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www.nuj.org.uk | october/november 2011

dampsquibs

Party conferences fail to spark union interest


Contents Cover feature

16 Ssh, don’t mention the...

What the politicians don’t talk about

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ccording to the American journalist Edgar Wilson Nye, just two people are entitled to refer to themselves as ‘we’; the editor and the person with a tapeworm. At The Journalist, the acting editor claims that right. It’s taking two of us to stand in for elected editor Christine Buckley: Wapping refusenik and former Independent labour editor Barrie Clement is concentrating mainly on news coverage in The Journalist. It’s worth emphasizing that the schedule for producing a bi-monthly Journalist means most news about the NUJ is best accessed through the union’s website at www.nuj.org.uk where Sarah Kavanagh and Frances Rafferty of the Communications Office are posting up to date information regularly. On the NUJ website you’ll also find The Platform, where you can write about issues you think are important. George Orwell observed that Liberals are power-worshippers without power. While some things have changed in the UK since the 1940s, David Hencke reports on page 16 that the desire of all political parties to ignore the existence of Britain’s most popular organisations, trade unions, remains undimmed. Elsewhere, we’re considering both old skills and new, with an assessment of the in-your-pocket tools for reporters in the field, and a reminder of an old skill that still pays dividends. Among skilled professionals suffering particularly during the recession are photographers, and we’ve a report on what photographers are doing about it. We hope you’ll find lots more of interest in this issue of The Journalist.

Eddie Barrett Acting Editor Editor Christine Buckley journalist@nuj.org.uk Design Surgerycreations.com info@surgerycreations.com Advertising marcela.ahmeti@tenalps.com Tel: 020 7657 1831 Print Warners www.warners.co.uk Distribution Packpost www.packpostsolutions.com

NUJ 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP info@nuj.org.uk www.nuj.org.uk Tel: 020 7843 3700

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

Cover picture BritstockImages

News

03 BBC prepares for strike action

Cutbacks make resistance inevitable

04 Footage handed over

Journalists endangered by bosses

05 Freelance hires apprentice New model for trainees

06 Doncaster strike wins talks

United chapel enters discussions

Features

12 On the move

New techniques for the job

20 Long and short of it

Some thoughts on value of an old skill

Regulars

11 Michelle Stanistreet 19 Unspun: the view from inside PR 29 Technology

Arts with Attitude Pages 24-25

Raymond Snoddy Page 30

Letters Pages 26-27


news

Massive cutbacks at BBC will spark strike action

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trike action at the BBC ‘seems inevitable’ if the corporation presses ahead with a plan to cut 20 per cent from spending. Up to 800 out of a total of 2000 job losses across the BBC will come from the news division. Apart from news output, the areas under attack are local radio, regional current affairs and the Asian Network. More staff will also be expected to move to Salford. Since 2004 more than 7,000 jobs have gone at the BBC corporation – about 1,000 every year. At a time of falling pay and job uncertainty staff face plans to cut a flexible working allowance, undermine redundancy terms and force through re-grading. There also moves to introduce statutory redundancy consultation periods and performance-related pay. New recruits to the BBC will be expected to work for substantially lower salaries. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This is a watershed moment in the BBC’s history – the

reality is that the BBC will not be the same organization if these cuts go ahead. “You cannot reduce budgets by 20 per cent and pretend that the BBC will still be able to be a world class broadcaster. Quality journalism and programming is inevitably going to be diluted. If the BBC presses ahead with these changes, strike action across the corporation seems inevitable.” The union is commissioning research into alternative proposals and will take a vigorous part in the planned public consultation process. The cuts are a direct result of the licence fee settlement last autumn between the coalition government and BBC management. The deal came amid an anti-BBC offensive by the Murdoch empire when it still commanded influence. The licence fee is to be frozen until 2017 and the corporation will also have new funding responsibilities including the World Service, S4C, BBC Monitoring, local TV and broadband.

REPORTER FINALLY GETS A BREAK

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n NUJ member has been awarded €3750 in compensation for a breach of her right to breaks at work in a landmark judgment by the Irish Rights Commissioner. Julieanne Sheridan worked for Longford News which was owned by

the Alpha Newspaper Group before it closed down last July. Like many regional newspapers the Longford News saw its production centralised, staffing levels reduced and reporters given additional duties such as laying out pages.

Julieanne Sheridan regularly found herself working late into the night, sometimes until the early hours and then having to start first thing in the morning in order to cover courts. Ireland’s Organisation of Working Time Act provides

in brief...

You cannot reduce budgets by 20 per cent and pretend that the BBC will still be able to be a world class broadcaster

for breaks at work and for a minimum daily rest period of 11 hours between shifts. NUJ Irish organiser Nicola Coleman successfully cited a European Court of Justice ruling which says an employer must actively ensure that minimum rest periods are observed.

Union pays tribute to Martin

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he failure to resource newsrooms sufficiently is a damning indictment of media organisations in Ireland and poses a direct threat to journalism, a leading NUJ official warned. Speaking at a Belfast conference commemorating the 10th anniversary of the murder of investigative reporter Martin O’Hagan, Seamus Dooley, the NUJ’s Irish secretary, warned that the reliance on press releases and briefings from spin doctors was no substitute for independent journalism. Seamus expressed dismay that Martin’s killers have never been caught. Martin was secretary of the Belfast and district branch of the NUJ and was murdered because he exposed the criminality of the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

NUJ WELCOMES SAM SMYTH WIN The union welcomed the decision of the Irish circuit court to grant investigative journalist and broadcaster Sam Smyth legal costs against Deputy Michael Lowry. The decision follows the NUJ member’s successful defence against a defamation action brought by the County Tipperary TD. The politician had claimed that Smyth had made false allegations about his finances. NUJ vice-president Barry McCall said Sam’s steadfast refusal to be cowed was an example to all journalists. JIMMY DIES AGED 100 The NUJ has paid tribute to Jimmy Kelly, the Belfast-based journalist who recently died at home. He celebrated his 100th birthday this year and marked the occasion by writing his final column for the Irish News. NUJ Irish secretary Séamus Dooley described Jimmy as the ‘uncrowned King of Irish journalism’. WE’RE WITH YOU, SAY THE IRISH The union’s biennial Irish conference sent a message of solidarity for the UK joint-union strike action on November 30 and demanded a co-ordinated and robust response to attacks on pensions in Ireland. Delegates condemned the latest BBC cuts and highlighted in particular the threat to 70 Belfast jobs. INDEPENDENT GETS FOURTH MAKE-OVER Under its new editor Chris Blackhurst, The Independent celebrated its 25 birthday with a redesign featuring a bold, red masthead. As part of its fourth make-over in three years, Blackhurst has ditched the second section Viewspaper. GUARDIAN TO BLOG ITS DAILY NEWSLIST The Guardian is starting a new daily blog in which it will publish its news list… minus exclusive stories. The blog will include a ‘carefullyselected portion’ of its schedules and encourage readers to contact journalists via Twitter. theJournalist | 3


news

Journalists in danger as media groups cave in

in brief...

UNION STALWART DIES AGED 62 Ron Bowie has died aged 62 after a short illness, having served the NUJ for 40 years at local and national level. Ron had been with the Daily Record for 36 years as a sub-editor and then as copy taster. He leaves wife Catherine, sons David and Alex and daughter Catriona. IRISH POST SAVED BY CAMPAIGN The London-based Irish Post is coming back on newsstands after being bought by Irish businessman Elgin Loane. Following liquidation in August, Loane – who owns classified ads magazine Loot – filed a winning bid to buy the paper which is aimed at Britain’s Irish community. JAMES ALLOWED TO STAY IN UK Manchester NUJ members are celebrating the victory of journalist James Fallah Williams in his long campaign to stay in Britain. The NUJ has given legal backing to James, an NUJ member and human rights activist, who fled Sierra Leone in 1995 at the height of the civil war there. US MAY HAVE SHOT BBC MAN A BBC journalist who died during a Taliban suicide attack may have been shot dead by US special forces, an independent investigation found. Ahmed Omed Khpulwak was killed in attacks on a TV station in Uruzgan province, in the south of Afghanistan, on 28 July.

4 | theJournalist

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Journalists played a critical role in informing the public about the riots in August

edia organisations which handed over footage of the summer riots to the police have turned ‘every photographer, videographer and journalist into potential targets’, the NUJ says. The BBC, ITN and Sky News released unbroadcast footage to the Metropolitan police after it obtained ‘production orders’ under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The Guardian said it had refused to comply and so had The Times, but claimed The Daily Telegraph had handed over footage. The NUJ expressed ‘disappointment that leading broadcasters and at least one national newspaper’ had submitted material. The union called on media organisations to challenge the court orders, citing the NUJ code of conduct which says that confidential sources and material gathered in the

JOHN CANTLIE/GETTYIMAGES

NO CONFIDENCE IN AFP CHIEF NUJ members at French press agency AFP were among nearly 800 staff to back a no confidence vote against AFP boss Emanuelle Hoog for riding rough-shod over staff views in his bid to reform the agency’s founding statutes, which date back to 1957 and guarantee editorial independence. Nearly six out of ten AFP staff eligible to vote did so and 88 per cent voted to censure Hoog.

course of a journalist’s work have to be protected. In a statement the union said it was ‘appalled’ at the decision to hand over the footage, arguing that it places ‘all journalists at greater risk when covering public order or other related stories’. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Journalists played a critical role in informing the public about the riots in August and our members were attacked whilst doing their jobs during the civil unrest. Covering

protests is already difficult and the danger increases if the footage gathered whilst reporting events is seized and used by the police.” Index on Censorship also condemned the Met’s use of production orders. Chief executive John kampfner said: “There were several attacks on photographers and broadcasters. The implication that any footage taken by them will be handed over to authorities will only serve to further endanger media workers.“

PRESS FREEDOM UNDERMINED SINCE 9/11

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he media’s role as a watchdog on democracy has been chipped away even in advanced democracies, the president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said. Jim Boumelha said restrictions on press

freedom had been introduced under the cloak of national security since the September 11 attacks on the United States. Leading journalists and human rights advocates told an ‘anti-terror laws’ conference organised by the IFJ and the Federation

of European Journalists (EFJ) that recent legislation has had a chilling effect on journalism, allowing governments to evade public scrutiny. The conference was told that anti-terror laws had empowered governments to conduct surveillance

on journalists, compelling some to reveal their sources. Others faced charges for publishing information allegedly prejudicial to national security. There had been unwillingness and fear to report on the policies of governments.

Walkers’ walk across the wall

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orkshire Evening Post sports journalists Wendy and Gary Walker have completed a gruelling 30-mile trek of Hadrian’s Wall in aid of the British Skin Foundation. Last year Wendy had a delicate operation to remove a tumour from her face.

She said “We knew it was going to be a testing challenge, sleeping in a basic tent and covering so many miles, but it was much tougher than we imagined.” So far Gary, 47, and Wendy, 41, have raised over £1,300 for the foundation which carries out research into all types of skin disease. To donate, please visit www.justgiving.com/


news

NUJ pressure pays off for work experience staff

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ar more interns could receive payment for their work after sustained pressure from the NUJ. New guidance from the Department for Business aims to make sure that those who are entitled to the national minimum wage (NMW), receive it. The document says that entitlement to the NMW does not depend on a job title, but on whether the individual is a ‘worker’. Where he or she is a worker – and the document sets out the definition – they must be paid at least the minimum. NUJ freelance organiser John Toner welcomed the guidance: “There will always be employers who will take advantage of interns, and this announcement will make it more difficult for them to plead ignorance. “The NUJ, and our sister union BECTU, have pursued cases on behalf of individual interns. While I do not believe the guidance will eliminate individual claims completely, I would hope that it will result in more interns

receiving the minimum wage without having to threaten legal action.” NUJ head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick said clarification of the law was long overdue. “It should help to eradicate the abuse. It will also provide access to journalism for young men and women who otherwise would not be able to afford the cost of working for nothing just to gain experience.” TUC general secretary Brendan Barber also welcomed the guidance, but added that it needed to be backed up by tougher enforcement of the minimum wage. A study by Graduate Prospects found that throughout industry as many as 43 per cent of those taking internships were not paid. Since October 1, the national minimum wage for adults is £6.08 an hour; for 18 to 20year-olds £4.98; for 16 and 17 year-olds £3.68 and for “apprentices” £2.60. The full version of the guidance can be found at: www.businesslink.gov.uk/nmw

It should help to eradicate the abuse

‘YOU’RE HIRED’, SAYS NUJ FREELANCE

One small step to diverse media

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he Irish government has taken the first small step towards addressing the desperate need for a diverse media in the republic, the NUJ believes. The union has welcomed the announcement that responsibility for all media mergers in Ireland is to be transferred from the Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Enterprise to the Minister for Communications. NUJ Irish secretary Séamus Dooley said: “The NUJ believes that the convergence of print, broadcast and on-line media should be reflected in the departmental and ministerial responsibility for media matters. The Competition Authority’s focus on market share has tended to set aside legitimate concerns about ownership and control.”

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UJ freelance journalist Jan Murray has taken on an ‘apprentice’. In a move which she hopes could be a model for the industry, education journalist Jan, who works mainly for the Guardian, has hired 22-year-old Rhian Jones as a trainee. Rhian has worked at a variety of jobs since she left school including in insurance, customer services and as a waitress. She has also secured pre-university “access”

qualifications in a range of subjects. She will be paid £6.08 an hour, the national minimum wage for adults – although the rate for apprentices is £2.60. Rhian was based in Bolton, but will be moving to the southeast and starting an NVQ Level 3 business administration course at Harlow College, Essex during which she will develop her research skills. It is hoped she will then move on to the National Council for the Training of Journalists course at the college.

in brief... CHARITY FOR LOCAL PAPERS? The government is being urged to make it easier for charitable trusts to fund not-for-profit local papers. The Charity Commission does not currently recognize the provision of news as a charitable activity, so journalists and academics are to ask for changes under the forthcoming Communications Bill. If granted charitable status a newspaper could tap into funding from many sources, including local residents, local authorities as well as charitable foundations. ROYAL REPLACES AL JAZEERA CHIEF The director general of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, has stepped down after eight years. He reportedly told staff that he would be leaving “having accomplished the vision he set for Al Jazeera to be a globally recognised media institution”. He has been replaced by Shaikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, reportedly a member of the Qatari royal family. NON-STAFF WORKERS WILL GET PAY-OFF The union has welcomed the decision of an independent Rights Commissioner which recognises the employment status of seven “non-staff” Sunday Tribune workers made redundant with the closure of the Dublin newspaper. The decision clears the way for the workers to apply for redundancy payment from Ireland’s State Insolvency Fund. NORTHCLIFFE STAFF DOWN BY 530 Staff numbers at regional publisher Northcliffe Media have fallen by 530 since last October, while costs were also well down on the previous year. There had been substantial savings on distribution costs. INDY JOURNALISTS GET ONE PER CENT The Independent and Independent on Sunday NUJ chapel accepted a one per cent ‘no strings’ pay rise from 1 October.

theJournalist | 5


news

Free Press chapel wins ‘no-strings’ talks

in brief... DEPUTY ELECTION TO BE RE-RUN The NUJ is re-running the election for deputy general secretary. The decision follows the discovery of an error which meant that a significant number of ineligible members were included in the ballot. A complaint was also received about the use of redactions in one candidate’s CV, which was part of the literature sent out with ballot papers. For details: www.nuj.org.uk.

NO MERIT IN NEW PAY SYSTEM The NUJ chapel at the Telegraph is protesting over a plan to introduce a new performance-related pay system in January. All pay increases would be awarded ‘on merit’, thus bringing to an end the existing arrangement by which the NUJ and management agree a percentage increase paid to all editorial staff. Terms for media inquiry in Wales The National Assembly for Wales has finalised the details of its inquiry into the state of the country’s media and what can be done to help it. The move is in response to widespread cuts to the country’s press and broadcasting industries .

6 | theJournalist

We were resolute and united and it paid off

The chapel proudly marched united into the offices in the town on September 8, having walked out together on July 15. Demonstrating solidarity, chapel members gathered for a communal breakfast before going in to work. The breakthrough came after a spectacularly successful protest in the City of London where sacked South Yorkshire Times editor Jim Oldfield and colleagues confronted departing chief executive John Fry (pictured) at a meeting of parent company Johnston Press. Talks involving chapel reps and the union’s northern and midlands organiser Chris Morley were opened simultaneously with the return to work. The chapel had listed a dozen key issues and significant progress was made quickly in resolving them. The catalyst for the strike – with a 100 per cent vote for the stoppage – was a redundancy plan announced in June. The five editorial job cuts targeted key chapel activists but there had been simmering discontent over journalistic quality, staffing levels, workloads and stress over several years.

Strike threat ups pay offer

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egal and accountancy publisher LexisNexis increased its pay offer from 2.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent after a massive vote for industrial action. The chapel had named dates for action when management agreed to go back to conciliation service

ACAS, and upped their offer. NUJ Mother of Chapel Sylvia Courtnage said the chapel had minimized threats of job losses during two years of consultation and persuaded the company to agree to voluntary redundancies. “That made us all the more determined to

do something about pay. We were resolute and united and it paid off,” she said. NUJ national organiser Fiona Swarbrick congratulated the chapel on a ‘textbook’ approach to the dispute, which involved constant communication with members and the trade press.

ACTION AT NEWSQUEST OVER JOB LOSSES

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ewsquest revealed a 15 per cent leap in operating profits to £82.5m as the company continued to take an axe to jobs. NUJ members took industrial action against the cuts. Journalists at Newsquest in the north west of England staged a 48hour strike on October 4 and 5 – their second stoppage in a month – over the threat of compulsory redundancies and in South Wales the newspaper group

announced further job losses involving the closure of district offices. Newsquest North West management

nick jones

Website jumps gun on Knox trial The Daily Mail has launched an internal inquiry after mistakenly publishing a story on its website claiming Amanda Knox had lost the appeal against her conviction for murdering British student Meredith Kercher.

peter arkell

MORE POWER FOR THE PRESS New court rules could strengthen the hand of the media in challenging reporting restrictions imposed at criminal trials. The requirement is contained in Part 16 of the new Criminal Procedure Rules 2011 which came into effect on October 4. The new provisions should give more weight to the idea that trials should be conducted in public, according to legal experts.

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alks are continuing at South Yorkshire Newspapers after a marathon 55-day strike over redundancies. Members of the NUJ chapel at the Doncaster Free Press suspended their indefinite industrial action to allow negotiations. Management had dropped its insistence that all action should be abandoned before talks began. The chapel is maintaining its right to consider a fresh strike ballot if the negotiations collapse.

has carried through most of the seven job losses previously announced but there were a number of appeals against the redundancies still to be heard. The striking chapel urged the company to negotiate on how to deal with the new workloads if the redundancies are carried through in full. Five editorial job losses were announced at Newsquest South Wales, with the closure of two district offices in Chepstow and Pontypool.


news

Beleaguered News Corp facing world-wide crisis at the News of the World was practised by more than one ‘rogue reporter’. The paper’s former editor Colin Myler and legal chief Tom Crone disputed his assertion. Tom Watson MP believes the Sun also has questions to answer. Meanwhile the London Metropolitan Police dropped an attempt to win a court order under the Official Secrets Act. It aimed at forcing Guardian reporter Amelia Hill to reveal sources behind the revelation that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked by the News of the World. The Met’s climbdown came in the wake of sustained pressure from the NUJ and most of Fleet Street. The police were subsequently allowed to explain why they threatened to invoke the act in a confidential session with MPs. John kampfner, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said that holding the hearing behind closed doors was damaging for parliament and the police.

PrIXNEWS/ALAMY

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he Murdoch empire faces mounting political and legal pressure on three continents in the wake of the phonehacking scandal. US investors were expanding a billion dollar law suit against News Corporation over an alleged ‘historic pattern of corruption’ and ‘repeated failures to correct illegal conduct’. An influential shareholder group urged investors in the United States to vote against the re-election of rupert Murdoch’s eldest son James (pictured) as a main board director because of his close association with the News International phone-hacking scandal. In Australia, the government was preparing an independent inquiry into media standards. Pension funds were challenging the membership of the News Corp board. In the Uk, James Murdoch was due to appear before MPs again “some time in November” after he was accused by former colleagues at News International of giving “very misleading evidence” to a select committee on July 19. James Murdoch had insisted he was not told about an email indicating phone hacking

in brief...

WAPPING DISPUTE 25 YEARS ON An exhibition to mark the 25th anniversary of the Wapping dispute is being staged until November 16 at the Peoples History Museum, Manchester and will move to other venues thereafter. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The phone-hacking scandal is the logical continuation of the machinations and mindset that created the antiunion Fortress Wapping in 1986.”

PRIVATE DETECTIVE TOLD TO JOIN NUJ

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ews of the World management instructed a private detective to join the NUJ and obtain a union press card as part of his cover, according to the NUJ’s submission to the Leveson inquiry. The man was told to ‘stop’ being a private detective and instead ‘become a journalist’ in the wake of the arrest

of royal reporter Clive Goodman. It was ‘a breathtakingly cynical move’ given News International’s stance towards the union, the submission says. His work remained unchanged – surveillance on celebrity ‘targets’, some of whom have since emerged as victims of phone hacking.

Since the scandal broke the failure of executives to take responsibility has continued with the summary dismissal of staff without the individuals being told the nature of their offence. In several instances they had been ‘wilfully misled’ by the company about the nature of their involvement in police inquiries, the document says.

PICTOrIAL PrESS LTD/ALAMY

For Murdoch, read President Nixon

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ne of the celebrated journalists who uncovered the Watergate scandal has likened rupert Murdoch to richard Nixon who quit the US presidency over criminal acts by his subordinates. Pulitzer prize-winning Carl

Bernstein said he was ‘struck by the parallels’ between the phone-hacking affair and the Nixon saga in the 1970s. Speaking in London, Bernstein said that the important thing was not whether there was ‘a smoking gun’ that could link Murdoch

NO MAIL GAIN AS SCREWS AxED The Mail on Sunday lost most of the readership it gained since the News of the World closure. But ABC figures showed it was still the topselling national Sunday in August, with 2,098,244 copies (up 6.8 per cent year on year). The Daily Star Sunday remained the paper that made the biggest relative increase, but The Sunday Mirror gained most with a circulation of 1.9m up 66.7 per cent.

to ‘knowledge of phone hacking on a specific date’ – just as it was not important whether Nixon knew that ‘the Watergate break-in would happen on a specific date’. Instead both events were ‘about a sensibility that corrupted a free institution’.

READ ALL ABOUT IT IN THE POST A special edition of the Wapping Post has been published as part of the activities to mark the 25 years since Murdoch got rid of 5500 workers overnight. Printed copies are available from Unite (020 88262095) and the NUJ (020 72787916) or freepress@cpbf.org.uk .Donations appreciated. An online edition is available at http://tinyurl. com/3k64oc6 FERDINAND STORY ‘IN PUBLIC INTEREST’ Evidence that the ‘public interest’ defence can still be effective came with the Sunday Mirror’s victory in high court action over its story on footballer Rio Ferdinand’s alleged affair. The married father of three had accused the paper of a ‘gross invasion of privacy’. IVAN’S TERRIBLE REGISTER IDEA The NUJ has rejected any idea of a state-approved register of journalists after shadow minister Ivan Lewis called for journalists to be ‘struck off’ for ‘gross malpractice’. See Raymond Snoddy on p 30. theJournalist | 7


E S R U O ONC ATTERS

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mn for u t u a is h t t u Look o training ia d e m w e n our in Wales d beyond, e m m a r g o r p n an h the recessio ogress throug ing learn t career pr range of new To help suppor on to launch a so is s ale W g NUJ Trainin including: opportunities urses sed training co ba m t Classroo on isi ov pr g in rn e-lea t A variety of ssions site and blog t Mentoring se g., through web e. n, tio ica un mm t Improved co social events. tworking and t Learning, ne

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020 t: 02920 331 s@nuj.org.uk ale gw e: trainin

NUJ Training Wales is supported by Welsh Government funding in its strategy to facilitate career progress by providing relevant, affordable and accessible media training opporutnties.

Rate for the job New freelances or those about to become freelance may not realise the full range of help available from the NUJ. If you’re a member you get invaluable networking opportunities with access to union branches and freelance networks. The union’s freelance office advises on fees, contracts, copyright, employment rights, insurance and other issues. The union has a fees guide to help you get the best rate for the job. The NUJ Freelance Office will help chase late payers for you. The NUJ Freelance Directory is the biggest and most reliable listing of media freelances in Britain and Ireland and listing is free. The Freelance Fact Pack, available free to full and temporary members, provides advice for working and living as a freelance. If you’re freelance and not a member it’s easy to join and subscription rates are linked to your income.

For more help email: freelanceoffice@nuj.org.uk

Together we can make a difference Ten reasons why you should be in the National Union of Journalists • Protection at work • C ommitment to improving the pay and conditions of journalists • Free legal advice service • T he leading trade union in the fight for employment rights • Expert advice on copyright issues • Skilled representation at all levels • Your own national press card • Strong health and safety policies • A champion in the fight for press and broadcasting freedom • Major provider of training for journalists 8 | theJournalist

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

Application forms available at

www.nuj.org.uk


news

Unions back conscience clause for journalists

MARK THOMAS

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ritain’s union movement demanded a new legally-binding ‘conscience clause’ to protect journalists from pressure to take part in unethical activities. The TUC unanimously backed the new law after a plea by NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, who said the union had campaigned for the protection for many years. The clause would seek to protect journalists from dismissal when they stood up for journalistic ethics. Delegates also agreed that unions would support the broadest possible dissemination of the NUJ Code of Conduct. Michelle told delegates there was a clear link between the Wapping dispute at News

in brief...

International in which the company scrapped union recognition and the ‘moral vacuum’ that had been allowed to exist. She said Murdoch had used a legal loophole that enabled companies to block independent unions, by setting up the News International Staff Association (NISA), a ‘puppet union’ funded by the company to stop outside unions winning representation. “Journalists at Wapping have been denied the collective protection and representation of an independent trade union,” said Michelle Stanistreet. “There is a clear parallel between the effect of union-busting and the moral vacuum that has been allowed to proliferate at News International. Collective trade union representation is a moral, human right and it’s high time Murdoch was forced to let the NUJ back in.” Michelle also highlighted the plight of the 280 journalists who lost their jobs when the News of the World was shut in July amid a mounting furore over phone hacking. “Journalists who’ve been made redundant or summarily dismissed since the News of the World closure have found out to their peril just how seamless the links between the company and their staff association really are.”

Murdoch had used a legal loophole that enables companies to block independent unions

Only so much the BBC can take

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he BBC is being subjected to ‘death by a thousand cuts’, delegates were told. The corporation is suffering from a six-year freeze in

the licence fee at a time when it is being given extra responsibilities. The conference declared that there was ‘only so much that can be loaded on to the

Ministers were urged to ‘unfreeze’ the licence fee so that the corporation could continue to make first class television and radio in the public interest.

BBC’s back before it breaks’. Lower investment in programmes meant lower overseas income, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain warned delegates. MARK THOMAS

IT’S REPORTERS WOT DONE IT

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ournalism has been discredited by the News International phone hacking scandal, but it was good investigative reporting that exposed it, the congress heard. Proposing a motion calling for limits on crossmedia ownership, NUJ delegate Barry White reminded conference that it

was journalists led by Nick Davies of The Guardian who did so much to uncover the ‘abuses of power, rottenness and corruption’ inside News International and the police. Sharon Holder of the GMB general union said it had been generally accepted that the News of the World was unassailable. “But an unprecedented

campaign by honourable journalists, backed by people power, turned this accepted wisdom on its head.” Congress unanimously passed a resolution welcoming the inquiry into media ethics and argued that “genuine investigative journalism, freedom of expression, diversity and

TUC

plurality, limits on crossmedia ownership and trade union recognition” should be key principles underlying media regulation.

WE’RE HACKED OFF WITH TUC-LITE Journalists protested over the ‘tiny’ number of full passes issued for reporters covering the conference. To save money, a ‘slimmed down’ congress – with 300 delegates rather than last year’s 700 – was held in the relatively small basement meeting room at the London headquarters of the TUC. Most press officers and journalists working for unions were forced to watch conference proceedings on a screen elsewhere in Congress House. ACTION URGED AGAINST EDL THUGS The NUJ submitted an emergency motion to the conference in response to attacks on journalists during an English Defence League Rally in London’s East End in September. It urged the TUC’s general council to call on police to take action against EDL supporters who attack trade unionists and to support unions when “far-right groups threaten the health and safety of their members”. AUGUST RIOTS WERE A CLASS ISSUE The Government’s response to the August riots simplified the underlying causes and could demonise Brtiian’s youth, conference heard. Helen Flanagan of the PCS civil service union said: “The riots were not a progressive outburst of anger, but this is clearly a class issue.” DIGITAL PIRATES ARE BIG THREAT TO JOBS Web piracy is an increasingly serious threat to jobs, delegates heard. The public should be made aware that illegal file-sharing was not a ‘victimless crime’ and that it cost creative businesses up to a fifth of their revenues every year. FAIR DAY’S PAY FOR FAIR DAY’S WORK The TUC’s ‘Rights for Interns’ campaign received a renewed mandate from delegates. The initiative is working to ensure that ‘a fair wage for a day’s work is always the norm in every sector’. theJournalist | 9


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up front

General secretary Michelle Stanistreet urges defence of public broadcasting

Time to fight for our BBC

O

nly in the land of overpaid, self-indulgent and outof-touch BBC executives could someone dream up the banner of Delivering Quality First to describe a package of cuts to services that, if they go unchallenged, will Destroy Quality Forever across the corporation. In a total of 2,000 job losses, journalism and programming is taking the biggest hit. An axe is to be taken to up to 800 jobs in News, including around 380 redundancies in English regions, where local radio takes a huge hit, with an additional 140 job losses in Scotland, 70 in Northern Ireland and 120 in Wales. The proposals show how out of touch metropolitan decisionmakers are with the public. Some radio stations face losing as much as a third of all staff. Top class current affairs programmes are to be massively scaled back. The Asian Network is to be wrenched out of its spiritual home in Leicester, lose half its staff and be transplanted to London. If the BBC’s heart is to be ripped out, of course quality will suffer. If much-loved programmes disappear and remaining content becomes less local and less relevant, of course people are going to switch off in their droves. So how will the BBC argue for an increase in the licence fee settlement come 2017? And how will it persuade the British public that it’s worth forking our for the licence fee at all? This is a package of cuts that doesn’t just compromise quality and jobs for the short

term; it sounds the death knell of quality public service broadcasting in the future. How do these decisions square with the BBC’s public service remit? The BBC is supposed to provide where the market fails to deliver. Right now, our local and regional media is in crisis. Newspapers are closing, slashing jobs and compromising quality. In this context, BBC services must be seen as ever more vital. Yet BBC executives turn their backs on genuinely local news and shirk their commitment to investigative journalism and current affairs. In announcing what amounts to a decision to manage the decline of the BBC, Mark Thompson claimed that these cuts would have to be the last – and that future losses would compromise quality.

A “

If the BBC’s heart is to be ripped out, of course quality will suffer

t a time when the BBC is crying out for leadership as never before, members get almost exactly the same hollow words he’s wheeled out in every successive round of cuts and redundancies he’s presided over during his time at the helm. In the absence of a captain prepared to stand and fight for his ship, NUJ members at the BBC are in no doubt that it is union members and the broader British public who are going to have to stand up and challenge this destructive attack on our public service broadcaster. BBC M/FoCs stand prepared to do all they can, including taking strike action, to challenge these devastating cuts. We will be asking NUJ branches and chapels to get on board with this vital campaign, to use your networks and local contacts to join forces and take part in the public consultations, organise local meetings and support BBC members in any action they take. This is our BBC, the public’s BBC, and it’s under attack. If we want to protect the BBC and secure the future of public service broadcasting, we’re going to have to stand up and fight for it.

For all the latest news from the NUJ go to: www.nuj.org.uk To take part in debates go to The Platform on the website theJournalist | 11


Rosie Niven looks at how mobile phone technology is bringing changes to the world of reporting

On the Move

T

he grainy footage of bombed out trains after the London tube attacks of July 2005 was brought to the public’s attention by broadcasters. But the material was actually filmed by members of the public on mobile phones. Just a few years on, mobile phones have become so advanced that they are providing broadcast journalists with an alternative to the bulky recording and satellite equipment that they have used for years. The evolution of the mobile phone into a multimedia device has given reporters a freedom to gather news for broadcast at a rate unimaginable a few years ago. Users of iPhones and Android devices can now film in high definition (HD), editing and sharing footage within minutes on a good 3G signal via social media. The mobile media revolution may have started with the broadcast of ‘user-generated’ video, but freelance journalists have been prominent pioneers of mobile newsgathering. Former regional press photographer Christian Payne took up blogging under the moniker Documentally because he felt important stories were not being told. He documented the stories of refugees in Iraq and Jordan. Thanks to the birth of YouTube he saw that his work with video and audio slideshows could reach a huge audience through social media,even without major media backing. Freelance and current NUJ president Donnacha DeLong uses mobile phones and social media to cover protests. Recently he was one of a handful of professional journalists covering the student protests from the frontline using smartphones. DeLong says that journalists using mobiles are bringing integrity to the coverage, careful not to cross the line between documenting and protesting; some citizen journalists have sometimes found this problematic. Coverage of events like the student protests helped to open the media’s eyes about the possibilities that mobile phones offer reporters. Sky News reporter Nick Martin has been using his iPhone 4 for the past 18 months. And now uses six apps from Apple that enable him to shoot video, stabilise images, improve sound levels, edit footage and send it. He is also trying to develop a way of broadcasting live footage. Martin is able to use a standard XLR cable to connect a radio microphone to the iPhone, so he can be in a crowd 100 meters away from the iPhone and it still picks up the microphone signal. “Methods of newsgathering are changing very quickly,” says Martin, who has been in the industry since joining a regional newspaper at the age of 16. “As a modern day contemporary reporter I am embedded in technology. This method enables 12 | theJournalist

me to get things on air more quickly than my competitors.” The BBC recently issued reporters with smart phones as part of a drive to encourage them to make use of mobile technology. Stuart Hughes, world affairs producer at BBC Newsgathering, has been experimenting with the iPhone editing app VC Audio Pro, and he had been filing via email into the BBC system. “The less kit you have to carry the better,” he says. “When you are at a stage where you broadcast over 3G or over WiFi in broadcast quality you can go anywhere. You are not very obtrusive if all you are doing is talking down your phone. You don’t necessarily look like a journalist and it doesn’t single you out as a target. That’s good from a safety point of view.” Hughes will be the beneficiary of a new BBC system that will streamline the process of recording, editing and filing from a phone. A new app will allow BBC journalists in the field to file video, audio and stills from their iPhone, rather than using a couple of suitcases-full of portable equipment.

MOBILE JOURNALISM APPS Twitter provides a personalised

newsfeed made up of posts of 140 words or fewer. There is a series of Twitter mobile phone ‘apps’ for the iPhone and Android phones. Audioboo is like Twitter for audio. You can record a “boo” of up to five minutes in length on your phone and share it with the blogosphere with the touch of a button. Prolific users include BBC London and Documentally aka Christian Payne. Apps are available on both the iPhone and Android. Bambuser is an application that allows you to broadcast directly from your phone. Once the application has been downloaded you can use it to film on a phone and distribute the footage via the internet to other Bambuser users. Like its rivals Qik and Ustream, it is available as a free app

on the iPhone and Android. Adobe Photoshop Express allows users to edit photos shot on a mobile on the phone itself. The mobile version of the photo editing application can also share the edited images using the app. It is available on both Android and the iPhone. Paul Bradshaw, visiting professor at City University, on getting started: “Twitter is a great starting point for journalists interested in mobile journalism. Once you’re comfortable with tweeting from a phone, find easy ways to share images, then find a video app like Twitcaster and an audio app like Audioboo. Then it all comes down to being able to spot opportunities on the move.” For more information about Apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows devices visit: http://www.rjionline.org/ news/mobile-journalism-reporting-toolsguide


streetwise

“We are going to be in a position where we can do broadcast quality from wherever we get a decent 3G signal,” according to Stuart Hughes. “It’s a massive development. I can see a situation emerging in the next two to three years where an iPhone is going to be pretty much self-contained news gathering tools. It’s not going to replace big satellite trucks, cameramen and so on, but it is another tool in our armoury.”

P

Ross O’Toole/Alamy

aul Bradshaw, a visiting professor in journalism at City University, says mobile reporting is already seriously rivalling traditional broadcast journalism. “The story always takes priority over production considerations. We’ve seen that time and time again, from the July 7 bombings to the Arab Spring footage. We’ll settle for poor production values as long as we get the story – but we won’t settle for a poor story, however beautifully produced.” Two things that have held back the development of mobile journalism are the limitations of mobile batteries and poor 3G internet signals. But Christian Payne claims the attitudes of major media organisations are also stifling development of this area with restrictions on social media and YouTube in some newsrooms. He believes that newsrooms must be more supportive when it comes to equipping reporters with the skills and freedom to develop their mobile journalism techniques. “Journalists need to be trained so that they know what is possible,” says Payne. “They also need freedom to download the apps and maybe £25 worth of expenses for paid apps, possibly yearly.” Paul Bradshaw agrees that newsrooms could do more to facilitate mobile journalism but he has seen some examples of good practice. “Trinity Mirror bought a truckload of N97s and N98s and laptops for its reporters a couple years back, and encouraged them to go out with them. Various news organisations are giving reporters iPhones and similar kit – but that’s just kit. “Trinity Mirror also invested in training, which is also useful, and you can see journalists are able to use the kit well when they need to. But as long as the time and staffing pressures remain, few journalists will have the time to get out of the office.” Like social media and blogging platforms, mobile phones offer an opportunity for a wider pool of people to produce broadcast quality audio and video journalism. The only bit of kit needed is a smart phone and a few mobile phone apps. Print and online journalists are among those who can take advantage of this development. For Christian Payne this is an opportunity for print and online journalists to get out of the office and back to frontline reporting. “Print journalists are just as good communicators as everybody else,” he says. “They just need to step away from the keyboard. They are desperately needed to be a part of this.” theJournalist | 13


Veteran photographer Philip Wolmuth has been considering the pointers for photojournalism from a recent international festival

P

hoto agencies at the annual Visa Pour l’Image festival of photojournalism occupied two floors of Perpignan’s roomy Palais de Congrès until a few years ago. But this September a mere half of one room, dominated by the displays of Getty and Corbis, was enough to accommodate the few that remain. The change is significant, illustrating in concrete form the concentration of ownership that is one of several factors making this a difficult time for photographers. Another was highlighted by the 263 CDs of Tahrir Square photos submitted to Visa director Jean-François Leroy as potential exhibits, and the 150 aspirants who lined up to see New York Times picture editor David Furst: more and more photographers are entering the ‘market’ as the colleges churn out new graduates, and digital technology facilitates the mass distribution of visual images. At the same time, readers and advertisers are migrating to the web; traditional print outlets struggle with falling revenues and cut staff, commissions, and rates of pay. And then, there is the global financial crisis. Since the imposition of the IMF austerity package last year, Maro Kouri, voted Photographer of the Year by fellow Greek photojournalists in 2010, has seen rates for her work slashed by 40 per cent, a declining number of assignments, and one regular magazine client close down altogether. As many will recognise, the UK situation is little better. Around 3,000 international photographers, picture editors and agency staff descended on the Perpignan festival for the debates, presentations and portfolio reviews of 14 | theJournalist


Philip Wolmuth

Perpignan perspectives

photos

Visa’s professional week, offering a unique opportunity to assess how they are coping. A panel discussion hosted by European agencies and libraries federation CEPIC was the most explicit attempt to take stock. Marseille freelance Pierre Ciot denounced rate cuts by the big agencies seeking to maintain market share. He also accused Agence France-Press (AFP) – which has close links with Getty Images and receives large payments from the French Government – of ‘state-sponsored dumping, a destructive force on the market’. As Eric Larrouil, of Agence Vu, pointed out, this has meant that ‘what used to sell as a print for €100, now sells online for €10’. Both Ciot and Larrouil were clear that competing with the big agencies on price is unsustainable, and that freelances and smaller agencies must go for quality and authenticity, and ‘find ways to be different’. Philippe Schlienger of the French union of professional photographers UPP echoed NUJ policy in arguing for the need to campaign for the enforcement of moral rights legislation (particularly the right to a byline) to combat internet piracy. Disappointingly, other panellists had little more to offer than platitudes such as ‘try harder’, and ‘diversify’. Elsewhere, the growing dominance of the web was reflected in the presence of groups exploring the potential of multimedia. WOMPS, a collective from Lyon, used stills and audio to document the social impact of the rehabilitation of a large housing estate. Its 12 five-minute pieces, made over two years, were financed by the city and regional councils at a cost of €22,000. Government funding, even in France, is not secure. But another French collective, SapienSapiens (formed in 2010 by two photographers and a writer), has found a more promising alternative: its first ‘web documentary’, Notre Dame du Net, has been bought by Le Monde in France, Belgium’s Le Soir and an arts website, and is expected to cover its €20,000 labour and production costs. Of course, notwithstanding current difficulties, traditional photojournalism is still possible, as the many powerful exhibitions on show in Perpignan testified – and as those who queued to present their portfolios to Paris Match, Stern and the New York Times fervently hope. theJournalist | 15


Ssh, don David Hencke found there was little for trade union members to cheer about when he attended the main UK political conferences this autumn

P

ay and jobs for ordinary people have never been under so much pressure. Real living standards are falling. Those in work are finding jobs more stressful and those out of work – whether journos or other skilled workers – are finding it difficult to get back. Inflation is miles above wage increases (if they even exist) and the government puts more pressure on people through higher VAT, fares, fuel and more expensive child care. Given all this you might just expect Britain’s political leaders to at least give a nod to, or (perish the thought at Labour) even to back, the one organisation which still represents over six million workers and voters – the trade union. You could not be more wrong. While currencies are in chaos, share prices in free fall, the plight of people who are being pushed to the bottom of the pile seems to be accepted as one of those sad facts of life – beyond anything that politicians can really do something about. Indeed, there was almost a somnolent atmosphere in all the conferences – an uneasy calm that you find in the eye of a hurricane – delegates and representatives happy to network and enjoy each other’s company while ignoring the trail of destruction coming their way. Perhaps it is the fact that there is now a fixed term Parliament – making all the leaders of the three main parties realise there is no serious political fight for another three years – that allowed politicians to think they can ignore the feelings of the general public. 16 | theJournalist


party time

on’t mention the... Even the fight that normally fires the activist – the battle over the NHS at the Liberal Democrats, rows over Britain’s membership of the EU at the Tories, and real anger over the cuts at Labour – was strangely muted. At the Tories, the Blue Fox brigade decided that one of their most treasured issues – bringing back hunting – must wait as they regroup. The same could be said over trade unions at Labour. Apart from one big fringe rally by the big four Labour-supporting unions – Unite, Unison, GMB and CWU – they were not rocking the boat. The real anger came from the non-affiliated unions . It came from the NUJ taking the lead over hacking and press control; the Public and Commercial Services Union, arguing against cuts to public services, pensions and tax evasion by the rich and, at the Tories, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) challenging the government over the issue of free schools. Ed Miliband’s public speech did not mention the words trade union at all. He tried to outline a philosophical approach – slamming the business predators and praising creative industry. But on the central point, cutting the deficit, he promised to do more than the Tories if they had not finished the job by 2015 and certainly did not promise to restore a single cut. In a speech about values, what was missing was his vision for a post-crash society involving everybody, not just business. He was still hoping for enough sticking plaster to keep the present system going. Yet there was a bizarre paradox to all this. In private, at the 16 receptions he attended personally, if he was asked about trade unions he could not be more direct: yes, there was an important role for trade unions in Labour and he was not ashamed of them. And headlined plans to curb unions further seemed to have been sidelined for the moment. Even more strange is that the unions seem to have been playing the same game. The most outspoken affiliated union leader was undoubtedly Paul Kenny of the GMB. He grabbed headlines in the Daily Express that he was prepared to go to prison in a campaign of civil disobedience against the cuts. Admittedly it was not over just a public library closure, as he explained later; it was more likely to be over the closure of any hospital David Cameron had promised to save. And he was talking about the community and the unions combining to occupy buildings in protest, not just the GMB going it alone. You would think he would be very hostile to the Labour leader, who has already told the TUC he does not back strikes and accepts cuts. But ask him about Ed Miliband and he emphasised how different the new leader was to Blair and Brown. As Kenny

The plight of people who are being pushed to the bottom of the pile seems to be accepted as one of those sad facts of life

put it: “If the unions had come up with a solution for climate change, they would have rejected it, just because it came from the unions. Not Ed Miliband. He listens.” And he is not slavishly New Labour either, far from it. As Kenny described it: “New Labour was like an MFI cupboard, shiny and new, but liable to fall to pieces in five years time.” He detects that Ed Miliband is still evolving and that he is, above all, his own man. Yet at the moment this seems an article of faith rather than fact – and only time will tell whether he is deceiving the unions or the unions are trying to deceive him. At the Tories there was also a rather subdued atmosphere. No big campaign, outside the right, for a change to strike ballots to insist that there must be a majority in favour of action from all those eligible to vote. No sounding off about funding reform to limit trade union cash for Labour. Some change in employment law which could limit the right of people to challenge unfair dismissal and much talk of a more flexible labour market. But a rumour that the Treasury wanted to halt implementing the new agency worker directive to defy the EU never materialised. Instead it was left to Francis Maude, fast becoming a bête noire in Whitehall, to sound off about reducing rather than scrapping the use of employer’s time and money by trade unionists to work for their members. This campaign – a beloved theme of the Taxpayers Alliance (a less than transparent pressure group) and right-wing bloggers like Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) – appeared to be the centrepiece of the ‘bash the union brigade’. Apart from a joke from Grant Shapps, the millionaire local government minister, that a new law will force Bob Crow, the RMT leader the government loves to hate, to pay a huge increase on his council house rent (he evidently found out it would be illegal to evict him) which he called “Crow’s law”, that was it. But again, like Labour, all may not be what it seems – there may be more stuff lurking in the woodwork. Probably the saddest observation at the conference was the decline in the purchase by delegates of the print media. Ten years ago Labour delegates could be seen everywhere reading the Guardian and Tory representatives seen everywhere reading the Telegraph. At Labour it was more likely to be a free copy of the Independent supplied by the hotel and at the Tories the Telegraph was likely to be read only by the more mature representatives. The implications for journalists’ jobs was only too clear for anyone to see, and it is being hastened by the age of austerity that has now gripped the nation. theJournalist | 17


past notes

Funeral of Provisional IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands in 1981

John Sturrock/reportdigital.co.uk

Death in Derry

N

o-one who was there that day ever forgot what they saw. Death on the streets is not something you expect to see on a hot sunny afternoon but this was Derry in 1981 and the temperature was reaching boiling point. The date was Easter Sunday, April 19th, and tensions were high as the Republican hunger strike was well into its second month. In less than three weeks’ time, on May 5 after 66 days without food, Bobby Sands would be dead and other hunger strikers’ deaths would follow. The annual Easter Republican commemoration to Derry’s city cemetery took place early on Sunday afternoon, passing off without incident. After five consecutive days of rioting in the city, reporters had come from the national and international media expecting more trouble. When the commemoration ended the media quickly left and the 2,000 people who had attended dispersed peacefully. But sensing something in the air, I decided to stay around. In the event I was the only independent witness to watch the incident that took place. Around five o’clock a small crowd gathered at a junction known as Creggan Cross where four roads meet. The crowd gradually increased to 150, made up mostly of young men in 18 | theJournalist

It is 30 years since the Republican hunger strike in Northern Ireland. Paul Clements, then a BBC reporter with Radio Foyle, reflects T-shirts, some wearing balaclavas. They began throwing bottles and bricks at the police and army sheltering behind their armoured vehicles. Slowly the event developed into a full-scale riot. Advertising hoardings were torn down and used as shields by the rioters; the army withdrew farther back, causing the crowd to move into the junction. As it turned out it was a deliberate tactic to draw them forward. With my BBC standard-issue Uher tape recorder to capture the actuality of the trouble, I had positioned myself on the pavement dangerously close to the rioters. My only protection was a red pillar box. Suddenly, taking the rioters unaware, two army Land Rovers appeared out of nowhere. They came from the top of Creggan Road and,they careered downhill rocking from side to side, increasing their speed dramatically, ploughing straight into the crowd milling around the junction. Those who were able, dived for cover,

This is one horrific incident of many that occured in Northern Ireland during that spring and summer of 1981

scattering in all directions, but few had time to get out of the way. Two teenagers, Gary English and James Brown, were killed instantly. Several others were seriously injured. When the army left the scene I went to the crossroads and interviewed those present about what they had witnessed. Controversy surrounded the events of that early evening. The RUC and the Northern Ireland Office issued statements on Sunday night saying they were investigating ‘a road accident’ and gave no further details. Subsequently the soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment who drove the Land Rovers were prosecuted and later acquitted, one charged with reckless driving, the other with aiding and abetting reckless driving. The then Bishop of Derry, Dr. Edward Daly, said he was disgusted by the acquittal. A year later, in his report about the incident to the National Council for Civil Liberties, Lord Gifford described it as ‘an example of what happens when security forces treat discontented civilians as the enemy’. This is one horrific incident of many that occurred in Northern Ireland during that hot spring and summer of 1981. Against the background of the hunger strike, street disturbances in Derry and parts of Belfast were nightly occurrences. The communities were polarised as never before, and it was a particularly testing time for the media. People lived in fear and listened from one radio news bulletin to the next to find out which areas were safe to travel to, and where to avoid. They relied on accurate information from newspapers and broadcasters about what was going on since there was a huge amount of propaganda both from the Republican side and the British government. The prisoners’ protest finally ended on October 3, 1981, 217 days after it began. Ten hunger strikers died and 86 people were killed on the streets during what was one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the Troubles.


unspun

THE VIEW FROM INSIDE PR Name: Thais Portilho-Shrimpton Job description: Hacked Off Campaign co-ordinator

Strike leader gets hacked off with ethics breaches

WPA POOL/GETTY IMAGES, ANNE-MARIE SANDERSON

W

hen the phone hacking scandal finally sparked the public’s outrage after it was revealed that schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked by the News of the World, the Hacked Off campaign already had a launch date. The launch was supposed to happen two days after The Guardian broke Milly’s story. However, the reaction to the astonishing and disturbing lack of compassion and professional discipline by NoW journalists forced us to change our plans and immediately start collecting signatures for our petition calling for a full public inquiry into questionable practices by newspapers. By the time we launched, less than 48 hours later, our petition already had more than 5,000 signatures. Hacked Off was founded by the director of the Media Standards Trust, Martin Moore, and Kingston University Professor of Journalism Brian Cathcart. They had the idea more than three years ago, when compelling allegations that phone hacking was widespread in the NoW came to light, but the Culture, Media and Sport select committee failed to get to the bottom of it. The first announcement that there

would be a public inquiry, following the Milly Dowler revelations, came very quickly, forcing us to focus on the most important aspect of any inquiry: its terms of reference. In the following days after the launch of the campaign, the Dowler family very kindly agreed to meet with all three party leaders, to help us make our case for strong, allencompassing terms of reference. Thankfully, the meetings were extremely fruitful and the majority of our suggestions were taken on board by the Prime Minister David Cameron and Lord Justice Leveson (pictured), who will be heading the inquiry. What now? Well, there is plenty still to do. At the the Hacked Off campaign we are now focusing particularly on debating and proposing possible new independent models of regulation or self-regulation for the press, to be considered by the inquiry. The campaign will also follow the Leveson inquiry closely. It is important to ensure that it is transparent, documents are made public and it is properly reported in a balanced manner. As the co-ordinator of the campaign, and someone who has been working in

journalism for eight years, – six of them intermittently as a news reporter – my duties are varied. Events held by the campaign, such as our fringe meetings at all three principal party conferences, are organised by me, as well as fundraising events and relevant meetings. It is also my responsibility to cover the hearings and any developments concerning the Leveson Inquiry, which allows me to continue using my court reporting skills. We are striving to turn our website, which I edit and maintain, into a reliable source of information on the phone hacking scandal and on the inquiry, as well as a source of comment for journalists and lawyers on all the latest developments. The objective for all of us – Martin, Brian, me, the campaign’s advisory committee and supporters – is to see a comprehensive investigation into illegal information-gathering by all newspapers that may be implicated by evidence still being examined by the Met Police’s Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta. We would also like to see a reform of the press self-regulatory system, to one where editors, journalists and executives are properly accountable for what they publish, and one that protects journalism that is in the public interest. Thais Portilho-Shrimpton was Mother of Chapel during the successful Newsquest South London strike this year wwwmediastandardstrust.org

theJournalist | 19


shorthand

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ny journalist who has studied shorthand can remember endlessly listening to ridiculous sentences with oddsounding syntax and unlikely names. But were all those evenings spent taking dictation from Friends episodes a waste of time? Shorthand is a requirement on all courses accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). Students must learn to take notes from speech spoken at 60 words per minute and to transcribe them accurately, with the aim of attaining the 100 wpm gold standard. Nearly 4,500 NTCJ shorthand exams were sat in 2009-10, a large increase compared to previous years. But despite its popularity, it is a difficult skill to master; the pass rate is under 50 per cent. Dozens of different shorthand systems are based on specific language patterns and uses; Samuel Pepys (pictured) famously wrote his diary using Thomas Shelton’s secretive abbreviations. The spelling-based Teeline is most commonly taught on UK journalism courses, because it is relatively simple and logical. But older phonetic systems such as Pitman can be considerably quicker, although they take longer to learn. While its most obvious use is to cover court proceedings, where recording devices are forbidden, shorthand is helpful in many situations. Kim Fletcher chairs the NCTJ, and

20 | theJournalist

edward gooch/Getty Images

The long and the short of it Isabella Kaminski outlines the advantages of an old skill that still pays dividends believes the skill is as important as ever. “While email is now used extensively, face-to-face and telephone interviews are still commonplace and knowledge of shorthand makes these far easier to conduct. Many interviews will be conducted at a moment’s notice – collecting eyewitness statements, for example.” A 2008 skills survey carried out by the NCTJ showed that employers of journalists still considered shorthand a core skill and it had widespread support among editors, particularly in the newspaper sector. It is also considered useful for broadcast and multimedia journalists. Although radio and TV interviews are automatically recorded, behind-thescenes reporting can benefit from targeted note-taking. “Transcription time can be very wasteful when a reporter is under deadline pressure,” agrees David English, deputy director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff University. “Recorders can be very intrusive and often mean interviewees become rather defensive and less open in answering questions.”

Nearly 4,500 NTCJ shorthand exams were sat in 2009-10, a large increase on previous years

David English reminds his students of a story written by The Times reporter Matt Dickinson which led to the resignation of former England football team manager Glen Hoddle. Dickinson was in the shower when he got a surprise call from Hoddle. “Matt recorded Glen’s views that disabled people were being punished for sins in another life. Matt was able to show his editor his shorthand note as proof.” Brian Pillans, lecturer in law at Glasgow Caledonian University, says that in legal cases where a journalist’s work is challenged, shorthand notes could even be considered more credible evidence than electronic recordings. “An electronic recording runs a higher risk of having been surreptitiously manipulated than a clearly contemporaneous shorthand note. A court would be likely to accept that a contemporaneous shorthand note which didn’t bear obvious signs of editing was likely to be genuine.” Defamation cases must be brought to court within a year of publication, so it is essential that journalists keep their shorthand notes for at least this length of time. “My advice is always only one notebook at a time, fill it up chronologically, don’t tear out pages and never throw it away,” says Pillans.


Q&A

Frances O’Grady is deputy general secretary of the TUC

THE NUJ AND ME What made you work in trade unions? My heart was always in the trade union movement. For all the occasional frustrations, no other movement combines the values of fairness and solidarity, with a practical capacity to make working lives better.

Which other job might you have done? A club DJ maybe, but more likely I’d have ended up in a job that bored me stiff.

Why did you join the NUJ ? At the Transport and General Workers Union we launched a magazine called Working Women. I kept my T&G card but thought I should join the union for journalists too.

Are many of your friends and family in a union? It’s in the O’Grady DNA, for the most part.

PHOTOS BY: DAN KITWOOD/GETTY, ISTOCKPHOTO

What’s been your best moment in your career? I’m still proud of the TUC Organising Academy (established in 1998 to train new union organisers), and the movement-wide shift in culture it’s helped to inspire. But, as moments go, calling out ‘Hello Hyde Park!’ on March 26th and hearing thousands of anticuts protesters roar in response was one to remember.

And in a union? As a rep, the day-to-day stuff – things like signing up new members, sticking up for fair treatment for union members, and winning a decent pay increase.

And the worst one? On a solidarity visit to Colombia, after many meetings with the government there we finally extracted an official list of trade unionists who had been murdered. It included a woman union leader who we knew was still very much alive. A case of bureaucratic incompetence or a thinly veiled threat? It was a chilling moment.

What advice would you give to someone starting in journalism? Given the apparent ignorance of the National Minimum Wage Act amongst some employers anyone who wants a career in journalism should check out the NUJ’s cashback for interns campaign site.

What advice would you give a new freelance? Think about becoming an investigative journalist – we need more. And make full use of the NUJ’s excellent professional training courses.

Who is your biggest hero? According to reports, a

I don’t want to give her the oxygen of publicity.

Which six people (alive or dead) would you invite for a dinner party? Looks like there’s another backlash coming so....Mary Macarthur, Claudia Jones, Poly Styrene, Samantha Morton, Kat Banyard and, of course, the NUJ general secretary.

One advantage of having family origins in another country is that you know that there are always at least two versions of history.

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

A burger joint. My one highlight was serving Randy Crawford who called in late one night after a gig but most of my shift was spent in the back kitchen chopping buckets full of onions.

The TUC, of course.

And villain?

What was your earliest political thought?

What is the worst place you’ve worked in?

And the best?

quarter of the Greek population have participated in protests against the ‘banksters’, so collectively they’ve earned the title.

That it starts treating the world of work a bit more seriously – there are some really important stories out there that deserve to be covered but are being ignored at the moment. ...Ask the archbishop to join NUJ

And your fears? That the rise of trivialisation, low pay/ no pay, and the lack of regard for the NUJ code of conduct will continue to grow despite the best efforts of the union to counter these trends.

What would you most want to change in the next year? Ideally I’d like to see a radical overhaul of the IMF but, failing that, stopping the co-ordinated assault on pensions in both the public and private sector is worth fighting for.

Who would you like to see join the NUJ? Following his debut editorial at the New Statesman, Rowan Williams.

How would you like to be remembered? She never gave up. theJournalist | 21


Amelia Smith shares her experiences of Egypt on the eve of the ‘Arab spring’

W

hen I told people I was moving to Cairo they looked shocked, surprised and tried to camouflage their alarm. Their looks were accompanied by a slow nod and a tentative repetition of the word ‘Cairo’ and a quizzical ‘is it safe?’ Since 2008 I had been plotting to escape England and throw myself into the thick of life in an Arab country. I had romantic images of chattering away in fluent Arabic and hunting down wars and bomb explosions to file reports to editors back home. When I arrived at Cairo airport in January 2009 it was already dark and a bit nippy. I was accosted by a sea of taxi drivers who, in my opinion, showed a level of enthusiasm far beyond what was necessary. As we negotiated streams of traffic and badly sign-posted roads to get to my new flat I quickly realised it was not the beautiful French colonial building I had once imagined, but a characterless old apartment with a layer of dust and a hot water tank with minimal supplies. My dreams were fading fast. But I had been planning my trip for a long time and I wasn’t going to let a bit of culture shock stand in my way. I studied Theology and Religious Studies at University in Bristol from 2004 to 2007, specialising in Arabic and Islamic Studies, with a term at a language school in Alexandria in 2006. So when I decided that my ambition was to speak Arabic fluently, become a journalist, and specialise in this part of the world, I took a plane to Cairo.

Cairo culture shock r

My first job was as a proof reader for the annual report of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. The office was set in the heart of Garden City, an area based on the British design, where the roads were curved and mazelike, in contrast to Cairo’s signature grid and block system. When I finally arrived I met a small, trim woman who was interviewing me. “You’re on time” she said. “I thought you would be late; everyone in Cairo is always late.” I think this was my first lesson in Egyptian social etiquette. As my work with them was coming to a close I found myself heading into the desert towards my second interview in Sixth of October City. Approximately 40 kilometres from the city centre, this urban area was built in 1979 under President Anwar Sadat to ease crowding in the capital. My taxi driver and I took vast highways out of Cairo, thundering past the pyramids and ramshackle houses with brightly painted balconies, until we reached large, beautiful, modern buildings in the traditional style, long stretches of construction work 22 | theJournalist

and finally a towering glass building in the middle of the desert where I had my appointment. IslamOnline, founded in 1997, was designed to be an online source that offered advice and guidance about politics, family and social issues. Maybe they thought that moving their office into the middle of the desert, surrounded by blinding light, would give them a more guru-like quality. Famous for its liberal voice, the website was originally set up by the contentious Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, previously banned from entering the United States and Britain. I contributed to a project about feminism for the website before it was shut down in March 2010 after the management threatened to fire a large number of employees and the staff protested. Some colleagues said it was a clash with its more conservative editorial office in Doha, the financial backbone of the company, which wanted a more hardline, traditional agenda; some blamed an altercation over pay and management, and some a struggle for cultural domination


Cairo

JESS HURD

EGYPT’S MEDIA EVOLVING Al Ahram photoshopped Mubarak onto the foreground of a photograph in September 2010, jostling Obama, Benyamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah into the rear, the paper was already well on its way to losing credibility. But when it published a string of antirevolution bias and propaganda during the protests early this year and then the headline ‘The People Brought Down the Regime’ the day after Mubarak fell, the ruling party’s version of history officially crumbled, dragging with it any last remnants of integrity. A torrent of anti-Mubarak criticism trailed behind in what offered a false sense of freedom to some and represented a symbol of hypocrisy to others. Now Mubarak

k recalled between the Gulf and Egypt. The workers staged an all-night sit-in of the offices which lasted for days, streaming it online to show the world their revolution.

B

y this time I had been in Cairo for just over a year and my attempts at speaking Arabic were becoming more and more creative by the day. I once asked my landlady for a broom with electricity and developed the art of hand communication in conversations. I embraced the night time culture and spent a lot of time hanging around in faintly dissolute bars drinking Egyptian Stella from recycled bottles, and strong coffee in cafes with crowded plastic tables with the smell of apple drifting from hubblebubble pipes, desperately practising Arabic and enjoying meeting people. This was easy in Cairo as it was so warm, open and friendly. Although art and music are not as publicly widespread as in England, there were many artists and writers loitering in the

as a ‘no-go’ subject for journalists has been replaced by the military who dictate acceptable levels of criticism towards the interim government and under which detentions and trials still take place. On the other side of the debate, independent media with a critical track record has gained momentum. More airtime has been given to journalists who were banned under Mubarak, Ahmed Abdel Hameed political activist and editor of Al Wasat website told me, such as Amr Khaled, who now runs his own show on national TV. Social media has also opened up. Reflecting a growing online community, the establishment of the Egyptian Online Journalists’ Syndicate ultimately recognizes a new form of reporting.

downtown bars. Very often the journalists I met were medical graduates, for medicine was a degree closely linked with the intellectual elite, whilst the days of the great musicians and film directors such as Umm Kalthoum, Youssef Chahine and Cairo as the culture capital of the Middle East seemed far away. Or at least to those who were influencing the young. Towards the end of my time in Cairo I had a beautiful flat downtown and I was freelancing for a few of the English language publications. I could have got away with not speaking Arabic, as most of my work was done in English, but I wanted to speak the local dialect to understand the culture and get beneath the skin of the people. I would often overhear two Egyptian people in Cairo speaking English to each other. I had travelled thousands of miles to learn this beautiful language and I always wondered why some had abandoned an ancient poetic language in the name of false prestige. I left England to live in Cairo for four months and I stayed for two years. I could barely speak the language when I arrived, I knew no one, and I had never had my work published in an Egyptian newspaper. When I left I had experience of proof reading with a greatly increased knowledge of human rights in the region, and I had freelanced for many different magazines and websites, covering culture, politics, travel, feminism and art. Although it had been a huge culture shock for me in the first month, there is something about Cairo which is addictive; it draws you in, traps you and makes you never want to leave. There is layer upon layer of mesmerising history, politics and economics. And there are hundreds of people willing to tell you about it. amelia.amy@googlemail.com

The workers staged an all-night sit-in at the offices which lasted for days, streaming it online to show the world their revolution

theJournalist | 23

ALEX WONG/GETTYIMAGES

When Egyptian state-run newspaper


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

INDEPTH THE EYE HITS HALF A CENTURY The book, the annual, the exhibition celebrate Private Eye’s 50th anniversary

24 | theJournalist

The Great Clothes Throw to help children, Bob Geldof’s album and tour and Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary celebrations are just some of the upcoming events around the country… Help Alder Hey children Liverpool One Shopping Centre, Liverpool L1 8LT 24 – 29 October The great Clothes Throw is a week of fashion events. All proceeds will go directly to Alder Hey Imagine Appeal to improve the lives of 250,000 children and young people the hospital takes care of. You can get involved by donating clothes but the culmination of the event is an auction, sales and stalls on Saturday October 29 where one of the items for sale is Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale James Bond suit. www.imagineappeal.com.

The satirical news and current affairs

magazine Private Eye is 50. It has somehow managed to survive for half a century during which it has consistently entertained, informed and irritated readers with its unique mix of jokes and journalism, comedy and campaigning, gags and gossip, laughter and libel, to cover the public life of the nation. To kick off the 50th anniversary celebrations, Private Eye: The First 50 Years, an A-Z is an illustrated, definitive history of the magazine, charting its rise from 300 copies of the first edition on 25th October 1961, to a fortnightly readership of 700,000, steered for 25 years by editor Ian Hislop. Written by Private Eye journalist Adam Macqueen, it contains everything you ever wanted to know about the satirical organ. Plus the inside story of the magazine’s many highprofile legal battles, scoops and staff bust-ups, told by those who were there. The book features interviews with Ian Hislop, his predecessor Richard Ingrams and co-founder, Christopher Booker, plus a host of other key figures past and present. It also contains reminiscences and revelations about former contributors including Peter Cook, Auberon Waugh and Willie Rushton, in addition to rare archive material, unseen photographs and an abundance of cartoons from the likes of Nick Newman, Tony Husband and Michael Heath – many never before published. Comments Adam McQueen: “A lot of the stuff I found out about the mag surprised even me. When I discovered it surprised the editor too, I figured I must be doing something right.”

Geldof tour 16 – 21 November Singer, songwriter, author, occasional actor and political activist Bob Geldof is out on the road with a new album, How To Compose Popular Songs and Sell, and live dates around the country. You can catch him at Queens Hall, Nuneaton 16 November; St George’s Hall, Bradford 17; Arena, St Albans 20; The Lowry, Salford 20; Central Theatre, Chatham 21. www.bobgeldof.com. See the Saw Doctors 18 – 29 November With their classic Irish folk rock plus a great sense of humour, the Saw Doctors are certainly ones to catch for a great night out. Starting out at Queens University, Belfast, on November 18, there are other concert dates available on the website www.sawdoctors.com.

It costs £25 but can be ordered through a link on Private Eye’s web address for £17.50 through Amazon. www.private-eye.co.uk. Also, the 2011 Private Eye Annual is a unique blend of wit and humour, with pages of parody, the funniest spoofs, gags, cartoons, photo bubbles and topical humour. Consistently found in the best seller chart and selling in excess of 78,000 copies last year, it will make a great Christmas present. Private Eye at the V&A is on display in the V&A’s Studio Gallery in South Kensington, London until January 18. It is a free exhibition exploring the wealth of artistic talent the magazine has fostered by showcasing the original artwork for some of the finest and funniest cartoons. Over its history, the Eye has published and promoted the work of more than 90 artists, many of whom started their careers at the magazine, including Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, Willie Rushton, Barry Fantoni, Nick Newman, Michael Heath, John Kent and Ed McLachlan. The illustrations will be shown in thematic sections on politics, royalty and social observation. The cut-and-paste production technique and overall look have changed little in over 50 years, despite the switch from Cowgum to computers and Letraset to the internet. Ian Hislop has chosen 50 of the best trademark front covers, one from every year the magazine has been published. Ian says: “At last Private Eye makes an art of itself.” www.vam.ac.uk. Alf Martin


arts Special Specials 14 October – 3 November In the late 70s and early 80s the Specials pioneered the new British ska sound and racked up seven top 10 hits whilst exerting an influence on many a teenager at the time. They broke down race barriers and with extremely danceable but thought-provoking lyrics that still sound fresh today. Reformed to celebrate their 30th anniversary with original members (but without Jerry Dammers) the band plays a series of dates around the country. beginning at the Apollo, Manchester on October 14 and 15. www.thespecials.com. Amnesty’s 50th year 27 – 28 October Billy Bragg, protest singer, human rights activist and supporter of Amnesty International, is performing to promote its cause by singing a personal selection of songs focusing on freedom and justice to mark Amnesty’s 50th anniversary at the Empire Music Hall, Belfast, October 27. The following day, at Queens University, Elmwood Hall, Belfast, Bianca Jagger reflects on the human rights revolution. www.amnesty.org.uk/events. Gallery exhibitions Punk and Beyond 24 November – 17 December Signal Gallery, 32 Paul Street, London EC2A 4LB Following on from its highly successful Beyond Punk show in 2010, Signal Gallery has again asked punk musician Gaye Advert to collaborate with them to curate a second Punk Art show. Like the first show, it will feature artwork of well-known punk musicians but in addition to this there will be artists who have been significantly influenced and inspired by punk culture. Names of artists and musicians are still to be announced, so watch out for the list of participants. Performances by some of the musicians will also take place in the gallery during the show. www.signalgallery.com. London is a World Class City Until 27 November Freedom Bookshop and Autonomy Club, Angel Alley 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7RQ Max Reeves’ photographs use

Geldof: On the road to tell how its’s done

London as a setting to investigate the difference between life and myth, revealing the complexity of London’s psychological terrain. The actuality of the city morphs into a documentation of personal mythology populated with curious characters, palimpsests, crows, protestors and children. Control and authority versus the freedom of the individual and transcendence emerge as themes through layered and often ambiguous images. London is a World Class City embraces a poetic critique of London superseding its geographic locality and political straightjacket. Entrance free. Monday to Saturday midday to 6pm and Sunday midday until 4pm Street Art: Contemporary Prints from the V&A The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry Until January 16 The gallery is the first venue to host a new touring exhibition from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. It features the work of some of the

Punk Art: musicians paint and perform

biggest names in street art such as Banksy. Book Creative Documentary: Theory and Practice By Wilma de Jong, Jerry Rothwell, Erik Knudsen What it means to be a documentary filmmaker in today’s world, and what new forms of documentary are emerging. It gives a comprehensive overview of critical thought and techniques in digital documentary filmmaking today. Recent technological developments have made the making and distribution of documentary films easier and more widespread than ever before. This guide embraces these changing contexts and provides the ideas, methods, and critical understanding to support successful documentary making. Published by Pearson Education. ISBN: 978-1-4058-7422-9. Price: £26.99. www.pearsoned.co.uk.

PREVIEW Exploring cycle of violence Julia Pascal is an NUJ journalist and playwright. Her new play

Revealing life and myths in London: a world-class city

Honeypot, set in the aftermath of the Munich Olympics, explores the story of a Swedish woman who becomes a honeypot for Mossad, when her father was a hidden Jew. This galvanises 35-year-old Susanne to leave her husband and make a wild journey of self-discovery. In an attempt to get closer to her father’s past, she goes to Israel and volunteers to be a Mossad agent. Her job is to seduce the PLO mastermind who organised the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Susanne believes she has the courage to commit a vengeance killing. But will she be able to push away a man who has fallen in love with her in order to revenge the dead? Based on interviews Pascal undertook with a Swedish woman who worked for Mossad and later became sympathetic to the PLO, the play is an exploration of a woman’s journey into a world of violence and sexuality. It is set in 1982 in Sweden, Tel Aviv and Paris. After the success of her first play on Israel, Crossing Jerusalem, Pascal explores the cycle of Middle Eastern violence that spilled over Europe. Tickets for the play are £15.50 with concessions at £13.50 The Pascal Theatre Company was formed in 1985 to present new writing, produce plays and to work educationally in schools and community centres. www.newdiorama.com and www.pascal-theatre.com. 11 – 30 October, The New Diorama Theatre, London NW1 3BF

theJournalist | 25


inbox

letters...

tim ellis

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

why pay nuj subs? So, the NUJ is considering legal action on behalf of sacked NoW staff who are not in the union (The Journalist Aug/Sept). These are extremely well-paid journalists who chose not to support the NUJ financially through membership. And, if those on much lower earnings took the same stance there would be no union to help them. We only wish our officers would take an interest in supporting members working in the regional press. Every week job cuts are announced and the only response from NUJ officers is empty rhetoric. Why hasn’t the union spoken to newspaper groups to plan the move (already underway) from daily to weekly newspapers to limit the impact on members? An action plan is needed rather than the month’s notice given to staff working on titles in Exeter, Scunthorpe and Lincolnshire. Sadly, the reason why honest, hardworking members are let down by their union is because it has – a long time ago – been taken over by left-wing liberals who follow their own political agendas to the detriment of the rank and file membership. “Come and join us and put forward your own views” will be the reply from officers but the majority prefer to pay for union representation and expect their interests to be acted upon. Many members have become disillusioned with the NUJ and pay their subs – not for the representation they don’t get – but for legal help when the axe falls. It seems they no longer now need to pay for that help. Brian Coates and Michael Peel (Joint FoCs Halifax Courier Chapel)

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH NUJ is good insurance I’ve been an NUJ member for more than a decade. My reasons? As a cub reporter I saw it as a badge of honour. As a senior reporter it became an insurance policy against the worst excesses of the newspaper industry. Now as a freelance my membership is my back-up for legal advice, a way of keeping in touch with my profession and a way of making sure I’m charging the going rate for PR, copywriting and training. This summer the NUJ became my enforcer when a client wouldn’t cough up the £1,350 they owed me. My chase emails and calls were met with silence. Until John Toner got involved. Two swiftly despatched letters on NUJ headed paper reminding my client of his obligation to pay, the NUJ’s support for me and the threat of legal action did the trick. The bill was settled swiftly. I’m sure that without John, and my 26 | theJournalist

union, I would have had to resort to the small claims court to get what I was owed. A big thank you to John for his professional, no-nonsense and rapid response. Thank you NUJ. Mary Murtagh Liverpool

PR members are welcome It is a good job other sections of the union don’t think the same way as Mark Pinder (Letters August/ September). In PR we spend half our time having other members tell us that ‘we’re not proper journalists’ and the other half answering their questions about moving into PR. Most of these journalists don’t undertake PR courses as they seem to believe that there is nothing more to PR than being able to write good copy. The reality is there is a lot more to it

and it requires a broader skill set. This is why we encourage them to attend the union’s Introduction to PR course. Should we ban this course on the basis that it is undermining members who have trained specifically for that sector? Should we only run courses which add the skills of members who already have PR experience (of which there is currently only one for PR members anyway)? Or should we welcome them and encourage them to increase their skills and help them to find work in whichever sector they choose? In short, are we one union or many? Debbie Smith Press & PR branch

Bouquets for Buckley Christine: Not for a long time have I sat down and read the ‘Journalist’ as thoroughly as I have today, a cracking read. I like the way the magazine has

developed under your leadership. You have a good mix and as one well known ‘redtop’ journalist used to say: its an aperitif...a little bit of everything and if the sods want more then they can go and buy something else. But as we all know, journalists are hard to please whatever happens. I’m sure brickbats are common on your desk, but on this occasion take a bouquet from me Ray Bradbury Life member

...and Proctor Brilliant piece by Chris Proctor on the perils of PR (September Journalist). After 27 years with the Mirror and the Beeb, inevitable redundancy under the Birt regime, due mainly to being middle-aged, led me to a PR post at Scottish Enterprise, a Quango. A new chief executive, who of course knew far more about news agendas than the professionals, decided that various SE ‘initiatives’ should be making page leads in the Daily Record – because his Dad read it. At eye-watering daily rates an outside PR firm was hired. However, as the hierarchy still insisted on inserting gobblygook business speak, and there being no mention of murder, drugs, neds with knives, soap stars, Rangers or Celtic, the results were predictable. That’s the way your money goes. Nick Cowie Brighton

Advice for 60+ In the great depression of the 1930s there was a spate of media articles advising the unemployed how to survive on the pittance allowed them – the irony of which was most famously highlighted by Communist MP Willie Gallagher who, when the poor were told of how to make soup from fish heads, wondered “what happened to the rest of the fish.” These good ideas are common in austere times and are about again. Only recently, in a morning television interview, a woman was advising the old on how to save on fuel costs in


* @

the coming winter. Among the things she did was to take fewer and briefer showers and wait till November to turn on the central heating, helped by putting on extra jumpers. While these two measures may help in saving on fuel bills, the effect on older people could end in disaster or death, even if the poor elderly had the wherewithal to find the extra clothing needed. I would ask NUJ members to make sure that, if asked to deal with this kind of stuff, they think carefully. Or if they get involved in such advice, they might look to more effective measures to save much more money. For example, experts in the field have said that too much bathing will weaken you: so, give up ablutions altogether. Most of the elderly will find that they have gathered too much furniture, so open up the old fireplace and burn that redundant chair for a nice oldfashioned golden glow.. Food? Well, a bit of shoplifting is good since it sets the heart racing as well as being a money saver. But I’m sure there are journalists with equally

steve bell

good ideas for the old this winter...on a postcard please. Roy Jones, NUJ 60+

More tea, vicar? God bless Mary Cook for her wonderful essay on the Night of the Long Spike at the News of the World in the Journalist (August-September). I hope the banging out of those hardworking, highly-skilled journalists will echo round the watering holes of wordsmiths everywhere. Mary is so right about the ‘News Of...’ being a subs paper. Picture the newsroom scene – chief sub says “Dennis, can I have the shot barmaid story soon?” And Dennis replies: “Sorry, guv, the reporter hasn’t finished ravelling it yet.” Mary is right – they had absolutely nothing to do with the allegations being bandied about, they are the sacrificial lambs. And of course Mary is not alone. For instance, Father Andy Davis, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Gosport, says in his parish magazine: “The closure of the News of the

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Please keep letters to 200 words maximum

World was very sad. For all its faults it was a lively paper, staffed by people of great skill and integrity who did not deserve to take the rap for the few.” That’s fair indeed – considering our record on dodgy clerics over the years. John Bull (ex-NoW) Life Member

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

defending their community. We commend those NUJ members who have reported events at Dale Farm in an ethical manner. Larry Herman Joint Secretary London Photographers’ Branch

Dale Farm issues

Now I can listen to my own broadcasts again!

Some London Photographers’ Branch members have been covering Dale Farm and many raised concerns about some of the reporting of the story, from allegations made in news reports with no basis of fact or evidence, to underhanded and unethical methods of journalism that came to nothing short of downright lies. Our branch believes there have been many infringements of the NUJ Code of Conduct and the union’s general guidelines on reporting race. We are also disappointed by the general lack of support and involvement of the wider labour and trade union movement in showing solidarity with Dale Farm residents. We call upon the NUJ to issue a statement of support the Dale Farm Travellers’ campaign

Well done The Journalist! You ran a letter from me after I discovered my 25year-old war-zone dispatches for IRN on a university web site, but was denied password access because the college classed me as ‘a member of the public’ and allowing me to listen – even for nostalgic reasons – breached an exclusive licence agreement with LBC. After a bit of pressure from the Bournemouth Daily Echo (whose terrier-like reporter read The Journalist) I’m delighted LBC has announced that though archive audio of LBC is not available to the wider public, ‘on this occasion, we are pleased to make an exception by giving John access to his IRN bulletins.’ Ain’t life grand! John Cookson London

the owners

theJournalist | 27


training

professional Training courses Non Members

Members*

To book a place on any of these courses or if you would like some advice or have any questions, please email training@nuj.org.uk or telephone 020 7843 3730.

Members

NUJ training

Fri 11 Nov

Social Media For Journalists

£80

£110

£60

Mon/Tues 14/15 Nov

Writing for the Web

£255

£405

£133

Mon 21 Nov

Making Internet Journalism Pay

£80

£110

£60

Tue/Wed 22/23 Nov

Introduction To InDesign

£265

£465

£133

Sat 26 Nov

Pitch & Deal

£90

£130

£67

Weds 30 Nov

PR: Develop a Strategy

£145

£250

£109

Fri 13 Jan

Reporting the NHS

£125

£250

£62

Thur 19 Jan

Business For Journalists

£140

£250

£70

Fri 20 Jan

Economics For Journalists

£140

£250

£70

Thur/Fri 26/27 Jan

Build Your Own Website

£275

£495

£137

31 Jan/1 Feb Tue/Wed

Introduction To InDesign

£265

£465

£133

Sat 4 Feb

Getting Started as a Freelance

£80

£110

£60

You can view course outlines at www.nujtraining.org.uk

November - january London

The NUJ offers a wide variety of short courses in professional subjects. Whether you want to learn the best way to video blog or sell your services as a freelance, you can get to grips with the techniques you need over one or two days. The courses will help you increase and refresh your skills whether you’re at the start of your career or further along the professional path.

Lost Your Job? If you’ve lost a staff job you could be entitled to a free course. Bookings must be made within three months of losing a job and are free at the union’s discretion and subject to availability.

my course

28 | theJournalist

*For Students and members in their first year of employment

Writing for the web Ann-Louise de La Poype You have no idea how much I have fiddled with this introduction, trying as our tutor Chris Wheal advised to put the six honest serving men we know and love so well to best use. Could I be so out of practice? Absolutely. I can safely say I was the most out of practice of all the participants from publishing, PR and news sitting in front of their macs. We were soon on familiar territory, though, because journalism basics apply to the web. How good it felt to be reminded of the need for a strong headline and the importance of accuracy, spelling and proof-reading. Get as much information as you can into that first sentence, with the aim of bringing your subject into the top search engine rankings, Chris said. Repetition in a web piece is allowed

as, strategically used, it can boost your chances of hitting the top spot. It struck me that writing for the web is stylistically similar to radio: that punchy intro, short sentences, the power of three; knowing you have to grab them before they click or switch you into oblivion. The difference is you are writing for the reader, the scanner, perhaps occasionally the scroller, and of course, the aggregation system. Yet I tremble in my boots at the power and responsibility of owning a blog. Let’s take the drama out. Chris said it’s like playing cricket, and you can’t expect to play well after just learning the rules. Mastering the technicalities of posting information, pictures and links – in other words content management – is just a matter of practice. Perhaps those of us who are getting back into their careers

after a break also need some kind of psychological shift to occur. We ploughed through material on HTML, editorial and ethical issues, web rules and regulations including equality and human rights standards. Hearing Chris’s tales from the field and his business-like approach to webwork was an added bonus. Writing for the Web helped take the mystery away and has enabled me to come to terms with new media. HTML seems less daunting. Links appear less magical. Chris ‘safeguards’ every night and I know I should too, but perhaps that can wait until tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have a blog to get back to. The pressure is on. It can’t just be any old thing. It has to read well, look good and attract hits. That psychological shift can wait, too. Got to get out there and play.


technology

DATA MINING IS A JOB FOR US

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Michael Cross on the latest trends and kit

REVIEW

ampaigning journalists can run out of opportunities when a campaign achieves its object. So I can’t pretend I didn’t feel a twinge of disappointment when the coalition government took on board the message of a Guardian campaign which had kept me in work for four years. The Free our Data campaign called on government to make available for reuse the huge resources of data lurking in public archives. Stuff like boundaries of electoral constituencies and the location of bus stops, which for arcane reasons had been kept secret, or published on a read-only basis. We won. According to David Cameron, all this stuff – and more – will be available under a new ‘right to data’ coming in next year. He’s promised to make the UK the most transparent government in the world. Luckily, there’s still plenty of work for campaigners. First, we need to watch for backsliding. Governments’ enthusiasm for transparency always declines over their period in office. With the current lot, we should be alert to the risk that the fragmentation and privatisation of public services will reduce the availability of data, whatever the grand promises say.

WORD PROCESSING I’ve been trying out new word processing software. To my surprise, the trial persuaded me to switch the program I use. I’d assumed that word processing had settled down to a uniform maturity, which was about as interesting as a choice of power lead. Pages is intuitive and has features that are more than adequate. And that’s part of the trouble – half of these features seem to pop up on hair triggers, whether you want them or not. ‘Show document outline’ might be useful to the proprietor of a Californian cupcake

Over the past year, nationals like the Guardian and the Telegraph have started to rise to the challenge

boutique, but not when churning out copy for newspapers or magazines. Scrivener: This paid-for program is designed for writers, especially for those needing to assemble works from scraps of notes and other raw material. Like feature articles, for instance. You work on a split screen; gather thoughts and notes in a ‘ringbinder section’, then assemble them into the finished article on the right, and export in almost any format you like. It sounds complicated but is amazingly intuitive. There’s even a function that will assemble your document for you, but that felt a bit like cheating. You can try it for free. Strongly recommended if your writing involves anything more complicated than a straight

Second, and more interesting, we need to get better at reporting data. At the moment, ‘data journalism’ is largely a one-dimensional take on new releases of public spending items. You’ve seen the Mail headlines about civil servants living the life of Riley on government procurement cards. But new data sets becoming available might lend themselves to more thoughtful analysis. I’m particularly interested in outcome data from GP practices, due to go online from the end of this year. Data journalism is not news on the cheap. While most of the work may be done from an office desk, it is as time-consuming as any other form of investigative reporting; perhaps more so. Over the past year, heavyweight nationals like the Guardian and the Telegraph have started to rise to the challenge, but few regionals or locals have staff to spare to spend days poring through files of csv (comma-separated variables – a term worth learning). The short cut is to let a third party do the analysis. Organisations like the Taxpayers Alliance are ready and waiting – but if data journalism ends up merely reflecting the agendas of lobby groups with the resources to interpret it, then our campaign has really failed.

linear news story or column. Bean. This freeware is at the opposite end of the spectrum, barely more than a text editor. But it is blazingly fast, first in its opening and running speed, secondly in its lack of distracting bells and whistles. There’s no messing about with formats. You just turn on your computer (or open up your MacBook) and write until the live word count at the bottom says you’re done. Boring maybe. But isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? Pages: www.apple.com £13.99 (for Mac) Scrivener: £30.99 (for Mac and Windows.) Bean: www.bean-osx.com/Bean. html Free (for Mac)

theJournalist | 29


on media

Raymond Snoddy’s hackles rise at suggestions journalists should be registered

Just don’t fence me in...

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ou have to get up early to keep abreast of the follies of politicians. Neither Labour nor Tory has a monopoly on daft ideas. Labour’s shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis made himself look ridiculous last month by advocating the registration, and striking off, of journalists for gross malpractice. But what exactly would constitute ‘gross malpractice’ – a dodgy intro, a tasteless feature, a rude interview? Extreme behaviour such as bribery, corruption and phone-hacking are all breaches of the law and should be dealt with by the courts. And who, pray, would register journalists? The government? Dictators everywhere would warm to such an attractive idea. Self-regulatory bodies would find it difficult to deprive a journalist of the ability to earn a living, and any attempt to sleepwalk down the road to statutory regulation should be vehemently opposed. Let’s not forget that the press finally threw off its shackles with the abolition of Stamp Duty in 1855. Surely we are not going to acquiesce in having new chains specially fitted. In the internet age it is less and less clear who exactly is a journalist. Paid journalists in the traditional media sector would be registered and everyone else on the internet would not? Right. You can almost forgive politicians their ignorance, but then along comes Chris Blackhurst, editor of The Independent, and agrees with the concept on Radio 4. “The Jockey Club bars jockeys from riding horses – why can’t we bar

 30 | theJournalist

journalists from writing articles,” said Blackhurst, stuffing a large horseshoe in his mouth. It’s about a small matter called freedom of speech, Chris. Anyway, jockeys get banned for excessive use of the whip, deliberately throwing races or taking illegal substances. I haven’t seen too many of those practices in newsrooms – at least not two of them. Blackhurst can become a registered editor if he wants to but no-one is going to register me.

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But what exactly would constitute ‘gross malpractice’ – a dodgy intro, a tasteless feature, a rude interview?

eanwhile culture secretary Jeremy Hunt was up to his usual tricks by suggesting that the BBC’s governance is unable to prevent any single news organisation having too powerful a hold over the British public. It is such a scandal that the BBC is able to provide so much fair, decent, accurate and impartial news. We can’t have that. How dare the British public watch, listen and read so much of the corporation’s output. We must get Ofcom to do something about it and force more of the audience to watch Sky News. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt struck just the right note at the Edinburgh TV Festival when he commented on the Competition Commission’s decision to block Project Kangaroo, the planned online TV venture of the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV. You mean, said Schmidt, they were afraid it would be too successful? The month ended on a high note from a judge with a firm grasp of the importance of freedom of expression – Mr Justice Nicol. It was a big win against the odds for the Sunday Mirror in the Rio Ferdinand case with the judgement that the former England captain had a duty to maintain high standards ‘on and off the pitch.’ A cautionary tale there for politicians, and even some national newspaper editors.

For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy


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