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www.nuj.org.uk | june/july 2013
eachwaybet? Ed and the unions
Contents Main feature
14 The State of Britain’s unions
Fighting to cope with austerity
he British government seems to be pulling out all the stops to make a bad economic situation worse. Thus far however most unions are keeping their heads above water through massive recruitment campaigns. The NUJ is a case in point. In our cover feature Barrie Clement casts an eye over a labour movement struggling to fulfil an ambition to stage a general strike, but fighting cutbacks where it can. Alas the media has scant regard for a movement that retains a membership of nearly six million and exercises considerable political influence. And even if unions did make the public prints on a regular basis, it’s highly unlikely that the reporters involved would be women. In this edition we find that while women continue to make up more than half of those being trained as journalists, newsrooms at our national newspapers are still predominantly male. The media also continues to be dominated by London. In the first of a series of articles we explore the merits of working elsewhere. This time we look at Birmingham a cosmopolitan city with a burgeoning media industry. And finally… The Journalist welcomes the wit and wisdom of veteran journalist and one-time stand-up comic Chris Proctor. In the first of his regular columns the former press officer at train drivers’ union Aslef, ponders the bizarre obsession of our trade with ‘legs’.
Christine Buckley Editor Editor Christine Buckley email@example.com Design Surgerycreations.com firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Rob Aspin Tel: 01795 542419 Print Warners www.warners.co.uk Distribution Packpost www.packpostsolutions.com
NUJ 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP email@example.com www.nuj.org.uk Tel: 020 7843 3700
Manchester office firstname.lastname@example.org Glasgow office email@example.com Dublin office firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover picture Steve Bell
03 BBC writes off £100 million
But pay offer rises by just £50
04 New chapel wins key deal
House agreement for Sport Media
05 NUJ denounces Montgomery
‘Rommel’ rebuked over ‘wasteful’ jibe
06 Victory over defamation bill
Stronger ‘public interest’ defence
07 Boost for Welsh media
Websites launch newspapers
08 Guardian call to non-journalists Readers asked for more content
10 Let’s go to Birmingham
The UK’s vibrant second city
12 Is there still a glass ceiling? How the press measures up
09 Michelle Stanistreet 20 Technology 21 NUJ and me
Arts with Attitude Pages 22-23
Raymond Snoddy Page 17
Letters Pages and Steve Bell 24-25
BBC writes off £100m as pay offer rises by £50
ournalists at the BBC are preparing to step up their joint campaign with broadcasting union Bectu over pay and changes to anti-social hours’ payments and redundancy terms. The unions have already held a work to rule in a dispute over compulsory redundancies, excessive workloads and bullying. Last month the corporation raised its pay offer by a paltry £50 a year to £650, with the unions claiming a flat rate increase of £1,200. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This ‘final’ offer is a further pay cut in real terms, after five years in which BBC salaries have risen by only seven per cent compared to a 17.2 per cent increase in the Retail Price Index.” Days after the £50 pay offer, the BBC announced
it was writing off its Digital Media Initiative (DMI) after spending almost £100 million on the project. Michelle Stanistreet condemned the ‘shocking waste of money’. She commented: “It seems the BBC cannot afford a fair pay rise for staff who create the top quality content that licence fee payers want, but it is able to squander vast sums of public money on hopeless
projects like DMI. I hope the executives who are to blame for this are called fully to account.” The Digital Media Initiative was intended to make the programme-making process faster and more efficient. Using new desktop computer software, it was meant to link up the way BBC staff create, share, manage and archive digital footage, and do away with video tape. “The DMI project has wasted a huge amount of licence fee payers’ money and I saw no reason to allow that to continue, which is why I have closed it,” said the new BBC director general Tony Hall (pictured). ”I have serious concerns about how we managed this project and a review that has been set up is designed to find out what went wrong and what lessons can be learned.”
Fighting austerity in Dublin
I hope the executives who are to blame for this are called fully to account
he disastrous impact of austerity measures on employment standards was the focus of a major seminar chaired by International Federation of Journalists president Jim Boumelha (pictured) in Dublin Castle on the eve of the IFJ world congress in the Irish capital. General secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg, an outspoken critic of Irish and EU austerity measures, outlined the impact on Irish employment standards of the failed economic policies. NUJ member Frances O’Grady, general secretary of Britain’s Trades Union Congress, re-enforced the message of union opposition to austerity.
unit, and NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick met members at the opening of the new chapel on a recent visit to the French capital. BBC Paris correspondent Christian Fraser, who has been covering French news since 2010, is Father of the Chapel. Producer Clea Caulcutt has
SecreT phone harveSTing by US Secret collection of journalists’ phone records by the United States Justice Department has been condemned by the International Federation of Journalists. Associated Press revealed last month that in ‘a massive and unprecedented intrusion’ the US government had obtained telephone records of its reporters and editors covering a two-month period. 30 per cenT price hike for echo Major Newsquest title The Northern Echo is to increase its cover price from 50p to 65p from Monday to Friday and from 80p to 90p on Saturday. But the paper is to increase pagination by up to eight pages a day. WoMen in MeMberShip Women journalists make up 42 per cent of the membership of European journalists’ unions, according to a study by the European Federation of Journalists of 21 associations and unions across the continent.
now we have a BBC Chapel in paris UJ members have created a chapel in the BBC Paris bureau, joining the growing community of English-speaking journalists organised through the NUJ Paris branch. Branch stalwart Jeff Apter helped with the organisation and advised BBC staff on how to set up the workplace
Lobbying TriniTy Mirror MeeTing Journalists lobbied the annual general meeting of Trinity Mirror last month to campaign for the appointment of an employee representative to the company’s remuneration committee. A letter to shareholders from the NUJ also called for publication of statistics to help apply a reality check on executive pay at Trinity Mirror, where the last chief executive Sly Bailey had a massive £1.7 million pay package.
been elected as Clerk of the Chapel. The NUJ now has five chapels in France – at the news agency AFP, international radio RFI, global broadcaster BBC, international television channel France 24 and international TV programme agency AITV.
STorieS acroSS The MerSey The Liverpool Echo has launched its first new edition in a decade, in The Wirral. Two new reporters have been taken on to help cover the area, which the paper estimates has a population of 320,000. The Wirral edition will carry a different front and back page, with two dedicated editorial pages inside the paper four days a week. theJournalist | 3
sport Media score first deal
in brief... MiSSion To keep iT LocaL The union is teaming up with Co-operatives UK and Carnegie UK Trust to promote alternative media models, as local newspaper closures leave increasing numbers of communities without the vital services of journalism. A launch event at the NUJ’s London headquarters will be followed by public meetings across the UK to examine the alternatives. Linking Up for bUSineSS Business and financial network Bloomberg Television and Euronews have agreed to exchange content in their coverage of major business stories worldwide. Bloomberg already contributes to Euronews’ ‘Business Weekly’ programme, a round-up of the week’s main business events. hoW To STay Safe in confLicT zoneS Safety for journalists working in conflict zones was the focus of a special series of practical workshops organised by Belfast NUJ members to mark the International Federation of Journalists world congress which was held in Dublin this month. Local branch secretary Gerry Carson said: “The event aimed to inform individual journalists, management and owners about selfprotection and how best to perform risk assessment in an environment where our members can be subjected to verbal and physical abuse, threats and harassment and even serious injury.” oUT of SighT oUT of Mind Journalists at the Huddersfield Examiner have written to editor Roy Wright to say they ‘strongly oppose’ the closure of the paper’s town centre office by owners Trinity Mirror. The NUJ has warned that the move by the paper, which has had its main office on an industrial estate on the fringes of the town for two years, will tend to create a feeling among the community that the Examiner is ‘out of sight and out of mind’. 4 | theJournalist
After a year of negotiations, it seemed very fitting to cast the final vote on International Workers’ Day
ne of the NUJ’s newest chapels has negotiated its firstever house agreement after securing union recognition from Trinity Mirror. Journalists at Liverpoolbased Sport Media – a publishing division of Trinity Mirror which is based in Liverpool – gained negotiating rights last year and had been in talks with the company over the past 12 months. Members voted to sign the final draft on May Day. Sport Media works with major names in sport and showbusiness, producing print and digital publications for a number of Premier League football teams, the Welsh Football Association and Welsh Rugby Union, as well as magazine specials in
collaboration with The Mirror newspaper. It is also involved in a recently-launched regional heritage project. Father of the NUJ Chapel Gary Gilliland, said: “It is not often that you get to draw up a house agreement from scratch. So, for myself and MoC Vicky Andrews (pictured) it has proved an interesting and educating project. We are delighted to sign off
on a document which lays out the expectations and mechanisms by which we can represent members when it comes to issues such as pay, hours and holidays. Vicky added: “After a year of negotiations, it seemed very fitting to cast the final vote on International Workers’ Day. I’m grateful to Chris Morley and Jane Kennedy from the NUJ for all their help, and also to our chapel members, who have been hugely supportive. This is a very positive step for all staff and management and I hope that it will encourage more new NUJ members to join us.” NUJ organiser Chris Morley praised the work of the new chapel officers. “Signing the house agreement is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the reps in getting the chapel organised, and also reflects the early effort put in by former union assistant organiser Lawrence Shaw.”
Solidarity for press FreeDoM
ournalists across the world marked Press Freedom Day with meetings and events focusing on the dangers facing freedom of expression and threats to the lives of media workers.
In London the National Union of Journalists brought together campaigners for free speech and media rights at a major event to highlight the oppression of journalists in Turkey, where hundreds of journalists are
being persecuted for doing their jobs. The meeting at the NUJ’s headquarters was full to overflowing. It was addressed through a live video link from Istanbul by Coskun Musluk, an academic and columnist
who spent more than a year in prison. He explained that legislation, implemented in 2005, arbitrarily labels as terrorists any number of political activists, social commentators and journalists.
nUJ recognition at world agency
he NUJ has reached agreement on union recognition at Associated Press, the New york-based news agency. AP is a non-profit cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio, and television stations in the United States, all of which contribute stories to the agency and use material written by its staff journalists. Its output is used by nearly 2,000 newspapers and thousands of broadcasters. Founded in 1846, AP serves at least 120 countries with an international staff. Many newspapers and broadcasters outside the United States are
AP subscribers, paying a fee to use AP material without being contributing members of the cooperative. NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said the recognition agreement is good news for the agency as well as for the union. “I encourage non-members to join the union and be involved in future negotiations for pay and conditions, as well as benefiting from NUJ professional guidance. I’d like to commend the chapel officers for all their work in bringing about recognition for the union. Pay bargaining will commence next month.”
angry rebuke to Montgomery
he union has responded angrily to comments by Local World boss David Montgomery, who told a parliamentary committee that it was ‘wasteful’ for journalists to work on one story at a time. In a stinging rebuke to the former chief executive of Trinity Mirror, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet wrote in The Guardian: “Amid the managementspeak, Montgomery’s vision is a chilling one. Does he really have so little inkling that it is high-quality journalism and top-quality writing that is the key to successful newspapers and websites? “The National Union of Journalists is supporting members on regional papers who are struggling to do the best job they can, on low wages, with a minimal staff. They care desperately about producing good local news and serving their communities – but there isn’t a slot for that on Montgomery’s balance sheet. Montgomery means what he says and this puts British journalism in a very dangerous place.”
Montgomery had told the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee: “We have to be truly digital, so that in three or four years from now, much of our human interface will have disappeared. We will have to harvest content and publish it without human interface, which will change the role of journalists. Journalists collecting stories one by one is hugely unproductive. They will have to have new skills, greater responsibility for self-publishing on different platforms.” (Michelle pointed out in a Guardian comment piece that ‘former colleagues call him Rommel, because Monty was on our side’).
‘wasteful’ for journalists to work on one story at a time
nUJ condemnS latest ni Death threat
ournalists in Northern Ireland have reacted strongly to terrorist death threats issued against two colleagues. The two journalists, whose lives have been threatened by loyalist paramilitaries, have not been named publicly. NUJ president Barry McCall said: “Journalists in Northern Ireland
have a proud record of refusing to be intimidated by such threats but they should not be subject to them in the first place. We call on those responsible for the threats to withdraw them immediately and publicly.” Bob Miller, who chairs the union’s Belfast branch and is a member of the NUJ national executive council
said : “The naked threat of violence by paramilitaries, whatever their background, against members of this union is to be deplored. We ask those responsible for issuing threats against journalists working in Northern Ireland to withdraw them immediately and we call on their public representatives to issue a statement to that effect.”
Defending intellectual property
he union is joining with the International Federation of Journalists to defend intellectual property and journalistic work. NUJ President Barry McCall said: “Copyright is a valuable asset for many NUJ members. If you own the rights to your work you are in a position to make money from it. The NUJ is at the forefront of campaigning to prevent the use of work without the creator’s permission or payment. “As the UK parliament examines these issues as part of the legislative programme and select committee inquiry for the creative economy, the NUJ will continue to speak up on behalf of our growing number of freelance members for whom the licensing of copyright forms a significant part of their living. The union wants to protect the intellectual property of creators including their right to authorise the reproduction, communication, or availability of work. We want improved rights in relation to payment as well as the rights for creators to be identified and protect the integrity of their work.”
in brief... Joining UnionS To fighT cUTS Trade union membership in Britain is increasing, according to figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Union opposition to austerity measures imposed during the financial crisis is being credited with the change of mood. The number of UK workers who are trade union members rose by 59,000 to 6.5 million in 2012. Women were more likely to be members of unions than men, with 29 per cent of female employees in a union last year, compared with 23 per cent of men. bargain neWS in cornWaLL The Local World group is taking to the bargain basement in Penzance, where it has won agreement to sell The Cornishman through the local branch of retail chain Poundland. The weekly paper has average sales of 14,500 and the cover price is, of course, a pound. broTher can yoU Spare a MeaL More than half a million Britons are using food banks to stave off hunger and destitution, major charities are warning. Cuts to welfare payments are the biggest cause of the surge in demand for food banks in all parts of the country. Linking WiTh LSe on Media pLUraLiTy The union has teamed up with the London School of Economics to present the case for diversity in media ownership and to protect the role of local media. There’s access to the union’s case in the LSE’s Media Policy Project through the NUJ website at www.nuj.org.uk ncTJ STUdenT aWardS open Entries are now being taken for the sixth annual NCTJ annual Awards for Excellence in Journalism, which aim to recognise the best journalism students completing NCTJaccredited courses and journalists/ photographers with less than two years’ experience on the job. theJournalist | 5
news in brief...
barcLay TWinS Top Media rich LiST Sir David and Frederick Barclay have been named the richest media bosses in Britain with a £2.3 billion fortune, while Richard Desmond of Northern & Shell has seen his wealth slashed by almost £150m. The 78-year-old Barclay twins, owners of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, are top of the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List of people in publishing, PR and advertising.
ampaigning by the NUJ and others to defend journalism against opportunist libel actions by powerful corporations seeking to stop reasonable criticism of their behaviour has proved successful. The union’s parliamentary group had called on members of the UK House of Lords to back an amendment to the Defamation Bill which would give journalists a stronger public interest defence against corporations. Companies will now have to prove financial loss if they seek to sue over media reports of their activities. In the past, legal action by private companies was used to gag open reporting of their activities. But an amendment to the new defamation bill will stop corporate interests pursuing such actions unless they have incurred substantial financial harm. Lord Colville of Culross, who as Charles Colville was a BBC producer, told his colleagues in a Lords debate: “There were a number of occasions where I felt the mighty weight of companies bearing down on my reporting. I am afraid to say that on some occasions, even when I had a powerful and well-supported case revealing wrongdoings of a company, the legal letters from a company’s representatives threatening libel action and the uncertainty of the outcome under the present libel laws meant that these articles weren’t published.
6 | theJournalist
“We live in an era when business PR regards anything but abject praise as an attack on the company. It seems to me that an amendment that demands a threshold of serious financial damage to a company before it can sue for libel will allow a much greater atmosphere of transparency and openness when questioning its activities.”
snoopers’ Charter lives on
We live in an era when business PR regards anything but abject praise as an attack on the company
opes have faded that much-criticised UK government plans to intercept communications data were being shelved. Last month’s Queen’s Speech to parliament referred to ‘proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyber space’. The brutal Woolwich murder of Drummer Lee Rigby has added to calls to monitor internet traffic. Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had said that ‘what people have dubbed the snooper’s charter is not going to happen’. The inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee (pictured) has described the interception plans as ‘draconian’. The proposals would allow the government to order internet companies to collect and store communications data relating to all of the traffic with which they deal.
MUrdoch MoveS fox inTo a neW cenTUry Rupert Murdoch has decided that when he splits News Corporation into two separately listed companies later this year, the entertainment division should be called 21st Century Fox. The new corporate identity continues to be the iconic 20th Century Fox name. Q ediTor LeaveS afTer 14 MonThS Andrew Harrison stepped down as editor of monthly rock magazine Q after 14 months in the job. Harrison joined Bauer Media’s monthly music title in February 2012 from The Word magazine where he was editor-at-large, taking over from longstanding Q editor Paul Rees. Bauer said Harrison had left Q ‘to pursue other interests’.
EPA EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCy B.V./ALAMy
reporTer ShoT dead in pakiSTan Pakistani freelance newspaper reporter Ahmed Ali Joiya was shot dead in Punjab last month, where he was said to have been helping police while working on a crime story. Police said that 25-year-old Joiya had received threats from a criminal for reporting on his activities.
Victory on Defamation Bill ANDREW MICHAEL/ALAMy
fT SeeS Weak MarkeT for adS The Financial Times faced a ‘weak’ advertising market in the first quarter this year, its owner Pearson said. But digital subscriptions grew four per cent year-on-year to 328,000. Overall, Pearson said total group revenues fell one per cent year on year on an underlying basis to £1.2 billion in the first quarter.
Union gainS FroM olDer JoUrnalists
he NUJ is harnessing the skills and experience of veteran activists in a new ‘60+ Council’ to help combat ageism and secure justice for pensioners.
The new council will draw its members from across the union’s industrial and national structure, with each representative body nominating one member to the 60+ Council. A further
six members will be elected at the union’s delegate meeting. The rules say the council, established by a decision of the last union delegate meeting in Newcastle,
has the task of ‘opposing discrimination, combating ageism in the media, promoting equality in the union and without, and to raise work issues relevant to older members.’
Welsh newspaper boost
elsh local print has been given a boost with two news websites launching newspapers. The Caerphilly Observer website, launched in 2009 by Richard Gurner, is expanding into a fortnightly, full-colour, 16-page tabloid newspaper. Former Brighton Argus journalist Richard is making the move into newsprint thanks to a European Unionfunded business grant from Caerphilly County Borough Council. Richard said: “When I returned to Caerphilly in 2011 to work on the site, after setting it up while I was living in Brighton, I said it had long been a dream of mine to own my own newspaper. Publishing a fortnightly newspaper will be hard work, but I am convinced it is the right move.” He added: “The goal for Caerphilly Observer is to create a sustainable, locally-
owned medium that our readers can be proud of.” Caerphilly Observer will receive funding to help produce its first four editions from Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Caerffili Cwm a Mynydd Rural Development Programme Partnership. The grant is part funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. Meanwhile news website the Port Talbot Magnet launched a monthly print newspaper in April. The Welsh town has been
without a local paper since 2009 when the Port Talbot Guardian was closed down by Trinity Mirror. The Magnet launched in 2011 to ‘establish a replacement news service’ according to director Rachel Howells. She said: “We’ve always thought, why should a town with so much to offer be without its own local paper? “We felt now was the right time to bring a printed newspaper back to Port Talbot and we are looking for local people to be at the heart of it.”
The goal for Caerphilly Observer is to create a sustainable, locallyowned media that our readers can be proud of
journalist in London and served as NUJ president from 1975 to 1977. On retiring from journalism she returned to Ireland. She lived in County Wicklow and was instrumental in establishing the
retired members’ sections of the NUJ in Ireland. Barry McCall, the current NUJ president, described Rosaline as one of the best-known figures within the union.
digiTaL phoTo Mag charTS inSTanTLy The team behind the British Journal of Photography has launched a new international quarterly magazine for the iPad. Fade to Black launched at the Sundance film and music festival and aims to embrace the convergence of photography, video and multimedia. It charted at number one in the arts and photography category in the UK and Austrailia after being available for just 24 hours.
Union stand against police demands
he NUJ has again backed a video journalist refusing to hand full footage from a demonstration over to the police. Greater Manchester Police made a production order application for around 50 minutes of Jason Parkinson’s recordings at a Unite Against Fascism counter protest against the English Defence League’s demonstration in Bolton in 2010. The application for the full recording – which the union viewed as a ‘fishing expedition’ – was rejected but Parkinson did agree to hand over five minutes of footage, which would provide relevant evidence for a specific arrest. The union previously supported Parkinson in fighting successfully against an Essex Police application to obtain his footage from two days covering the eviction of Irish travellers from Dale Farm in 2012.
ThaT’S Life cenSUred by pcc Women’s weekly That’s Life has been censured by the Press Complaints Commission for paying the sister of a murderer for her story. Louise Hodgson was paid an undisclosed sum after her brother, Christopher Hodgson, was convicted of murdering his stepfather. It is against the PCC editor’s code to pay criminals or their associates – including family or friends – unless the story is in the public interest. MUrdoch donaTeS for ThaTcher Rupert Murdoch made a £10,000 donation to a charity in memory of Margaret Thatcher, whom he described as an ‘inspiration’, following her death. The media mogul gave the money to the Chelsea Pensioners Appeal, which was nominated by the Thatcher family for ‘in memoriam’ gifts.
triBUteS for eX presiDent rosaline ributes have been paid to Rosaline Kelly, the first woman president of the NUJ. Rosaline died aged 90 in Dublin after a short illness. She worked as a magazine
Spare rib SeekS reLaUnch caSh Guardian contributor Charlotte Raven is planning to relaunch the radical feminist magazine Spare Rib. Raven has written to friends and potential backers outlining plans to relaunch the magazine as a glossy new title and a free-to-access website with the tagline ‘Life not lifestyle’.
More! iS no More Women’s lifestyle magazine More! has closed after 25 years. Paul Keenan, chief executive of owner Bauer Media, said the weekly magazine had become ‘unviable’ due to challenging economic conditions. theJournalist | 7
news in brief... SorreLL UrgeS cUT in prinT adverTS Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the advertising group WPP, has said advertisers should seriously consider cutting the amount they spend on newspapers and magazines. He said that WPP – which spends £47 billion on advertising across all media – had found a big disparity in the amount advertisers spend on newspapers and magazines compared with the time consumers spend reading them. Q ediTor LeaveS afTer 14 MonThS Andrew Harrison stepped down as editor of monthly rock magazine Q after 14 months in the job. Harrison joined Bauer Media’s monthly music title in February 2012 from The Word magazine where he was editor-at-large, taking over from longstanding Q editor Paul Rees. Bauer said Harrison had left Q ‘to pursue other interests’.
Guardian increases use of non-journalists
he Guardian has sparked concerns over the spread of ‘citizen journalism’ with a move to increase the involvement of readers in producing copy and photographs and videos. The newspaper group has launched a new platform called GuardianWitness in partnership with the mobile phone network EE, encouraging people from around the world to offer stories and other content. It will set some assignments for readers such as submitting photographs on a particular theme. The newspaper group will choose to publish some of the submissions
to GuardianWitness on the website and also in the daily newspaper and its sister title The Observer. The NUJ believes that core content should be paid for and that commissioning readers to provide free copy will also serve to undermine freelance rates. The Guardian’s union chapel is to raise concerns with the newspaper’s managers about the increased use of free material from readers. Guardian social and communities editor Joanna Geary said that GuardianWitness will further ‘reinforce our recognition that journalism is now a two-way conversation.’
Pa makeS international pUsh
he Press Association news agency has forged a strategic partnership with TranslateMedia, a digital
language services agency, to expand PA’s global reach. The alliance will offer news and content in over 90 languages. The
WORKING FOR POVERTY WAGES
organisations collaborated during the London Olympics, translating content into 26 languages and delivering to more than 40 countries.
It is encouraging people from around the world to offer stories and other content
PA managing director Tony Watson said: “The partnership reconfirms our pledge to promote PA as a provider of multi-platform, multi-media content to a global audience.”
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4/12/2011 10:54:23 AM
General secretary Michelle Stanistreet on the threats in the Snoopers’ Charter
Comeback for attack on rights
alk about comebacks. After being monstered by a parliamentary select committee and ditched from the Queen’s Speech, the Communications Data Bill – more aptly known as the Snoopers’ Charter – is yet again back on the political agenda. With unseemly opportunism, the attack in Woolwich has been leapt upon by the Home Secretary, and she was quick to signal plans for wider surveillance powers, the banning of radical preachers from our airwaves and the blocking of extremist websites. Many have quickly pointed out that, far from resolving a problem, such actions will actually make it harder to fight extremism. The trigger was the interview with Anjem Choudary on Newsnight and Channel 4 news. The proposal to grant Ofcom pre-emptive powers to ban radical preachers from our screens is a retrograde step and would see the regulator forced to act as censor – a role that Ofcom has already stated it does not want and – critically – it doesn’t need. Nor is anyone clear how such powers could actually be implemented in practice – will our political masters hand broadcasters a list of banned names not fit to grace studio sofas? Does anyone genuinely think that impressionable potential recruits would be seduced into a life of terror by watching a preacher having a run-in with Paxman? Such political interference in our media and in editorial decision-making is unacceptable. We’ve been here before, with the farcical censoring of voices of leaders of Sinn Fein, with their words dubbed by
actors. Silencing so-called ‘preachers of hate’ didn’t work then and in the world of online news and social media it would be even dafter in the 21st century. It also inflames opinion at a time when a horrific act of murder is being exploited by right wing groups and used as a political smokescreen by those who tried their damnedest to get the Snoopers’ Charter past parliament. Talk of creating a potent weapon that will halt paedophiles and terrorists in their tracks is dishonest and untrue. Laws exist to tackle these crimes, and the ability to snoop on emails and data is not a magic bullet. More boringly, old fashioned intelligence and investigatory leg work will be what gives our police or MI5 the inside track on home-grown terror.
Laws exist to tackle these crimes, and the ability to snoop on emails and data is not a magic bullet
he Snoopers’ Charter would have allowed the government to order internet companies such as Facebook, BT Virgin Media and Sky to collect and store the communications data relating to all the traffic they deal with. This would include details of internet usage, websites visited, internet searches, private social media messages and even the online video games played. It also included a proposal for a ‘request filter’ – effectively turning our mobile phones into personal police tagging devices. Under the plans law enforcement agencies and tax authorities would also be able to trawl that data and crossreference it with other sources through a communications data search engine, revealing social connections and confidential communication between journalists and their sources. The NUJ’s code of conduct commits members to protect the identity of those who supply information and materials in confidence. Defending your source is a fundamental principle of journalism. If this charter gains legs again, it would represent a direct attack on the way journalists work, severely undermining their ability to protect their sources, materials and whistle-blowers. That’s why the NUJ will continue to oppose any such comeback of this dangerous and illconceived charter. theJournalist | 09
Linda Harrison begins the first of a new series, casting a spotlight on the main media centres around the UK and Ireland
he Birmingham Post and Mail has been providing local news to this city for more than a century, through world wars, recessions and depressions and great technological change. MP Jack Dromey recently wrote to Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox. ‘How can you assure me that this will continue?’ In his letter, Dromey raised concerns about job cuts in the area – and how this could harm the quality of journalism at the Birmingham Mail and Birmingham Post.
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The letter was sent at a time of change in Birmingham’s media industry. Among those changes, the Birmingham Post has changed from a daily to a weekly, while several weekly papers have merged or closed. But it’s not only in the print sector that things are shifting. Freelance media writer John Dukers, former Birmingham Post business editor who worked at the paper for 16 years, describes the city’s media scene as ‘in flux’. He explains: “Once, both its newspaper and television presence were massive, but no more. ATV has long gone, BBC is a shadow of its former self with Pebble Mill also long gone, and the 400,000 selling Birmingham Mail now manages just 40,000. “Against that, Birmingham’s online message, though limited, is cutting edge while there is a plethora of small scale but ambitious media firms across the spectrum. “None of this has diminished the amount of great news stories which pour out of a one million-plus conurbation which is one of the youngest and most ethnically diverse cities in Europe.” But there are some hefty media names still operating in and around England’s second city, and journalists say it’s a newsy and vibrant place to live and work – and allows a better standard of living than London. Trinity Mirror is one of the major media employers and owns regional daily the Birmingham Mail and its sister paper Birmingham Post plus several other titles, such as the Sunday Mercury and Solihull News. The company also prints freesheet Metro on behalf of Associated Newspapers. Another is regional publishing group Local World, recently formed after buying Northcliffe Media. It owns a number of titles, including the Walsall Advertiser and Black Country Bugle. Regional evening newspaper Wolverhampton’s Express & Star is published by Midlands News Association (part of the Claverley Group), while news agencies include Caters News Agency and News Team International. Ben Hurst, news editor at the Birmingham Mail and Birmingham Post, believes the city is possibly one of the most interesting places to work as a journalist.“The vastly diverse community means that being a Brummie has taken on a whole new meaning – but nevertheless there is still a very strong feeling of what it means to live in the city,” he says. “Although our city is much derided, to those living there it offers a rich mix of culture, including a magnificent museum, some of the best emerging restaurants in the country, great concert venues, a symphony orchestra, and growing creative scene. “Of course there are problems, with crime, growing poverty in some sections of the population, tensions between some communities and a cash-strapped local authority, meaning some serious challenges are ahead.
“The advantages from a journalistic perspective are a really great news area, with a wide variety of cultures and views.” As well as newspapers, there are loads of magazines, including culture/lifestyle publications like Fused Magazine and offshoot Area Culture Guide (a monthly pocket cultural calendar), both produced in the city, plus smaller local or specialised publications. On the broadcast side, BBC Birmingham is a main employer, although not as big as it once was. It is based at the Mailbox building in the city centre – its home since moving from Pebble Mill in 2004 – and produces national and regional programmes, radio and online. Birmingham is also the HQ for all BBC local broadcasting output in England and the Channel Islands. According to a spokesman, the central team has overall responsibility for 39 local radio stations, 42 online sites and 12 television regions. Half of BBC England’s News and Sport online output is also created there. BBC Birmingham produces Midlands Today and The Archers as well as current affairs programme Inside Out West Midlands and the regional edition of Sunday Politics (formerly The Politics Show). Local radio station BBC WM is based in the city and the Asian Network is co-located there. ITV also has a studio in Birmingham, from where its team produces Central News. Commercial radio includes Heart West Midlands, Free Radio and Capital Birmingham (Capital FM, formerly Galaxy), plus community radio stations like Big City Radio. For freelances, there’s co-working space (at the Moseley Exchange) plus local networking events, especially for the digital side of the industry. Freelance digital editor Fiona Cullinan says: “Having spent 20 years working in London, it’s been great to move back to my home city. It’s changed so much. Not only is there a fairly lively digital scene, which is small enough to be well networked via social media (and pub/cafe meets), but there
WHERE THE WORK IS... The main media employers (in no particular order):
• BBC – employs more than 400 staff in Birmingham. BBC Birmingham’s base, The Mailbox building, is an old Post Office letter sorting office. The BBC has seven other local radio bases in the Midlands – Coventry, Worcester, Stoke, Shropshire, Leicester, Nottingham and Derby. In addition, TV shows such as Doctors and Father Brown are produced at the BBC’s Drama Village, based at the University of Birmingham. • Trinity Mirror – its newspaper portfolio covers the West and East Midlands regions with 11 newspapers (plus Metro).
VERDICT ON BIRMINGHAM Comments from those who live there Freelance media writer John Duckers: “Birmingham is a village where everyone at the heart of running the city and reporting on it pretty much knows each other, their strengths and weaknesses. Birmingham faces immense challenges, both profiting and suffering from its proximity to London.” Ross Crawford, editor at the Solihull News: “There’s nothing bad about living and working in Birmingham. For a journalist there are always plenty of top stories to get your teeth into. The
countryside is close by too, the Malverns, Cotswolds, Peak District, and there are cultural gems like Warwick, Stratford, Worcester and Leamington all a day trip away.” Ben Hurst, news editor at the Birmingham Mail and Birmingham Post: “I have never known the city to be looking to improve itself more, with major financial and investment programmes causing a real buzz.” Freelance digital editor Fiona Cullinan says: “Brum often gets a bad rap but, once you know where to go, it’s actually pretty great to live here.”
This includes the Birmingham Mail, which has been published for more than 130 years. Weekly titles cover areas such as Nuneaton and Coventry. • Local World – this regional publisher was set up late last year by ex-Trinity Mirror chief David Montgomery from a merger of Northcliffe Media and Iliffe News and Media. It has a number of titles in the area. It has around 70 full time staff members in the region. • ITV – has studios based in Gas Street in central Birmingham. Its regional news team in the city has around 55 members of staff.
are a lot of interesting scenes developing, from pop-up New York delis to inner city photo walks. “The main advantage for me is a much better lifestyle. Compared with working in London, I have access to a garden, car, local gym and affordable housing.” Richard Fern is a freelance journalist who’s written for The Guardian, Maxim and Esquire. He agrees the city is often underrated. “Birmingham is a big multicultural city,” he says. “There are two big national conferencing centres, a large financial district and one of the best symphony halls in Europe.” Richard – also a lecturer in journalism at the University of Sheffield – adds that Birmingham’s central location can be helpful for freelances. He says: “Travel to the rest of Britain is easy – just one-anda-half hours to London, while a recent story on radioactive waste took me a mere three hours up the M6 to Cumbria. The major disadvantage is networking with the London-based media – it’s £140 for a rush hour ticket.” According to freelance business and IT journalist Chris Youett, another benefit comes when dealing with local publishers. “If they don’t like what you’ve written, they’re usually quick to tell you why and what needs to be done in the future,” he explains. “This is in contrast to too many southern commissioning editors who can be very woolly about what they really want.” And despite shifts in the media industry, there’s no shortage of applicants for the Birmingham School of Media at Birmingham City University. The school’s head, professor Philip Thickett, says it has about 500 undergraduates and 100 postgraduates (the postgrad specialises in broadcast and international journalism). Former alumni include BBC special correspondent Richard Bilton and Midlands Today presenter Mary Rhodes.
theJournalist | 11
Rhian Jones has been checking out how the press in the UK measures up to 21st century ideals of equality
hen veteran Press Gazette reporter Jean Morgan was at school in the 1950s, women were actively discouraged from pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. “My headmistress was very dismissive of it when I suggested that’s what I wanted to do,” recalls Jean, who is now retired. “Another pupil who eventually went to The Telegraph found the same attitude.” That didn’t put her off, of course, and these days plenty of women consider journalism a viable career choice. In 2002, over 60 per cent of a class of newly qualified journalists were women; 1,081 students graduated with a degree in journalism from six of the most popular media universities in the country and 669 of these were women.
Those numbers haven’t changed much in the last ten years. In 2012, women made up 62 per cent of the journalism graduates from Cardiff University, City University, Sheffield University, University for the Creative Arts, University College Falmouth and Staffordshire University. The story is much the same for NCTJ students. Where the day release course at Wolverhampton College in 2001/2002 had 16 women and 10 men, in 2012 the full-time course had nine females and three males. Liverpool Community College’s 2002 class of NCTJ newspaper journalism students had seven women and eight men, while the same course at Harlow College in 2012 was slightly weighted towards men at 15 to 12 (though its 2009/2010 cohort had 37 women and 22 men). Yet the pages of national newspapers show
that men still dominate the newsroom. On Saturday, May 11 this year, the Daily Telegraph’s bylines were 72 per cent male; the Guardian wasn’t so different at 71 per cent male and 80 per cent of The Times stories were written by men. In 2011, a study by Women In Journalism revealed that 74 per cent of news journalists on the national newspapers were men. The Daily Star’s Dawn Neesom is now the only female editor of a national newspaper in the UK. So if there are so many women with an interest in pursuing a career in journalism, why are so few reporting the news? Author and senior lecturer in journalism at Cardiff University Dr Cynthia Carter says the perception of the hard and fast nature of the job could be a reason why female graduates choose to go into other areas. She explains: “Of the female
g n i l i e c s s a l g a l l i t ? s e m r s i e l a n r Is th u o j n i n e m o w r fo Andy
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students I’ve kept in touch with, they’ve gone off into things like magazine and online journalism and marketing, PR and advertising roles. “Some of those media tend to be more female friendly and there’s a sense that women have a greater chance of climbing the career ladder, say in PR and marketing, than perhaps in journalism which is still perceived to be quite a macho endeavour. “I suppose daily journalism is just much more competitive, more cut-throat and more demanding in many ways; maybe some of them for good reasons are thinking: ‘I don’t want to slog it out like that, I’d rather go into another area that I’d find more fun and creative’.” But what of the few who do decide news is where their hearts lie? The clash of the 24/7 nature of reporting and the demands of raising a family is one reason why women might not stick around. It’s fair to say that, female or not, if a journalist can’t adhere to the strict working hours then they have no chance of competing next to a fellow reporter who can be on call all hours of the day. While working as a reporter on a number of publications in her early career, journalist Samantha Downes was put off from starting a family when seeing her pregnant female colleagues either leave the workplace or work full time to the detriment of their health. Downes left to freelance after five years, so she could choose her own working hours. She says: “Men are prepared to put up with more than women are. Once you start a family or get into the stride of your career you realise that there are better ways of working that are just as productive, if not more so; some of the best reporters I know are freelance women who have children.”
uring the time she did spend on staff, Downes missed out on a number of promotions; she was told she was ‘too sensitive or not as aggressive’ and so would therefore not make a good manager, editor or senior reporter. “My skills as a journalist were never in question,” she insists. In later years as an editor covering maternity leave as a freelance on parts of the Financial Times she managed “Oxbridge graduates who couldn’t string two sentences together”. The careers of our newspaper editors show that the trajectory from young reporter to editor is a well-trodden path. Tony Gallagher (Daily Telegraph), Alan Rusbridger (the Guardian), John Witherow (The Times) and Paul Dacre (Daily Mail) all started their careers on the news desk. With so few women starting out as news reporters and holding on to news jobs, it’s perhaps not surprising that the Women in
ONE WOMAN REPORTER’S EXPERIENCE ON A NATIONAL “I love my job and I don’t have any problems pitching or being given opportunities but I have noticed subtle exclusions. I do feel that my male colleagues bond much more easily with some of our senior people. We have a football and cricket team that I don’t feel like I can take part in and it does offer young men the opportunity to play sport with somebody who’s at the very top of the paper or in various senior roles management. I can’t think of a parallel opportunity where I could be schmoozing with those sorts of people. I also think a lot of these older guys are a bit awkward talking with young
women and those informal mentoring relationships are really important when you’re going through your career. They form a lot less naturally between men and young women and because there aren’t very many women, you just have to get on with it. “I’m quite ambitious and I’d like to do really well in my job but I do wonder if women shy away. If I look at some of the young men at the paper they are incredibly thrusting and it’s just not really my style – it’s not the style of all my male colleagues either – but it is infuriating when you see someone who is quite
Journalism study also found that eight out of the top 10 newspapers have almost twice as many male editors as women editors. By having so few women at the top who understand how to make the newsroom a more attractive working environment for a woman, the balance is unlikely to be restored, says Dr Cynthia Carter: “There’s a range of things that put women off rising up the ranks in journalism, and the stress is placed on that simply because if women are in journalism but in positions where they are not terribly powerful then it doesn’t really change.” While working at the Financial Times on a freelance contract, Samantha Downes ended up introducing more ﬂexible working hours and home working and shifts – as well as pay rises – for the whole team in the six months she was there. Apart from the interests of democracy, having women in the newsroom might actually benefit those cash counters at the top. The Daily Mail’s editorial team was the most female-heavy in 2011, and women also make up 53 per cent of its readership. By understanding how to cater for the female market, the Mail is the second most read daily newspaper in the UK (behind the Sun) with a readership of over 1,803,327. On another note, having ‘too sensitive or not as aggressive’ women in the newsroom can come in handy
obnoxious do quite well. Another problem I’ve noticed is the paper is conscious of the fact that there aren’t enough women in senior positions so they have a tendency to overpromote women who end up failing and then everybody talks about it as in ‘oh it’s another bloody woman who’s done a terrible job’. “I have talked a little bit about these issues with senior colleagues and discovered no interest whatsoever really. I just think they don’t think it’s an issue.”
when reporting stories on cases that need an empathetic interviewer. So what needs to be done to level this imbalance? Teaching the journalists of tomorrow about the gender issues in the profession is one long-term solution, says Dr Carter: “There’s a sense in the way journalism is taught that it is a gender neutral field but we know that’s not true. I think if enough young people go through journalism education and come out of it questioning whether journalism is a gender/class/race neutral endeavour eventually it has to change because you’ll have enough men and women pushing back. But as long as it’s just a person here or there with a more progressive sensibility, it’s just going to be business as usual.” In the meantime, only those who call the shots at the head of papers can make changes to ensure their newsroom is more attractive to women. It’s worth noting that despite The Independent faring worse in the 2011 WIJ report with an editorial team made up of just 25 per cent of women, editor Chris Blackhurst considers ‘journalism a very enlightened profession’ with ‘much improved employment practices’. But on the day he spoke to me last month, a ﬂick through his paper reveals that women had just 10 bylines out of a possible 85. theJournalist | 13
The Spirit of Brotherhood by Bernard Meadows at TUC Congress House, London
State of the unions Barrie Clement looks behind the headlines to check the health and firepower of the trade unions
14 | theJournalist
t’s not a bad intro for reporters desperate to interest their newsdesks in copy from the TUC annual congress: “Union leaders yesterday voted to consider the first general strike since 1926.” But you don’t have to be a particularly sharp news editor to spot that delegates hadn’t voted to do anything much, simply to commission a series of reports. And thereby hangs the tale. Britain’s unions are still casting round for effective ways to demonstrate their bitter opposition to the coalition government’s austerity programme. The TUC’s resolution to ‘consider the practicalities of a general strike’ – passed last September – has not so far yielded the threatened wave of industrial action. The movement has remained in firefighting mode, attempting to resist or ameliorate the excesses of the government’s cutbacks, as and when it can. By any definition a general strike is a massive undertaking. Despite arguments to the contrary by some of the movement’s finest legal brains, the courts could pronounce it unlawful on the basis that it would not constitute a lawful trade dispute – and leave unions funds open to seizure. There is also no discernible clamour among members for a mass nation-wide walk out. There have, however, been targeted stoppages in various public services. Strikes by Unison succeeded in watering down plans to cut pensions, the Union of Communication Workers is fighting privatisation of the Royal Mail and the PCS civil service union is in the middle of guerrilla warfare to persuade ministers to negotiate over pay and conditions generally. The private sector has been relatively strike-free. A recent ballot on industrial action over the closure of a key part of Ford’s Dagenham plant was overwhelmingly voted down. And an anti-austerity rally called by the TUC last October drew fewer demonstrators than the previous year. With the TUC resolution in mind, pragmatists on the Left are now talking about selective industrial action at workplaces with large numbers of union members and consequent industrial strength. But they realise that they need to campaign vigorously to convince working people that strike action is the answer. Left-wingers argue that the mood of relative passivity may be about to change. From April, long-planned and highly significant changes to the welfare state were introduced, which will have a drastic impact on the ability of millions of working people to pay their basic bills. To rub salt in the wound, the 50p rate of tax for high earners was scrapped. Unison assistant general secretary Cliff Williams adds a chastening thought. He points out that although we’re more than half way through the lifespan of the government, it has only achieved 20 per cent of its planned spending reductions. While even deeper cutbacks may provoke working people into industrial action, they could also undermine unions’ ability to organise. Fear for the future does not necessarily translate into a propensity to take industrial action. And lower demand in the economy translates into redundancies, which in turn means fewer union members. Most unions have felt the heat. For instance, the massive and largely private sector union Unite lost half its paying membership in the finance sector over the last five years or so. Through its ‘100 per cent campaign’ the union is focusing on increasing membership in workplaces where it already
enjoys recognition. Membership seems to have stabilised as a result, says Andrew Murray, the union’s chief of staff. Some 65,000 new members have been attracted over the last 12 months, says Andrew, but he concedes that his organisation, which reports a membership of 1.4 million, has to ‘run fast to stand still’. Clearly the government’s austerity measures have also had a major impact on public service unions. Unison, which registers a 1.3 million membership, is in the middle of the biggest recruitment drive it has ever conducted. The campaign has included television and newspaper advertisements, and at key stages of the programme hundreds of administrative staff have been switched from other duties to concentrate on recruitment. It has already borne fruit, with recruitment reportedly up more than 60 per cent over last year. “When we ask people to join, a lot of people simply want to know what’s in it for them,” said one official. “Many are worried about their jobs, so they will turn to the union for support if they understand what it can do for them.” Keeping membership levels up is a constant battle. Some 140,000 people leave Unison every year through natural wastage so, like Unite, it has to expend considerable energy to stand still.
UNiONs affiliaTed TO laBOUR ASLEF – Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen – (mainly train drivers) 18,898 members BECTU – Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union – (broadcasting, film, video, theatre, cinema and related sectors) 24,326 BFAWU – Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union – (food) 20,816 COMMUNITY – (industries in and around steel, metal and textile communities) 50,012 CWU – Communication Workers Union – (post and telecommunications) 204,419 GMB – (general workers in public and private sectors) 610,116 MU – Musicians Union – (performers, writers and teachers in the music industry) 31,482 NACODS – National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers – (mining supervisors) 323 NUM – National Union of Mineworkers – (coal face and surface workers) 1,885 TSSA – Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association – (clerical staff railways, London Underground, travel, haulage, shipping) 24,662
UCATT – Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians – (construction workers) 83,760 UNISON – Largest public sector union – ( workers providing public services) 1,317,500 UNITE – Largest union (general workers largely in the private sector) 1,407,399 UNITY – (ceramics industry) 4,184 USDAW – Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied USDAW Workers – (retail, distributive and related industries) 412,441 GFTU – GFTU is a federation of specialist unions and its members include BECTU, BFAWU, COMMUNITY, MU, NACODS & UNITY. …AND SOME OF THOSE WHO ARE NOT FBU – Fire Brigades Union (firefighters) 42,605 NASUWT – (education) 293,855 NUJ – National Union of Journalists 30.500 NUT – National Union of Teachers (school teachers) 324,367 PCS – Public and Commercial Services Union (civil servants) 280,547 RMT – National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (mainly rail workers) 76,093
theJournalist | 15
And like Unite, the primary aim of Unison’s recruitment initiative is to improve membership density in workplaces where the union already has a presence. “There is strength in numbers. It is as simple as that. The more people in membership the more muscle we have to negotiate. Employers take you more seriously,” said the official. Clearly unions’ problems predated the global recession created by rapacious bankers. Over the last 30 years union membership generally has been in decline and it has recently dipped below six million for the first time since the 1940s. However the precipitous drop experienced in the 1980s – from a high of 13.2 million in 1979 – has been halted. In fact the most recent official figures show that the roll call has edged up and unions remain far and away the biggest membership organisations in Britain and Ireland. They also retain a significant political role as the biggest single donor to the British Labour Party and a critical part of its fabric. It should be remembered that Ed Miliband owes his leadership to union members who pay a political levy to the party. While brother David got a majority in the MPs’ and grassroots members’ sections of the electoral college, Ed attracted enough votes from the union section to secure a wafer thin majority. Despite the frenzied imaginings of right-wing commentators, the movement’s links with the Labour Party are often fractious. Inevitably Ed Miliband has taken every opportunity
The more people in membership the more muscle we have to negotiate
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to distance himself publicly from unions to prove his independence. The so-called ‘Red Ed’ was at particular pains recently to put clear pink water between himself and the reelected Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite. McCluskey had warned the Labour leader against being ‘seduced’ by Blairites in his Shadow Cabinet. The Labour leader denounced the intervention as ‘reprehensible’, declaring that McCluskey was seeking to divide the party. It was a golden opportunity for the leader to show ‘Middle Britain’ that he was not in hock to the unions. Despite the Punch and Judy politics, unions retain access to the highest levels of the Labour Party and continue to support Ed – although trade unionists would argue that a political relationship doesn’t necessarily translate into political influence. Of more immediate concern are the policies of the coalition. While unions have a degree of influence over LibDem Business Secretary Vince Cable, ex-SDP and a former Labour councillor, there is little political traction elsewhere. So far they have relied on David Cameron’s strategy of occupying the political middle ground to avoid the worst excesses of the reactionary Right. It remains to be seen if this relative moderation will survive the recent electoral victories of the antediluvian Ukip and what challenges that might present to the union movement. A deregulated Britain outside Europe would be a chilling prospect indeed for trade unionists.
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Raymond Snoddy lifts the stones to examine some BBC fiascos
Here’s another fine mess...
e was the BBC director general many staff loved to hate. But John Birt liked to say prophetically that history would judge him more kindly. To some extent that is already true. He may have been one of consultant Mckinsey’s best customers and pursued a cack-handed management style, but he understood the implications of digital and the internet. He stood firm against the BBC chairman Marmaduke Hussey and went ahead with the Princess Diana Panorama interview. There was also an absence of huge cock-ups on his watch. The stock of Greg Dyke, hounded out of office by minor BBC board of governors politicians , will continue to rise despite his very idiosyncratic style. It is already clear that the BBC was fundamentally right on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, save for one careless phrase in an early morning unscripted interview on the Today programme. Dyke, through Freeview, brought multi-channel television to all those who could not afford, or didn’t want to pay for, Sky. Time will probably show that his decision to move a significant slice of BBC production to Salford was the right thing to do. With Mark Thompson, things seem to be moving in the opposite direction. We don’t yet know for sure, but he was almost certainly eased out by BBC chairman Lord Patten so that he could get his own choice – George Entwistle – in place. Thompson left to run the New York Times on the high of the Olympics; although criticised for the tough licence fee settlement,
If the £150 million figure is correct then it is the equivalent of more than a million licence fees and nearly twice the entire cost of Radio 4
which is to cost at least 2,000 jobs, it was probably the best deal on offer. Since then, however, we have had Savile, Newsnight and, worst of all from a managerial point of view, the collapse in chaos of the Digital Media Initiative. Thompson can scarcely be blamed for the sexual predations of Savile, or at least any blame there is will have to be shared with many others. But over the Newsnight scandals and the Savile tribute programmes, Thompson appeared to have known as little as Entwistle, though that’s not how everyone remembers it.
he biggest blow by far to his reputation is the DMI fiasco which, as he admitted himself, was of vital importance to the future efficiency of the BBC. In BBC terms we all know what £100 million, and it may be £150 million, means. If the £150 million figure is correct then it is the equivalent of more than a million licence fees and nearly twice the entire cost of Radio 4. There is an eloquent history of large computer projects going awry in the private as well as the public sector. But, perhaps naively, we thought the BBC could perform better on something that was so central to what it does. Naturally the Corporation has called in consultants – this time pricewaterhouseCoopers – to find out what went wrong. They might want to begin by asking why, when the original attempt failed under Siemens, the project was brought indoors. The consultants might then see whether it is true that existing off-theshelf storage capacity and software to handle the BBC programme archives could have been bought for around £1 million or so. Whatever the outcome of the inquiry the buck will almost certainly stop with Thompson. For the sake of the future of the New York Times we must all hope he can manage a more successful transition to a digital world there.
For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy theJournalist | 17
poverty The scourge of Jeremy Dear looks at efforts to strengthen the power of Jamaica’s press
t is a universal truth that there can be no press freedom if journalists live under conditions of corruption, poverty or fear. Little wonder then that Jamaica’s journalists are increasingly concerned that their cherished media freedoms are under serious threat as low pay and precarious employment stalk the media. Five of the last seven editors of Jamaica’s biggest newspaper have died in poverty, unable to afford the care they need after a lifetime serving an ungrateful media. Journalists called out to cover a job are sometimes unable to respond because they do not have even enough money for petrol for their car. Others out covering hurricanes have had to leave their children alone at home in the raging storm because they cannot afford proper childcare. 18 | theJournalist
And these journalists, fearful about losing their jobs, have suffered in silence. In Jamaica such issues have only been whispered about. Corruption is rife in Jamaican society. In December, Jamaica was ranked 83 out of 174 countries by Transparency International. Journalists are the targets of vested interests – from corporations to politicians to criminal gangs and even media owners promoting their own business interests. Widespread poverty among the country’s media workers opens up the possibility that such vested interests can exert an undue influence on journalists. But today, the Press Association of Jamaica, which is bombarded every week with requests for loans and financial support from journalists who have fallen on hard times, is finding its voice. Alongside campaigns to create a joint press council with media companies and for an end to punitive criminal libel laws which restrict journalists’ ability to do their job, it is to launch a nationwide campaign to fight against the poverty of journalists as a way of working to improve quality and tackle the possibility of individual journalists being susceptible to corruption. The PAJ Executive has declared 2013 the year it “takes the
Above left: The poverty affecting Jamaicans trying to scratch a living in garbage dumps influences journalists too Above right: PAJ president Jenni Campbell and Professor Trevor Munroe at a Canadian forum on Corporate Social Responsibility at the University of the West Indies
Jamaica wiNstoN sill
message to all stakeholders that the under-compensation of journalists is a threat to the freedom of the media which we all so treasure”. Its says: “Any journalist worried about their next meal is cannon fodder to the corrupt who want to ensure that their deeds do not make it into the pages of the newspaper or on the radio and television newscasts. This is an issue which everyone who wants to ensure a free, fair and independent media in Jamaica should rally around and one which the PAJ will champion”. I heard first-hand stories of journalists who had accepted money for petrol or loans or financial and other gifts or discounts from politicians, corporations or other vested interests while researching this article. Payola is seen by many businesses as a legitimate way to get things done – and by some journalists as a way to supplement meagre salaries. Sometimes the request to handle a story a particular way is explicit, sometimes implied. But in every case the journalists know the intention is to attempt to corrupt media coverage. The International Federation of Journalists recognises that the poverty and precarious employment of journalists means journalism is too open to corruption, too reliant on corrupt practices so its independence can be challenged. The link between journalists’ working conditions and their ethical stance is not absolute — but conditions play a significant part. If journalists feel insecure they are much less likely to challenge dubious editorial decisions. If they are very low paid, and journalism is for the most part very low paid, then they find it harder to develop the independence of mind on which ethical journalism depends. That’s why the PAJ’s President Jenni Campbell is so committed to tackling the financial well-being of her members. Ms Campbell said: “At the heart of what journalists do is asking questions on behalf of those who would not otherwise have access and provide information that allows people to make critical personal choices. “But in our quest to be objective at all times, we often fail to stand up for our own causes. Our failure is in not recognising that press freedom is as much a matter of providing access to the public to express themselves freely and maintaining firewalls to guard against boardroom and special interests’ abuse, as it is also the ability of journalists
If journalists feel insecure they are much less likely to challenge dubious editorial decisions
to do their jobs without the deliberate and sometimes systematic pressures of eking out an existence way beneath the poverty line. “We must stand firmly against working in a climate where payola and other forms of corruption become almost a necessary consideration as we are called upon to do more, simply because new and emerging technology demand it, without any thought of how these new realities impact on our own already meagre personal resources. “As role models, we put on a positive face of prosperity even as we struggle to feed young families and grapple with too-long working hours. “We fight for changes to libel laws, we speak out firmly for the right of freedom of expression, the right to know, then we go home and suffer in silence....we must be prepared to speak up for ourselves. It is only then that we can speak up for others with confidence and without fear or favour”. The PAJ is already winning widespread backing for its campaign. Professor Trevor Munroe, executive director of National Integrity Action, has backed the association’s demands for more ethical training and support for journalists so they can increasingly challenge government officials and others. And Sandrea Falconer, Jamaican Government Information Minister and a former journalist, says her government has listened to the PAJ’s case and will reform the country’s libel regime – which currently opens the door to media being sued for criminal libel and facing unlimited fines – before the endof the current Parliamentary year. But she also challenged media to provide journalists with practical support to help them tackle corruption wherever it may appear – including in the media itself. “Private power has increased enormously over the years in our society and private actors have the means to influence media content and output. Media practitioners themselves have to exercise considerable moral courage to resist unjust enrichment. They need support to do that”.
wIth favour to none Jamaica’s Information Minister Sandrea Falconer writes: Lord Leveson found that the PCC was inadequate to fight press abuses. In Jamaica, we have not yet even arrived at the point of establishing a Press Complaints Commission. It is unacceptable that Jamaicans who do not have the means to sue for libel are unable to get redress for any harm suffered by the press. If we are serious about
press freedom, democracy and the need to fight the corruption scourge, we cannot treat with contempt—and I use that strong a word—this matter of providing a forum where Jamaicans can go if they feel injured by the press. The Jamaican Press is among the world’s freest, and has strongly criticised politicians of both parties. But it should not stop with just politicians and public officials. What about those with ‘Big Money’ in the society;
those with strength of cash who in these times of tight advertising and sponsorship budgets have the power of the purse strings? Are journalists as fearless in pursuing stories involving them? Are they as bold and strident in criticising them? Would a journalist turn their back on stories because they know they might be jeopardising advertising placements, sponsorships and corporate goodwill? If they do, that is corruption.
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DRONES ARE NOT JUST FOR WARFARE
Rosie Niven on the latest trends and kit
rones have become an important part of US military strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan under President Obama. And recent reports that British armed forces have their own collection of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have prompted ethical and legal concerns about how they will be used. But drones do not have to be used exclusively for warfare. They are also attracting the interest of journalists. Two US journalism schools are teaching students how to operate drone aircraft for newsgathering. Experimental classes at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and the University of Missouri are the first two programmes of their type. Students are taught how to fly these vehicles and use them to capture stills and video, with the aim of turning the information gathered into stories. They are also instructed in ethics and safety issues arising from their use. Drones could offer UK news organisations a cheaper alternative to the Skycopter, a report in the Guardian suggested last October. The BBC’s research and development department is already exploring this type of technology with Southampton University.
PREVIEW REPLACING GOOGLE READER The announcement that Google Reader was to be retired
was a big disappointment for its fans, including many journalists. From 1 July, fans of the search engine’s RSS feed reader will no longer be able to use the service, which organises news from a user’s favourite sources into one continuous feed. Once I’d finally accepted the fact that Google Reader would soon be no more, I searched technology and journalism blogs for recommended alternatives.
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Students are taught how to fly these vehicles and use them to capture stills and videos
The overwhelming favourite seems to be Feedly. This is partly down to the fact that it is making the transition for Google Reader users as easy as possible: you simply have to log in with your Google account and bingo, there’s your feed. In terms of functionality, the interface is clean with a number of viewing options. There are keyboard shortcuts and the ability to organise your feed into sections. Feedly appears to work well on both Chrome and Firefox. It has Android and iOS apps, neither of which I have used yet, but disappointingly the Kindle app is only for models with Android. I hope a developer is working on tools
Journalism drones are in use in Australia where a news programme used one to fly over an immigration detention centre to which reporters were refused entry. Meanwhile in China a newspaper recently advertised for a ‘drone reporter’. Enthusiasts argue that drone journalism can make documenting the extent of a natural disaster less timeconsuming and uncovering human rights abuses more straightforward. Some have suggested that they can make it safer for war correspondents to report on conflicts. But there are many ethical considerations, particularly the invasion of privacy. Celebrities or people in the public eye through no fault of their own – families like the Dowlers for example – could be the victims of this technology. For now these ethical dilemmas are not immediate ones, with UK civil aviation authority regulations making it difficult to fly drones in built-up areas. But that could change from 2016 if EU proposals to open up European airspace to UAVs are implemented. Like any new technology adopted by journalists, drones offer many exciting possibilities. But they also pose more ethical questions for journalists than most other technological advances.
that will send your Feedly feed to e-Readers. Another disappointment is that there appears to be no facility to share public feeds. There are other Google Reader alternatives, which you can read about on blogs such as Mashable, Lifehacker and Journalism.co.uk. One of the most exciting developments is that bookmarking service Digg is working on its own replacement. But for many users, particularly those requiring Google’s translation services or living in countries like China and Iran where Reader has escaped the government-imposed firewall, Google Reader will be a hard act to follow.
Zoe Williams is a comment and sketch writer for the Guardian
THE NUJ AND ME What made you become a journalist? I actually wanted to do a respectable job, but had too weird and off-putting a manner for the milkround. So therefore I had to get into something with no formal interview process. But it’s turned out pretty lucky, because I’m now fairly left-wing, which would have been hugely problematic for me, had I got the job I wanted (lickspittle running dog for the consumer establishment. Advertising, I mean).
What other job might you have done? I quite fancy prison governorship but now I’m too old.
When did you join the NUJ and why? When I got my first job, my previous employer said: “have you contacted your chapel?” I thought it was a religious thing: it’s taken me this long to work it out.
Are many of your friends in the union? All of them, I’d imagine. I do work at the Guardian.
What’s been your best moment in your career?
During the Olympics, bunking off the BMX to go to the women’s boxing. I felt like I was watching history. Which I was, in a way. Niche boxing history.
And in the union? I went to a meeting about LGBT issues in the media recently that reminded me that unions were about more than just collective pay bargaining, and
What advice would you give a new freelance? Stationery. It makes all the difference. Oh, and the working day still has to begin at 9. You think, hell, I can do 12 til 8, it’s still eight hours. You won’t! It won’t be!
Who is your biggest hero?
more even than standing up for one another; it created a space where you could all talk about things temperately. It makes for quite a high level of debate.
It sounds partisan, but I love Polly Toynbee, Aditya Chakrabortty and Seumas Milne. Comment wise, also Mehdi Hassan and Mark Seddon. Shiv Malik is brilliant and so is Tom Clark. And I rip off Laura Cumming if I’m ever trying to sound cultured.
What is the worst place you’ve worked in?
Which six people would you invite to a dinner party?
Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents (it’s a legal publisher; I’m pretty sure no union operates in it).
Honestly, I’ll invite anyone to dinner so long as they’re not veggie.
What was your earliest political thought?
And the best? The Guardian is a great paper, but I have never had as much fun as I had at the Standard. It was like a bar, with computers.
Love/hate with Twitter
What are your hopes for journalism over the next five years?
What advice would you give someone starting in journalism?
That we will either monetise it or give it up; either way, stop peddling the idea that the content we produce isn’t worth anything.
Don’t believe the Cassandras. It is perfectly possible and worthwhile to make a living in this business.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job? I’d like to say, ‘being able to perceive any slight change in policy or public mood, which could conceivably be down to me.’ But in fact I am a chronic attention-seeker, so really, anything that brings me attention.
And the most frustrating... I hate making a mistake. It happens more frequently than I’d like. Recently, I said Paul Dacre was the head of the PCC when in fact, of course, he chairs the Editor’s Code of Practice Committee. But you knew that!
Sexism… what kind of tomfoolery is that?
End Kate Middleton trivia
That decent papers won’t figure it out soon enough, and they will be left chasing the ‘10 things we hate about Kate Middleton’ or ‘14 things you never knew about cholesterol’ business model.
What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months? If I had any sense, I’d leave Twitter. But I love it.
How would you like to be remembered? I’d like people to go ‘she was a pro’, then give a hard stare, so that you couldn’t tell whether they meant professional, big drinker or sex worker. theJournalist | 21
Arts with attitude Some of the best things to see and do with a bit of political bite For listings email: journalist@NUJ.org.uk
Follow the summer of fun with theatre, books, ﬁlms and music… Theatre Fences Duchess Theatre, London. Booking until September 14 Lenny Henry continues to get rave reviews as an actor as he moves to London’s West End for his portrayal of Troy Maxson, the tragic hero who lives in 1950s Pittsburgh between the Korean and Vietnam wars. Troy, a garbage truck driver and former baseball player, successfully fought a case against his supervisors, who only allowed blacks to pick up garbage while only whites were allowed to drive trucks. He is a bitter man who takes out his frustrations on his son and wife. www.boxofﬁce.co.uk If Only Minerva Theatre – part of the Chichester Festival. Until July 27 “I’ve written down the thing which, if it became known, would destroy my
In 2009 at the G8 conference in Holland,
JOOLS RULES The passions of composer, pianist, bandleader and broadcaster Jools Holland
, on tour , Jools Holland gie piano man
oo The boogie w
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Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra performed the Beatles’ All You Need Is Love for the leaders of the western world. Jacques Chirac mistook the trumpet introduction for the opening of the French national anthem and stood up, followed by Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin. Once they realised, and to avoid an international incident, they carried on dancing. Getting people up and dancing – through his TV shows The Tube in the early eighties with Paula Yates and Lesley Ash, four series of Night Music, three series of The Happening, two series of Name That Tune, eighteen New Year Hootenanny shows, a series of Beat Route, filmed all over the world and, up to now, 37 series of Later…With Jools Holland – it’s not just TV that the boogie woogie piano master is passionate and adept at. He has sold millions of records, from his first in 1976 with the punk band Wayne County and the Electric Chairs, his big hits with Squeeze and the most successful record he ever played on, Good Thing by The Fine Young Cannibals, which reached No 1 in 17 countries. Jools was paid the obligatory session fee of £150. He has a new album out, The Golden Age of Song, which combines an array of live and studio performances with artists like Tom Jones, Paul Weller, Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Paolo
political career.” April 16, 2010, the day after the first prime ministerial debate. Stranded in Malaga Airport by the Icelandic ash-cloud, a Labour special advisor, a Lib Dem staffer and a Tory candidate consider their options. Can their parties survive without them? How will they get back home? Who will end up in government? August 4, 2014 and the three politicians meet again. One of them knows something that could change the outcome of the 2015 election. Should they reveal it and at what cost? If Only takes an astute and witty look at the coalition government. www.cft.org.uk Books Setting The Truth Free Julieann Campbell. Liberties Press. 13.99 euros The inside story of the Bloody Sunday justice campaign, written by the niece of the first fatality, Jackie Duddy. The inside account by Julieann Campbell, who is NUJ mother of the chapel at the Derry Journal, records the personal stories
Nutini, Mick Hucknell and Cee Lo Green. In 2007 he released his autobiography Barefaced Lies and Boogie Woogie Boasts. Jools holds the unique status of performing with musicians who have achieved success in every decade of the 20th century. In 2003 he was awarded an OBE for services to the British music industry. He’s involved with numerous charities including The Prince’s Trust, the National Autistic Society and Autism Research Centre and the Amber Trust – a music charity for blind children. He’s currently on tour around Britain with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra until December 22, with special guest Roland Gift until August and then Spice Girl Melanie C for the October, November and December dates. Catch the man of whom BB King said “I didn’t think anybody could play like that. Jools has got that left hand that never stops”. Jools says of himself: “I’ve worked with people in their 90s, sometimes people who were born in the 19th century, but also very young talents who were born in the late part of the 20th century. The great thing about music is that it doesn’t matter if it’s five minutes old or 500, if you breathe life into it, you can make it brand new every time you do it.” www.joolsholland.com
arts of the campaigners, relatives and the wounded themselves up to the Saville Report in 2010. It’s a remarkable story of ordinary people achieving the impossible and unwittingly making history. Determined to clear their loved ones’ names, they took on the British government and won. Thirtyeight years after the events, Prime Minister David Cameron apologised on behalf of his government and country for the unjustified and unjustifiable acts. www.libertiespress.com Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That’s Changing How The World Gets High Mike Power Portobello Books £14.99 Drug deals were normally done on the street or on the phone. Today, you can order every conceivable drug with the click of a mouse. But the online market in illegal substances isn’t just changing the way drugs are bought and sold; it’s changing the nature of the drugs themselves as dealers engage foreign chemists to tweak the chemical structures of banned drugs just enough to render them legal in most parts of the world. Mike Power, who has worked as a freelance for British newspapers including the Guardian, Mail On Sunday, the Sunday Herald and the Big Issue, explores the agile, international, virtual subculture that will always be one step ahead of the law. www.portobellobooks.com Dying For The Truth – Undercover. Inside The Mexican Drug War Blog Del Narco Feral House. £16.19 Mexico faces horrifying violence as a result of the drug trade. Fed up with threats and forced silence, a large group of fugitive reporters decided the truth needed to be told. They started Blog Del Narco to expose the atrocities of the Mexican drug trade. Their accounts, with gruesome images, tell the stories so the rest of the world can learn about the horrors caused by international demand for Mexican drugs. Before the book was completed two reporters were disembowelled and hung off a bridge. Large handwritten signs next to their bodies mentioned Blog Del Narco. A few days later, they executed another journalist informant. The assassins left keyboards, a mouse
and computer parts as well as a sign about Blog Del Narco across her body. www.feralhouse.com
Saving the White House?
If Only, a witty look at the coalition government
Exhibitions The Art Of Protest People’s History Museum, Manchester Until June 30 This project was launched in response to the Manchester riots in August 2011 and promotes high-impact, peaceful protests, taking inspiration from Banksy, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Katherine Hamnett and Billy Bragg among many others. www.phm.org.uk Music The Big Guns The big guns are out playing major festivals and concerts this summer. The Rolling Stones headline the sold out Glastonbury Festival as well as playing two dates at London’s Hyde Park, also sold out. Bon Jovi precede them at Hyde Park on July 5. Bruce Springsteen plays numerous dates
around the UK and Ireland, including London’s Wembley Stadium and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; Hampden Park, Glasgow; Ricoh Arena, Coventry; Thomond Park, Limerick; Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Cork; Kings Hall, Belfast; Millennium Stadium, Cardiff; Leeds Arena; Nowlan Park, Kilkenny (two dates), some of which are already sold out. If you want to check out a whole range of outdoor and indoor events and not sold out, big or small, family friendly or those for headbangers or hip hop, go to: www.ents24.com Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life Tate Britain, London June 26 – October 20 A major exhibition of urban landscapes by much loved British painter L.S. Lowry, bringing together around 80 works showing the industrial revolution and the experiences of the working class. www.tate.org.uk
prEviEw Eclectic, electric events Manchester International Festival, July 4 – 21 On August 16, 1819 poverty and the lack of assistance offered by The inside story of the Bloody Sunday justice campaign
Maxine Peake performs Shelley’s epic poem, Masque of Anarchy. Photo by Jonty Wilde
the state, led 60,000 Mancunians to campaign for parliamentary reform. Men women and children came in peaceful protest, carrying picnic baskets and wearing their Sunday best. Local magistrates sent in armed cavalry to disperse the crowds and arrest the speakers, killing 15 and injuring hundreds. Now known as the Peterloo Massacre, it ultimately spurred the formation of the trade union movement and the reform of parliamentary democracy. Poet Percy Shelley penned The Masque of Anarchy, a 91-verse epic regarded as one of the greatest political poems. Actress Maxine Peake (Shameless, Silk, The Village) will perform a provocative new interpretation of the work as one of the highlights of this bi-annual eclectic cultural festival with over 20 world premieres and special events for the summer. Among the attractions are the History of Grime: Rebels with a Cause, a look at one of the most exciting musical cultures in Britain and Coal To Cotton, held over 65 continuous hours turns the focus on the two materials that made Manchester wealthy, continues to hold workers in modern slavery and show the connections between Mumbai and Manchester. www.mif.co.uk. See www.vivianmaier.com
theJournalist | 23
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taking le pissoir? I enjoyed Mary Murtagh’s article on new life for old newspaper offices and Dorothy-Grace Elder’s reminiscences in the April/May issue. Just to clarify something of The Scotsman’s history: the paper’s prospectus was launched in 1817 but it began publishing twice a week the following year. It had become a daily long before the move to North Bridge in central Edinburgh. As a former FoC, I was intrigued to note on my first visit to the premises after its conversion to a hotel that where one of my desks had been there was now a urinal. A reflection on my 18 years working there? Allan Mclean, Edinburgh
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Union backing counts I want to express my thanks for the tremendous support I received from the NUJ whilst in dispute with my employer recently. I was able to call upon the support of the NUJ’s David Ayrton, who spent hours talking through the issues with me before travelling to my home city to accompany me at a grievance hearing. The outcome initially was not positive; however David’s invaluable understanding of the legal aspects meant that our response, setting out the potential legal implications of the company’s actions resulted in a favourable change of attitude and full resolution. This could not have happened without the full support of the NUJ and David in particular, and I am hugely indebted for the advice I received. You never know when you might need help and in small companies especially, where HR does not really exist, the NUJ could mean the difference between staying in a job or leaving. A strong union that can mediate in such disputes and help to shape a favourable outcome for 24 | theJournalist
members and their employers, has a hugely important, relevant role in the future of journalism, one we should celebrate and protect. Andrew Pelis Norfolk
A secular view Jane Yelland (April/May Journalist), presents some incredible, naive and sentimental views of Christianity. Christians may belong to them, but Amnesty International and trade unions are secular organisations. Neither do we owe thanks to the Church for our Journalist magazine. Why do some Christians feel they are under attack when they or their beliefs are questioned? Why am I not surprised she has never heard the doctrine of original sin(OS) preached in 30 years? It was my own experience as a Christian that very little of the Bible was read by most of them because they had faith and belief not reason and fact. OS derives from Paul; was largely devised by St. Augustine, a father of the Church and endorsed by the Second Council of Trent (1545-63). It is central to Christian belief not some arcane item.
Quoting scripture proves nothing as it is selective, self-referential and contradictory. The quote she gives from Proverbs 31: 8-9 does not exhort Christians at all. What it is, if you read it all, is advice to Lemuel the Oracle, an unknown king, from his mother, for it is he who will have to judge fairly, see? Before that she tells him not to drink wine. Martin Spellman Book Branch
Every picture tells a story Excellent to see the Leeds initiative (Letters March/April ) to save newspapers’ clippings files with PRESSERVE. As an old ex-press photographer who has seen four out of the five newspapers I used to work for disappear, with the contents of their picture libraries, neg files, diaries and file books consigned to the skip, I would like to know if any such preservation initiative has been tried to save our photographic heritage. I am now old enough to come to the realisation that the day in day out job of producing pictures for the next
edition perhaps blinkered us to a future where what we were doing might be of historical value. So to make space, boxes of negatives were regularly weeded for big stories and big events and the rest – the vast majority – just chucked in the bin. Yesterday’s boxes and boxes of negatives take up a lot of space. Today’s digits don’t. Jeff Wright-Life Member Hampshire
Remembering Ian The passing of Ian McWilliam-Fowler – or simply Ian Fowler to his work colleagues – means the loss of perhaps the most effective FoC the Manchester Evening News ever had. During the 1970s and 1980s Ian fought many spirited battles against the MEN management and in often lengthy negotiations, would castigate them for hours until they came up with a much improved offer! Perhaps the boldest moment was when he cheekily called a mandatory chapel meeting to coincide with the 1969 cup final when Manchester City beat Leicester City 1-0. While Manchester City fans sadly went that day without the Pink glorifying their teams success, it won the chapel a much needed pay rise. Ian’s interests were not just confined to his own chapel. He once went to London specially to help the Fleet Street office in their pay negotiations, much to the surprise of management! He could be equally tough with members who went against his grain, leaving their ears stinging from his vociferous rebuke! Possibly because of his FoC activities, Ian accepted what in the chapel’s eyes was a controversial executive promotion. However, it was only a matter of time before highly principled Ian resigned to go off to pastures new. Later, the job of FoC was filled most effectively by his wife, reporter Patricia Roberts. But in chapel terms Ian is still remembered as the heavy bruiser. Stuart Gilles-Life Member London Freelance
Extra help for members
Share the success
For more than 100 years NUJ members and their dependents have been helped by NUJ Extra and its predecessors. Now NUJ Extra needs extra help from the next generation of journalists. We’re asking members to sign up to make regular donations of just £5 a month to continue our good work.
The NUJ’s new mentoring scheme is an exciting opportunity for those wishing to share their experience and expertise, and for those willing to benefit from it. As a member of the NUJ you can sign up to be trained as a mentor. On the two-day course – which is accredited by Lewisham College – you will be taught all about the kinds of skills you need to be a mentor, have a chance to practice your skills off-site, and learn how to handle virtually any situation. Whilst you will have your own areas of expertise, you don’t need any experience in mentoring to be a mentor – all you need is confidence and to want to help others. If you’re reading this and thinking that being mentored is something that would interest you, then sign up. So far we have trained mentors who specialise in skillsets as far ranging as music to multimedia journalism, sports journalism to social media.
During this time of austerity and cutbacks NUJ Extra must continue the level of support needed by journalists and their dependents. In addition to helping a small number of long-standing beneficiaries, we also help members in tight spots, sometimes a result of accidents and sudden illnesses. We can help out short-term and provide advice and support to come up with a long-term solution: for instance, we once paid for an advert in a major UK national newspaper to help sell a remote Welsh cottage at a price much above the local estate agent’s suggestion, and we bought a freezer for a member with Crohn’s Disease so she could stock up on special dietary food for when she felt too ill to shop or cook. Now we need an army of NUJ members to sign up to give £5 a month. You can do this through direct debit or through Payroll Giving. By adding Gift Aid, your £5 would be worth £5.25 to us. It’s easy to do – just go to our website (www.nujextra.org.uk) or contact Lena Calvert on lenac@ nuj.org.uk and she will send you the appropriate forms and information.
NUJ Extra has been doing that little bit extra for 100 years. Please, we need you to do that little bit extra now.
To receive more information on the mentoring programme, please contact ColletteM@nuj.org.uk
theJournalist | 25
… g in lk a w r fo e d a m re a s g le e s e Th redictability the Telegraph claimed that this ‘unp British the king factor’ was responsible for ‘ma tinental Con hern sout the character so different to the for on reas one n dow ed one’. So that’s pinn r. igne Fore ny John inferiority of h until it No story is completely run to deat ‘news’ that the ce e. Hen re we has included a health scar urs is the only profession I know whe be a seriously can h whic , Seasonal Affective Disorder side cent of are asked if something has legs. Out per n seve nd arou cts disabling illness, affe . ed as tion our world, it seems a bizarre question men h grap Tele the and UK people in the s as in the died Unless he’d been taking as many drug ple peo an aside that ‘an additional 2,500 kh the over age his horses, you couldn’t imagine Shei aver the fortnight ending March 15 than of a potential new s’. year Mohammed making this enquiry same period in the past five an outside chance filly. He’d sort of assume it. There’s r a phone-in calle leg room? that a radio biologist may ask it if urely that must be the end of the and the room bath his in nt rode unted a reco tify y wanted to iden Not a bit. News sleuths excitedl it may be Or es. snak e inat swamp elim a to ed into ed wish wad scientist that the Prime Minister playground sport ular pop the e of ers Dav p. play shee by d ed nde tion -stra men to rescue a weather me gave ‘This ng: of ‘pull the legs off the spider’. sayi was quoted as y is deemed In our business, however, if a stor than anything I’ve done for a long sure plea e mor e s, there is hug to be in possession of lower limb y knows how to enjoy life. reall time.’ So he are despatched excitement. Hordes of scriveners ys poised for a disaster, alwa or, Mirr The of demented our ferv the with trail the ue purs to pronounced that the future was also what 24-hour huntsmen dashing after foxes. It’s predictably bleak, and is a paragraph: but running news is about. The story dredged up one Professor so ugh dragged thro by the end of the day it has been Sir John Beddington who ly recognisable. many hedges and ditches it is bare felt that bad weather for il weather. The My favourite leg of late was the Apr the next 25 years was not useful to have this story was pithy: it was cold. It was e. largely unnecessary inconceivabl confirmed by the media, but was tiring rapidly now, like a were legs The of d by the strategy lacking as it could be proven or disprove e Godolphin hors on the last lap and s and link ious obv venturing outdoors. all ly Sure . oids ster anabolic ictably pred were nts hme ellis But h? emb rst deat fi The had been flogged to Sunday on record. horses’ flanks but ed, nish fi historical. It was the coldest Easter no. The obvious may have been coldest since sts eager to The bank holiday weekend was the there were still thrusting journali on course to be ics. records began in 1960. March was thet pros to turn their hands since 1975. entire colder than winter for the first time In Germany, the BBC was told, an ons reas of ch the spring’s to Scribes were then dispatched in sear ed umb succ had eas fl of pe trou sources, this was Robert for the cold snap. Depending on freezing weather. Circus director am’ stre ‘jet the of tion tinental Con hern either because of the posi sout Birk, unquestionably a h move from ing 300 over disc at (a narrow band of strong winds whic m gloo his character, related ging our weather e their insid dead cts west to east across the Atlantic brin inse an pter ona of these Siph stationary of lt resu the was it or it) with systems transport box. ed to be stuck. manic. They high pressure to the north that seem The scramble to replace them was al, seemingly fast if them ed This latter report added the addition need needed 60 fleas and they al ‘highs’ last a day at an orm perf to unrelated, information that norm time in ed they were to be train rter was smoking. ards the Tow . king boo or two. Lord knows what that repo fair r n-ai ope ed eagerly-await anded on the new recruits Former philosophy students exp end all attempts at selection of the t poin le luab inva the ing mak n, rdia Gua the mattered. n in e them were abandoned. Only one questio a useful topic of that the weather has always been ‘Have they got legs?’ s changing. And conversation because it never stop
Chris Proctor takes a wry look at the workings of journalism
26 | theJournalist
The CIJ Investigative Summer School 12-14 July 2013 | City University London High Risk Investigations:
taking on greedy corporations, secretive governments, cheats, criminals and predatory celebrities. Speakers include:
The programme includes:
Maker of Exposure: the Other Side of Jimmy Savile
Award-winning Canadian documentary film maker and web creator
Understanding company accounts
Libel and privacy law
Courts and reporting local councils
Freedom of Information Act
NEW! Web documentaries
NEW! Internet security and surveillance
Paul Connew Former editor of the Sunday Mirror
Gavin Millar QC Defamation and Privacy Lawyer, Doughty Street Chambers
Arjen Kamphuis Information security specialist
David Leigh The Guardian's former Investigations Executive Editor
Ian Cobain Senior reporter for The Guardian and the author of Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture
Prices: Students £150 NUJ members £350 Full price £450 One day passes and group discounts available.
More information and to book: Tel: 020 7040 8220/8224 Email: email@example.com
YOU HAVE A CASE, BUT DO YOU HAVE THE CASH? What price justice? the government thinks it knows.
£1,200 if you claim for wrongful dismissal. it’s the same for race discrimination. even what the government calls a “simple claim”, such as not being paid what you’d earned, could set you back £400. experts object, but ministers are still planning fees for most employment tribunal cases. they see nothing unfair in this. Nothing wrong that someone who has
not been paid the minimum wage could have to fork out more than a week’s pay to claim it back. and nothing wrong in making the costs system ever more complex. Not only is the government chipping away at everyone’s rights at work, ministers are making it impossibly expensive for many to enforce rights that they would not dare to attack outwardly, such as the minimum wage. it’s one employment law for the rich, another for the rest of us.
Visit our Website aNd deliVer your Verdict WWW.stopemploymeNtWroNgs.org
The Journalist, the magazine of the National Union of Journalists, June / July 2013 issue.