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www.nuj.org.uk | july/August 2015
Poorstories How benefits reporting got nasty
j o u r n a l i s t s
Contents Main feature
14 Benefits Street Revisited
Time to stop demonising the poor
hen the last edition of The Journalist reached you we were just about to go to the polls in Britain. Now we have the first Conservative government for 18 years and the implications of that for journalists and trade unionists are unfolding. New laws are planned to make it harder to go out on strike. Somewhat ironically, as soon as this move was indicated there was a series of announcements about strikes or planned strikes, including our own at ITV. The new legislation will undoubtedly scupper industrial action where the voter turnout is low but it’s possible the unions could turn the restrictions into a motivator to recruit more members. For the NUJ, there is renewed uncertainty over the future shape and funding of the BBC. It’s an imminent threat as negotiations loom for the renewal of the BBC’s charter. The union has begun a broad campaign with the Federation of Entertainment Unions to preserve the integrity and quality journalism for which the BBC is renowned. There will also be further squeezes on benefits as part of the Government’s cost cuts. Our cover feature looks at how benefits claimants and the poor have become increasingly demonised through reality programmes such as Benefits Street and in the pages of hostile newspapers. A very far cry from the sympathy that flowed from one of the original portrayals of life on the breadline in Cathy Come Home.
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Cover picture Moviestore collection Ltd/Alamy
03 London papers hit by strike
Newsquest dispute over cuts and pay
04 Action at ITV for pay increase Unions press for improved offer
05 Victory for victimised FoC
Rotherham redundancy threat lifted
06 Bullying survey in Scotland Journalists threatened online
07 Local News Matters moves up a gear Union reps meet to intensify campaign
10 Let’s go to Truro
Journalism in Poldark country
18 Remembering Acas all-nighters Behind the scenes at the TUC
Regulars 09 Viewpoint 17 NUJ and me 20 Technology
Arts with Attitude Pages 22-23
Raymond Snoddy Page 21
Letters & Steve Bell 24-25
London newspapers hit by 12-day strike 2014 Getty Images
ewsquest newspapers in London were hit by a 12-day strike in a dispute over job cuts, staffing levels and pay. The strike, which was scheduled to end at the beginning of July, is to be followed by a work to rule. The action is in response to company plans to restructure and cut staff in the region. A spokesman for the chapel said: “We care about our readers and the communities we serve. Further cuts to staff will have an effect on the quality of the newspapers we produce and will add to the already-low morale among poorly-paid staff.” Staffs are particularly aggrieved because Gannett, the American parent company, is able to pay its CEO, Gracia Martore (pictured), in excess of £7.5 million but is reluctant to award its staff here in the UK
even a modest pay increase. The titles affected by the cuts include: The Croydon Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Balham and Tooting Guardian, Mitcham and Morden Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet, and the Richmond & Twickenham Times. The News Shopper series serves Dartford, Lewisham, Greenwich, Gravesend, Bexley and Bromley. The company plans to
merge the South West London and South East London editorial departments and ask South East London reporters to work remotely. The plans also include job cuts and redundancies will impact on a range of posts including group editor, editor, deputy editor, assistant editor, news editor, editorial assistants, online commercial content developer, deputy news editor, assistant news editor, chief reporters and senior sports roles. NUJ members on York Newsquest titles have also voted for industrial action over jobs and workloads. The union has written to John Whittingdale, the culture secretary, outlining the cuts hitting local papers. Newsquest is one of the largest regional publishers with more than 200 newspapers and magazines including 17 dailies.
Further cuts to staff will have an effect on the quality of the newspapers we produce
Corbyn joins labour leadership race
eremy Corbyn, the Labour MP for Islington North and an NUJ member, is one of four candidates vying to become the next leader of the Labour Party. Mr Corbyn, a leftwinger who secured the necessary 35
nominations just before the deadline last month, is a member of the NUJ parliamentary group. The other candidates are Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh and the shadow health secretary; Yvette
Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford and shadow home secretary and a former journalist at The Independent; and Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West and a shadow health minister.
2011 Getty Images
coverage of the City Council, political affairs, the education system, criminal activity, the health service and courts?” Geoffrey Robinson, (pictured) MP for Coventry North West and a former Paymaster General and chairman of Jaguar cars, has also written to the editor of the Coventry Telegraph. He warned: “You will have hollowed out your capacity to play the important role of a free press in a modern democracy.”
profits dip at the telegraph group The Telegraph Media Group saw profits for 2014 dip to £54.9 million from £61.2 million in 2013. It blamed the fall on an £8 million investment in digital operations. The Telegraph titles remain the most profitable newspapers in the UK quality/broadsheet market. sun censured over rod liddle column The Sun has been censured by the Independent Press Standards Organisation over a Rod Liddle column which made fun of a blind and transgender Labour parliamentary candidate, Emily Brothers.The Sun admitted the column was tasteless and apologised to Brothers.
MPs warn against Trinity Mirror cuts en Birmingham MPs have written to Simon Fox, chief executive of Trinity Mirror, to protest about 19 job cuts in Birmingham. The cuts are part of 45 job losses at the publisher with 20 losses in Scotland and six in neighbouring Coventry. Their letter said: “The admission from Trinity Mirror that the Birmingham Post and Mail cannot ‘dutifully report everything which happens on our patch’ is also very alarming. What does this mean for
parliamentary reporting ruling The union welcomed an Irish High Court ruling that there is no restraint on the media covering parliamentary proceedings arising from an injunction granted to businessman Denis O’Brien in May. Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said: “This is an unambiguous ruling in favour of democracy. The right of parliamentarians to speak under privilege is a cornerstone of our democracy and the right of the media to fairly and accurately report such proceedings is fundamental.”
complaints rise at the guardian The Guardian received 3,000 more complaints in the year to March compared with the same period a year ago. In that time the newspaper has published 1,022 corrections and the website 2,604. Murdoch could cede to son at fox Rupert Murdoch is reportedly preparing to stand down as chief executive of Twenty First Century Fox and hand over to his son James, the former head of BSkyB. The 84-year-old, who owns a controlling stake in Fox, will remain executive chairman of the group in a reorganisation that could take place later this year or early in 2016, according to CNBC. theJournalist | 03
ITV hit by strike action over 2 per cent pay rise
in brief... Rusbridger ends 20 years as editor Alan Rusbridger has left the editor’s chair at the Guardian after 20 years at the helm. He has been succeeded by deputy editor Katharine Viner. Under Rusbridger, the Guardian was named newspaper of the year four times by the British Press Awards and last year became the first British newspaper to win the Pulitzer Prize for its revelations about US state surveillance.
new editor for the Morning star The Morning Star has its youngest editor since its founding editor, William Rust. Ben Chacko, a 31-yearold graduate in Chinese, joined the daily paper as a sub-editor in 2010, and then became deputy features editor, assistant editor and deputy editor before becoming acting editor last July.
Now things have picked up, they have every right to a fair share of growing revenue for their hard work
4 | theJournalist
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the public service union PCS, said: “It is your hard work that generates the company’s success and the chief executive’s soaring pay and bonuses. It is time the
workers got a fair share too. Any victory in breaking this relentless pursuit of driving down workers’ pay is a victory for all, so PCS stands fully behind NUJ, BECTU and Unite members taking action.” Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “The company’s success is down to a team effort. Staff have stuck by the company during the difficult times, but it is unfair and insulting that when profits are soaring and the company is bullish about its financial future success, executives at the top are trousering huge amounts of cash while refusing to pay staff fairly.” But ITV have signalled a continued tough stance on pay. Adam Crozier, chief executive, has argued that most of ITV’s staff are happy with the pay increase.
Tougher ballot laws imminent
nions will face tougher barriers to mounting strike action after the new government outlined plans to increase the thresholds needed to make a strike legal. A strike ballot will soon need a minimum 50 per cent turnout of relevant union members. There will also be a threshold of at least 40 per cent of those entitled to vote required for strikes in the public services. At present a strike is legitimate if it is backed by the majority of those union members who take part in a ballot. The moves were announced in the Queen’s Speech and had been trailed by the Conservatives in the general election campaign. The Conservatives had wanted to change the rules on calling strikes in the last coalition government but were blocked by the Liberal Democrats.
lady editor lifts off for paragliding The editor of The Lady magazine is leaving to become a freelance journalist and paragliding instructor. Matt Warren took over from Rachel Johnson in January 2012. Before joining The Lady as assistant editor in 2010, has was commissioning features editor of the Daily Mail. buzzfeed boosts its sports coverage Buzzfeed UK is expanding its sports coverage with the recruitment of former Mirror deputy head of social content Richard Beech, who will focus on football. The move follows BuzzFeed UK’s hiring of an investigative team led by former Times Insight team assistant editor Heidi Blake earlier this year.
the strike action at the broadcaster. Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “Like many of Britain’s workers, ITV staff made sacrifices in hard times. But now things have picked up, they have every right to a fair share of growing revenue for their hard work.” mark thomas
Ex Panorama chief recruited by ITV Tom Giles, a former editor of Panorama, has gone to ITV to head its current affairs operation. Giles was moved off the current affairs series last year after four years as editor, and into a new role looking at the future of the corporation’s current affairs output. He then became a creative director in the specialist factual unit.
TV was hit by strike action as members of the NUJ, Bectu and Unite attempted to get management to increase a pay award. ITV has imposed a two per cent pay increase on its journalists and production staff. It is the first time in many years that ITV has faced nationwide strike action. A one-day walkout across ITV’s network was timed to coincide with the company’s annual general meeting in London. Unions protested outside the meeting and petitioned shareholders to back their claim for more pay. Regional news coverage and some programmes such as Coronation Street and Good Morning Britain were disrupted by the industrial action. The NUJ received many messages of support for
Chulov leads the Orwell winners
artin Chulov, the Guardian’s Middle East correspondent, won this year’s Orwell prize for journalism for his work on Islamic State. Alison Holt of the BBC won the new Joseph Rowntree Foundation-
sponsored prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils for her Panorama programme about the abuse of elderly residents in a care home. James Meek won the prize for books for Private Island. The prizes aim to reward the
writing that comes closest to achieving Orwell’s ambition to ‘make political writing an art’. Richard Blair, George Orwell’s son, presented the winners with trophies made by Goldsmiths College student Keir Middleton.
FoC wins back job after redundancy outcry
hil Turner, a journalist at the Rotherham Advertiser for 30 years and the NUJ’s FoC at the paper for most of that time, has had the threat of compulsory redundancy lifted after a huge campaign for his reinstatement. Phil was the only journalist targeted for compulsory redundancy when the Rotherham Advertiser was bought from Garnett Dickinson group by Nick Alexander, a former group chief executive. The NUJ’s campaign to get Phil reinstated was backed by local politicians, other unions and readers and led to a protest involving more than 250 people on the streets of the South Yorkshire town. A one-day strike at the newspaper had been planned but was called off when Phil was reinstated and the Advertiser’s new owner promised there would be no other compulsory redundancy to replace Phil’s. Phil said: “I am truly grateful for all the support and solidarity that has been shown to
both me and the chapel. It has been a difficult time but this fortified me and helped us come to a proper conclusion. I am sure that all this support was crucial in bringing about this outcome.” Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands organiser, said: “The chapel had always opposed the job loss, well before it was known that Phil was the intended target, but once it was clear he was being forced out, a good deal of anxiety about the company’s intentions to the union was generated. “I’m glad that the company has had the good sense to think again about this whole issue and put its relations with the NUJ once again on a firm and positive footing. I welcome the pragmatic approach displayed by the company in this regard.” Sarah Champion, the town’s MP; Louise Haigh, Phil Turner’s local MP and Linda McAvan, MEP Yorkshire and the Humber, had all called for his reinstatement.
I am truly grateful for all the support and solidarity that has been shown to both me and the chapel
Fight begins for future of the BBC
he NUJ and other unions in the Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) are launching a campaign to fight for the future of the BBC. The move comes as the corporation approaches charter renewal negotiations and faces uncertainty over the long-term future of the licence fee under the new Conservative government. The FEU is seeking alliances with
other supporters of the BBC to boost its campaign. The NUJ with the FEU held a lobby and public meeting in parliament last month to build support for the BBC.
Author wins David and Harper Beckham as fans
uthor and NUJ member Teresa Heapy can now count David Beckham and his three-yearold daughter Harper as avid readers. The former England captain told his 6.5m Instagram
followers he was reading Teresa’s Very Little Cinderella to Harper before bedtime and posted a picture of the book, saying “Bedtime Stories. Sweet dreams Harper Seven.” The book is the second in a series of Very Little books by
The campaign comes as it is expected that Rupert Murdoch and others in the press will intensify their calls to reduce the funding and reach of the BBC. Critics of the BBC have been encouraged by the appointment of John Whittingdale as Culture Secretary. •The BBC is to extend its moratorium on compulsory redundancies in News Group, Wales and Scotland until the end of October.
Teresa, who lives in Oxford. Her first book was Very Little Red Riding Hood. Very Little Red Riding Hood won Best Picture Book in the Oxfordshire Book Awards and the What’s the Story prize in the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards. Teresa is a former commissioning editor at Oxford University Press.
o’hagan family offer reward The family of murdered Irish investigative journalist and NUJ member Martin O’Hagan has offered a £50,000 (€69,359) reward for information leading to a conviction. Martin was an investigative reporter for the Dublin-based Sunday World and chair of the NUJ’s Belfast and District branch. He was killed by gunmen in Lurgan in 2001. Judge sentences sun journalist The first Sun journalist to be found guilty of payments to a public official following the Operation Elveden investigation received an 18-month suspended sentence. Anthony France cultivated a “corrupt relationship” with PC Timothy Edwards, his trial heard. Judge Timothy Pontius described him as of “hitherto unblemished character” who was “essentially a decent man of solid integrity”. coulson cleared of lying in court Former News of the World editor and David Cameron’s director of communications Andy Coulson was cleared of lying in court after a Scottish judge threw out charges of alleged perjury. Lord Burns told him he had been formally acquitted of lying under oath about his knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World. new editor for London’s city am London’s City AM has made Christian May, head of communications at the Institute of Directors, its new editor. May, who has no senior editorial experience, replaces David Hellier, who leaves after eight months in the role. english leaves cardiff university David English is retiring as deputy director of Cardiff University’s journalism school after 35 years with the faculty. In that time he taught more than 1,000 aspiring journalists, including Sunday Telegraph editor Ian McGregor, and Daily Mirror assistant editor Kevin Maguire. theJournalist | 5
news in brief... Phones beat desks for news website UK adults are twice as likely to look at news websites on a smartphone than they are a desktop computer. According to an Ofcom survey, the most used devices to access news websites were: laptop/netbook: 36 per cent; smartphone: 32 per cent; desktop computer: 16 per cent; other device: 16 per cent. politicians favour broadcast news MPs prefer to get their news by broadcast, according to a poll by ON-Broadcast Communications. Some 44 per cent of MPs surveyed preferred a print product compared with 40 per cent who listed a TV source, Some 28 per cent chose radio and 29 per cent chose online. The BBC was the most popular single news provider and The Times was the most popular newspaper. wheeler award for sky’s crawford Sky News journalist Alex Crawford was awarded the Charles Wheeler Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcast Journalism by the University of Westminster and the British Journalism Review. Alex Crawford has been named Journalist of the Year four times by the Royal Television Society and was awarded an OBE for her services to broadcast journalism. cornish editor moves to somerset Zena O’Rourke, former editor of the Cornish Guardian, a Local World title, has become editor of the Somerset County Gazette, which is owned by Newsquest. She was at the Cornish Guardian for six years. Jacqui Walls, editor of the West Briton and The Cornishman, is acting editor of the Cornish Guardian. changes at the top in Croydon Croydon Advertiser editor Glenn Ebrey has left and his role has been divided between existing staff. Deanne Blaylock and Andrew Worden have been appointed as senior editors in charge of various titles in the Local World group. 6 | theJournalist
Our research shows that significant numbers of journalists experience online abuse in their daily work
Scottish journalists suffer online bullying
cottish NUJ members have received death threats and fear for their safety through cyberbullying. In a survey conducted by the union and the University of Strathclyde, many spoke of damage to confidence and self-esteem and feelings of anger, stress and anxiety. In some cases journalists stopped using social media and were worried about what stories they could cover. One said they were left “almost feeling apologetic for being a journalist”. Another said “As a young journalist it significantly dented confidence and contributed to fears over career progression”. Some journalists had suffered online abuse as a result of reporting on contentious stories, with some experiencing cyberbullying more than 50 times in the past year. Twitter was the source of bullying in 65 per cent of responses and through comments
after online articles or commentary. Twenty eight per cent were threatened with violence or serious harm to themselves and five per cent were subjected to threats of violence or serious harm to their families. Paul Holleran, Scottish organiser, said there was an urgent need for a zero tolerance approach to cyberbullying. He said: “In recent weeks there has been a spate of attacks on journalists and the union has responded by targeting the bullies and demanding a stop to the abuse. This stage of our campaign is about stepping up the pressure on the bullies but also calling for employers to step up to the plate and stand up for journalists working for their titles or stations.” Dr Sallyanne Duncan of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Our research shows that significant numbers of journalists experience online abuse in their daily work.”
Highfield is pressed over his bonus
he union urged Ashley Highfield, the chief executive of Johnston Press, chief executive forgo his £645,000 bonus. The regional publisher’s annual report showed that Highfield received a total remuneration of £1.65m for last year. This compares with his total pay
of £592,000 in 2013 and £702,000 in 2012. And Johnston Press said that Mr Highfield will also receive a pay rise of 7.5 per cent, taking his basic salary from £404,000 to £430,000. Mr Highfield’s pay for 2014 comprised: salary (£404,000),
benefits (£11,000), annual bonuses (£483,000), long-term incentives (£645,000) and pension (£106,000). Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser for newspapers, said that the £26,000 pay increase is greater than the salaries of some Johnston Press weekly news editors.
A third chapel success at RTE
nother NUJ chapel has been established in RTÉ, the Irish national broadcaster. It is the third to be set up at RTE in less than a year. Ian McGuinness, NUJ Irish assistant organiser, said: “This level of renewed
activity in RTÉ is excellent news for the union and its members and is unprecedented in recent years. The establishment of three new chapels and the sub branch has been met with enthusiasm by our members, who are bringing even more
of their problems to our attention. As ever, the NUJ’s officials will work with our committed representatives to attempt to solve these issues, create a better working environment for NUJ members and strengthen the union.”
Big gathering for Local News Matters campaign
he NUJ stepped up its Local News Matters campaign with a gathering of union representatives for regional media from across Britain and Ireland. At a meeting in Birmingham, they heard from officials, chapel and group chapel reps and members of the union’s ruling national executive council on how to build chapel strength, mount campaigns and deal with the digital transformation of the industry. One of the strongest messages was the commitment to quality journalism, which many felt was widely under threat from newspaper group policies. They said misguided targets for web hits or numbers of stories do not recognise the reality that news cannot be produced to order. Engaged readers want more than listicles or to buy back
user-generated material they are expected to submit themselves. There were powerful descriptions of the bullying and stress still too prevalent in the industry, and those attending were reminded of the importance of effective health and safety representation. Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: “It’s NUJ members who care deeply about quality journalism across print and digital media and who are campaigning and arguing for this principle, as well as proper staffing levels and fair pay. “Readers and advertisers are urged to back the argument for quality content and oppose some newspaper owners’ attempts to shore up profits at the expense of sustainability.” The Local News Matters campaign aims to reclaim a press that is at the heart of the community and is owned and operated in the public interest. It calls for: • an inquiry into the state of local news; • local papers to become community assets to prevent titles closing overnight and to give potential new owners the time to put together a bid for a paper; • action to stem job cuts and the attack on quality journalism; • research into new models for local journalism, levies, and tax breaks.
It’s NUJ members who care deeply about quality journalism across print and digital media and who are campaigning and arguing for this principle
Union mourns Irish broadcaster Davis
©RTÉ Stills Library
he NUJ has paid tribute to Derek Davis, who died aged 67. As well as being a household name in Ireland and a respected broadcaster, Derek Davis was a longstanding member of the NUJ. Nicola Coleman, Irish Organiser, said: “It was clear to his colleagues in RTÉ that he was a gifted entertainer, as well as a highly professional broadcaster. After the newsroom, he moved on to present a variety of shows. Among these was The Season That’s In it and Davis At Large, the latter of which won a Jacobs Award. His RTÉ colleagues knew he was a funny presenter, was exceptionally well-read, had unshakeable integrity and was enormously generous.”
Belfast and Birmingham win awards
elfast’s Sunday Life newspaper was named Daily/Sunday newspaper of the year and took three other prizes at the Regional Press Awards. The newspaper’s Patricia
Devlin was named Daily/ Sunday reporter of the year and she also won scoop of the year. The fourth prize for Sunday Life was in the ‘make a difference campaign’ category, where
it won for a drive to abolish illegal puppy farming. The Birmingham Mail also took home four awards. The newspaper’s website was named website of the year and it also won
the digital award. Staff reporter Joe Griffin was named business and finance journalist of the year and Jeanette Oldham was named specialist writer of the year.
D’ancona is GQ’s political editor Matthew d’Ancona, the political commentator and former editor of The Spectator, has been appointed political editor of GQ. Mr d’Ancona left the Telegraph last year with a number of high-profile journalists. He will continue writing columns for The Guardian, Evening Standard and International New York Times. Tories’ European Pr goes it alone John Furbisher is leaving his role as the Tories’ head of media in the European Parliament to launch his own transnational political PR company. Mr Furbisher is a former editor of Sheffield’s The Star. He will launch Furbisher Media in October. The new venture will operate in the UK and Belgium offering political PR and public affairs services. Dc thomson buys all of shortlist DC Thomson, the Dundee-based publisher, is to buy all of the Shortlist publisher, which produces the free weekly magazines Shortlist and Stylist. DC Thomson became a founder investor in Shortlist Media in 2007 with a group of financial investors and members of the management team. Shortlist began with five staff eight years ago and now employs 150. Welsh magazine saved from closure Cambria magazine, which describes itself as the national magazine of Wales, has been saved from closure after MegaGroup, an independent newspaper publisher, bought a 50 per cent share in the business. Under the new structure MegaGroup will run advertising sales and operations. The tablet marks 175 years in print The Tablet, the Catholic weekly newspaper, is celebrating its 175th birthday and now has its first woman editor – Catherine Pepinster. The Tablet was launched in 1840 by a Quaker convert to Catholicism, Frederick Lucas, 10 years before the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales. theJournalist | 7
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viewpoint Steve Bird believes good journalism can win in a digital deluge
Leave the factories and meet the readers
global infrastructure that is all but free to use, cheap mobile communications and fast, high-bandwidth broadband have put every kind of data within easy reach. We now have a library, a TV studio, a games console, a shopping centre and even a newspaper in our pockets. Oh, and a telephone. Within five years, 80 per cent of the world’s population are predicted to own a smartphone. Social and economic change that has been compared to the invention of the printing press in terms of its impact has put readers and consumers at the heart of a transformed world. “Audience engagement” is a digital catchphrase but it is one that many journalists can relate to: expressed simply, readers should be at the centre of what we do. The problem is that for many employers this fundamental idea – which is hardly new – has been ignored in favour of a narrow and compromised commercialism. Journalists, who trade in data and are at the heart of the media, might expect to be in the vanguard of this technological revolution. Instead, most are anxious not optimistic. Far from benefiting from investment in their future, newsrooms are being depleted and work outsourced as the staff left behind are expected to become a jack of all trades. The Telegraph has been replacing seasoned journalists with supposedly digitally-savvy employees, while local media groups expect one person to edit up to a dozen titles. Thirty years ago, Rupert Murdoch invested in technology at Wapping to take on the unions and print a cheaper product to undercut rivals: a formative influence on the rise of the
Audience engagement is a digital catchphrase but it is one that many journalists can relate to: expressed simply, readers should be at the centre of what we do
“factory journalism” described so well by Nick Davies. But a business model that made millions in the 1980s and 1990s is failing. Classified ads, the cash cow that sustained vast profits, dried up early this century with the rise of online rivals. Consumer dependence on print media for news and a bundle of extras is withering. And, to add salt to the wounds, digital start-ups – still known by some as “digital disruptors” – have been better at winning online audiences. The problem for Murdoch et al is that the digital revolution is not a fad and change is now being forced on those who fear their revenues will soon fall off a cliff. As they can’t or, more likely, won’t invest in an uncertain future, the industry response has been a familiar one: when profits are falling, you cut and keep cutting. Ethical standards, for those that still have them, become negotiable. The disturbing influence that HSBC had to silence bad press is symptomatic of the same desperation. But this is a problem for this business model, not for journalism. The internet is opening up a world of data to be mined for stories and a worldwide audience for a great article. And, above all, in the maelstrom of
information, reliability and quality are beginning to build new reputations for those who can attract and keep readers. In the face of the new competition, media tycoons like to complain about the BBC and the Guardian giving away content for nothing without seeing that the free exchange of information defines the internet. In commercial terms, Google and Facebook (free sites) are scooping up ad revenues. . Those hustling for ad revenues and looking downmarket at clickbait for salvation may well not protect their profits, their titles or their employees. The irony is that good journalism could save the industry. This is a message that NUJ members can take to employers who are genuinely looking for a way forward. People will pay for content they trust. Advertisers will pay to feature in articles that get read. It is time to abandon newspaper factories, stop sacking staff and let journalists use technology to build a relationship with the people who matter, our readers. Steve Bird is FoC of the Financial Times chapel @ftnuj
For all the latest news from the NUJ go to www.nuj.org.uk theJournalist | 9
Linda Harrison looks at the only city in a county famed for its landscape, Poldark and a good serving of celebrity chefs
10 | theJournalist
“Cornwall is like a magnet; you try other places to live, try the adventures of living in the big city or traveling the world but it pulls you right back in,” says Emily Whitfield-Wicks, a freelance news and editorial photographer. “Working as a news and editorial photographer in Cornwall can have its limitations – you are right down on the tip of England and it’s a long way to everywhere else. There are some dramas you won’t see; for instance, you are very unlikely to get a major riot, so there are certain big news stories I won’t get here.” However, Cornwall has not been without its big news stories. “On 16th August 2004 I found myself photographing the Boscastle floods and I was the first professional photographer
on the scene,” says Emily. “The photos went around the world. I’ve been out to Afghanistan and Norway photographing the Marines and the Army but here in Cornwall it was a different kind of drama. It’s one of the most dramatic things that’s ever happened in Cornwall in my lifetime.” Most of the media in Cornwall is based in historical Truro in mid-Cornwall, with its stunning cathedral and Georgian architecture. It’s the county’s only city and those who live and work there say it has quite a different feel to other UK cities. “Truro’s a lovely city, although it’s really a large market town that’s got a posh cathedral attached to it,” says Graham Smith, a reporter for The Cornish Guardian. The main media employer in Truro is Local World, which has weekly newspapers The Cornish Guardian, The Cornishman and The West Briton. Graham, former political and current affairs editor at ITV South West, covers the Wadebridge to Padstow area for The Cornish Guardian. He says the best thing about living in Cornwall is the lifestyle – the big open sky, the sea, miles of beaches and the moors. “The scenery you see in Poldark on Sunday evenings is real,” he says. “Most people don’t dress like that any more of course – although some do still talk like that.” The BBC also has an office in Truro, producing BBC Radio Cornwall as well as reports for BBC Spotlight, the regional TV news programme for the South West of England. Elsewhere in Cornwall, broadcasters include commercial radio station Pirate FM and community radio Source FM. There’s also the Voice series of weekly newspapers, with editions including St Austell Voice and Newquay Voice. Packet Newspapers is in Falmouth and is owned by Newsquest, while Falmouth also has a well-respected media studies centre. The Sunday Independent is a sports-led, long-established regional Sunday based in the market town of Liskeard. Meanwhile, Tindle Newspapers has an office in Launceston, north Cornwall, publishing long-established titles including the Cornish & Devon Post and The Cornish Times. Stuart Fraser, Sunday Independent assistant editor, has worked in Cornwall for more than 30 years. He says: “Although Cornwall has changed in many ways, the media is still dominated by old established names – the BBC, Western Morning News, Radio Cornwall and some very longestablished weeklies.
“The ills of the industry nationwide are reflected here such as falling print circulation and job cutbacks. NUJ membership has historically been low, unfortunately. “It’s a wonderful environment in which to work and 30 years has seen considerable investment in Cornwall to breathe exciting new life into our economy as a foodie haven, for example, and a centre for learning. But despite the sunshine reputation and glossy views of Poldark, Cornwall has long had real economic challenges and the media has of course been part of that. “Perhaps the current campaign to win more support for the journalism on which our society depends will bring more investment West?” Also based in Truro is Cornwall Today, a monthly lifestyle glossy magazine owned by Local World. Other magazines in the county include Cornwall Life and Cornwall Living. Cornwall Today editor Kirstie Newton says: “Living in Cornwall is every bit as wonderful as you’d imagine, I wouldn’t swap it for anything. There are so many fantastic things going on, it’s a cultural mecca – loads of really creative people come here to be inspired by their surroundings, so there are plenty of festivals, musicians, theatre groups, etc. One of the best things about my job is getting to know what’s happening first; on the other hand, I wind up regretting that I don’t have enough time to do it all! “The bad bits? Public transport is patchy and time-
Where the work is Local World:
Around 100 employees in Cornwall. The company produces a number of titles from its Truro office. This includes weekly newspaper The Cornish Guardian, founded in 1901 – it has several editions, including Newquay, Wadebridge/ Padstow and Bodmin. The West Briton, which was established in 1810, covers mid-Cornwall, including Truro. Monthly lifestyle magazine Cornwall Today is also based at the Truro office. Elsewhere, the company has a small office in Penzance, in
South Cornwall, with reporters who work on The Cornishman newspaper. A reporter for daily newspaper The Western Morning News is also based in the Penzance office. Sub editing for the Cornishman takes place in Truro.
About 40 employees in Truro, including TV, radio and digital staff. The BBC produces around 100 hours of Radio Cornwall output weekly plus reporting on Cornwall for BBC Cornwall and BBC Spotlight, the regional TV news programme for the South
consuming, meaning you have to drive most places. Truro is gridlocked in a morning – thank goodness I walk – and the summer isn’t a good time to drive or park anywhere, especially if you’re going to a tourist hotspot. “Plus, Cornwall’s a big county. I get invited to a lot of social events, usually on Thursday or Friday evenings. They generally involve a drive, meaning I can’t just drop in for a quick drink, especially not alcohol. “And house prices – the gap between Plymouth and Truro is eye-watering; indeed, Truro is expensive even in Cornwall. It’s a great place to live but I have nightmares about the mortgage.”
raham adds that property prices are second only to London and the southeast. “I’ve been in Cornwall 35 years and I really love it,” he adds. “But there are real challenges in terms of finding work and keeping it – especially work that pays reasonably well. “The wages at the Cornish Guardian are shockingly low. When I was younger and the children were at home, I couldn’t have afforded to work there. Anyone thinking of moving to Cornwall to work as a journalist should think about what is the least they could afford to live on.” Other issues can also make work challenging. Travel journalist Julia Buckley, who recently returned to her native Cornwall after years working in London, says: “The worst thing about working in Cornwall – by far – is the variable internet connection in rural areas. It can vary wildly by village and even by house. Mine is so bad that it’s usually impossible to do any real browsing. If I have to get work done quickly, I have to drive five miles to the nearest town. Emily adds: “There are many little dips in Cornwall where you can’t get a phone signal, so if you’re trying to send photos off in a hurry and you’re in one of those areas and there’s no Wi-Fi access – usually the coastal areas – it can be a problem.” But both agree that the advantages of Cornish living far outweigh any disadvantages. While Cornwall is packed with traffic in summer, Emily says it’s different out of season: “The beaches are quiet and the sunsets and sunrises can be stunning over an empty beach with the waves crashing beyond. I was born and bred here and the Cornish influence is in my work. People and characters are my main interest. The world’s number one spy novelist John le Carre (AKA David Cornwell) is one of the wonderful Cornish residents I’ve photographed.” For Julia, it’s the quality of life. “I have a view of open fields from my desk.I have to take a lot of breaks due to health issues and going for a walk round the garden is infinitely more pleasant than a walk round the block. Most days, I try to fit in a walk on the beach too. “The landscape is the best part about being here – I didn’t realise how big a difference being in such a beautiful place could make.”
Words from the streets Sue Kittow, journalist and author: “I can fit work round the activities we really love. We can be on the water in 20 minutes, walk my dog along the coastal footpath and surf, all within a short drive. Work can usually be done early mornings or evenings.” Kirstie Newton, Cornwall Today editor: “The scenery is simply spectacular. Even in landlocked Truro, I am close to the north and south coasts and can be at the beach at the drop of a hat…this is a regular occurrence.” Emily Whitfield, photographer: “I needed to travel and live in other places to truly appreciate Cornwall. It’s my home, my passion; the love for its landscape, people, the artists and craftsmen, the language, the wildlife and great outdoors keeps me spellbound.” Graham Smith, Cornish Guardian reporter: “It’s a real foodie area. Nathan Outlaw at Port Isaac, Rick Stein in Padstow, Jamie Oliver at Newquay… you can’t move for celebrity chefs!”
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We’re all in this tog Fiona O’Cleirigh on the challenges of encouraging a collective ethos in freelances
he union is only as strong as its weakest members – and they are likely to be freelances. So says the BBC World News NUJ chapel, which argues for better deals for casuals as part of ongoing negotiations. Having to cut newsroom production by a fifth has led the channel to use short term contracts and zero hours or flexi contracts, where people are guaranteed just a few shifts a month but may work as many as twenty. Moves to cut shifts or push people onto contracts near the bottom of the pay scale could mean losses of up to £8000 for some regular freelances. “As a chapel we won’t agree a comprehensive deal that doesn’t include progress for them,” says David Campanale, the chapel’s former FOC. Of around 125 people working in BBC World News, around 98 are in the chapel. You should see the whole newsroom as your potential flock, he adds. “Once converted, they become true believers.” Away from a protective chapel, many freelances live their professional lives in a state of fear. As rates are cut – and sometimes obliterated – the choice can seem stark. Anticipate the cuts and limbo ever lower, or face bankruptcy. How people respond to harsh choices posed by commissioning publishers affects everyone. If other journalists undercut, or even work for nothing, it may be harder for those who demand union rates to get them. Freelances cannot organise in the same way as staff journalists. They cannot go on strike. Competition law prevents them from coming together to fix rates of remuneration. There is nothing to prevent them from coming together as a collective to face changing industrial conditions, however. Lawyers do it very effectively and the Law Society is made up of self-employed people. When crabs are stored in a bucket, they do not help each other out, but will pull back any escapees. When journalists face boiling water, a change of consciousness will not lower the temperature, but a change of collective consciousness might ensure that no-one has to perish. Those who wrote the original 1936 NUJ Code of Conduct knew this. Of its 13 clauses, three were designed to protect freelances. Moonlighting – staffers taking shifts on other publications – was particularly frowned upon. 12 | theJournalist
At the beginning of a branch meeting, new members’ names are read out. This is for historic reasons, and it is designed to allow for objections. Members do not simply sign up to the union; they are accepted into a branch. If someone who crossed picket lines 20 years ago attempts to join, members with long memories may keep them out. What of a person who accepts £80 for a 1500-word feature? What effect does that low rate have on others trying to earn a freelance living? Are they really just scabs, crossing the invisible picket line of union rates? Is a cynical commissioning editor simply reflecting a freelance’s own sense of self-worth? Or do bad payers just pay badly to everyone? Effective negotiation is the key. “Always ask for more,” say Humphrey Evans, Phil Sutcliffe and Louise Bolotin, the team behind the union’s Pitch and Deal training course on how to get work commissioned. “It is not unknown to get 100 per cent increases on the first offer,” says Phil. This approach can also work for rate increases with frequent employers. Look for companies that pay well – and that are doing well themselves. Getting the deal nailed down is freelance organiser John Toner’s key advice. “When you enter into an agreement with a client, make sure it is in writing.” The freelance office at Headland House gives members advice on fees and employment rights and offers specialist knowledge on copyright and contracts. While it cannot set its members rates, London Freelance Branch publishes an online rate for the job. Members can submit, for comparative purposes, the rate they were paid by a particular publication for a piece of work. Other freelances preparing to negotiate with editors can then decide which outfits to approach and which to avoid. The union publishes a comprehensive schedule of suggested minimum rates of remuneration in the freelance fees guide and the guide to digital photography fees. Not everyone feels comfortable charging the union rates.
ogether Of the thousands who leave journalism college every year, many will move straight into freelancing. To gain experience, they may even work for nothing. Blaming the newcomers, who are the future of the industry, is not the answer. They need protection. The union has successfully supported interns in unpaid national minimum wage claims. New entrants to the industry also need encouragement to take union values on board . It would be helpful if university lecturers were to spread the message that working for nothing is self-destructive. Advancement should not be based upon one’s ability to withstand starvation wages. Chapels are supposed to be democratic, and newsrooms meritocratic. While some people join the NUJ to participate in the wider trade union movement, others join it in its role as a professional association. They embrace the political, while rejecting party politics. The conflation of the two might lead to confusion over objectives at times, but both approaches focus on the strength of the collective.
Solidarity on screen and stage Workers at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton
found themselves the beneficiaries of customer loyalty last autumn, when Picturehouse management were forced to back down on plans to cut staff. The threatened lay-off was seen as retaliation when staff demanded the London Living Wage – a heady £8.80 per hour. When strike action followed, Picturehouse said that up to 20 jobs might be cut.
Support came not only from BECTU, the cinema workers’ union, but also from cinemagoers. Will Self announced his boycott by pointing out that Picturehouse cinemas are owned by Cineworld, Europe’s largest cinema chain. When similar pressure led rival chain Curzon to pay their London staff the London Living Wage, Cineworld called off the cuts. Strike action at London’s Globe theatre in May
took on a thespian tone when tour guides – also backed by BECTU – picketed the recreation of Shakespeare’s original theatre over rejected claims for £13.50 an hour. Some dressed up in Elizabethan costume, waving placards: “Much Ado About Not Much More” and “The Pay’s The Thing.” Those who showed up for tours were offered discounted audio guides. Unsurprisingly, many wanted real people.
Many people join the union to get the press card, for which the NUJ is a gatekeeper, and free legal support. These are vital services, however, not marketing incentives. Can individualist solutions solve a collectivist problem? The CWU communications union has about 20,000 members aged under 30, with their own youth executive. Young GMB activists organise primarily by region, and have taken an active role in Generation Rent, the movement that seeks a better deal for private sector tenants. In March, 46 per cent of new members of the NUJ were freelance. This means new challenges and new opportunities. How can we best support our future? Initiatives such as the New Ways to Make Journalism Pay conferences have focused on the positive aspects of changing business practices. Freelance Salon, a series of networking events, is due to take off this year in various parts of the country. We can operate as viable businesses and still promote each other. The master masons of the Middle Ages were paid per day and able to move around from site to site. Yet they were brilliant organisers and knew the meaning of solidarity. We do not operate now within a closed shop environment, but we can determine our own working ethos. If we are craftsmen, we have dignity. If we see ourselves as businesses, we have agency. If we see ourselves as belonging to a confederation of businesses, we have solidarity. We can determine our own working conditions; what we will accept and what we will not accept. The freelance dilemma is not that all decisions are made by others. The dilemma is that we have so many decisions to make for ourselves. Fiona O’Cleirigh chairs the London Freelance Branch theJournalist | 13
o t e m o H e m o C y h t a C m o r F
t S s t fi e Ben Rachel Broady looks at how the poor have become demonised by the media
hen Mick and Mairead Philpott, with their friend Paul Mosley, were found guilty of the manslaughter of six children after setting fire to a Derby council house police described their act as ‘stupid’, ‘shameful’, ‘tragic’. After the sentence was passed the Daily Mail headline, however, cried: ‘Vile Product of Welfare UK’ in what was described by the New Statesman as an “incendiary oversimplification of a complex tragedy”. Within days there were reports of the case inspiring a need for benefit reform and the agenda was set; lighting up the bottom of the internet like a pinball machine, ensuring people took sides not just against those convicted but against all those in receipt of benefits.
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Even Chancellor George Osborne stepped in, saying: “I think there is a question for governments and for society about the welfare state and the taxpayers who pay for the welfare state subsidising lifestyles like that.” The Philpotts came to justify welfare reform and to define the problem with people on benefits. Prior to his conviction, Mick Philpott had appeared on The Jeremy Kyle show and on Ann Widdecombe Versus the Benefits Culture, both in 2007, as he was lined up as the go-to representative of the underclass for a media hungry to portray such stories. Before the Philpott tragedy in 2013, there was already an increase in political debates about benefit claimants, with Osborne’s 2010 Spending Review Statement outlining “plans to step up the fight to catch benefit cheats” and this was against a background of Murdoch’s media outing of ‘scroungers’, ‘swindlers’ and ‘lazy benefit cheats’, climaxing with The Sun’s Beat the Cheat campaign. Meanwhile the Daily Star named and shamed ‘Britain’s six biggest benefits scroungers’ and the Daily Express reported
t e e r St on women who ‘get pregnant for benefits’. In the tabloids only the Daily Mirror seemed to make continued efforts to avoid degrading terms and stereotype-fuelled generalisations. Slowly but surely social security for the unemployed and underpaid was becoming welfare dependency, those in need were becoming charlatans, and articles about benefit recipients, be they working or not, revealed a new threat to the UK – the poor. Depictions of those on benefits as chancers, Fagin-like characters ducking and diving to avoid a day’s work are now commonplace. The fact that House of Commons statistics in 2014 found 478,000 people claiming housing benefit in 2009/10 were in work – with an expected rise to 962,000 this year – seems an inconvenient truth. Television fared no better. Benefits Street, an ‘observational documentary series’ launched early last year with four million viewers, a larger audience than anything on Channel 4 the previous year. The passive viewing of Benefits Street is a far cry from 1966 when Cathy Come Home, Ken Loach’s film, sparked outrage at the state of housing. Its style differs to that of Goodbye Longfellow Road, a 1977 Yorkshire Television documentary, revealing not low-income tenants but landlords as swindlers.
Instead White Dee and the other characters of Benefits Street, came to be ‘stars’ in a documentary showing claimants committing crime, as unmotivated sofa surfers, unwilling to find work and not deserving of our sympathy. Academics from Teesside, Glasgow and Leeds universities produced Benefits Street and the Myth of Workless Communities and stated that tabloid headlines claiming 90 per cent of residents in Birmingham’s James Turner Street, where the series was filmed, received unemployment benefits were inaccurate with 65 per cent in some form of employment. While 1974’s The Family, said to be the documentary that sparked reality television, showing the life of a working class family of six in a cramped Reading flat, also made stars of its participants, Benefits Street went a bit further. Adam Thompson, a journalist at the Express and Star in Birmingham, went undercover for a week in 2014, seeking work such as cleaning cars on James Turner Street, to see if Benefits Street accurately portrayed its residents. He reported on tourists flocking to the street, concluding: “The irony of it all was that the people who were visiting James Turner Street were acting worse than the residents they had apparently come to mock.” He added: “Although some of the ‘stars’ have been allegedly cashing in on their new found fame – and I did see White Dee posing for a couple of pictures – many people can’t wait for this series to end, and for James Turner Street to become a distant memory in viewers’ minds.” Not everyone was viewing passively or saw it as entertainment. Benefits Street inspired a debate on welfare in the Commons and, like Osborne, the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith used it to political advantage. “Many people are shocked by what they see,” he said. “That is why the public back our welfare reform package, which will get more people back to work and end these abuses. All these abuses date back to the last Government, who had massive spending and trapped people in benefit dependency.” Newspapers and documentaries now echoed, even
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supported, an ideological government stance against the poor in the midst of austerity rather than challenge policy or highlight social concerns. Ros Wynne-Jones of the Daily Mirror told the Joseph Rowntree Foundation: “We need to report poverty in all its ugliness, yet without exploiting it. It is the dilemma of the photographer in a famine zone facing an emaciated child. And it is a dilemma in UK poverty terms that we are only starting to explore now.” Those seeking the truth of existing in poverty may feel overwhelmed by the noise of the tabloids and TV but some journalists and newspapers are trying to turn the tide. In 2010 the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund was launched intending to tackle poverty, inequality and exclusion across the capital, earning recognition from David Cameron. The campaign continues and has raised £13.46 million. In 2012 the Trinity Mirror-owned Manchester Evening News reported on the Scandal of Our Hungry Children – revealing that 42 per cent of the city’s youngsters were living below the poverty line – and launched a campaign to end child hunger which secured the support of both Miliband and Cameron. Since 2011 a number of journalists have challenged themselves to live on £1 a day for a week as part of the national Live Below the Line campaign. York Press, owned by Newsquest, launched a Stamp Out Poverty campaign in 2013 following its story about Kia Stone, whose 11-month-old baby Telan Carlton died after spending her life in a damp and overcrowded flat in York. The campaign reports on trade unions, on marches and pay rise fights, in reporting about poverty, using compassion and considered language, in complete contrast to much national coverage. The York Press campaign has won the support of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity committed to researching the root cause of social problems and, ultimately, influencing policy in the UK. The charity has been quick to spot the politics and the social impact of editorial decisions made to depict those in need as a burden. Gavin Aitchison, who leads the York Press Stamp Out Poverty, campaign said: “I think the campaign has resonated with a lot of readers, who themselves have experienced or seen first-hand the impact of poverty in and around York. “We feel that in York in particular there is a perception, particularly among tourists or newcomers to York, that the city is a thriving, affluent, historic city. In many ways it is. But we felt a knock-on effect of that was that the poverty that is very visible in many cities was in danger of being hidden and overlooked in York. We wanted to ensure it was given fitting attention and addressed and that something was done to try to reduce the stigma around poverty.” The Joseph Rowntree Foundation provides language guidelines supported by those on low incomes, intended to counteract the use of “scroungers, spongers, handouts and benefit culture”. It provides tips on interviews, taking photos, and encouraging those living with poverty to talk openly. It also stresses the need for accurate information. 16 | theJournalist
Home to From Cathy Come
t e e r t S s t fi Bene
Articles about benefit recipients, be they working or not, revealed a new threat to the UK – the poor
The charity explains: “The flow of stories about abuses of the welfare system can lead to the assumption that all people receiving benefits are not only ‘on the fiddle’ but also getting a handsome income. Neither is true. While there are cases that appear to confirm such prejudices, the benefits system remains a safety net to provide a very basic income for people who would otherwise have little or nothing.” The communications charity the Media Trust provided similar advice in 2008, in partnership with the Society of Editors and funded by JRF. It states: “The current approach to stories about poverty often pigeon-holes people, tending to categorise them as heroes, victims or villains.” Gavin adds: “Local papers can change perceptions, though obviously not overnight. All of our reporters have been shown the JRF’s guidance on reporting poverty and we make a concerted effort to ensure the language we use is considered and not unwittingly unhelpful.” The NUJ has introduced its own guidelines, developed by Manchester and Salford Branch, for reporting poverty. Branch chair, Chris Rea said: “The guidelines provide a working model that help journalists deal with potentially sensitive subject matter and a moral framework that sets a larger ethical context. Poverty demands of journalists the same rigour and observation of standards that they are expected to bring to reporting on ethnicity, gender or disability.” It might appear that little has changed, that these guidelines, not wholly embraced by a mainstream media intent on sales and political manipulation, cannot have an impact. But those who use them think they can.
Union’s poverty guide The union’s guidelines on reporting poverty
say that the NUJ: • believes that the development of discriminatory language and the demonization of the working poor and benefit recipients, through the use of stereotypes and misinformation, is an insult to workers, trade union organisations and readers. • believes that its members as trade unionists cannot avoid a measure of responsibility
in fighting stereotypes of the working poor and benefit recipients as expressed through the mass media. • reaffirms its total opposition to censorship but equally the union reaffirms its belief that press freedom must be conditioned by responsibility and an acknowledgement by all media workers to resolve not to allow press freedom to be abused to slander a section of the community. • believes that
newspapers and magazines should not originate material which encourages discrimination on grounds of being working poor or a benefit recipient. • believes that editors should ensure that coverage of social security stories should be placed in a balanced context. • will continue to monitor the development of media coverage in this area and give support to members seeking to enforce the above aims.
Q&A main image: Melissa Lane Porter
What made you become a journalist? My parents’ insatiable appetite for news, politics and social justice. Plus a love of writing.
What other job might you have done?
And the most frustrating? The contemporary click-bait culture that fuels vacuous stories. The dark arts of tabloid journalism. Always feeling there is more I should be doing.
I’d probably have ended up becoming an opera singer or musical theatre performer. Failing that, you’d have found me playing the piano in a hotel lobby.
What is the worst place you’ve ever worked in?
When did you join the NUJ and why?
I once worked in an office providing customer support to executives looking for a job. Knowing that they were paying for a service that was unlikely to get them one felt pretty disheartening. But I was hardly going down coal mines.
A wise colleague at The Independent suggested I’d be mad – and arrogant – not to join. She was right.
And the best?
What’s been your best moment in your career?
Nothing quite beats the newsrooms of The Independent, The i Newspaper and Channel 4 News on a fast-moving day. Except perhaps for live television – reviewing the newspapers on BBC News occasionally is still a thrill.
The idiosyncratic encounters, whether doorstepping Dominique Strauss-Khan in New York; chatting with Dev Patel about the struggles of being a British Asian or quizzing Michael Jackson’s brother about his family’s political legacy. The 2015 general election was fascinating and the extraordinary 10pm exit poll that torpedoed every assumption most had held for months was great political drama.
And in the union? I see the NUJ a bit like home content insurance, 999 or the British Foreign Office. I haven’t had recourse to it yet, but I’m glad it’s there.
PhotoAlto/Alamy, Time & Life Pictures
And the worst ones?
NUJ & Me Kunal Dutta is a freelance journalist working for The Independent, i Newspaper and Channel 4 News
Working in unstable teams. Good journalism comes from trust among colleagues and editors willing you to win. That intensifies when the threat of redundancies loom. The NUJ provides invaluable solidarity in such times.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job? The chance to document history as it unfolds. The people you spend your day with. Never waking up reluctant to go to work. It’s all one enormous privilege. I feel very lucky.
What are your hopes for journalism over the next five years? That long-form digital journalism returns, along with bigger commissioning budgets. That more talent is employed from outside the upper middle class.
Which six people, alive or dead, would you invite to a dinner party? Benjamin Britten, Michael Jackson, Barack Obama, Julia Gillard, Michael Atherton and Miranda Hart.
What one thing would you most want to change in the next 12 months? I’d like to see Western reporters returning to areas of Syria and Iraq that have been deemed too dangerous. And I’d be happy never having to watch another Isis propaganda video again.
How would you like to be remembered? Happy for you to draw your own conclusions. And if it’s “he was an eternal optimist who viewed the world with a sense of wide-eyed-wonderment,” that’s absolutely fine. theJournalist | 17
The view from
N Nige ame: Job l Stanl ey d Form escript ion: e cam r head pa o comm igns a f n d un at t ication s he T UC
From Acas all-nighters to Britain needs a pay rise A
fter 20 years at the TUC, I’m hanging up my flat cap, letting my brasier go to rust, and swapping beer and sandwiches for white wine and smoked salmon (except that I quite like beer). When I first took over the TUC’s PR, the trick was to know all the industrial correspondents, and, better still, drink with them. While the glory days of the FT having five (correspondents that is, not pints) had long gone, they still had two – and every other paper had at least one. And on the whole, they came to us looking for stories. Now only the sainted Alan Jones of the Press Association remains as a traditional ‘industrial’. To some extent that reflects a diminished role for unions (except of course in the pages of the Daily Mail where we secretly run the country) as our membership has declined. In particular there are hardly any strikes, though that did not stop the Conservatives putting ballot law changes in their manifesto that would make legal strikes close to impossible. The camaraderie of pizza at ACAS or Congress House as negotiations go into the night is now so unusual that neophyte hacks no longer know the etiquette and have to be told that the 18 | theJournalist
form is always that either ‘hopes rise’ or ‘hopes fall’ for a settlement even when nothing has happened other than a request for extra anchovies. One day I hope to visit the travel chaos looms in the weaving sheds erected in newsrooms for every potential rail dispute. Yet I am not nostalgic, as the role has moved from the second more passive part of my responsibility for campaigns and communications, to the first. For what we do now is campaign. The hard power of industrial action remains in the union locker, but the soft power of influence and agenda setting has grown, and much of that comes from effective use of communication.
he TUC’s ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise’ campaign and our work in exposing zero-hours contracts both set up election issues. And with Labour unsure whether it was in favour of Keynesian growth or austerity-lite, the TUC was often the clearest national voice opposing cuts and arguing the deficit was a symptom of what is wrong in the economy, not its cause – the mainstream view among
academic economists, though not the media. Getting Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, to speak on a platform emblazoned with Britain Needs a Pay Rise logos was therefore an obvious highlight, capped only by David Cameron actually saying it, in a plea to employers for a little preelection generosity.
ut combining the TUC’s authoritative research with effective communications and behind the scenes public affairs predates the coalition. It won a minimum wage – still highly controversial when I started, rights for part-timers, union recognition laws, compulsory employer pension contributions, holiday rights and the rest of the social Europe package to list but a few. And while unions may still be the bogey men and women for the right, I am optimistic. The financial crisis is now widely recognised to have been driven by the imbalances caused by growing inequality as people denied pay rises borrowed instead. Across the world there is a growing recognition, even from the IMF, that one cause has been the decline of collective bargaining and effective trade unionism. But I have also had a lot of fun, even in the last few weeks. When the Conservatives announced that they were giving people the right to volunteer for three days a year, we issued a press release welcoming this boost for union activists – after all we are Britain’s biggest voluntary movement. Quickly the Tories clarified that it would only apply to charities. So we were able to issue a further release regretting the fact that parents would not be able to help at a schools sports day, unless their children attended a public school with charitable status. When asked on the BBC news channel if we were simply making mischief, my strict adherence to the NUJ code of conduct for PRs meant I could only answer in the affirmative.
More news at www.tuc.org. uk @TUCnews @ TUCeconomics
on media Raymond Snoddy on what to expect from the Conservatives
A result on regulation but whither the BBC?
here is one small benefit for the press that flows from a Conservative election victory – an end to the threat of statutory legislation, at least for now. The Conservative manifesto made it clear that self-regulation under Sir Alan Moses and IPSO should be given a chance to prove itself. This is in contrast to both Labour and the Liberal Democrats who were still mired in the ludicrous idea of a Royal Charter on the press and even more daft notions about Press Recognition bodies that nobody in the press is willing to be recognised by. Prime Minister Cameron has pledged that the Government actually means what it said in its manifesto, except of course for the instant abolition of the European Human Rights Act. This U-turn on human rights is a very positive development and will actually save the Government from near universal opprobrium, outside the columns of the Daily Mail. With a bit of luck we can see an end to the Hacked Off pressure group and the Press Recognition Panel, even though the Gilbert and Sullivan=like body has recently announced a schedule of consultations across the UK. Alas the small mercy for the press could be greatly outweighed by the potential damage the Government could do to the BBC, and Channel 4. There is a tendency within the Conservative Party that believes the BBC is a nest of leftwing vipers. Its members also probably subscribe to the theory that the Corporation represents too great a distortion of the free market and should be cut back sharply in size. Rupert Murdoch has
There is a tendency within the Conservative Party that believes the BBC is a nest of leftwing vipers
been campaigning for this for many years. The worry is that now one of their own, John Whittingdale, is Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The right-wing press had no doubts about the appointment. It was seen as a “declaration of war” on the BBC. At last someone has been put in to sort out the Corporation. The licence fee was “worse than a poll tax” and unsustainable going forward, and as for the BBC Trust, that’s as good as toast. For good measure will this government, and this Secretary of State, be able to resist the temptation to privatise Channel 4? On a more hopeful note Whittingdale does have an understanding of the media and the BBC from a decade chairing the House of Commons Media Select Committee, while the Shadow Secretary Chris Bryant is a former head of European Affairs for the BBC. We have to believe that the Culture Secretary will listen carefully to the arguments on both the licence fee and the renewal of the BBC’s Royal Charter. A few hints to help with his deliberations: • the licence fee may be regressive but no-one has so far found a better way of funding the BBC as a national public service broadcaster • a smaller BBC would simply mean less money, fewer programmes, jobs and training, in a sector where Britain excels • Middle England is supportive of the BBC and use its services
extensively. Whittingdale would be wise not to antagonise them • abolish the BBC Trust if you must, but try to avoid going for the worst possible alternative of regulation by Ofcom, something that would centralise too much power in a single body. And finally for now, John Whittingdale should oppose Home Secretary Theresa May’s desire for Ofcom to preview programmes in advance You know that is a thoroughly bad idea that will seriously backfire on all those responsible.
For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter go to @raymondsnoddy theJournalist | 19
TechDownload Kate Bevan on new tech kit and initiatives
byte size... FBI probe airline hacking claim Airlines were quick to rebut claims by security researcher Chris Roberts that he had managed to hack into the onboard systems of aircraft. The FBI responded by launching an investigation, with Roberts telling them that he had managed to break in to the inflight entertainment systems on 15 flights on different aircraft. Roberts told the FBI he had opened up the box on the floor that pipes films and other items to the seatback screen in front of him and connected to it with an Ethernet cable. Security experts are divided over whether what Roberts claimed to have done was actually possible, while Boeing said that the entertainment system on its aircraft were isolated from the flight and navigation computers. Spotify adds news and video Spotify, the music-streaming service, is adding news bulletins, podcasts and video clips to the content it offers its 60 millionplus active users from content providers including the BBC, Conde Nast, TED and Disney. It will also offer a service tailoring music to your running speed. Meawhile Deezer, a smaller rival music streaming service, also said it would be add spoken word content to its offerings for its 16 million users, with its partners including the FT and Slate. Deezer will offer some 20,000 podcasts and radio programmes including shows from the US NPR network.
20 | theJournalist
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he intersection of publishing and technology has been an uncomfortable one for journalists ever since Rupert Murdoch plonked terminals on desks. The decision of media organisations, including the Guardian, the BBC, Buzzfeed and the New York Times, to publish articles straight to Facebook was greeted with a mixture of accolade from those involved and caution from those concerned about Facebook and its opaque algorithms managing news dissemination. Stories go directly into Facebook feeds rather than via posted links from the news organisations to their own Facebook pages. Facebook says that pieces will
launch much faster – at present, a linked piece takes up to eight seconds to load. Given the concern about Facebook’s internet.org venture (see below), it’s difficult not to feel wary. Meanwhile, Google’s €150 million Digital News Initiative has also raised eyebrows: one strand of its scheme will put Google staffers into the Guardian and FT’s newsrooms, among others, working with them “on digital skills”. for journalism.
> Security worries over Facebook venture Facebook faced a backlash against its internet.org project, which aims to deliver free internet access to underserved areas in the developing world. Some 67 digital rights
groups said in an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, the project threatens “freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy and innovation”.
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Internet.org delivers free access to a limited number of platforms including Wikipedia, BBC News, Accuweather and Facebook, via partner mobile networks. Critics say that providing this
limited, Facebook-controlled slice of the internet threatens net neutrality. There are also concerns about security, as the service doesn’t use standard privacy tools such as encrypted connections.
Amazon fire stick review rating ★★★★★
ven the busiest journalist needs to slump in front of the telly occasionally. If there’s nothing you fancy on, there are a number of devices that add content from a myriad of sources Amazon’s Fire Stick is one of the best. It’s a £25 dongle that plugs into an HDMI port and delivers content from Amazon’s Instant Video. As well as its own content it offers
a range of apps, from the BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Curzon On Demand to kids’ content, navigated via a slick, intuitive interface with the included remote control.
StartingOut Ann-Marie Abbasah is trying to move from social work to journalism and has been glad of the NUJ’s help
t’s 8.30am on a Saturday morning. I have made it onto the Jubilee line train with seconds to spare. I am on my way to college. It’s a long way and I am tired. Barking to West Ham, West Ham to Waterloo, and Waterloo to Wimbledon where I am undertaking the NCTJ Multimedia Diploma in Journalism. By day I work full-time Monday to Friday in social work. By night I am a trainee journalist. I’m not far from completing (and passing :everyone cross their fingers and toes, please) my course. This time last year on a Saturday morning, I was sitting at my dining table come desk, plotting how on earth I was going to find the money to pay the course fees. I had already been to the interview, been accepted and my short-lived joy then turned to despair at the realisation of not being able to afford the fees and frustration as to where I would find the money. Thank goodness for the NUJ’s George Viner Memorial Fund (which offers burseries to aspiring journalists from black and ethnic minority backgrounds) which paid for my course fees so I could pursue my dream of becoming a journalist. Having worked in social services and with young people for over 15 years and as I slowly and surely approach the big Four O (in a year and a half’s time). I could not escape the fact that I was waking up every morning not looking forward to the job that I was doing. Well, that and the fact that a woman who worked in my office building
suddenly popped her clogs and died. Just like that. Fine one minute and the next see you later alligator. I thought, stone the crows! Would that happen to me!? What if it did!? Would here and this (my current job) be where I want to spend the majority of my time or the majority of what I do? No it wasn’t and so I faced a crossroads. Call it serendipity but I accidently came across a trainee life coach who needed someone to practice her coaching on at the exact moment I began to question what I really wanted from life and from a career. One of the first questions she asked me was this; if I had no restrictions on time or money, what five jobs would I like to pursue as a career? The next question was, what one of the five would I be more enthusiastic about working towards and what one could I realistically start attempting now? Being a journalist was one of the five dream jobs that I chose. It fitted my skills, interests and aspirations. I have always had an interest in the news and keeping up to date with what is going on around me and the world. Creative writing has always been a hobby and I enjoy working with people. And so my journey into journalism began.
y nights are no longer for sitting in front of the TV with my feet up on the sofa. My nights are now for revising essential media law, public affairs, practising shorthand or writing articles. There is suddenly never enough
time in the day. What’s lunch at work? Every spare minute is for my course. I have zero time for a social life and have forgotten what some members of my family look like (not necessarily a bad thing, wink, wink). I know this is not forever it is just for right now. In just over a year, my pipe dream is turning into a reality. I have had articles published on a couple of regional news websites and a magazine. Thanks again to the George Viner Memorial Fund I also gained work experience with the BBC, darling. I have also received an email from the Guardian inviting me to interview for work experience (hope those fingers and toes are still crossed).
I have zero time for a social life and have forgotten what some members of my family look like
hen I stop and think, it is a big wow! I do not know what the final outcome of where all the footsteps I am taking will lead. I have lots of fear, around how I will be able to afford my financial responsibilities like my mortgage. It is very scary comparing what trainee journalists earn against what I earn now. I wonder how I will be able to afford to live as I embark upon this journey which means I will leave behind a well-paid, stable income. But you know when you know that you know you have to do something? This is one of those moments and I intend to do it.
@A_MAbbasah theJournalist | 21
arts by Amy Powell Yeates It’s festival season and there is plenty of programming with a political slant on offer across music, theatre and comedy all around the UK. Meanwhile, a new documentary explores the legacy of the Iraq war, an acclaimed Jerusalem stage drama gets a revival, Nick Robinson’s account of the run-up to the general election is published and the work of an NUJ member is on display in East London. Film We are Many National release Amirani Media On 15 February 2003, up to 30 million people, many having never demonstrated before, came out in 800 cities across the world in protest against the impending Iraq war. The New York Times called this movement ‘the Second Superpower’. Amir Amirani’s thought-provoking documentary is the remarkable inside story behind the first ever global demonstration and its legacy. Testimonies range from activists in Egypt to familiar faces such as actor Mark Rylance and musician Damon Albarn. The film is being screened at a variety of festivals and cinemas across the UK; check the website for details. www.wearemany.com Theatre Crossing Jerusalem Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, London 4-29 August Thirteen years after it first premiered at the Tricycle Theatre to critical 22 | theJournalist
acclaim, Julia Pascal – the first woman director at the National Theatre – directs her own stage drama set in 2002 Jerusalem, at the height of the last intifada. The play explores the conflict within an Israeli family, and the Palestinians who have touched their lives. www.parktheatre.co.uk Exhibitions CHEMCRAFT Espacio Gallery, Bethnal Green, London 28 July-2 August A large, international, multidisciplinary exhibition featuring 60 emerging and mid-career artists from the European Union, the US and Asia. Curator Christina Mitrentse invited artists to respond to the theme ‘For Love of Chemistry’ and to look at aesthetic forms and their opposites within their practice. The exhibition promotes a dialogue among the disciplines of chemistry and visual arts, and features Cocaine, a work
he Some of t s to best thing h a o wit see and d al bite ic it l o p f o bit email: For listings NUJ.org.uk journalist@
from NUJ member Lorenzo Belenguer. www.espaciogallery.com Books Election Notebook Nick Robinson Transworld Digital In the year leading up to the 2015 General Election, the BBC’s political editor kept a journal of the daily events, often from his hospital bed as he was treated for cancer. This is Robinson’s behindthe-scenes account of his encounters with the party leaders in an election that transformed Britain’s political landscape. www.transworldbooks.co.uk Festivals Buxton Festival Fringe Buxton 8-26 July As its name would suggest, the festival began as a more alternatively
programmed festival running alongside the larger scale Buxton Festival, which included international opera and literary talks. Thirty-six years later, and this volunteerrun event continues to grow and incorporates theatre, music and comedy. Many events are free, including plenty of street theatre. The all-female production of Othello by the promising ensemble Smooth Faced Gentleman looks interesting, as does Rhema Theatre Company’s The ‘It’s Not Fair’ which explores global stories about human trafficking. www.buxtonfringe.org.uk Latitude Festival Southwold, Suffolk 16-19 July The ever-popular Suffolk arts festival celebrates its 10th birthday in 2015.
Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015
Last month, thousands of documentary enthusiasts gathered in Sheffield from all over the world for Doc/Fest – the annual festival with a programme featuring factual films that provide insights on a whole range of subjects. As ever, a number of filmmakers were engaging with
a variety of political issues. Films included the UK premiere of The Look of Silence, in which a family that survives the genocide in Indonesia confronts the men who killed one of their brothers; EmmyAward-winning director Robert Kenner’s latest film Merchants of Doubt, a revealing look at the world of spin and punditry within the US science industry; and Daniel Vernon’s Mandela, My Dad and Me, in which actor Idris Elba struggles to produce an album of South African music paying tribute to Mandela, while coping with the sudden death of his father. Meanwhile, Landfill Harmonic
depicts a particularly moving and inspiring story of a group of children living in a slum in Paraguay who form a youth orchestra with a difference: all their instruments are recycled from items on the landfill. Woodwind instruments are made from cans, tuning pegs from old cutlery and stiletto heels. The film follows them, led by environmentalworker-turned-conductor Favio Chávez, as they find success all around the world, including playing a gig with Metallica. There will be opportunities to catch many of the films at other festivals throughout the year and on DVD release.
arts And this year the music headliners include alt-j, Portishead and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, while other programming not to be missed includes Mercury winners Young Fathers, blues rocker Seasick Steve and the falsetto-led Wild Beasts. Meanwhile, the comedy, dance, literature and theatre elements of the festival continue to grow. Festivalgoers should be sure to check With a Little Bit of Luck, a new one-woman play by award-winning spoken-word artist Sabrina Mahfouz, responding to the two general elections of 2001 and 2015. www.latitudefestival.com Green Man Festival Brecon Beacons, Wales 20-23 August The annual eco-conscious Welsh festival of music, comedy, literature and film, set among the lush surroundings of the Brecon Beacons, returns. Festival-goers are treated to indie band Hot Chip, the weird and wonderful guitar aficionado St Vincent, and Super Furry Animals,
who will surely be welcomed warmly on their home turf. The rest of the line-up features a whole host of indie and folk up-and-comers. The comedy offering is also strong, and includes a set from social and political stand-up Rob Newman. www.greenman.net Edinburgh Festival Fringe highlights Mark Thomas: Trespass – Work in Progress Summerhall 6-30 August The latest show in development from stand-up activist and NUJ member Mark Thomas, Trespass carries on from where his previous show, 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, left off. If the ramblers of the 1930s were here now, what would they do to open up the cities? How do we turn the skyscrapers and corporate squares into our playgrounds? No one knows where this show is going to end up, so audiences can join him on the start of the project. There are also some warm-up gigs happening around the country.
Chris Mullin: The Art of Political Leadership The Assembly Rooms 12 August Churchill, Attlee, Thatcher, Blair: who were the great British political leaders of the 20th century and what qualities made them stand out? And is it true that today’s politicians are minnows by comparison? Political diarist and former Labour minister Chris Mullin goes in search of greatness. Mullin is the author of three widely acclaimed volumes of diaries and the novel A Very British Coup, which was made into a successful television series.
You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy Pleasance Courtyard 22-29 August January 1945: Paris is liberated. Christiane waits for a ticket to England to be reunited with her fiancé. While she waits, she recounts her love affair with Cyril, a tonguetied teacher from Staffordshire. www.edfringe.com
Matt Forde: Get the Political Party Started Pleasance Courtyard 5-30 August Up-to-the-minute satire inevitability affected by the outcome of an election, Matt Forde, as seen on Have I Got News for You, Rory Bremner’s Coalition Report and Question Time, presents his ever-changing satirical stand-up.
Can you trust your sources? Think tanks can be valuable sources of analysis and research. But some are more open about who funds them than others. We shine a light on the most and the least transparent. Who Funds You? promotes funding transparency among UK think tanks and political campaigns. We ask organisations to publish their annual income and declare their major funders.
WhoFundsYou.org wfy-nuj-ad-half_horiz.indd 1
theJournalist | 23
YourSay... inviting letters, comments, tweets
Please keep comments to 200 words maximum
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH tim ellis
Press the BBC on its pension investing As a Guardian reader, I support the paper’s campaign to persuade major charities and pension funds to disinvest from big oil. So, as a retired BBC journalist with a BBC pension, I was shocked to find my pension fund was a major investor in big oil – around £60 million in Shell and BP. I’d been happy to receive my pension without checking how the pension fund generates its cash. I’m not happy now. The fund’s administrator, Jeff Webley, says they are aware of the issue but prefer to keep their oil investments so they can influence policies. He points to success at the BP annual general meeting, where they gained support for a climate risk resolution, and a similar resolution is being put before Shell shareholders. But £60 million is one hell of a price to pay to maintain influence. And it begs the question whether similar tactics would work in coal, tobacco and armaments. The BBC pension fund also invests in Glencore, one of the world’s largest coal exporters, Imperial Tobacco; British American Tobacco; and BAE Systems. Mr Webley says the pension fund is operating “within a socially responsible investment policy.” I don’t think so, Jeff. I admit that for BBC journos, faced with job cuts and the day-to-day toil of broadcasting, pension fund investments may well be down their list of concerns. But if you are concerned, contact the BBC pension fund. Dave Hulme
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Life after doing election battle with Boris Johnson At the end of March I took voluntary redundancy from the BBC after 18 years and embarked on a General Election campaign where my opponent was none other than Boris Johnson. After months of knocking on doors in Uxbridge & South Ruislip as the Labour candidate I ended up barely making a dent in the Tory majority. Anyone who heard my speech at the count may have concluded I was a bad loser. Guilty as charged. I resented being comprehensively beaten by a man who ignored two hustings but got 24 | theJournalist
airtime by being Mayor of London. Boris – one voter told me – was “a breath of fresh air”. But I will pick myself up and start over. Now I’m an unemployed journalist looking for paid work. I fear for my old employer – John Whittingdale is no fan of the BBC and has likened the TV licence to the poll tax. Meanwhile I have taken on a new website – totalcrime.co.uk – and will be publishing regular articles of crime journalism, which is my first love and is a genre which has been sadly
neglected by the BBC, PA and most newspapers. There is no money in it. But hey, I’m a journalist, not a banker. Chris Summers (former Labour candidate for Uxbridge & South Ruislip)
Beware of Cameron’s offensives in Europe David Cameron is the most transparent politician of the age and by “transparent” I do not mean open. His visits to European heads of state are a cynical charade. Cameron does
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Post to: The Journalist 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road London WC1X 8DP Tweet to: @mschrisbuckley
not for a moment want to leave Europe and must be worried at how things may turn out. He made the promise of a referendum to shift seemingly rampant UKIP off his back. What will happen after several rounds of “tough negotiations” is that he will win minor concessions. He will then claim that he has made major progress in his efforts to renegotiate membership terms and will employ all the Government’s powers of propaganda to suggest that our role in the union is much enhanced and that we must stay in Europe at all costs for the continued health of the economy. Members of the public should ignore his posturing when casting their votes. William Kent London
Who was that man in the last Journalist? Who was the tubby chap seemingly kicking a dog, pictured over nearly a page in the last issue of The Journalist? There was no caption (just a credit of the source) nor a reference to it in the text. I recognised it as Harold Wilson, the Labour prime minister of the 1960s and early 1970s. But then I am one of the union’s more geriatric members (joining in 1964). Would younger members born after Wilson’s death recognise him? Sadly, The Journalist is not the only culprit. It is rare nowadays to see the contents of a picture simply described in a caption printed below it. Instead, a reference to it is buried in the middle of an article which has to be searched for (and sometime the subs forget to include it). Or several pictures are scattered all over a page and there seems to be a reluctance to place individual captions under them. One all-embracing caption attempts to describe them all, starting with phrases such as “Clockwise from top left”. If they are haphazardly positioned, however, it is often difficult to puzzle out which is which. Pictures of several people also used to
inbox have captions identifying them all (left to right). This seems to be no longer always the case and the reader is left guessing which is which. Maybe this is now considered unimaginative, but I yearn for the return of the simple informative caption right next to the picture it is describing. Mike Pentelow Press and PR Branch
Above: Seen sharing a joke in a local pub (left to right) pint and Mike Pentelow
out in journalism. I would like to add that that having been a freelance journalist for the past 17 years and having written for most of the women’s UK market in that time, I really don’t think that where you were educated or which family you were born into really matters that much to editors. Privileges might give you the contacts, but all editors need people who can write to deadlines, write to house style and to the readership the publication caters for. Rejection is part and parcel of a freelance journalist’s day, but you soon build up a bank of editors who will rely on you for content. Another piece of advice I would like to offer to aspiring journalists is to be able to write ‘to order’ but also have a specialist subject (health, politics etc) that editors can draw upon when they need to. Keep going, Abigail; experience counts more than anything in this job. Deborah Durbin Bristol
Keep on going Abigail! Experience is the key
Ed Jones is right – bid farewell to the gloom
Abigail Lofthouse’s first person piece was really interesting from the point of view of a student trying to get started
Ed Jones’ plea to “call time on spoon fed black and white reporting” concentrates on newspaper journalism
with the need to print truly interesting articles, and journalism that refuses to toe the line by depressing and tear– inducing copy.” Hear! Hear! “I refute” he says “that we love to learn about misery and despair,”asking “Why so melancholy? The broadcasters surely are worse. BBC Wales news seems wedded to gloom, while nationally death worldwide, by design or accident, is sought and broadcast to supplement our own tragedies. It must be the pictures. A word though for Channel Four news which does feature less run of the mill stories and expands news with added interest. Roy Jones Colwyn Bay
Misleading labels for website coverage Congratulations to Graham Noble (May Journalist) for his trenchant attack on the use of ‘Look’ and ‘Listen’ by politicians and others taking to the airwaves. To redress tbe balance, though, would newspapers please call a halt to the ridiculous practice of emblazoning their website coverage of running
stories with banners claiming that such coverage is ‘live’ or even ‘LIVE!’ No, it definitely isn’t. ‘Live’ is what journalists do on the telly and on the wireless, sometimes. There’s quite a lot of it on BBC News 24; some of it is really rather dull, but it can sometimes add to one’s understanding of a story, if not to the gaiety of nations. When broadcasting first began to offer serious competition to print in the pursuit of news, the more thoughtful newspaper editors and their staffs – both broadsheet and tabloid – recognised that they needed a new quality in order to attract readers. That ingredient was ‘analysis’ or ‘in depth’ reporting. The idea was that print journalists would develop a deeper understanding of the background to the story on which they were working. And the idea worked quite well. Well, at least it did until many newspaper proprietors decided that making staff redundant was a better way of making money, if not of serving the public. Barry Williams London
theJournalist | 25
o tw r o te o tn o fo a r fo e m ti h ig h s ’ It Words in the news often need a little interpretation, says Chris Proctor
number of times for readers to be advised that the ’ demonstrates iring ‘asp d wor candidates utter the trend was The ur? Labo New to their relationship delson, who was commenced by that nice Peter Man for a bracing tion up bright and early after the elec Labour, he e. grav tical polka on Ed Miliband’s poli l classes’, and ona irati ‘asp the said, had not related to m marvellous idea from my old chu was on the ord A-w the s’ gres ‘Pro say d before you coul Stephen Evans who is the BBC’s ship’s blessing lips of everyone seeking His Lord is correspondent in Seoul, where he failure to Chuka Umunna condemed Labour’s living to further his Korea. He me voters’ inco dle mid th make ‘an aspirational offer to pion suggests that reports from the Nor cham to ted wan t Hun before quitting; Tristam if they had an and al: draw with of that country would be helped his to r prio rs’ ‘aspirational vote t is actually being beating heart’ explanatory note interpreting wha Andy Burnham sought ‘Labour’s be ibly sens d coul h whic plan ndid sple a is This ns of everyone’. Liz said. which was located in ‘the aspiratio aspiration in to re applied to most news items. Kendall wants everyone to aspi s about the Stephen offers the example of new an aspirational way. nce minister Hyon ches could demise of the North’s former defe Similarly, Prime Ministerial spee the to border ring phe Yong-chol. Information crossed the deci us neo ulta sim benefit from was put to death by ly Sure . effect that the unfortunate gent ests sugg hen Step s line along the weapons. raft -airc anti ting spor d es squa Tori g the firin a David Cameron’s declaration that reasons why this On one hand, there are practical of working dispatch would leave are ‘the party could be factual. This method of some rved dese ple’ peo that with range, and the outcome in no doubt: at that This interpretation? no-one could miss. sort of weaponry at his disposal, could either have ng havi from efit ben Equally, however, readers would explained post-modernist would read, e unions, a footnote illuminating the tale. This irony, or his desire to neuter trad unreliable, the use to defend ‘While the details of this story are ple peo the organisations working Kim Jong-un.’ The ers are not read message is clear: don’t screw with that nt orta imp themselves. It is fall from grace and Mr that ion alleged reason for Mr Yong-chol’s ress imp ing lead mis left with the ded off during nod he that was re artu dep ial ng. terrestr Cameron meant what he was sayi uestionably not a Leader’s speech. While this is unq ssary to add nece be may it ally sion Occa that Kim can their the whole story, the report does show explanatory notes to words when note could foot the aps Perh . cism ple, exam be sensitive to criti For . cally radi meaning is altered more of a warning lanation exp add, ‘Accounts of the episode are the by eded prec be d ‘reform’ coul city.’ reformed. been to others than strict biblical vera f itsel has rm’ ‘refo d wor that the -un’s uncle, orm no longer Reports of the decease of Kim Jong Something along the lines of, ‘Ref n Whe l. urfu colo e mor ment as was rove Chang Song-thaek, were even imp contains any suggestion of that he had been ous with the nym he slipped out of favour, it was said syno now is the case formerly. It ed apart by a ‘education rm’, tossed into a pit where he was ripp refo S ‘NH (See ’. tion word ‘privatisa have explained d coul note A s. dog ving star hundred sole exception to this general are better off not reform’, etc.) The you that rms confi t den inci the unions, when it that rule is when ‘reform’ is applied to ming you could te’.’ doing what Chang was up to, assu tera means ‘make extinct’ or ‘obli be augmented in Seoul for find out what that was. It could also We should be grateful to Our Man by d was fabricate doubt little be with the fact that the entire story can re The . osal his splendid prop time on his hands masters ed inde a Chinese student with too much are pals his and -un that Kim Jong bladder. his in u baiji h muc too e! For ibly alon poss not and of the misstatement. But they are on be usefully our put Let’s n. So how could this footnote innovati paig Evans’ sake, let us join his cam example of the applied to UK news? Well, take the best foot (note) forward! it not be handy Labour leadership contest. Would
26 | theJournalist
training The media industry has never stood still. But now it is changing faster than ever. You can help to boost your chances of staying ahead of the game by increasing your skills. The NUJ offers a variety of short courses in professional subjects. Course outlines at www. nuj.org.uk/work/training. Information from training@ nuj.org.uk
Price: NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ member: £60; NUJ student NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ NUJ member or student £100, GFTU member/unemployed member: £50; member or student £100, GFTU affiliate affiliate £200, non-member £275 non-members/GFTU affiliate: £110 £200, non-member £275 Fri 25 September Thurs 22 October Fri 13 November How to boost your income Getting started with Advanced InDesign and job security InDesign NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ member or student £100, GFTU affiliate NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ £200, non-member £275 member or student £100, GFTU affiliate member or student £100, GFTU affiliate £200, non-member £275 £200, non-member £275 Tues 24 November How to become a good Tues 29 September Tues 27 October video journalist Feature writing Guide to court reporting NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ member or student £100, GFTU affiliate member or student £100, GFTU affiliate member or student £100, GFTU affiliate £200, non-member £275 £200, non-member £275 £200, non-member £275 Thurs 15 October Fri 30 October Wed/Thurs 2/3 December September – December Adding PR to your portfolio Pitch and Deal A website for under £50 London NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ NUJ member: £70; unemployed NUJ member £300, unemployed NUJ Thurs/Fri 10/11 September member or student £100, GFTU affiliate NUJ member or student: £60; nonmember or student, £150, GFTU affiliate A website for under £50 £200, non-member £275 members/GFTU affiliate: £130 £350, non-member £400 NUJ member £300, unemployed NUJ Online journalism Mon 9 November Thurs/Fri 10/11 December member or student, £150, GFTU affiliate NUJ member £175; unemployed NUJ Data Journalism Boosting your income with £350, non-member £400 member or student £100, GFTU affiliate book publishing NUJ member £300, unemployed NUJ The rate for a classified ad is £25 scc (£25 x height (cm) x columns). £200, non-member £275 member or student, £150, GFTU affiliate NUJ member £300, unemployed NUJ Fri 18 September 10% discount 4 ornon-member more issues discount. £400 will be 20% Getting the most out member or student, £150, GFTU affiliate Fri 16 October fo 2 or 3 issues.£350, of trade and business £350, non-member £400 Getting started as a Weds 11 November To advertise please contact Joe Brooks on: journalism freelance Backpack journalism
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Do you want to contribute to a unique study that04/08/2011 explores digital transformations in journalism?
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My research investigates how digitisation has changed work practices, workplaces and roles for newspaper journalists. I am looking to undertake observations in newsrooms and interview journalists between June - December 2015.
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