


04 Trinity Mirror

Directors face showdown over pay

05 Johnston Press dispute Re-ballot after legal challenge

06 Copyright clash at Q and Mojo

Contributors refuse to sign new contracts

07 Battle of the free-sheets

Birmingham gets new newspapers


10 All together now

Journalism collectives

14 Mickey Mouse need not apply Media Studies defies its critics


19 Unspun: a view from PR 20 Technology 22 Workplace reps 30 Training courses

Arts with Attitude + competition Pages 24-25

Raymond Snoddy Page 21

Letters Pages 26-27

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Submission alleges actions that threaten the livelihoods and working conditions of members


Times editor hit by complaint over job cuts


ames Harding, editor of The Times, and a member of the NUJ for 16 years, has been the subject of a formal complaint from the next president of the union over his actions at the newspaper. Donnacha DeLong, NUJ vice president, made a complaint under a union rule that can lead to the expulsion of a member and the imposition of a fine. Mr DeLong accused Mr Harding of being ‘complicit in actions that threaten the livelihoods and working conditions of members’ and that he has ‘implemented enforced redundancies and job switches without regard for employment law’. The accusation follows a succession of job cuts and job changes at the newspaper that have fallen on individuals without proper notice, and without the opportunity for union representation, during Mr Harding’s tenure as editor and before that business editor. The extent of job cuts has not attracted much attention from outside The Times because departures are usually the subject of compromise agreements with gagging clauses. Occasionally the clauses prohibit any comment about the paper whatsoever. Mr Harding has now resigned from the union. He declined to comment.


His resignation comes as The Times is implementing one of its biggest job cut programmes for several years. about 50 jobs are going from the daily along with another 30 from The Sunday Times. • The NUJ wants to help journalists at The Times, whether or not they are currently members, if they feel they have been unfairly treated. Please call 0207 843 3720 or email timeshelpline@nuj.org.uk

newspapers lose £240,000 a day


imes Newspapers, the News International subsidiary which covers The Times and The Sunday Times, has been losing £240,000 a day. Last year the division clocked up pre-tax losses of £87.7 million. The losses had increased 75 per cent

from the previous year when the division was £50.2 million in the red. Turnover at the newspapers fell by 13.4 per cent to £385.5 million. announcing the round of job cuts, Mr Harding told staff in an email: “Our losses are unsustainable. We cannot

ensure the long-term future of this paper and our futures in journalism if we cannot make a viable business out of The Times.” The titles have begun charging online users in the biggest move yet by a publisher into pay-wall news.

winners oF orwell PriZe The winners in this year’s Orwell Prize for political writing were: • Andrea Gillies who won the Book Prize for Keeper, an account of living with Alzheimer’s • Peter Hitchens who won the Journalism Prize for his foreign reporting in the Mail on Sunday • Pseudonymous social worker Winston Smith who took the Blog Prize for

‘Working with the Underclass’ • Norman Percy, a documentary maker and executive producer at Brook Lapping, won a special prize for lifetime achievement. His most recent work was Iran and the West for BBC 2 • There were a record number of entries for the prize with 212 books, 85 journalists and 164 bloggers competing.

in brief... ofcom getS election complaintS The media regulator Ofcom received a total of 2,600 complaints about Sky News’s coverage of the general election. Viewers objected to political editor Adam Boulton’s treatment of the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, and also his argument with the former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, which was broadcast live. There were also complaints about Kay Burley’s interview with an electoral reformer. lineker quitS mail on Sunday Gary Lineker, the former England international footballer, has stopped his weekly column in the Mail on Sunday in protest at the newspaper’s publication of Lord Triesman’s secretly recorded conversation alleging that Spain and Russia would bribe referees in the forthcoming World Cup. The story led to Lord Triesman’s resignation as chairman of the FA and of its bid to host the 2018 World Cup. pcc defendS action over now The chair of the Press Complaints Council, Baroness Buscombe has defended the watchdog’s investigation last year into allegations of widespread phone-hacking at the News of the World. She told Radio 4 that the organisation didn’t have the powers to ‘second guess’ the police or the Office of the Information Commissioner by launching a criminal investigation. vanunu Jailing condemned The Israeli supreme court’s decision to jail nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu for three months for meeting a foreign national has been condemned as an outrage by the NUJ. He has been convicted of a ‘violation’ of the restrictions imposed on him since his release in 2004 after 18 years behind bars. Vanunu was jailed in 1986 for disclosing the inner workings of Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant to the Sunday Times.

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in brief... Scardino’s £2.3m Dame Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, which owns the Financial Times, enjoyed a 13 per cent increase in pay last year, taking her total to more than £2.3m. This included a bonus of £1.3 million and a jump of £271,000 in base pay that took her salary to £950,000. The bonus came as Pearson recorded a 13 per cent rise in pre-tax profits. Scardino received £56,000 in allowances . Montgomery’s rise David Montgomery, chief executive of Mecom, the European newspaper group, received a 51 per cent jump in his remuneration package for last year, taking it to £874,000. He was given a £290,000 bonus, although Mecom suffered a 28 per cent fall in profits and cut 850 jobs last year. His bonus was paid in shares that he can sell from March 2013. Yentob travel Alan Yentob, the BBC’s creative director, defended the expenses claims of the corporation’s senior executives and claimed he could not do his job if he did not travel business class. A review of the BBC’s 2008-2009 annual report by the last parliament’s culture, media and sport select committee described senior executive pay at the BBC as ‘out of step with the current economic climate’. O’Reilly cut Gavin O’Reilly, the chief executive of Independent News & Media, took a 10 per cent pay cut last year to €877,000 (£760,000) – as the company cut pay to directors by 23 per cent. His father Anthony, who quit as chief executive last year as part of a deal with dissident shareholder Denis O’Brien to restructure INM, received a total payoff of €2.9m. UTV chief’s boost John McCann, chief executive of the ITV franchise holder and UTV Media, received a total remuneration package of £450,000 last year, a small increase on 2008 although the company reported a 12.5 per cent fall in profits. McCann received £441,915 pay in 2008.

Trinity Mirror challenged on directors’ pay and jobs


rinity Mirror directors faced a showdown at the company’s annual general meeting with NUJ officials and shareholders over large-scale job cuts, pension provision and executive pay. Union representatives and journalists used proxy votes to attend the meeting in London’s Canary Wharf. They challenged directors including Sly Bailey, the chief executive, and Sir Ian Gibson, the chairman. Last year senior executives received nearly £4 million although employees across the group endured a pay freeze and 1,700 jobs were cut. Chris Morley, NUJ northern organiser and a former employee of Trinity Mirror, and Barry Fitzpatrick, the union’s head of publishing, repeatedly challenged the chairman over staffing levels, pensions, executive pay and the meeting’s failure to take votes in the hall. The union also distributed a letter to shareholders, warning of its concerns over the management of the business. Sir Ian defended Ms Bailey’s remuneration package which last year jumped 66 per cent to £1.68 million. He said: “Do I believe that Sly and her colleagues were worth it in the

Mark Thomas

performance of this business? Yes I do.” Overall Trinity Mirror paid out £3.77m to executive and non-executive directors last year, a 51 per cent increase over the bill in 2008. Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said: “Hundreds of talented, hard-working journalists were thrown onto the scrap heap by Trinity Mirror, an employer entirely indifferent to whether they would be able to find another job or even afford to keep their homes.”


Read more of the exchange between NUJ representatives and Trinity Mirror directors at www.nuj.org.uk

Tax Google to fund local news


oogle and other websites that carry news they do not produce should be taxed to fund local news, a report by the Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society, recommended. The commission, which was led by Geoff Mulgan, Tony Blair’s

former head of policy, voiced concerns over ‘churnalism’ and aggregated content in news. The report estimated that if Google were taxed for its content it could contribute £100 million a year to regional news organisations. Hundreds of

Sly Bailey, chief executive, received a 66 per cent increase in total pay to £1.68 million

millions could also come from taxing pay television channels and mobile phone operators. The report said that the Government has a duty to a ensure freedom on the internet, and also to promote accuracy.

Pulitzer for online news group


roPublica became the first online news organisation to win a Pulitzer prize. It won the award for investigative reporting on controversial deaths at a New Orleans medical centre following Hurricane Katrina. The 13,000 word article ‘The Deadly Choices at Memorial’ written by Sheri Fink of ProPublica in collaboration with the New York Times magazine, revealed how some New Orleans doctors decided to give lethal injections to patients whom they feared could not be evacuated.

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Johnston Press Group ‘employs no journalists’

Scarborough Evening News: one of the first strikes


ournalists at Johnston Press are being re-balloted for industrial action after the company went to court on a technicality to block strike action at its newspapers across the group. The move follows similar legal action against a planned strike at Network rail. But Unite won a court victory against an inunction effort by British airways. Johnston Press lawyers argued the group doesn’t directly employ any journalists and the NUJ was wrong to put the company’s name on the ballot papers and to send the

notification of strike action to chief executive John Fry rather than individual managers at the regional titles. Some 550 NUJ members across the group voted to take action with 70 per cent backing strike action and 88 per cent supporting industrial action short of a strike. The dispute centres on pay and the introduction of a new ‘content management’ system, atex. Johnston Press said it employed no journalists despite making group-wide decisions on a recent pay freeze, pensions, and employment terms and conditions. also, the JP stamp is on pay slips; a JP company handbook is issued to staff; and the group’s annual report states that it employs 1,900 journalists. Jeremy Dear, general secretary, said: “Johnston Press management’s claim that it employs no journalists would be laughable, did it not have such serious implications for industrial relations in the UK.” NUJ head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick said: “By making it impossible to withdraw your labour, the courts are imposing a form of slavery.” Jeremy Dear column, Page 9

unions press TuC To challenGe leGal BlocKs


nions including the NUJ are urging the TUC to organise widespread opposition to the increasing practice by companies block strikes in courts over

in brief...

technicalities. The call follows stalling legal action in highprofile disputes such as British Airways and Network Rail along with our Johnston Press case. In all cases unions had secured

Tributes to harry


ributes to Harry Conroy, general secretary of the NUJ from 1985 to 1990, have poured in from leading union figures, past and present. Harry died after an internal haemorrhage. He led the union during a tough period for the NUJ and for the movement in general. He was a key figure in the fight against rupert Murdoch’s controversial move to Wapping and advocated much closer links between journalist and print unions. Obituary and tributes pages 28, 29 .

8 Full tributes www.nuj.org.uk/remberingharryconroy

the group’s annual report states that it employs 1,900 journalists

strong mandates for industrial action but the ballots were declared illegal on technical grounds. Unite’s ballot was invaidated at first because it had not ‘properly communicated’ that there were 11 spoilt ballot papers. Unions fear sequestration if they defy court rulings. The NUJ is taking its case to the European Court of Human Rights.

newSweek Sale Newsweek, America’s iconic magazine, is being sold by the Washington Post. The title, which was launched in 1933, was bought by the Washington Post in 1961. The newspaper group blamed continuing losses for the sale, saying that it has lost tens of millions of dollars over the past two years. future riSeS Future, the magazine publisher whose titles include Total Film and Classic Rock, reported a better-thanexpected 13 per cent rise in pre-tax profits of £3.6m for the six months to the end of March. The increase came despite a 13 per cent fall in advertising revenue. Total revenue in the UK and the US fell seven per cent. tortoiSe theft ‘Lifeboat called out to help witch’; ‘Man stole tortoise to pay for booze’; ‘Whitstable Mum in custard shortage’. Local newspaper headlines can sometimes raise a smile. Penguin plans to publish an anthology of the best. All contributions welcome to: headlinesbook@hotmail.co.uk. If yours is included you’ll get a free copy of the book. welSh forum Plaid Cymru Welsh assembly member Bethan Jenkins has pressed for a Welsh media forum to try to protect quality and plurality. Her call follows a recommendation by the NUJ for such a forum when it gave evidence to a sub-committee into the state of the Welsh newspaper industry. nuJ labour winS Pat Healy, chair of the NUJ pensioners’ committee, was one of two Labour candidates to win seats from sitting Tory Councillors in Kensington and Chelsea. Pat topped the poll and had the highest personal vote of any candidate. Jane Pickard, a prominent magazine journalist, won a seat in Labourheld Lambeth council and is now a deputy cabinet member with responsibility for links with older people. theJournalist | 05

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in brief... Lebedev seeks alliances Alexander Lebedev, the Russian owner of the Independent and London Evening Standard, has said that he wants to look at forging ‘alliances’ with other news organisations. The oligarch has said he has no plans to make the Independent free ‘at the moment’ but wouldn’t rule it out for the future.

Copyright clash at Q, Mojo and Kerrang!


any contributors to music magazines such as Q, Mojo, and Kerrang! are refusing to sign contracts that ask them to surrender all copyright while at the same time assuming all legal liability for their work. The new contracts were rolled out recently across entertainment titles belonging to Bauer, the German publishing group that also owns FHM, Empire and Practical Photography. Bauer first introduced the contracts at its specialist titles based in Peterborough two years ago. The contracts, which are being offered to writers and photographers, read: “By signing and returning this agreement to us, you irrevocably and unconditionally assign to us in perpetuity…the entire copyrights and all other rights and title of any kind in the Commissioned Works throughout the world…” More than 200 contributors have signed a petition against the contracts. John Toner, freelance organiser for the NUJ, said that Bauer would not negotiate although contributors have been prepared to offer concessions. He said: “It is particularly disturbing that Bauer can introduce such a contract in the UK but would not be able to do so in Germany.” Bauer has said that it has made the move because consumers are choosing to access magazine content in different ways and it needs to be able to respond.

Lewis quits Telegraph Will Lewis quit the Telegraph, where he was editor in chief, after a dispute over the strategy of the newspaper group. Lewis had only recently picked up Newspaper of the Year for the Telegraph for breaking one of the most important stories in decades with the revelations over MPs’ expenses. Lewis left after starting a new digital business for the group. Radio 4 chief goes Mark Damazer, is leaving as controller of BBC Radio 4 in October. He will become head of St Peter’s College at Oxford University. After announcing his resignation, he admitted that the station had suffered a ‘very poor period’ after several on-air mistakes. But he denied that these were due to budget cuts. Bell leaves Guardian Emily Bell, the Guardian’s director of digital content, has left to join Columbia University. She oversaw the launch of MediaGuardian.co.uk in 2000 and became editor-in-chief of the website network in 2001. At Columbia University she will be director of a centre for digital journalism . Moore’s TV fine Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, was fined £262 for failing to buy a TV licence. Mr Moore refused to buy a £142.50p licence because the BBC didn’t sack Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand after they left obscene messages on the answerphone of actor Andrew Sachs. He was fined by Hastings magistrates’ court.

guardian cuts photo fees


he Guardian is at the centre of fresh controversy over photographers’ fees after cutting the rates it pays for reproduction of ‘stock’ images. Stock photographs

are copyright images held in the newspaper’s archives. The newspaper group has cut the rate it pays by 10 per cent after originally wanting to make a cut of 15 per cent. Last year

The Guardian provoked protests outside its offices by scrapping reproduction fees for all commissioned work. The NUJ and the British Photographic Council is urging the newspaper to

restore the rates that were cut in May. The union has also produced a model letter for photographers to use in their dealings with The Guardian so freelances don’t feel they are acting alone.

Mourning Themon


ournalists in magazines are mourning the death of Themon Djaksam, who has died aged 53. He had been in poor health for a while. Themon, who was originally from Gabon, was active in the magazine branch and the black members council. He came to NUJ prominence as FoC at the beleaguered West Africa magazine six years ago where staff were not paid for several months and suffered other poor conditions. Drawing by Themon’s friend and colleague Tayo Fatunla

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Battle of the free-sheets hits Birmingham

in brief... Lunch off the menu Working Lunch, the daily business programme shown on BBC 2 since 1994, will be taken off the air in July as part of the BBC’s cost cuts. The programme that established the career of Adrian Chiles will be replaced by GMT, a BBC World News Channel current affairs programme anchored by George Alagiha. Working Lunch’s average audience has tumbled from 450,000 in 2002 to below 300,000 this year.


irmingham has become the centre of a newspaper war with the launch of two new titles, with one claiming to pioneer a radical new business model for news production. Media watchers will focus on the city and in particular the fortunes of the new Birmingham Press, a hub-less operation that describes itself as quasi paid-for. The Press, which has been launched by free newspaper entrepreneur Chris Bullivant, is operating on vastly reduced costs compared with traditional titles. All editorial staff work remotely and there is no central hub. The Press is aiming for a core sale of about 5,000 with 20,000 delivered free to selected suburbs. Trinity Mirror, owners of the Birmingham Post, has responded by launching the Birmingham Post Lite, a free version of its flagship title. The new title will concentrate on the

same upmarket suburbs of the city as the Press. Mr Bullivant said he had launched the Press in response to the Post’s decision to switch from daily production to weekly. Traditionally the Post had set the news agenda for the Midlands. Trinity Mirror has also turned the Birmingham Mail from a full evening title with big breaking news to overnight production. In the process it has shed 100 journalists’ jobs in the west Midlands.

regional press awards: NUJ sponsors for the first time


he Regional Press Awards are being hosted by the NUJ for the first time as part of the union’s Stand Up for Journalism campaign. The awards have previously been organised by the Press Gazette. But the Wilmington Group, which retained the rights

to Press Gazette’s events when it sold the title last year, said that it would not run the awards this year because of a lack of financial support from the newspaper publishers. Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said: “At a time when the newspaper groups bemoan the

profitability of the industry and cuts in staffing and budgets threaten quality journalism, we are proud to celebrate inspiring local and regional newspaper journalism.” Entries closed in May and the awards will be presented in London on June 29th.

We are proud to celebrate inspiring local and regional newspaper journalism

” Rights on, Charlie Brown



noopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy and their friends in the Peanuts cartoon strip are back under the control of their creator’s family. The Schulz family and brand managers Iconix have bought the licensing rights from US newspaper and TV group EW Scripps in a $175 million deal. The deal comes as Snoopy, who was originally going to be called Sniffy, celebrates his 60th birthday later this year. Charles M Schulz, who created the strip, died in 2000.

£1 Pearl & Dean STV, the ITV licensee, sold the lossmaking cinema advertising business to a director of Empire Cinemas for a nominal £1. The once iconic advertising operation has been sold to Image Limited, which is backed by Thomas Anderson, a director and ultimate owner of Empire Cinemas. The Scottish broadcaster said that Pearl & Dean, which this year will be released from a contract with the Vue chain, has been losing between £10 million and £12 million a year. Police and cards The Metropolitan Police Authority’s civil liberties panel called for police to engage better with the media. The panel’s report into the policing of last year’s G20 demonstrations – when newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson died – says officers should be able ‘to recognise the press card, its security measures and the status it gives journalists’. Deal at LexisNexis The NUJ has negotiated a pay and conditions agreement at the legal publishers LexisNexis. Pay has been increased by £450 a year or 1.3 per cent. NUJ organiser Fiona Swarbrick said: “While it won’t change any lives, it does represent a positive step forward, in a climate where many employers continue to freeze levels of pay.” RED BEE SETTLES Red Bee, the media management company, and the NUJ and Bectu reached an agreement on redundancy terms. The deal came after a year of negotiations and a threat by the unions to strike during the BBC’s election debate.

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news in brief... African Unity A stronger and more united journalist movement across Africa was called for in Harare by the second continental congress of the Federation of African Journalists, part of the International Federation of Journalists . The congress was the first summit of journalists organised in Zimbabwe since the country’s current political and economic crisis. Niger kidnaps Two journalists were released after several days of being held in captivity in the Nigerian state of Imo. South African sound engineer Nick Greyling, who works for the television station 8M-Net Supersport, and Nigerian sports commentator Bowie Attamah were freed. Philippines death A journalist was bludgeoned to death at a radio station in the southern Philippines, another victim in a spate of media killings. Broadcaster and columnist Chito Abuzo was beaten to death with a rock at DXGS radio in the city of General Santos. Thirty journalists were among 57 people murdered in Manguindanao province in the southern Philippines in November last year in an attack blamed on a local political rivalry. JOURNALIST shot Honduran journalist David Meza was shot dead in his hometown of La Ceiba. The radio and television journalist was shot in his car as he tried to escape his attackers while metres from his house in the coastal town about 200 kilometres north of the capital, Tegucigalpa. The motive for the killing was unknown. Irish tax relief Many NUJ members in the Republic of Ireland are losing out by not claiming tax relief on their trade union subscriptions. The union’s Irish secretary Seamus Dooley said: “This is a relief to which trade union members in Ireland are entitled, and it is very important that they claim it. Claims can be made online through the Revenue Commissioners website .”

Red card for ‘fans with lap-tops’


he Scottish NUJ is kicking into touch sports editors who use amateur writers to report on matches. The union has written to sports editors pressing them to maximise the use of real journalists to cover sporting events amid a growth in the number of ‘fans with laptops’ supplying copy to news organisations. The Scottish NUJ will step up its campaign ahead of the start of the new football season in August with soccer attracting the most amateurs keen to write cheaply or for free. The letter sent to sports desks says: “At a time when industry cuts are affecting professional journalists, we

do not want to see amateur scribes covering games that could be done by qualified staff or freelance members of our profession.” The Scottish section of the union is concerned that professional sports reporters are increasingly frustrated at having to work alongside amateurs and are becoming more concerned about falling editorial standards and pay because of the growth in amateurs. It says that many of the enthusiasts already have full-time jobs in other professions. The union complains that in the last football season every press box had “more than a fair share of policemen and teachers acting as ‘fans with lap-tops’.

Every press box had more than a fair share of policemen and teachers acting as ‘fans with lap-tops’

Scottish NUJ

Gorkana alert: business sold


he founders of Gorkana, the group that supplies information about journalists to the PR industry, made multimillionpound fortunes after selling the business to Durrants, the press cutting service. Michael Webster and Alex Northcott, who used to work for the City PR firm Brunswick, sold the online business that they started in 2005 for just under £25m. Gorkana boasts a database of more than 130,000

journalists. The organisation largely works by sending email alerts to PRs and journalists about job changes and vacancies throughout the media.

Readers’ Digest goes to private equity


he British division of Reader’s Digest, one of the best-known names in publishing, has been bought by Better Capital, the private equity firm belonging to Jon Moulton. The UK operation went into administration in February, six months after its US parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Mr Moulton first came to prominence when he tried to buy the Rover car group 10 years ago. He has since gained some recognition for speaking out against some of the excesses of the financial markets. Better Capital Limited paid about £13 million for the longestablished business through its BECAP fund. Reader’s Digest in the UK, which markets magazines, books, music, and financial services along with its famous prize draws, employs 100 people

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up front

General Secretary Jeremy Dear says unions must challenge perverse legal rulings

A fight for the right to strike


hile media attention focused on British Airways’ attempts to ban strikes by cabin crew, across the hall at the High Court, Johnston Press (JP) was seeking a similar ban on strike action by hundreds of journalists. Unite’s case revolved around 11 spoilt ballot papers, from a total of more than 9,000 votes cast. BA’s challenge wasn’t over the legitimacy of the result but that just one of the many channels used to communicate the result to members didn’t detail those 11 papers. The NUJ case was even more perverse. Johnston Press, publishers of nearly 200 newspaper titles, claimed to ‘employ no journalists’. This is despite the JP stamp on pay slips; the JP company handbook that staff receive; and the JP disciplinary and health and safety policies by which staff are required to abide. So, was chief executive John Fry being economical with the truth when he told the Culture, Media and Sport select committee that ‘we have 11,000 journalists around the country and they create huge numbers of local stories’? Or is the Johnston Press website incorrect when it states the company employ 6,500 people, including 1,900 journalists. Maybe it is a printing error in the annual report that has led to the claim that the group employs 6,500 staff including journalists. Johnston Press plc closed the group-wide pension scheme; it imposed the group-wide pay freeze. Johnston Press plc has implemented

the group-wide introduction of the Atex content management system, so reviled by editorial staff. Despite this, Johnston Press maintains the fiction that decisions are made locally. Our dispute is not with local managements but with Johnston Press plc. Individual managers cannot lift the pay freeze, re-open the pension scheme, or ditch Atex. Yet the law requires us to have a dispute with each wholly owned subsidiary.


It is an assault on the fundamental right of workers to withdraw their labour

poilt ballots, a web of subsidiary companies, it doesn’t actually matter. The anti-trade union laws, introduced under Thatcher with the pretence of ‘giving the unions back to their members’, provide more than enough scope for employers to derail the democratic wishes of any group of workers. These and other recent High Court injunctions are a de facto ban on the right to strike. Unite’s Tony Woodley, summed it up: “It is now all but impossible to take legally-protected strike action against any employer who wishes to seek an injunction on even the most trivial grounds.” Unite went on to overturn their High Court ban which is great news. But the genie is out of the bottle as far as the blatent bias of anti-trade union laws. We will take our case up with the European Court of Human Rights. It is also an issue the TUC must act on urgently. The threat of sequestration precludes any single union defying similar nonsensical judgements in the future. The TUC now has a crucial role to play in co-ordinating a trade union movement response. As for our members at Johnston Press, this judgement solves not one of the crucial issues in the dispute. They will re-ballot, this time 40-plus individual (but identical) disputes along with their Scottish colleagues who, outraged at management tactics, have now asked to be balloted too. We must support them and the right of all workers to withdraw their labour.

For all the latest updates from the General Secretary visit his blog at: http://jeremydear.blogspot.com theJournalist | 9

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All together now Member-owned media organisations are becoming more popular. Rosie Niven finds that the collective way has some real advantages

hen a major client warned Ismene Brown of a 50 per cent to 70 per cent cut in commissioning, she and a group of fellow freelance arts journalists decided to take action. The bombshell email about the drop in their work prompted them to collaborate on a website featuring quality arts and culture coverage. “We all got the same email saying our work was going to be dramatically cut,” says Brown, the main architect of The Arts Desk website. “We knew that the demand for arts and culture coverage is increasing, yet readers are poorly served by the national papers in this area. But we realised that we had to do it in a different way from the traditional print model.” Mass redundancies in the wake of the print advertising collapse have prompted calls for journalists to get more entrepreneurial and to create lean start-ups that can survive in tougher economic times. But more informal, collaborative models like the Arts Desk are also being established as journalists seek to take on the uncertainties of the current economic climate together. And many of these collectives are shunning traditional business plans that emphasise profit over product. They favour alternative models, including co-operatives. For Alex Wood, it was frustration with the mainstream media’s reliance on newswires that prompted him and four others to form a collective. Not on the Wires (NOTW) seeks to offer multimedia coverage of major events from a different perspective to traditional media outlets. It grew out of the quintet’s success in documenting the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall for Reuters. Wood believes that the lightweight set-up of NOTW gives it an advantage over traditional media. As a primarily onlinebased business, start-up costs are low and there are no layers of bureaucracy to deal with or technological constraints. “Not on the Wires is a new way of thinking,” says Wood. “We are smaller and more agile than mainstream media companies.” Paul Bradshaw, course director of the MA Online Journalism programme at Birmingham City University, says that the internet has lowered the cost of collaborating and predicts that with businesses continuing to struggle, the idea of forming collectives will become more and more appealing. He says the motivation for forming collectives could be social or to encourage pooling of resources and expertise. Another motivation for journalists to collaborate is to create further opportunities by developing a “brand”. Salina Christmas is co-founder of Sojournposse, a website showcasing photography and video journalism from around the world. She likens Sojournposse to the photojournalism co-operative Magnum in the way its growing reputation opens doors for its members. “It gives you a collective advantage,” says Christmas. “Sojournposse is not-for-profit. The currency we get, quite frankly, is fame, acknowledgment. My name, Salina Christmas, will not part seas – I’m not John Pilger. But Sojournposse has a reputation.” Christmas, who works as a multimedia editor at a magazine publisher, says that so far the website has not generated a profit for any of the individuals involved, but it has helped some to secure commissions and has led to a collaboration with car manufacturer Nissan for the London Design Festival.

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Like Christmas, Alex Wood and his colleagues have day jobs in journalism or their own freelance media businesses. He sees NOTW as an association – but is hopeful of turning it into something more formal and sustainable. NOTW is looking into becoming a legally constituted co-operative, sharing profits between themselves and offering the expertise they acquire to others.


o-operatives – enterprises that are jointly owned and controlled by their members – are best known in the UK for the Co-operative Group and The Big Issue. But they are becoming a common business model for media organisations that seek to provide public service journalism in North America . Chicago News Co-operative (CNC), was launched last year by former Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times editor, James O’Shea, because of his frustration at media companies’ lack of investment in quality journalism. CNC provides public service journalism focused on Chicago. Since its launch last year it has clinched deals to provide content to the New York Times and the local public television station. It is the first outside news organisation to produce entire pages for the New York Times. Another example of flourishing journalism co-ops in North America is the Canadian Writers’ Group, which has assembled a roster of talented journalists to provide writers for some of Canada’s most prominent publications. Meanwhile,

WHO’S WHO Sojournposse: www.sojournposse.com/about/ index.htm Sojournposse is a collective of 40 individuals based in London, Barcelona, Kathmandu, Madrid, New Jersey, Colombo and Cordoba. It was founded by twin sisters Zarina Holmes and Salina Christmas in 2006. Inititally, it was made up of a handful of travel photographers and editors who started telling

We are smaller and more agile than mainstream media companies

stories through photo reportage and later grew into a collective of multi-disciplined talents including musicians and filmmakers. The website now showcases photo essays, videos, poetry and “inspired conversations”. Co-founder Salina Christmas says it seeks to provide an ‘”alternative voice” to traditional travel media and to empower photojournlists who are currently suffering from diminishing markets for their work. “The majority of travel journalism is actually from the top-down, not the bottom up,” she says. Not on the Wires: www.notonthewires.com The Berlin Project: www.theberlinproject.com Not on the Wires was formed by five graduates of London’s City University to provide multimedia storytelling of major international events. The group puts a strong emphasis on social media, which was borne out of members’ frustration at

the grassroots Canadian media organisation Dominion Newspaper Co-operative, is launching a series of local news co-ops in Halifax, Toronto, Edmonton and Montreal. Funded through monthly donations from readers, it seeks to provide “democratically produced media to professional standards”. On this side of the Atlantic, co-operatives have been touted as an answer to pub closures, so could they become a solution to some of the problems affecting the journalism trade? Co-operatives UK, the organisation that promotes the interests of co-operatives in the UK, believes they could. A significant number of the organisation’s members are trading in the creative industries, which it says illustrates the model’s potential to work for journalists. The organisation will shortly publish a guide for freelances in the creative industries who are looking to set up a co-operative. Co-operatives UK’s secretary general, Ed Mayo, says that although he is not aware of any existing significant journalist co-operatives in the UK, he believes that the current changing and fluid media environment may fuel more interest in this model. He says: “The current change within the media industry has resulted in an increasing number of freelance journalists, with many now finding themselves in a position of insecurity. “Co-operation allows pooling of resources and importantly a place where ideas can be shared. And as co-operation offers an opportunity to break out from a somewhat isolated freelance working environment, I see great potential for

broadcasting equipment. Not on the Wires’ first act as a collective was organising a free event on multimedia storytelling in March. The team, who are all freelances for clients including BBC and CNN, are covering the 2010 Football World Cup. mainstream broadcasters’ approach to multimedia journalism. The team pioneered their approach with the Berlin Project where they used smartphones to upload content to social media sites, including Audioboo, Flickr and Qik. Key to its approach is unearthing stories that are not found on newswires and their coverage of spontaneous protests against Berlin’s gentrification demonstrated this commitment. The Berlin Project was made possible through a collaboration with Reuters and the team hopes that in the future its work can be sponsored by manufacturers of

The Arts Desk: www.theartsdesk.com The Arts Desk is Britain’s first professionally produced arts critics website. Launched last year by a collective of 40 freelances in response to a shrinking market for quality arts journalism, The Arts Desk is made up of a series of hubs for each artistic discipline. Its founder and dance critic Ismene Brown describes it as “a bit of a commune” in its editorial approach and adoption of Open Source principles. Email plays a major role in organising the site and generating ideas or feedback, though Brown admits it is often a challenge to get consensus on a subject.

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freelance journalists working together to form co-operatives.” Paul Bradshaw, whose own contribution to promoting collaborative journalism was to launch the Help Me Investigate website, predicts an increase in the number of journalism collectives in the wake of the crisis facing the profession. “We are still at the beginning of this,” he says. “There are a lot of journalists coming to terms with being made redundant. A lot of newly graduated journalists are looking for work and they are slowly starting to think about these things.” For some, forming a journalism collective is a way of letting off steam; for others it’s a chance to produce more fulfilling journalism than their day job allows. But for Ismene Brown it became her day job – although she admits that, so far, it has been at a cost to herself and the Art Desk’s other contributors, who have given their money as well as their time.

For some, forming a journalism collective is a way of letting off steam, for others it’s a chance to produce more fulfilling journalism than their day job allows

“It’s probably the first case in the known world where journalists have had to pay to work.” she says. “Writing journalists act a bit like little children throughout their careers. They send copy to the editor and other people take care of the subbing and layout. Now you have to do it all yourself – you have to grow up.” She estimates that she will have spent the best part of a year developing the site, but is confident that the quality of journalism that the Art Desk offers is making a name for the collective. “We’ve been picked out by The Times, The Independent and The Guardian,” she says. “All have highlighted our work or picked up our stories. Radio Five Live named us as one of the five essential sites – we were up there with Spotify. That gives us hope that we can continue this work with the real expectation that something can happen.”


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No Liberal Democrats, no women, and too close to Cameron David Hencke looks at how the department in charge of the media embarks on Year Zero

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Bureau, among others, to set up networking events with private companies. Already the DCMS website, in a rather Orwellian way, has been airbrushed of all previous Labour history which has been consigned to the UK government web archives. For them history begins now. Top of the agenda for DCMS will be achieving some £66m in cuts in a small-staffed department that, as Mr Hunt has indicated, will include the Olympics. To achieve such a scale of savings must mean some cuts in service provision as it cannot be achieved by saving paper clips and first-class travel. But expect a substantial shake up in the media industry affecting both the BBC and commercial TV. In Mr Hunt’s in-tray will be the bids to set up pilot regional cross media news organisations to replace ITV’s regional news services. Before the election the Tories were committed to halting these. Labour tried to get them off the ground but Mr Hunt held meetings with Archie Norman, the head of ITV, with the aim of delaying progress. They will certainly be caught up in George Osborne’s decision to review all decisions on spending taken by Labour since January. On a wider front Mr Cameron, a former Carlton TV public relations consultant, is keen to deregulate the entire commercial broadcasting

Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey were both key figures in helping David Cameron to victory over David Davis

John Harris


wo of David Cameron’s most trusted aides are in key positions to preside over a major review of broadcasting and the media that will mean big cuts in subsidies and deregulation for broadcasting and the press. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is a Liberal Democrat and women-free zone – giving the Tories free rein to pursue their manifesto untrammelled by their coalition partners unless Nick Clegg chooses to make any change an issue. Jeremy Hunt, the new culture secretary, and Ed Vaizey, the new culture minister, were both key figures in helping David Cameron to victory over David Davis to get the leadership of the party in 2005. Before the election Mr Hunt was a major figure in briefing lobbyists and major donors at events organised by Conservative Intelligence, the £2,500 a year insider subscription service which gave those who could pay a chance to influence policy and meet the party’s shakers and movers. Mr Vaizey is also a key political speechwriter and can be credited along with Michael Gove, the education secretary, for influencing party policy. Before the election – as the MPs’ register of interests discloses – the two were bankrolled by James Murdoch’s BSkyB, the Groucho Club, Bonhams, and the Digital Radio Development

industry, possibly paving the way for a Fox News type of operation before the next general election, ending the impartiality of broadcasters and favouring the Tories. On the other side of the coin, this may also allow more localised TV as Mr Hunt is a keen supporter of developing commercial local stations. For the BBC it could mean curtains for the BBC Trust, a freeze on the licence fee, and reduction in the scope of the organisation. With Murdoch’s decision to introduce pay-to-view websites for The Times and Sunday Times, it would be helpful for News International if the BBC were forced to curb its own free-to-view website as it is a valuable alternative source of news. One potential ally for the Tories could be Lord Birt, the former Labour adviser and BBC director general, who, as a recent release under freedom of information shows, fought a battle with former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, when the BBC Trust was set up, and was a critic of the existing system. theJournalist | 13

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mickey mouse need not apply Media Studies defies its critics and gets people jobs, finds Kim Farnell, a graduate of one of the pioneering colleges


long with the annual sport called A Levels are Getting Easier Every Year, you can enjoy playing Media Studies is a Mickey Mouse Degree. After all, it isn’t a ‘proper’ subject, but is simply an extra in an already overcrowded curriculum. It’s the sort of subject that students of real subjects – such as English literature – can do in their spare time. Students who want to avoid difficult subjects such as foreign languages and sciences find it an easy option. Media studies isn’t vocational enough, or maybe it’s too vocational and not academic enough. Whatever – it just involves watching a lot of TV. And if we’re not careful, we’ll end up offering degrees in subjects people might like to study – such as beer drinking, ha, ha. The game comes to a climax when it’s pointed out that if you study media studies, you won’t get a job – or at least you shouldn’t aim higher than working in a call centre. All you’ll be qualified for is teaching media studies. But the reality is different. The employment rate of media studies graduates is higher than in most other humanities and social science subjects

and the majority gets jobs in media-related professions. One thing is true – not all media studies graduates become journalists. Unlike politics graduates who obviously all become politicians, or philosophy graduates who grab one of the many philosophy jobs around on leaving college… The suspicion about media studies is akin to that which greeted English literature in the 1920s – the concept that students might find value in reading books in their own language instead of Latin or Greek was truly shocking. In the 1960s sociology was the target. The problem is that the media has little mystery because we access it every day. It’s ordinary, and therefore not worthy of study. When journalism courses began to gain ground, sceptics ridiculed the idea of teaching journalism, saying that journalists are born, not made. The 1960s brought a change in attitude, from trying to convince people that popular culture was destructive to an emphasis on working within popular culture. Slowly, media studies developed from the academic study of English and literary criticism to take account of the influence of sociology and film studies. In 1966, the Centre for Mass Communication Research was founded at Leicester University. It took another nine years until the Polytechnic of Central London (which became the University of Westminster in 1992) offered the UK’s first BA in media studies. Taking in about 40 students a year, PCL’s critical and theoretical approach to journalism was soon copied around the world. Within three years Stirling University was offering a similar course. In 2008 Westminster University’s media studies department was rated as “world-leading” by the Research Assessment Exercise. Only the museum studies department at Leicester University scored higher. Westminster’s media studies course has consistently been so over subscribed that it has been forced to move out of central London and build a

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a new £30 million department in Harrow. With nearly 3,000 media courses at hundreds of institutions across the UK, media studies is one of the biggest growth areas in terms of number of courses and number of applicants. The subject has moved from the old polytechnics to the academic mainstream. Many of the available courses include media studies alongside another subject – some more obvious than others – including advertising, business, computing, drama and law. Since being introduced at GCSE level in 1986, media studies is now taught in schools all over the UK. In 1990, media and film studies accounted for only 664 students. By 2008 this had risen to 70,235. Some of those students were amongst the 35,000 who applied for university courses that they hoped would help them to land jobs in the media. They were joined by 15,000 students studying a media-related course. Unfortunately, media studies GCSEs are prey to the same type of scorn as degree courses. Cambridge University puts the subject on its list of A levels that fail to impress – and when saying that it doesn’t offer media studies at degree level, it suggests that a degree in English may be more to the point.


n estimated 200,000 people work in the media industry but each year there are about 60,000 people trying to find work in it. In 2008 – the latest date for which figures are available – more than 75 per cent of media studies graduates were either working or studying within six months of graduation. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, more than 70 per cent entered employment compared with 56 per cent of English graduates and 53 per cent of history graduates. The success rate is also above the 63.3 per cent average for all first-degree graduates. One in six went to work in the media six months after graduation, with one in 10 going into marketing and sales jobs. On balance, the chances of employment with a media studies degree are comparatively high. And graduates don’t necessarily end up making the tea or working in a call centre. One of the most renowned media studies graduates is former Channel 4 chief executive Michael Jackson, who gained his degree from Westminster – the first media studies graduate to reach a senior level in the British media. There are, of course, others such as Mark Frith, former editor of Heat, who gained his degree from the University of East London. One of Westminster’s best-known media studies students, The Guardian’s Charlie Brooker, never actually completed his degree. Despite all efforts to malign media studies as a degree option, it has turned out to be wildly successful in terms of both employment prospects and popularity. The University of Westminster continues to lead in terms of research into the media. Those who enrolled as students in the early days felt they were special. Perhaps we were.

COURSE BY COURSE • Northampton University offers a staggering 68 different media studies courses including, Media and Advertising, Biological Conservation and Media Studies and Marketing and Media Studies. • The top 10 universities for media studies undergraduate courses according to the Times are Warwick; Sheffield; Cardiff; Loughborough; Queen Mary; Leeds; Leicester; Goldsmiths; Bournemouth; and East Anglia. • The top 10 universities for postgraduate study according to the Research Assessment Exercise data are Leicester; Westminster; East Anglia; Goldsmiths College; London School of Economics; Cardiff; East London; Sussex; Royal Holloway; and Nottingham Trent. • Some 80 per cent of media studies students said they were satisfied with their course in 2008 compared with 89.4 per cent of English students and 76.7 per cent of journalism students.

Everyone was so far on the edge, they worried about falling off Nowadays, the University of

Westminster has an alcohol-free area in one of its bars. A puzzling concept for those of us who were students there in the early 80s. For many media studies students, life outside lectures was split between sessions in the bar and student union politics – sometimes the two coincided. New students weren’t quite sure what to expect from their course – there was nothing to compare it with. Applying semiotics, French philosophy and psychoanalytic theory to discussions of the colour of John Wayne’s shirt in Rio Bravo while squinting at camera angles simultaneously offered a new perspective and made it impossible to watch Coronation Street. College culture was planted firmly on the far left. Those who wished had a wealth of factions they could join, and fight against other factions. Student projects inevitably had a worthy and revolutionary air – visiting Greenham Common made one obvious choice for a group I worked with. Being guided towards ‘radical’ and ‘daring’ approaches resulted in my sitting in a Soho brothel drinking tea with a bemused working girl. Everyone was so far on the edge, they worried about falling off. Things changed. Chain-smoking lecturers and student protest became a thing of the past and media studies became what some see as an easy option, instead of a novelty. Last March, 200 staff and students at the University of Westminster stormed a board of governors’ meeting and occupied a building in a protest against job cuts. That radical spark may have been sleeping for a while, but it isn’t completely buried.

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War at w Christine Buckley considers the future for the unions as the coalition government flexes its muscles...


uts, cuts, and more cuts across the public services. Then, attacks on public sector pensions and another attempt to part-privatise Royal Mail. And afterwards, possibly one of the most destructive attacks on the unions’ relationship with the Labour Party. Welcome to what awaits the unions under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. The new government isn’t quite the doomsday scenario of a Conservative majority that many in the unions feared. But it’s pretty similar. The Liberal Democrats may tame the Tories in some policy areas but unions won’t be holding their breath that this will happen over issues important to them. Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, has already shown he is no friend of organised labour. In an interview with the Spectator, he declared that Margaret Thatcher’s actions against the unions were a ‘victory over a vested interest’, ‘immensely significant’, and an important ‘battle for how Britain is governed’. Unite, the biggest union, says it views Mr Clegg as ‘very anti-union’.

Vince Cable, the business secretary, also worries the unions after he signalled Liberal Democrat support for a reduction in the value of public service pensions. He believes the pensions, which are hugely valued by the unions, are unsustainable in their present form. The biggest immediate challenge for the trade union movement is cuts to the public services. The Tories got their way on this one in the deal struck between the two parties and the most severe of the three election plans to cut back spending will take place – £6 billion of cuts this year. Civil service union PCS fears that 100,000 jobs could go across the public services. Details of where the cuts will strike will be revealed in the imminent emergency budget. At its recent annual conference PCS said it would work with other unions on a national campaign against the cuts in a move that is likely to bring millions of workers on strike. The public sector unions are also expected to co-ordinate their action against changes to pensions, which they regard as a fundamental part of public sector pay, especially for jobs in which salaries are low. The Trade Union Co-ordinating Group,

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t work

which includes the NUJ, the Fire Brigades Union and the RMT, has already said that industrial action is needed to fight cuts in public spending. PCS, like the NUJ, isn’t affiliated to Labour, and has always taken a tough line on strike action. There is an expectation now that more will take a harder line and have more of a go now there isn’t a Labour government. A spokeswoman for Unison said: “There will be a lot more to have a go at.”


nison is far from reassured by the Tories’ pledge that frontline services won’t be hit. The spokeswoman said: “They talk about backroom efficiency savings but behind every nurse there are cleaners who make the hospital safe, behind every teacher there are people who make sure the school keeps running.” Unison is also concerned about the Tories’ plans to tackle health and safety legislation and to review some quangos. “Some of these are organisations that make sure workplaces are safe and they could be under threat.”

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VOTING FOR UNITY Another election will soon grip the trade union movement – that for the next general secretary of Unite, Britain’s biggest union. The election is critical because it is the first opportunity to properly unify the union that was launched two years ago in a difficult merger of the T&G and Amicus. Since then, Unite has been led by joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, whose working relationship has often been less than amicable. Now one candidate from the T&G side of the union – Len McCluskey – is fighting for election against five candidates from the Amicus side – Les Baylis, Gail Cartmail, Simon Dubbins, Jerry Hicks and Paul Reuter. The election goes beyond Unite itself. It will be watched by other unions that have also considered merging with Unite but have been concerned by the tensions within the union under the joint

Civil service union PCS fears that 100,000 jobs could go across the public services

leadership. It is also critical to the Labour Party as the union has been its biggest financial backer by far. Union mergers have steadily transformed the face of the movement over the years as individual unions have struggled with the loss of members in declining, traditionally organised industries. Consolidation has led to bigger, more powerful unions, but it has also led to some conflict and loss of identity. Unite, for example, came under pressure during the last postal dispute because its membership includes postal managers. Increasing consolidation going forward can also signal alarm bells for the TUC, led by Brendan Barber, as a smaller number of large unions make a union umbrella organisation less pivotal.

PCS, other unions and the TUC counter the call for savage public services cuts by urging the Government to plug tax loopholes and increase tax collection. A spokesman said: “We estimate £120 billion isn’t collected because it is either avoided by the wealthy in accounting practices, or Revenue and Customs doesn’t have the resources to collect it” Tax, though, is one of the few areas where there is a plus for the unions from the new government. They are pleased that it has backed the Liberal Democrats’ plans to take low earners out of the tax system by raising the personal allowance to £10,000. But so much for the good news. The marriage of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats and their proclaimed desire to create a new type of politics could turn government attention again to political donations. Moves to cap political donations at £50,000 stalled in the last government but some appetite for it revived recently in the wake of fresh controversy over Lord Ashcroft’s funding for the Conservative Party. A cap on political donations at such a level would torpedo the whole political relationship between the unions and Labour and leave the party struggling for money during its time in opposition. Another unpopular revisiting exercise could deliver a fresh assault on Royal Mail, after Labour’s failure last year to sell a theJournalist | 17

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David Mansell/report digital

stake in the business. The Liberal Democrats, an inherently free market party, want to split Royal Mail in two and sell 49 per cent of the letters business. How far the Government will go in dismantling employment laws established during the Labour administrations remains to be seen. A lot of it emanates from Europe, so unpicking is not possible. The Tories have also put a little effort into trying to convince the unions that they are not the same as they were under Thatcher. For the past couple of years the party, or more specifically David Cameron, have bemused many in the unions by employing a trade union ‘envoy’. The parttime ambassadorial role has been undertaken by Richard Balfe, a former Labour MEP who joined the Tories after being thrown out of Labour in a clash over the euro. Mr Balfe’s mission has been to show the unions that the Tories were not necessarily out to get them, to show them they are no longer a prime target, and to offer morsels of positivity such as the endorsement of the union learning fund. However, Mr Balfe, a member of Unite, also said reaching out to the unions was a way of trying to connect with their members, a substantial number of whom vote Conservative.

“ Richard Balfe, Tory envoy to the unions

The Tories taunted Unite with a poll showing the majority of its members would vote Tory. We’ll soon see the impact of the Conservative-led government on Unite members and members of all the other unions. David Hencke on the new culture department, page 9, Andrew Murray, Unspun, page 19

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Mr Balfe’s mission has been to show the unions that the Tories were not necessarily out to get them

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THE VIEW FROM INSIDE PR Name: Andrew Murray Job description: Director of Communications at Unite

Key role for PR in the battle at BA


lection fever and strike chaos all in the space of a few weeks. The campaigns and communications team at Unite has been working at full stretch recently, attempting to keep on top of everything crossing our radar.

Aiming to win the dispute The cabin crew strike at British Airways was an example of a relative rarity nowadays – an industrial dispute attracting huge media and political interest. Our aim has been to win the industrial dispute, not the PR battle in isolation. Better to be unpopular and victorious than the defeated objects of public sympathy, if that is what the choice comes down to. Nevertheless, keeping the public on side has been important to maintaining the strength of the dispute itself. The view that BA management is intransigent and bullying has gained ground. Indeed, intimidation seems to be a key part of the company’s media strategy as well. Cabin crew have not been allowed to speak to the media on pain of disciplinary sanction, and BA’s press office even issued a remarkable message to the media hinting at legal action if they reported union claims about the impact of the strike.

This brazen attempt to stifle Unite’s side of the story cut little ice with most reporters, but it showed what cabin crew themselves have had to put up with and was a sign that, like many big businesses, BA might be more comfortable operating in Burma than in Britain. While we can never hope to match the resources available to a company of BA’s size, the formation of Unite has certainly created the possibility of a more evenly-matched fight, in PR as in other respects. We were able to deploy large numbers of skilled press officers, campaigns specialists, video operators and new media tweeters, marshalled by our outstanding head of media and campaigns Pauline Doyle. And I think we have at least held BA to a PR draw so far. We also carried the fight into the City with well-received briefings for analysts on the real costs of the dispute to the company. The big question – does it all make a difference? Disputes are won by the strength and solidarity of the strikers and the balance of industrial power between us and the employer. In some strikes I’ve been involved with, from docks to motors to tanker drivers, the PR aspect has been marginal to the outcome. In public transport, that is seldom the case. Passengers

deserve a decent explanation as to what is going on and why. And feeling like public enemy number one is good for nobody’s morale. We have always tried to achieve a result. But if Walsh remains deaf to reason, now or in the future, we’ll be calling out Mount Etna.

Unite’s election Election fever will be with us for a little longer in Unite. Our 1.6 million members will be voting for their first general secretary later this year. The winner will replace Derek Simpson, who retires in December, and Tony Woodley, who will leave a year later, ending our challenging experiment in double-headed leadership. The vote will obviously have huge repercussions throughout the trade union movement, given Unite’s size and diversity. One candidate is standing from the former T&G – assistant general secretary Len McCluskey, who has played a prominent role in the BA dispute. Five candidates from the former Amicus have their hats in the ring – assistant general secretaries Gail Cartmail and Les Bayliss, national officer Paul Reuter, former shop steward Jerry Hicks and international department head Simon Dubbins. The winner? Couldn’t possibly say, but in a crowded field with a very large electorate, the candidate with the highest media profile will have a head start.

More news at www. unitetheunion.com

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Michael Cross on the latest trends and kit


hey don’t like it up ‘em, journalists. As a profession, we’re among the most avid users of websites such as www.theyworkforyou. com that ruthlessly lay bare politicians’ productivity. However, when a site came along applying the same techniques to journalists, I heard outrage. Journalisted (www.journalisted. com) builds profiles of journalists by mapping articles from free news websites. At first, the basic site told you how many articles had appeared under your name, how long they were, and which subjects you covered most often. Colleagues howled about errors and – absurdly, I think – intrusions into privacy. But the site had genuine shortcomings, particularly its assumption that the only journalists that matter are those with bylines in nationals and the BBC. I certainly bristled at being labelled a Guardian journalist who produces only one article a week. If only... Over the past couple of years, however, the site has become more sophisticated. Journalists can now edit their profiles. We can add articles


If you’re starting up in business

– even to sell the odd article – you need a website. If you don’t have web skills and you’re in a hurry, you have a choice. Get someone else to do it for you, or use an off-the-shelf software and hosting service. As a control freak with no software skills, I took the latter course. I picked Mr Site (www.mrsite.co.uk) which bills itself as the takeaway website. The takeaway tag presumably dates from when we bought software in boxes: now nearly everyone will download from the web. It comes in beginner (£19.99), standard (£34.99) and pro (£99.99). I chose standard; reasoning that

Colleagues howled about errors and – absurdly I think – intrusions into privacy

basic would run out of pages and that I wouldn’t need the shopping cart and other business features of the £100 job. To my surprise, I found the package intuitive and easy to use. After registering a name, I chose a design from an array of templates. More or less at random, I selected Green Grass, a three-column layout with a banner along the top for my name and NUJ card. Next up, choose the number of pages and enter copy and links. Later, I added a blog. There are some frustrations. When entering copy, you can’t see what font it will appear in; there is a preview but it’s quite a slog to use. Also, the system doesn’t like having more than one window open at a time. And although the website can be viewed through every browser I’ve tried, the editing software doesn’t yet handle Google chrome.

from other sources and give details of career, education, awards or books published. Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust, which funds the project, says: “If a journalist is commenting on global warming it can be helpful to know if they have a background in science.” Of course there are plenty of journalist directories, not least the NUJ’s Freelance Directory. But I think Journalisted can fill a useful role in covering staffers as well as freelances. It’ll never be 100 per cent comprehensive. I can’t see many editors bothering to create profiles . There’s also a question of sustainability. The site is free to all. Whether it has the resources to cope with tens of thousands of journalists adding, updating and arguing about their profiles remains to be seen. More serious, perhaps, is the threat to the site’s crown jewels – the database of published articles – if newspaper websites disappear behind paywalls. However, its basic philosophy, that journalists should be subjected to the same sort of scrutiny as others in society, is here to stay. We’d better get used to it.

Not everyone is so won over. One friend (who’s a bit more web savvy than me) said the software drove her mad and she asked for – and got – her money back. Another warned against the email feature, which I don’t use. Others swear by the free blogging software Wordpress. But for the moment, I’m happy. Mr Site is right if you want a basic website quickly; don’t mind if it isn’t at the cutting edge of original design; and don’t want to entrust your web presence to a third party. After a few weeks I was even confident enough to knock up a website for a neighbourhood association. I had a site up within an hour, and for a brief moment basked in the light of being thought a techie genius. It’s a cliche to say that Mr Site does what it says on the tin, but for me it does.

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on media

Raymond Snoddy followed an election full of media drama and surprise

It was television wot won it


orget the electorate, or the pound, the election campaign was magnificent for journalists. Just as the City loves up and down, taking a turn on every movement, so journalists love mayhem and mischief. Never mind the time-honoured relationship between journalists and politicians – that between a dog and a lamp-post – this was more like pigs in shit. The TV debates offered so much drama and fertile ground for speculation and the crowning of winners and losers. And there was always another debate on the horizon. The Lib-Dem surge, the mystery of its disappearance: then the pure bliss of the hung parliament. A whole new generation of journalists blooded on the joys of secret meetings, squalid deals and squatters and a story out of politics, for goodness sake, with more legs than an Icelandic volcano. After a wait of 36 years since the last hung parliament, who were the media winners and losers and how many questions were left hanging? Sky News deserves enormous credit for pushing for the leadership debates and refusing to take no for an answer. The surprise was that the UK’s political leaders had been allowed to get away with ducking the challenge for so long. Now, appearing in TV debates will be part of every leader’s job specification. In front of the camera, age and experience told and the BBC’s David Dimbleby was the run-away winner, though he had the great advantage of going third. Sky was also responsible, with a pooled recording, for what was the

Now, appearing in TV debates will be part of every leader’s job specification

most memorable moment of the campaign – Gillian Duffy. But now that is a memory, it’s time to at least ask the E question – the ethics of broadcasting what was an eavesdropped personal conversation, which so damaged Gordon Brown. What if it had been a BBC recording? Would they have broadcast it? Probably, yes, but only after referring it ever upwards. After all, the BBC has form. John Major thought his microphone was off when he denounced the Eurosceptic ‘bastards’ in his Cabinet. The new first item in the political roadies’ rulebook is to take the boss’s mike off the instant they have finished. Plaudits to The Sun reporter who asked Mrs Duffy what type of loaf she had gone to buy. It led to one of the best headlines: ‘Brown Toast’. The political cynicism of The Sun was more difficult to palate, although hardly a surprise. Rupert Murdoch always watches for the winning bandwagon before hopping on in search of advantage for News Corp. The amusement this time was how a wheel came off. The election also saw the return of the Tory Press with a vengeance. Labour only had the Daily Mirror for comfort and Nick Clegg had to make do with The Guardian and The Observer. Did it make any difference? The relentless message that voters had to vote Cameron to avoid the horrors of a hung parliament might have helped to siphon off Lib-Dem support. But it was the television election, although television, or the BBC to be more precise, was responsible for some of the worst visual gimmicks and misjudgements on election night – such as Jeremy Vine’s flying tiles and Andrew Neil’s insightful interviews with Bruce Forsyth and Joan Collins. New media twittered away but really only managed third-party status. Yet warts and all it was highly entertaining. The even better news is that before too long the media will be able to over-enjoy itself all over again.

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Your reps


W New media trials Stephanie Power talks to Paul Scott, father of the chapel at the North Wales Daily Post

alking into the headquarters of the North Wales Daily Post and Weekly News, visitors encounter two grand printing presses that would be more at home in a museum. One is a Columbia flat bed press from the 1850s and the other a Linotype model 1 Typesetter from 1900. They date back to when newspapers had their own printing hall and they were last used in the 70s. Paul Scott, NUJ FoC, has no need for the presses either. He is the new media editor and is responsible for content on the web pages. Today, though, he is communicating in a distinctly traditional way – by holding a chapel meeting. Earlier this year members got union recognition after they decided to try to make their dealings with owner Trinity Mirror more specific to the Llandudno office. Paul explains: “We had an arrangement where staff from the Daily Post side were part of the Liverpool Daily Post chapel, while the Weekly News Staff had a more informal arrangement. We decided last year that it would be better to have our own, and it’s taken about a year to get through.” Paul, 29, has been a rep for just over a year. So, why did he step up to the plate? “We had a round of redundancies here and everyone was told they would have to re-apply for their jobs. I was one of only about four people who didn’t have to re-apply, and I just thought because people were already having the stressful process of trying to keep their jobs, maybe it would be easier if I took on the NUJ work. ” And how has he dealt with the extra responsibility? “I don’t think I have been nervous but you do feel responsible and you are constantly questioning whether you are doing the best by everyone. It’s good to throw it out to other people sometimes and get a bit of advice. “

You feel responsible and are constantly questioning whether you are doing the best

Multi-tasking: staff work on a wide range of titles

The chapel meets as and when it needs to, on average about once a month. Although Paul has taken on the responsibility of union work, it’s not always easy getting others to do likewise. With a slight world-weariness he says: “We still need a couple of reps here, health and safety and a union learning rep. I’m not too positive we’ll find any at today’s meeting, but that does need sorting out.”


s new media editor, how does he view the sweeping changes in the industry? He says the company has committed to ‘new media’ but the whole sector is still in its infancy. “There is more going on with the video side of things, more journalists going out and trying to do a bit of video. It’s not fully fledged yet, but staffing levels make it difficult.” Unlike some journalists working in newspapers, he thinks that reporters should grasp new media opportunities if they can: “If I was a younger reporter, maybe 22 or 23, I would certainly want to get my hand in. It opens up new areas of the media in terms of career. It is worth it, but you don’t want to see journalists overstretched and having to juggle too many balls at once.” There are quite a few other balls to juggle in the office. Staff look after the North Wales Daily Post; North Wales Weekly News; the Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald; Bangor and Anglesey Mail; Holyhead and Anglesey Mail; Denbighshire Visitor as well as the tourism website, NorthWales.co.uk and a Welsh language site, Daily Post Cymraeg. So now representation has moved from Liverpool to Llandudno, how have staff responded to Paul’s work on recognition and union participation? “We have about 65 per cent membership, which was comfortable in terms of getting the recognition agreement. Sometimes it’s harder to get the younger staff because of subscription fees, but that’s always the same.” He laughs: “But we do get them to join, eventually.”

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Fiona Swarbrick is national organiser for the NUJ’s publishing team.

THE NUJ AND ME What made you work for the NUJ? I was made redundant from my first job at publishers Taylor and Francis, and went into the TUC Organising Academy. Later, after a year at the ISTC I was delighted to have the chance to work full-time for the NUJ.

What other job might you have done? I come from Blackpool, and when I was a student I used to work as a tram conductor. It was such good fun! They offered to train me as a driver and I was sorely tempted.

When did you join the NUJ and why? After a week at Taylor and Francis I marched into my manager’s office to say that I’d not yet been asked to join a union so could she direct me to the union office please! Poor naïve little me!

was a dawning realisation that this was a place where people shared my values and where the opinions of a young and relatively inexperienced woman were taken seriously.

Which six people would you invite for a dinner party? John Lennon, Camilo Cienfuegos, Nye Bevan, Sojourner Truth, Michelangelo and Simone de Beauvoir.

My parents weren’t party politically active, but I was always taken to the polling station and they impressed on me how important it was to be informed and use your vote.

First job: on the trams

What are your hopes for journalism in the next five years?

What is the worst place you’ve worked in? I worked in a hotel bar when I was 18. Sometimes I used to be on my feet, and dealing with often drunk and aggressive customers, for 16 hours without a break.

That more employers will realise that the key to appealing to both readers and advertisers is a good quality product, and it is journalists who are responsible for that.

And the best?

What advice would you give to someone starting in journalism?

Not really a moment, but when I first got involved with the movement there

Nick Griffin and his bigoted cohorts. Though calling him a villain seems a bit frivolous. He’s a real danger to British society.

It’s very difficult whenever I have to tell a member who is distressed and has been treated unfairly that, in their case, the law is not strong enough to protect them.

Obviously all my work friends are! Otherwise it’s a mixed bag. I get annoyed when those who aren’t come to me with work problems.

And in the union?

And villain?

What was your earliest political thought?

Are many of your friends and family in a union?

When i was at Blackpool Transport there was industrial action over pay. We held strikes and mandatory meetings, and the feeling of solidarity during those was an incredibly powerful experience.

My Mum. She has always approached life with open-mindedness, honesty and fairness, and has never tolerated anything less in others. She is also the most relentlessly positive person, whatever life throws at her.

And the worst ones?

The NUJ of course! This is the hardest work I’ve ever done, but I try to remember just how lucky I am to be working for members rather than shareholders, doing something I truly believe in.

What’s been your best moment in your career?

Who is your biggest hero?

And your fears?

Dinner guest: Lennon

That journalists will sit back and wait for their employer to realise the above. We need to work together to demonstrate it.

What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months? The Thatcherite anti-trade union laws should be repealed.

Understand that you have some really hard work ahead of you. But you also need to quickly develop a sense of what is and isn’t reasonable in terms of how you are treated in the workplace.

Everyone! Especially those working in magazines, books and press and PR.

What advice would you give a new freelance?

How would you like to be remembered?

Get together with other freelances working for the same clients and compare notes – collaborate rather than compete.

As someone who put members first, and made decisions based on what was best for them. And as a really, really good cook!

Who would you like to see join the NUJ?

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


TOLPUDDLE MARTYRS’ FESTIVAL Where: Tolpuddle, Dorset DT2 7EH Date: 16 – 18 July Price: Free (charges for camping and parking) www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk

Festival fever It’s the season of wall-to-wall festivals. Despite the attempts of the weather, festivals are multiplying like mad. We can’t list them all but here are some of the main events. Glastonbury 23-27 June It’s still the biggest and many would say the best. And this year it welcomes back the Left Field, the focus for political and union activity at the world’s best-known festival. The main headliners are U2. www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk Hop Farm Festival – Tumbridge, Kent 3 July No sponsorship and no branding are promised at this third Hop Festival at Paddock Wood in Kent. Bob Dylan, Ray Davies, Seasick Steve and Peter Doherty play. www.hopfarmfestival.com

It’s the question on everyone’s mind: bog

standard toilets or deluxe ones? Alongside discussions on whether to have a curry wagon or a pizza van, and how to ask unions not to bring too many freebies (politely, they decide), these are the issues troubling the organisers of the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival. Around the table you will find former NUJ president Tim Lezard, who says that since being taken over by the South West TUC in 1998 the festival has become an important date in the trade union calendar. “What started out as a rather staid memorial to the martyrs has been transformed into a vibrant, exciting and diverse celebration of what they achieved,” he says. “I’ve attended festivals all over the world, but nothing beats the feeling of sitting on the famous Tolpuddle slope, nursing a flagon of scrumpy in the warm evening sun.” Preparations for the festival begin in the autumn, when a group of trade unionists from across the south west meet up in a Dorset hotel. Some are lay activists, others officials, but all give their time to run the event on a voluntary basis. Car park tariffs, catering stalls, artists and speakers are all debated – sometimes fiercely – with decisions being reached by consensus and a shared determination to keep the festival free and to retain its unique character.

Lounge On The Farm Music Festival – Merton Farm, Canterbury 9-11 July With 160 bands across six stages, from local heroes and cutting edge acts to renowned heavy hitters. Toots & The Maytals are one of the headliners. www.loungeonthefarm.co.uk Oxygen – Punchestown racecourse, County Kildare, Ireland 9-11 July Featuring Muse, Eminem, Jay-Z, Gossip and Florence & the Machine. There are also music workshops, a funfair and a circus in the pretty surroundings of the racecourse. www.oxygen.ie T In the Park – Balado, Kinross-shire 9-11 July Headliners are Madness, Muse, Faithless and Vampire Weekend. Take some silly clothes and wigs for fancy dress day on Friday. www.tinthepark.com

Held in the Dorset village where the six farm workers defied the law by forming a trade union in 1834, the festival has grown from a one-day rally, attended by a few hundred people as a duty, to a three-day carnival of music, politics, poetry, drama and comedy, attracting 8,000 people as a celebration of modern trade unionism. It reminds us of what we owe those who went before while inspiring us for what lies ahead. Billy Bragg and Tony Benn are festival regulars and are joined this year by Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds, Eliza Carthy and Ian King, among others. International solidarity is an important part of the festival and this year’s Tolpuddle debates feature speakers from Argentina and Zimbabwe, as well as a domestic discussion about the future of education in the UK with the general secretaries from four teaching unions. “But it’s not about the music or the speeches,” says Tim. “It’s just being there that counts, giving yourself a chance to meet like-minded people and recharge your batteries. “It’s a free festival, so there are no wristbands or stewards telling you where you can or can’t go. You’re free to wander around the site in your own time and at your own pace, and it’s small enough to be intimate but large enough to lose yourself in the crowd. It’s just perfect!”

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Arts Latitude – Henham Park Estate, Southwold, Suffolk 15-18 July Latitude combines music, art, dance, theatre, literature and poetry in a truly eclectic mix. The big bands playing are Florence & the Machine; Belle & Sabastian; and Vampire Weekend. www.latitudefestival.co.uk

Ridiculing the establishment: Rude Brittania, British comic art, Tate Britain

Cambridge Folk Festival – Cherry Hinton Hall Grounds, Cambridge 29 July – 1 August Designed for hardcore folk lovers as well as fans of blues and world music. Kris Kristofferson, Natalie Merchant and Seasick Steve headline. www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk Camp Bestival – Lulworth Castle, Dorset 30 July – 1 August. Madness, Human League, George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic, Marc Almond, Billy Bragg, The Blockheads, The Friendly Fires and the English National Ballet are just a few headline names at this family friendly event. www.campbestival.net

Folk Against Fascism Also, during the summer look out for Folk against Fascism gigs and events. This is a response to the BNP’s attempts to get its members involved in the folk scene with Folk Against Fascism aiming to make such infiltration impossible. The initiative has support from across the folk community. www.folkagainstfascism.com Literature West Cork Literary Festival – 4 -10 July Michael Palin, Anthony Horowitz, Fay Weldon and Margaret Drabble are among big names at this year’s festival. www.westcorkliteraryfestival.ie

Celebrating licensed commoners: A Pub Crawl Through History

Visual arts Rude Britannia: British Comic Art Tate Britain, London 9 June – 5 September See politicians and pillars of the establishment ridiculed from the 1600s to the present day. Rooms covering Politics and Social Satire have been put together by Gerald Scarfe, Steve Bell and the Viz


cartoonists. Comedian Harry Hill has curated a room on the Absurd. www.tate.org.uk In Print Bottoms up! Worthy successors to Johnson and Boswell, NUJ stalwarts Mike Pentelow and Peter Arkell have travelled across Britain and Ireland from inn to tavern, gathering words and images to reflect the ways in which uncommon people are commemorated on licensed premises. ‘A Pub Crawl Through History’ it celebrates the ability of real people to make their mark on history through politics, the arts, or simple skulduggery. The book is, as Pentelow points out, “lavishly illustrated, and an ideal gift for a loved one.” Particularly if that loved one is interested in pubs and obscure information. For instance, where else would you learn, at great length, that Jonathan Swift’s first significant pamphlet concerned The Benefits of Farting Explained. A Pub Crawl Through History – The Ultimate Boozer’s Who’s Who £16.99 www.januspublishing.co.uk


Go and chill out at Latitude, for free Thanks to Battersea and Wandsworth TUC we can offer two free tickets to the Latitude festival. Latitude is one of the most diverse festivals on the circuit, offering music, comedy, cabaret, literature, poetry and film. Go see Florence & the Machine and Vampire Weekend on the music stages along with John Cooper Clarke and projects by the Royal Opera House and Sadler’s Wells. Please answer the questions below and write a few words about the NUJ that we can use in recruitment material and we’ll send the winner tickets for Latitude on the weekend of 15-18 July. 1/ Who can join the NUJ? 2/ What are three benefits of being in the union? 3/ Who is the general secretary? 4/ In 25 words or less please say why the NUJ is important to you.

Answers by 21 June to: competition@NUJ.org.uk The winner of the last competition for tickets to Benicassim was Liz Somerville of the book branch.

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tim ellis


copyright by right In answer to Ann Shuttleworth’s letter, Copyright Perils? All we photographers are looking for is a properly negotiated agreement between the client and ourselves. If the client wishes to reuse the pictures or use them in on the web then they must pay for that privilege. Clients must understand that when they commission a professional photographer to do a job, all they are entitled to is to use his pictures once for the purpose they were shot. Copyright belongs to the photographer by right, in or out of commission, under the 1988 copyright act. All too often I find that publishing companies seem to have forgotten to give their staff training on the laws that govern their own business. Ann Shuttleworth must know that no freelance photographer would ever give up ‘all rights’ to their work. My back catalogue makes some contribution to my income every month and I’m dammed if I’m giving that up just so Ann can have some decent pics on her website. If Emap doesn’t give commissioning editors a proper budget, don’t blame photographers. Fifteen years ago I would have used a couple of thousand pounds worth of equipment to do a job for a publication like NT, now I use well over £10,000 worth. I don’t think Emap are paying five times what they did 15 years ago, do you? George Carrick Freelance photographer, Cumbria.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Taking the hit by subsidising publishers With friends like Ann Shuttleworth (Nursing Times) who needs the Guardian and Bauer Media? In her letter in the March/April issue she made the case, on behalf of publishers across Britain, that freelance photographers should hand over copyright and control of pictures for a ‘reasonable cost’ so photographers could improve ‘earning potential’. What a ‘reasonable cost’ is she does not say. The bottom line is, a rate cut is a pay cut and handing over copyright is a pension raid. Ann’s position is that photographers should take the hit for the mismanagement of media companies in the 90s and the economic shockwaves we are all dealing with now by subsidising publishers and media groups. It is only by standing together as trade unionists and by working collectively that we can defend

members’ jobs, pay, rates and copyright, combating publishers’ Greek-style austerity measures. Marc Vallée, Secretary, London Photographers Branch

Photographers need to earn £45,000 a year Ann Shuttleworth’s letter answers its own question. When a magazine “cuts its costs to the bone” and can get only “mediocre agency shots”, I’m not surprised. A freelance photographer working from home needs revenue of about £45,000 (£20,000 costs plus £25,000 income). That’s £937 per week for 48 weeks. Below that and you have to miss things out. If you exist on commissions, you’re really up against it. You can shoot two days per week and spend the others on post-production, admin and, increasingly, chasing overdue payments and unauthorised use. So, a day rate

of £450+ means bills are paid. Very few photographers have paid shoots at anything like this level. The bean counters will always cut costs. There are too many photographers and cheap/free stock images available so rates will not go up anytime soon. But expect the quality of the publication to suffer. Commission fees were modest but we kept copyright and made a little extra from stock sales. Now, fees are lower and our copyright is demanded. You can’t make a living. John Walmsley Education Photos London Freelance Branch

Better to negotiate a more extensive licence Ann Shuttleworth is wrong to say that ‘publishers tend to buy copyright’. (Copyright perils? March/April issue) I have yet to come across a national newspaper whose standard freelance terms are for anything other than

First British Serial Rights to cover first use in print and/or online, often with a set period of exclusivity and then a non-exclusive right to syndicate. Some magazines ask to take all rights, but it is disingenuous to say that this is the case with the majority of publishers. It is all very well saying that it would be good if magazines ‘could buy copyright of commissioned photography for a reasonable cost’. The problem comes when the different sides have to agree on the definition of ‘reasonable’ and it is important to make the distinction between a) negotiating a fee for use in print and online and b) surrendering all copyright. I am not convinced that any publisher’s idea of a ‘reasonable’ fee would make surrendering copyright as sensible a prospect as this letter implies. It’s more realistic, surely, to negotiate a more extensive licence. Anne Wollenberg Freelance

Does a professional journalist really reject copyright? I appreciate the letter Copyright Perils? written by Ann Shuttleworth, (March/ April Journalist) must have been published in a spirit of, ‘light the blue touchpaper and retire’ but it beggars belief that a supposedly professional journalist should believe this. God help us all, scribes and snappers alike. Neil McAllister, Cheshire

Outdated charges may make photographers relics Ann Shuttleworth’s letter (Copyright Perils?) in your last edition hit the nail on the head regarding photographers’ charges. The growth of online media has changed the face of communications for all organisations. It seems though, that a lot of photographers haven’t caught on to this change and charge separately for web usage and for reproduction in image libraries. This is a major issue for organisations such

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* @

as ours because we make images available in internal union libraries for branches and members alike. Add to this the fact that many photographers insist on additional re-use payments and offer only a very limited number of images for the main commission – triggering substantial extra costs for a decent spread or electronic slideshow – and the prices are prohibitive. The outcome of these outdated customs is that even trade unions are forced to go off to photographic agencies for a better affordable deal. We want to support NUJ photographers but it’s time to re-visit the charge structure if they are not to become a sepia-tinged relic of the past. Kevin Slocombe Head of Communications Communication Workers Union

Role is in trouble, like railway wheel-tapping Listen to this: photo, crackle and pop. See? It doesn’t work, does it? This is because there is a difference between a photo and a snap. Ann Shuttleworth was right in questioning photographers’ fees in the last issue of the Journalist. If you’re editing a magazine on a budget of no-pence, you have choices to make when it comes to using photographers. Basically it is between regularly paying the rate suggested by the union (and getting the shove for irresponsible overspending) and getting a similar image for free (and remaining in employment). You can get bags of snaps for nothing. You can lift them from the web, get firms to supply them or get someone local with a finger to pop down with a digital camera. In 99 per cent of cases, the results, although unlikely to feature in the


Please keep letters to 200 words approx

World Press Awards, are adequate for our readers. What annoys me is the assumption that the problem for photographers is mean or hostile editors. It’s not. The difficulty is that the whole job’s in trouble, along with hand-weaving and railway wheel-tapping. Using automatic settings, most people can take a photo that’s in focus. So we only use professionals for special images, covers or events. Editors aren’t the enemy. The problems are digital cameras, automatic settings, cheaper equipment, photography classes and talented amateurs. Chris Proctor Media and Campaigns manager, Aslef To refer to previous letters, please see the Journalist online on the NUJ’s website; www.nuj.org.uk

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

Tell us about you and win £50 The Journalist and the NUJ would like to know more about you. We want to have a good idea of your priorities, interests and of what you want from your union and its magazine. Although we know a lot about the employment, industrial and political issues affecting NUJ members, we know less about what else is important to you. On the website is a survey…but please don’t let that put you off. We know surveys can be a bore and we’re all busy. But we’ve tried to make it as short and painless as possible, and we don’t intend to do this very often. In an effort to entice you to take part, we’ll pick four of the responses at random and pay each £50 as a thank you. Please take part here: www.nuj.org.uk/ readersurvey Editor, The Journalist

Together we can make a difference Ten reasons why you should be in the National Union of Journalists • Protection at work • C ommitment to improving the pay and conditions of journalists • Free legal advice service • T he leading trade union in the fight for employment rights • Expert advice on copyright issues • Skilled representation at all levels • Your own national press card • Strong health and safety policies • A champion in the fight for press and broadcasting freedom • Major provider of training for journalists

Who should join the NUJ? Journalists including photographers, creative artists working editorially in newspapers, magazines, books, broadcasting, public relations and information, and electronic media; or as advertising and fashion photographers, advertising copywriters and editorial computer systems workers. We also welcome student journalists. If you have any questions please contact the membership department on Tel: 0845 4500373 or email info@nuj.org.uk putting ‘Membership Enquiry’ into the subject field.

Application forms available at

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‘Harry was wonderful company, and he was always the first to help a friend in need’

Harry Conroy NUJ general secretary in tough times


arry Conroy, general secretary of the NUJ from 1985 to 1990 and president 1981-2, has died aged 67 of an internal haemorrhage. Harry was born in the Glasgow suburb of Pollok to working-class Catholic parents and started in newspapers as a copy boy on the Scottish Daily Express. In 1965, he married Margaret Craig, and by 1969 he was financial correspondent at the Daily Record. He became father of the chapel at the Record, and also of the joint chapel, which included printers – an unusual distinction for a journalist in those days. Along with David Sinclair, FoC of the Glasgow Herald chapel, he was called in whenever there was an intractable dispute anywhere in Scotland. He also joined the NUJ executive, and he used to say that he led a Jekyll and Hyde existence: by day a financial journalist interviewing

leading capitalists, by night an active trade unionist, Labour Party member and socialist. In 1985 he was elected general secretary of the NUJ. It was weakened by years of sectarian strife, and damaged by a bitter row involving his predecessor Ken Ashton. Harry restored internal morale and external respect, largely by his own energy, optimism and transparent honesty. He demonstrated his conviction that the NUJ was a broad church, which had to respect the views of different groups and individuals. He was the union anchor in the sometimes testy amalgamation discussions with the print unions. Lionel Morrison was President and one of the negotiators, and remembers Harry’s skill, doggedness, fair-mindedness and Scottish humour which endeared him to the print unions. He was centre stage in the dispute over Rupert Murdoch’s decision to move

his newspaper titles from Fleet Street to Wapping in east London – and break the print unions. It was his closeness to the print unions that brought an end to his leadership. The far right and far left, for opposite reasons, disliked the print unions, and combined to defeat him narrowly in 1990. He returned to Scotland and was campaign director of the cross-party, pro-devolution Scottish Constitutional Convention, then established a public relations consultancy, Conroy Associates, in 1992, before becoming editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer in 2000. He ghosted two political memoirs, the former Labour official Jimmy Allison’s Guilty By Suspicion (1995) and Tory MP Allan Stewart’s The Long March of the Market Men (1996), and wrote his own memoirs, Off the Record: A Life in Journalism, in 1997. That same year he edited The People Say Yes: The Making of Scotland’s Parliament, and later They Rose Again in 2003. He was wonderful company, especially if you enjoyed sharing a bottle of white wine. His beloved wife Margaret wrote in his funeral programme: “From the day we met, May 10 1961, until the day he died on our 45th wedding anniversary, April 24 2010, I never knew Harry to refuse a single soul his help, comfort and kindness.” No friend of Harry’s doubted that she wrote the literal truth. When Mike Smith, then the NUJ national organiser for Scotland, fell desperately ill, Harry was there every day helping Mike’s

partner to care for him, until Mike died. He was never in awe of anyone. It didn’t matter if you were Rupert Murdoch or the office cleaner, Harry always treated you with the same respect and courtesy. He was an unambiguous supporter of the unions’ stand on equality, supporting Black, Asian and female members of the Union. He ensured that the issue of media and race was highlighted and helped give the struggle for equality a legitimacy in the Union. He knew exactly who he was and what he believed, and never felt the smallest need to apologise for any of it, however unfashionable it might be. He was noisy and his dreadful diet – he ate steak and chips with a fried egg as often as he was able – became a legend. He was a Roman Catholic of the old school, defending the letter of church doctrine, and would not be budged in his opposition to the union’s policy on abortion. Catholicism was the faith of his fathers, and socialism the faith he learned from the privations of his fathers. He could never abandon either of them. Francis Beckett, an atheist, recalls that Harry prayed for him. He is sure Harry’s prayers had no power to do him good, but the fact that Harry wanted to pray for him – that did him good. In their last email exchange, last November, Harry wrote: “Remember you are still a lapsed Catholic, and when the doorkeeper at the gates of heaven gets hold of you he will remind you that Harry as usual was right... I put my trust in God as my Irish Catholic mother used to tell me and so far God has looked after me.” He is survived by his wife Margaret, daughter Lynn, and sons Ewan and Stuart.

Francis Beckett Lionel Morrison Harry Conroy, journalist and union leader, born April 6th 1943; died April 23rd, 2010

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Tributes: “He will be greatly missed by a wide circle in journalism, politics and beyond who valued his integrity, his wisdom, and also his generous friendship. Harry will be remembered by generations of journalists as a powerful advocate for improved pay and conditions and media freedom.” Jeremy Dear, General Secretary

“A big man with a big heart, Harry was kind, generous and unfailingly helpful. His sense of justice was rooted in a deep personal faith, with no contradiction his trade union principles. He would rage with Swiftian indignation against exploitation of workers and never lost his passion for social justice. NUJ general secretaries seldom impact on Ireland’s wider trade union movement but Harry was an exception. His forceful support for the ultimately unsuccessful merger with the Irish Print Union earned him respect and affection across the print industry. That lost opportunity is all the more regrettable when one reflects on subsequent trends in the industry in Ireland and the UK.” Séamus Dooley Irish Secretary

“Harry was a great guy. He was a friend, mentor and gave me massive support which I will miss so much.”

“Harry was an absolute rock; no local dispute was too small or too far away (and in the days before the Kessock Bridge and the new-fangled dual carriageway the A9, some of our members were a very long way away indeed). He always seemed to enjoy the thought of this upstart young English woman chairing the northern outpost of the union, and his support was unfailing. He summed up all that was good and right about trade unionism, and is one of the reasons why I am (hopefully) heading towards life membership.”

Paul Holleran Scottish Organiser

Linda Isted, Manchester branch and former chair of the Highland branch

“As I write this, I am looking at a faded picture of the Winter Gardens in Blackpool and the first ADM I ever attended, in the late 80s. Harry Conroy was general secretary and his presence dominated the huge vaulted hall. The authority, wit and easy charm which I remember from those toughest of times for the NUJ and the whole movement remained as Harry’s outstanding identity every time I met him. Even when he was most ill, his concern for others and generosity of spirit were never dulled. We are all the poorer without him.” Pete Murray, NUJ President

“While Harry’s departure from the union was what one might call ‘not uncontroversial’, I’ll remember him in his pomp as an old-fashioned trade union inspirer of collective belief in the cause. When we were on strike in the 1970s at the Evening Chronicle, Newcastle, and he was regional organiser he paid us a call, raged at the employers’ iniquities for about 20 minutes, told us we were great and bound to win, and we all came out feeling as though we’d had a combined power shower and voluptuous massage to our spirits and principles, rabble roused and no mistake.” Phil Sutcliffe, NEC and London Freelance Branch member

“Harry was the boss I never really had. I was the last organiser he appointed and he was only at head office for few weeks after I arrived in 1990. He was the reason I wanted to work for the NUJ along with John Foster. He was a great man, hard but fair who at times was too fair to those who were not his real friends. Our union lost Harry’s stewardship as general secretary when we needed it most. His lost election resulted in the union being saddled with a right wing pro-Thatcher general secretary who was not fit to polish Harry’s boots. So much for democracy. Postal ballots for general secretaries were part of the Tory plan to bring about right-wing leadership and the NUJ fell for it that time.” John Fray, Deputy General Secretary 1998 - 2008

“Harry was a legend. His commitment and compassion went hand in hand with his strength and fight during some of the worst excesses of Thatcher and her anti trade union cronies. On a personal note, Harry was always hand with advice – and a good slap – whenever it was needed. And he never neglected to tell me how much he was praying for me! We will never forget him.” James Doherty, Chair of the Scottish Executive Council

“Harry Conroy wasn’t always right, but he was always right there whenever the union or its members needed him. He fought hard for the union, for its policies and most of all for the journalists who depended on it to get a fair deal. No-one could be tougher in defending working people, but Harry was also a kind and gentle soul whose outrage at injustice reflected a caring nature which sought to make the world better for us all. The whole labour movement, is the poorer for his passing.” Eddie Barrett, Press and PR Branch

“Harry Conroy was a great trade unionist and a socialist to his very core. He was unwaveringly loyal to his friends and ridiculously generous to his opponents. An inspirational leader, you couldn’t wish to have anyone better on your side in a dispute. Harry leaves us just at a time when we need more like him.” Barry McCall, NEC member

“Harry Conroy was a champion of journalists. In the days when the closed shop allowed a great deal of power in some papers he used that authority wisely at the Record in Glasgow. But he was a trade unionist and a Labour man through and through. He understood the need for collective action but also that trade union combination was not a reason for adventurism. Harry, like his fellow NUJ Glaswegians, was terrific company and I salute the memory of a great friend and comrade.”

Denis MacShane MP, NUJ President 1978-79

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