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2 April
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Feature writing £275 £495
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Adobe InDesign CS3 £265 £465
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13 May
Public relations introduction £145 £205
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Writing for the web £255 £405
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31 May-1 June
Television news presentation £265 £455
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Podcasting for print
journalists introduction
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Public relations introduction £145 £205
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11 July
Getting started as a freelance £75 £105
Tuesday/Wednesday
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Adobe InDesign CS3 £265 £465
Wednesday/Thursday
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Sub editing introduction £265 £465
Friday
25 July
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THIS issue of the Journalist
has not been printed, but
distributed only online.
It’s an experiment to see how
members want to receive their
magazine — and it’s part of a
long-term debate on the future
of NUJ communications.
The debate is launched
on page 19 of this issue.
All members are invited to
contribute: email
journalist@nuj.org.uk
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Letters
©
COPYRIGHT in all words and images in the Journalist
is the property of the creator, unless he or she is an
employee of the National Union of Journalists, and in
everything else it resides with the NUJ, unless otherwise
stated either way. Reproduction is only permitted by
agreement with the copyright holder, with a credit and
payment of an agreed fee. For more details of conditions,
refer to the NUJ Freelance Fees Guide.
VICTOR NOIR (“Honest PR”, last issue)
gets my approach to the job right — I’m
a long-standing NUJ member after
all — but the devil really is in the, albeit
amusing, detail!
After gales hit Cumbria, blowing
lorries over and killing one driver, GMTV
actually asked, “Neil, how is it where you
are?”
Having never claimed to be on the
scene I responded: “Well I’m in a hotel in
London and it’s pretty blowy outside but
it’s not as bad as it is in Cumbria,” before
proceeding to tell them exactly what
the situation was up there and what the
Highways Agency was doing about it.
A bit different to Noir suggesting I
told GMTV I didn’t know what was going
on?
Neil Sterio
Manchester
I IMPLORE all journalists that have a
Remploy plant in or near their area to
do whatever they can to support fellow
trade unionists who are facing uncer-
tainty/difficulties/job losses etc due to
plant closures or mergers.
The Government is trying to get more
and more disabled people into main-
stream employment, rather than retain
specialist workplaces to cater for their
(often complex) needs.
Please do your bit to keep the plight of
this dedicated disabled workforce in the
public eye. Get busy writing stories, taking
photos, producing items for broadcast, or
for use on the web, and help to boost the
morale of those who reply on Remploy —
Britain’s biggest employer of people with
disabilities — for their livelihood.
It’s the least we can all do. The hard
working team at Remploy is, it seems,
forgotten — dare I suggest ignored? — by
the majority of the media. Why?
Roger Jones
NUJ Disabled Members Council
Bedworth, Warwickshire
I WELCOME Mike Cross’s suggestion
(last issue) for a voluntary register of
journalists’ interests and think the prac-
tical ways in which this could be devel-
oped deserves some serious discussion.
For the past two years or so, I’ve
chosen to make my own voluntary decla-
ration of gifts and hospitality received,
via my own website; perhaps coinciden-
tally, I seem to get far fewer offers of
hospitality these days than once I did.
I’m happy to make this information
public, and feel that it is appropriate
for a journalist to be transparent about
this side of our business. My website
also includes a brief statement on the
ethical and professional standards I try
to maintain, together with a link to the
NUJ’s Code of Conduct.
Andrew Bibby
Hebden Bridge
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ISN’T IT about time that the NUJ
provided printed placards for its
members on picket lines?
I have every respect and sympathy for
the strikers at the Milton Keynes Citizen,
as a fellow Johnston Press employee. But
their case with the town’s residents could
not have been helped by the placards
pictured in the March edition.
The union needs to be as profes-
sional as possible in its dealings with the
general public. Handwritten placards
in spidery writing let everyone down. I
doubt if many motorists driving past the
strikers could even read the message on
the boards.
We must know, as journalists,
that the presentation of our stories is
becoming increasingly important in this
visual age.
Surely, the NUJ even its present cash
crunch state, can arrange for profession-
ally printed placards to be made avail-
able to its next group of strikers? They
will enable the members’ message to be
prominently displayed and easily read.
Kevin Smith
Bognor Regis, West Sussex
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Letters
5
I AM willing to accept criticism for
having resigned from the union. Some of
it has been tough to read, but I expected
it and respect almost all those who
disagree with me.
What I am not prepared to allow to
pass are gross inaccuracies that cast a
slur on my record as a trade unionist,
particularly the letters from Ian Blunt
and Malcolm Withers. They are guilty of
rewriting history.
Firstly, in my first two periods at The
Sun (1969-71, 1971-73) I was respon-
sible for leading strikes, most notably on
behalf of the NGA print union when its
members were locked out.
Secondly, I could not have broken the
strike that Withers mentions in relation
to Arthur Edwards, a friend of mine of
more than 40 years standing.
I have checked with Arthur and he
joined The Sun staff in January 1975.
I was not employed by The Sun at the
time. I was, in fact, the casuals’ chapel
FoC at the Sunday Mirror from 1975
until 1979.
Thirdly, in my third period at The Sun
(1981-86), there were two NUJ strikes,
in 1982 during the Falklands War, and
in 1984. On the first occasion I did work
for one strike day, which was the result
of my having given my word personally
to Rupert Murdoch on joining the paper
that I would not lead union action. But I
joined the strike on the second day, not a
glorious moment but nothing like as bad
as Withers and Blunt suggest.
In July 1984, there was a further
strike and I did not work at all, most
obviously because it overlapped with my
wedding and subsequent honeymoon.
During both the 1982 and 1984 strikes,
incidentally, NGA members crossed the
picket lines.
That is directly relevant to my fourth
point about why I decided to the move
to Wapping in January 1986 along with
the overwhelming majority of the NUJ
chapel. I have written extensively about
this matter. It was a difficult decision,
but I did not agonise unduly.
The simple fact was that I was not
prepared to support people who had
refused to support us.
I was also convinced that the print
unions were doing all they could to
stand in the way of technological
progress.
Now I find myself at odds with the
NUJ over its failure to engage with tech-
nological progress too. Plus ça change,
plus c’est la même chose.
Roy Greenslade
Brighton
SO NICK INMAN (Gripe, last issue) is
fed up with editors who don’t reply to
his emails. Has he ever considered that
his emails are just another form of unso-
licited junk mail that busy editors don’t
have the time to respond to?
Perhaps Nick should wake up and
smell the 21st Century. These days we’re
bombarded with spam, badly targeted
emails from PRs and offers of work from
freelancers, many of whom have clearly
not read the publication. If editors
responded to all of these, half the day
would be gone.
And as for following up with a
conventional letter, doesn’t he think
that wasting paper is just adding unen-
vironmental insult to injury? If someone
hasn’t bothered replying to an email,
there’s little chance they’ll reply to
snail mail. Nick is obviously living in
the 1950s if he thinks letters have any
impact in 2008.
And just to emphasise how out
of touch he is, Nick signed off with
a comment about how staff journal-
ists have “generous salaries”. Laugh? I
almost choked on my gruel.
No, Nick, you’re clearly too sensi-
tive for this line of work if silent rejec-
tion bothers you. Have you considered
a career in non-competitive flower
arranging?
Craig Thomas
Managing Editor, 4Car
London W14
MATHEW HULBERT (letters, January)
paints a rosy picture of multimedia, at
least in radio.
No-one objects to new technology.
Indeed, I like to think as a working
hack that learning to use a computer
keyboard in the 1980s was progress
from bashing out stories on a typewriter.
That innovation made my job easier and
more efficient.
What reporters object to, especially
in the lower levels of the print trade
where staff levels are dreadful, is having
extra tasks and skills demanded of them
without any degree of consultation or
extra payment.
As we all know, news reporters now
write for the internet and are being
asked to make time-consuming videos
(video work of course being totally
beyond the remit of their original
contracts).
No extra staff are employed for this;
indeed at my newspaper (employing
only one full-time senior) they took
away one reporter to work at a so-called
flagship in the group. It is this arrogant
assumption that directors can squeeze
extra output and skills from staff without
extra pay that so annoys staff and
demoralises them.
As I pointed out to my understanding
acting editor recently, it would be a
shame if competent and hard-working
print journalists received an adverse
work appraisal for making crap videos
— a skill they neither seek nor need have
any aptitude for, or they would have
headed for television.
Personally, as a confessed print
junkie, watching our best newspaper
stories given away free on the internet
while paper sales decline I feel like a
man slowly drawing a knife across his
own throat.
But I am doing my best to stop being
an old reactionary and think instead of
the huge riches that await us (well, the
shareholders) from internet ad sales and
showing videos that hardly any members
of the public will bother to watch and
run the danger of being nothing but a
movie version of vanity publishing.
Phil Dennett
West Sussex
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IN YOUR last
issue you carried
photographs (on
pages 9 and 16)
of two women
called Karen
Jeffery at the
Milton Keynes
Citizen. Surely
they cannot be
related?
Ronan Quinlan
Dublin
Jeffery
Jeffery
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News
JOURNALISTS cannot do their job
properly anymore, NUJ President
Michelle Stanistreet said in a debate on
the state of the profession in London
in March. And it’s not their fault, she
added.
Standards are suffering because of
the squeeze on jobs and resources and
the consequent pressure to produce too
much material too fast.
She was speaking at a debate on
Flat Earth News, the book by NUJ
member and Guardian freelance Nick
Davies that has rocked the journalism
establishment by exposing the way
that UK national papers in particular
produce their news.
He used the phrase “churnalism not
journalism” to describe the constant
and rapid recycling of unchecked
information.
Michelle Stanistreet, a feature writer
on the Sunday Express, said: “The inevi-
table result of the squeeze is that stand-
ards are suffering. Increasing numbers
of journalists are feeling like churnalists.
Time and again I have heard journalists
on the ground saying this.
“They are unable to do their job as
they would like to do it, checking out
facts and getting out and about and
talking to people. It is soul-destroying
for people who became journalists
because of their talent and enthusiasm.
“It is not journalists that create
churnalism, it is the bosses running the
companies.”
Nick Davies told the meeting, organ-
ised by the Press Gazette: “We can’t
wrest media outlets away from these
corporations and they are not about
to loosen up and give us back our
resources.
“We have got to fight back to make
our own news judgements, that’s what
journalism is about. Every time we win a
battle it matters.”
The editor of the Press Gazette,
Dominic Ponsford, said: “We have to
compete online. We need to become
better journalists so we can do the
churning and then find the time to do
the better journalism as well.”
Andrew Gilligan, the former BBC
defence correspondent now working
for the London Evening Standard, said:
“It is amazing how many stories based
purely on government sources get into
the papers, because journalists know
they won’t be denied and there won’t
be trouble.”
He said that the former Observer
political editor Kamal Ahmad, who
is blasted in the book for peddling
the Downing Street line during the
run-up to the invasion of Iraq, “didn’t
tell the lies about Iraq because he was
overworked but because he was lazy
and he wanted great stories from the
government.
“At national level journalism should
work well because reporters have more
time to do their jobs properly.”
Andrew Gilligan spoke of the series
of exposés he had been doing of the
people around London Mayor Ken
JOURNALISTS at Archant’s daily news-
papers in Ipswich are up in arms about
plans to replace sub-editors with lower-
paid and untrained staff.
Archant has announced “more than
20” redundancies at the East Anglian
Daily Times and the Ipswich Evening
Star, and a plan for subs’ work to be
handed to advertising designers who
are not trained journalists.
Sub-editors at the papers earn over
£26,000 a year, while the designers’
maximum salary is £18,500.
Archant will not say exactly where
the redundancies will fall.
Six reporters have left the Evening
Star this year without being replaced
and the company has announced a pay
freeze.
NUJ reps at the paper are warning
that, as well as lowering the quality of
the papers’ content, the papers will run
the risk of costly legal actions.
Martin Chambers, Father of the NUJ
Chapel, described the plans as “a kick in
the teeth” to journalists who attracted
praise for their coverage of the Ipswich
murders.
“The Daily Times has just been voted
Regional Newspaper of the Year. Staff
are being thanked by having their
wages cut and losing their jobs.
“The use of non-journalists to lay out
newspaper pages is a recipe for disaster.
Without legal and journalistic training,
they will have no idea of the potential
pitfalls and the consequences could be
catastrophic.”
He added: “The company says
that training is not needed to produce
the newspaper. Perhaps the plan is to
produce a newspaper without journalists.”
Last year Archant
posted profits of
£30 million.
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Livingstone, which has led to one senior
aide resigning.
“The other papers have not made any
effort themselves to find out the truth,”
he said. “They have just reported that
the Evening Standard says this and Ken
Livingstone says that, but no-one has
wanted to take the time to get into the
story. It is not difficult, the information
is in the public domain, but if it had
been left to churnalism the story would
never have happened.”
But he challenged the assertion in
Flat Earth News that reporters were
overworked because of a huge expan-
sion in the amount of editorial space to
be filled. “The growth in space has not
been in news but features and lifestyle
stuff, most of which is supplied by
freelances.”
And reporters’ work had made much
easier by the internet. “The web has
transformed the work of journalists;
getting information is so quick. I would
have had to have spent half a day going
to Companies House for information
on a company that I can now get in ten
minutes”.
Andrew Gilligan
speaks as Nick
Davies (centre
in blue shirt)
and Michelle
Stanistreet (far
right) listen
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News
NUJ MEMBERS at the Milton Keynes
Citizen have reached agreement with
management at the paper, following
months of negotiations and six days of
strike action in January.
The agreement includes the establish-
ment of a working group to check edito-
rial quality at the Johnston Press title.
Journalists agreed to accept an offer
of 3 per cent on 2007 pay – with more
for the lower-paid. This will be back-
dated to April last year and negotia-
tions on 2008 pay are to begin at once.
NUJ National Organiser Barry
Fitzpatrick said: “Members at the Citizen
are pleased that management has recog-
nised journalists’ concerns about invest-
ment in their local papers. When fewer
journalists are being called upon to fill
ever more column inches, there is a clear
danger that quality will suffer.
“We’re looking forward to construc-
tive negotiations on 2008 pay that
will ensure journalists at the paper can
continue to concentrate on what they
do best: reporting the news rather than
making it.”
EAMONN MCCANN, a well-known NUJ
freelance and activist in Derry, will face
an open trial for his involvement in a
raid on an arms factory last year.
An extraordinary ban on reporting
any aspect of the case was lifted by the
Crown Court in Belfast in February. The
trial begins on May 19.
Eamonn McCann was one of nine
people are accused of breaking into
the Derry premises of Raytheon Inc, an
American firm that supplies hi-tech equip-
ment to the British, Israeli, American and
other military, in protest at the use of the
company’s equipment in the bombing of
Lebanon by Israeli warplanes in August
2006.
The protestors were incensed that it
was a Raytheon-guided “bunker buster”
bomb that had destroyed a block of
homes in the Lebanese town of Qena,
killing 63 people, 42 of them children.
Computer equipment was thrown
from windows and smashed but no-one
MILTON KEYNES Citizen reporter Sally
Murrer, facing police corruption charges,
pleaded not guilty to obtaining police
information illegally at the formal
opening of the case on March 10.
She is facing three counts of
“aiding and abetting misconduct in a
public office” – an archaic common
law offence that can carry unlimited
imprisonment.
It is alleged she helped fellow
defendant Mark Kearney, a former
detective, to leak police secrets. Mark
Kearney and two other defendants also
pleaded not guilty to various charges.
Mark Kearney is the police officer
who bugged the conversations of Labour
MP Sadiq Khan and went public, when
the matter came to light, with allega-
tions that he was under pressure to do so.
The charges are not connected to
the case but Sally Murrer has said she
believes that police embarrassment is
a motivating force for the prosecution,
calling it “the missing piece in the puzzle”.
She was arrested last May, strip-
searched and held for 30 hours. Her
home and the Citizen office were
keporter 'not guìIty'
ìn poIìre Ieak rate
!trìke wìnt
promìte of
future pay
searched and police seized documents
and a computer. They told the company
they were investigating allegations of
“police corruption and the leakage of
confidential police information.”
The full trial is scheduled to start in
November and run for five weeks. The
NUJ is helping Sally Murrer’s defence.
Sally Murrer (left) with the Mother of
the Citizen chapel, Karen Jeffery, on
the picket line in January
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0erry armt rate: now the ttory ran be toId
was injured in the early morning raid.
The “Raytheon 9” are accused of
aggravated burglary, affray, theft,
possession of ID tags and criminal
damage. All are on bail.
The case has been dragging on for
18 months.
Derry Crown Court last year that
banned all reporting of the case, all
protests or anything else concerning the
Raytheon company, and of the very fact
that the order itself had been imposed.
The order was challenged in the
Belfast court by an anarchist group
from Derry. The Belfast judge ordered it
to be lifted at once, before considering
the challenge.
The union could not publicise the
gag and did not join appeals for the
gagging order to be lifted, because the
NUJ Irish Executive Council had voted
to support Eamonn McCann’s case.
Legal officer Roy Mincoff said it would
not be appropriate to make representa-
tions from the stance of media freedom
or the public’s right to know.
Eamonn McCann told the Journalist
why he himself took the action: “We
were trying to make a stand. The frus-
tration became too much, particularly
after the bombing of Qena. We had to
do something after seeing the news on
Lebanon every night.”
When the nine saw little security
about, “we sort of pushed our way inside.
“We hadn’t really trashed it. All
we did was to try to decommission
the system. We threw PCs out of the
window but we did make sure no-one
was standing underneath.”
He added: “If the state persists with
its intention to proceed to a trial, it
is saying that it’s a crime to occupy a
business premises, but not a crime to
occupy a country; that it’s a crime to
drop computers from a window, but not
a crime to drop bombs onto innocent
people.”
Eamonn
McCann: ‘a
crime to occupy
a factory but
not a country’
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NUJ Deputy
General Secretary
John Fray will be
retiring on May
31 after 19 years
with the union.
An election will
be held for his
successor.
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Journalists and supporters in Media Workers Against the War demonstrated
outside the Express group head office in London in February in protest at its
reporting of migrants and Muslim people.
Around 40 protesters waved banners saying “stop media attacks on
Muslims” while chanting slogans such as “Daily Express, Daily abuse”.
MWAW sent a letter to Northern and Shell proprietor Richard Desmond
and Daily Express editor Peter Hill citing examples of inflammatory headlines.
The letter said the headlines “do nothing to inform Express readers — on the
contrary they encourage racist stereotyping and contempt.”
News
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BRITISH
JOURNALISTS
are giving
employers
nearly £6,000
a year each by
working unpaid
overtime,
according to
the TUC. They
are 50 per cent
more likely to
work unpaid
than the rest
of the working
population,
making the
industry one
of the worst
offenders in
exploiting their
employees’
goodwill.
The TUC survey
shows that four
in every ten
media workers
put in more
than six hours
unpaid overtime
every week,
worth £5,884 a
year per person.
Across the
sector, 49,000
employees work
unpaid overtime
worth £288
million a year to
employers.
YOUNG James Murdoch is set to earn
up to $20 million (more than £10
million) in his first year in charge of
NEWS CORPORATION’s European
and Asian businesses. According to
a regulatory filing, the benefits of
nepotism for the son of News Corp
chairman Rupert Murdoch include
a base salary of $3.4 million and a
performance-related bonus that could
go as high as $15.9 million.
The Times came straight to the point
and asked Piers Morgan — former editor
of the DAILY MIRROR until his sacking
in 2004 — how much he earned last
year from his current activities as an
author and television presenter. The
reply was rather more evasive: “I don’t
want to reveal too much as I’m going
through a divorce, but it’s a good six
figures — several multiples of the prime
minister’s salary.” C’mon Piers. Surely
you wouldn’t want the missus to end
up with anything less than her fair
entitlement?
FUTURE PUBLISHING chief
executive Stevie Spring — who joined
the company in July 2006, after it
issued six consecutive profit warnings
— earned £505,000 in the year ending
30 September 2007. The wedge
includes a basic salary of £285,000,
which rose to £305,000 from the start
of last October. She also owned shares
worth around £300,000.
Natasha Kaplinsky has taken up her
post as newsreader with FIVE, on the
reported salary of £1 miilion a year
(last issue). This is what she has to say
about it: “It’s an astonishing amount of
money. I was shocked by it ... Five seem
to think I am [worth it] but, no, how
can anybody justify that? A dustman
is worth £1 million for cleaning up the
rubbish, as far as I’m concerned.” Or the
people who write her scripts?
NUJ MEMBERS at Express Newspapers
in London are voting on strike action
following a breakdown in talks over pay.
Journalists are furious that the
company is refusing to increase its
pay offer above 3 per cent, well below
current levels of inflation. Employees at
the company’s printers recently won a
pay award of 4.3 per cent.
The NUJ chapel, which covers the
Daily and Sunday Star and their offices
in Glasgow and Broughton, Lancashire,
wants a rise of 10 per cent and a one-off
bonus payment to all staff — and for
casuals — to reflect the company’s
healthy financial position.
Proprietor Richard Desmond, boss of
the Northern and Shell group that owns
the titles, paid himself £40.6 million in
2006. The Times described him as “the
most lavishly remunerated owner in
Fleet Street”.
Northern & Shell’s annual turnover
has increased more than eightfold to
£460 million since it bought Express
Newspapers in 2000.
Chapel officials estimate that the 3
per cent pay rise would cost the company
£750,000. To pay the 10 per cent would
set them back £2.5 million — about 6 per
cent of Richard Desmond’s income.
But when he met union reps last
year he said: “You want to give proper
wage increases but you can’t because
everything else has gone up.”
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ President
and chapel rep at the Express, said: “It’s
hard for members to see why we should
stomach a pitiful pay rise when the
proprietor pocketed over £40 million.
Management has treated the union
with contempt, imposing a settlement
that amounts to a pay cut without
meaningful negotiations.”
Union reps have been trying to nego-
tiate the increase since last October.
They have been told by editorial
director Paul Ashford that if they accept
3 per cent there will be “no beastly staff
economies this year to make everyone
insecure and miserable.”
There have been successive rounds
of redundancy since Richard Desmond
bought the titles, with editorial staff
falling from 968 to 532 between 1996
and 2004, the last year for which
figures are available.
NUJ National Organiser Barry
Fitzpatrick said: “Journalists feel they
have no choice but to ballot for indus-
trial action. We’ve done everything
we can to come to an agreement with
management but they simply aren’t
taking our members’ concerns seriously.”
!trìke vote at I40m
a year 0etmond
offert harkt 1w
Ballots for the
union’s National
Executive Council
for 2008-09 saw
the following
elected: PR and
Information:
Anita Halpin;
London: Tom
Davies, Nick
Serpell, Phil
Sutcliffe and
Pierre Vicary;
Midlands of
England: Barbara
Goulden and Lucy
Lynch (jobshare);
North West
England: Chris
Frost.
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7G:C96C?D>CHI=:L>CC>C<A>C:
HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITERS settled their strike (last
issue) after 100 days when the Writers Guild of America
(WGA) reached a deal that grants writers “residual
rights” to income from the sale of DVDs and online
syndication of their work.
Shortly before the settlement the picket lines were
visited by the NUJ’s own screenwriter Brendan Foley
who has written and produced two movies himself. He
said later: “They seem to have quite a good settlement.”
Brendan Foley, a former member of the NUJ national
executive, teaches screenwriting and feature writing on
the union’s professional training programme.
FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER Marc
Vallée has won an apology and
compensation from the Metropolitan
Police for an assault that left him
quite seriously hurt.
He was taking photographs of a
demonstration in Parliament Square,
central London, in October 2006
when he was shoved to the ground
and struck his back on a kerbstone.
He was paralysed for a time
and had to be taken to hospital for
treatment.
NUJ General Secretary Jeremy
Dear said: “Marc will be pleased to
have finally got an apology from
the police, but it is no cause for
celebration.
“It is disgraceful that the police
brutally obstructed a member of the
press from reporting on a political
demonstration. “
News
THE NUMBER of BBC journalists to lose
their jobs compulsorily in the current
round of redundancies could be in the
low double figures.
The BBC wants to get rid of 1,800
posts and the unions have been in
intensive negotiations to chip away at
the total.
A deal was reached in January that
stipulates that new jobs will be found
for one in eight of those to go.
Members were voting on it as the
Journalist went to press and were
expected to accept it.
The current number of compulsory
redundancies was reckoned to be
around 250 across the corporation as
the ballot papers went out and was
expected to fall even further.
BBC News could be left with only a
dozen compulsory redundancies to find,
despite more than 400 posts being
axed in the division.
NUJ Broadcasting Organiser Paul
McLaughlin said: “We’ve been in some
very tough negotiations with the BBC
but this agreement follows significant
movement by the corporation on all the
issues that are in dispute.”
The unions held a ballot for strike
action against the redundancies over
the new year.
That ballot — expected to have
shown a big “yes” vote — has never been
counted, and was put aside when the
provisional deal was reached.
kew jobt for oId at
88f membert vote
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BROADCASTING UNIONS are trying to stop ITN putting
staff safety at risk by scrapping late night taxis to and
from work. The move is part of a programme of cuts in
benefits designed to save the company £300,000 a year.
ITN wants to cut back on weekend and night working
payments and scrap free meals for some staff.
In discussions with the NUJ and BECTU, managers
came up with new proposals including the use of shuttle
buses after 10.30pm, minicabs and additional free car
parking spaces for staff working unsocial hours.
But unions are wary of the revised proposals. NUJ
broadcasting organiser Paul McLaughlin said they were
completely unacceptable. “We have got major concerns
and we will not accept solutions that will compromise
people’s safety.”
THE UNION has called on UK commu-
nications regulator Ofcom to use
the digital airwaves to maintain and
strengthen public sector broadcasting.
In a submission on the future of
digital terrestrial television, the NUJ
expressed concern about proposals to
leave the allocation of digital broad-
casting spectrum to market forces.
There are worries that with a market-
based approach, public service commit-
ments could be lost.
The NUJ argues that broadcasters
should be allocated part of the digital
spectrum for HDTV services in return for
public service commitments.
This would enable those such as the
BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to continue to
provide high quality programming that
serves the public interest.
Paul McLaughlin, NUJ National
Broadcasting Organiser, said: “The
airwaves are a national resource that
should be used for public good, not
private profit. We must never allow
public service broadcasting to become
ghettoised. Ofcom must put public
interest ahead of market philosophy.”
With Brendan Foley
(left) were three
members of the WGA
— Doug Molitor, Shelly
Goldstein and Carl
Gottlieb, the writer
of Jaws. His placard
records the support of
the Writers’ Guild of
Great Britain
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News
AI·jateera ìt made
to pay for tarkìng
A PROMINENT NUJ member who
tried to organise for the union at the
al-Jazeera TV network headquarters in
Qatar has won an amazing court case
over her sacking.
In March the Qatar Supreme Court
awarded Yvonne Ridley 100,000 Qatari
Rials (about £13,800) after a marathon
legal battle that began in November
2003. She was sacked without warning
from her job as a senior editor in Doha,
Qatar where she had helped launch
al-Jazeera’s English language website.
A series of exclusive stories high-
lighting US military injustice in Iraq
and Afghanistan led to a confronta-
tion between her and her bosses after
American officials complained and the
stories were pulled.
“Perhaps I was overly combative
in my style of management but I just
felt this sort of editorial interference
was unacceptable,” Yvonne Riley said.
“No one was disputing the facts of
the stories, but it was obvious the US
military were uncomfortable, to say the
least, when the stories were published.
“I was surprised that the English side
of the station was capitulating when
the Arabic broadcasting side of the
station was ground-breaking and heroic
in its coverage of both wars.”
Yvonne Ridley also upset senior
al-Jazeera management when she
launched an NUJ chapel after discov-
ering a huge pay differential between
THE BRITISH TUC Women’s
Conference has elected NUJ
President Michelle Stanistreet to
a leading union body in the fight
against gender inequality in the
workplace.
She has won a place on the TUC
Women’s Committee which takes a
lead on gender issues for the British
trade union movement. The election
comes towards the end of her term
as NUJ President, a position that has
only been held by four women in the
union’s 101-year history.
Michelle Stanistreet, who works
for the Sunday Express in London,
said: “Experience has taught us
that if we want to tackle workplace
inequality, whatever its causes may
be, the best way of doing it is by
using the collective strength of trade
unions.
“I’m looking forward to playing
my part in fighting for fair and equal
treatment for all.”
Michelle Stanistreet is second
from left in the photo, with, from left,
fellow NUJ delegates Cath Rasbash,
Lena Calvert (front), Barbara
Goulden and Christina Zaba.
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Yvonne Ridley (second from right) with the founding
committee of the NUJ chapel she helped start at al-Jazeera
in Qatar in 2003. With her were, from left: Shaista Aziz,
Hilary Saunders and Shaheen Chughtai
Arab, Asian and Western journalists.
“I felt we should all be paid the same
and wanted to try and raise the wages
of my Arab colleagues,” she says. “I chal-
lenged the editor in chief and asked why
someone should be paid lower because
they came from the Arab world.
“When I was sacked I received a
letter saying I was a threat to national
security. It was a deeply worrying time
especially when the administration
department refused to hand over my
passport for five weeks. But, thanks to
the NUJ, it has ended on a positive note.
My experience should highlight, once
again, the importance of keeping up
your NUJ membership. I would never
have got justice without the union’s
support.”
Her case was backed by the NUJ
and she had the support of Qatar’s top
employment lawyer Gebran Majdalany,
who continued the case for free after
NUJ funding ran out in the marathon
process, which went to the Qatari Court
of Appeal and Supreme Court.
“Al-Jazeera’s legal strategy was to
drag it out and we would eventually run
out of funds. They hadn’t counted in the
tenacity or dogged pursuit for justice
from Gebran Majdalany’s firm.”
Yvonne Ridley added: “I hope what
has happened in Qatar will help remove
some of the stereotyping and myths
about justice in Arab lands and their
treatment of women. What happened
to me was a result of a clash of manage-
ment and editorial styles at al-Jazeera.
I am still a great admirer of al-Jazeera
and the journalists working there.”
Yvonne Ridley is a former Sunday
Express roving reporter who hit
the headlines herself when she
was kidnapped by the Taliban in
Afghanistan while covering the US-led
invasion of 2001.
She later converted to Islam and
became a leading anti-war campaigner,
standing as a candidate for the Respect
party at the last UK general election.
She became a presenter for the
London-based Islam TV satellite
channel, where she was sacked last year.
She is bringing a tribunal case for unfair
dismissal and sex discrimination against
the channel, again with NUJ backing.
She now works as a presenter and
producer for Press-TV, an Iranian-owned
English-language channel.
Colleagues will
be walking the
26 miles across
the Isle of Wight
on May 18 to
raise funds
for a hospice
that cared for a
journalist, Jeremy
Price, who died
last year. Details
from www.
justgiving.com/
teamjeremy or
www.iwhospice.
org
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Samira Ahmed (left in picture) presented this year’s George Viner awards to four of the five students
receiving grants, from left, Osama Baig, Julie Bailey, Natalie Reeve and Samantha Wong, with NUJ
President Michelle Stanistreet and Lionel Morrison, chair of the Black Members Council. The fifth
winner, Sandra Johnson, could not be present.
News
IT IS NOT the job of black journalists to
“go out there and re-educate the over-
whelmingly white, middle aged elite
running the news”, Channel 4 News
presenter and reporter Samira Ahmed
told the union’s annual George Viner
Fund ceremony in February.
Giving advice to the ethnic minority
journalism students receiving this year’s
bursaries to help them through their
studies, she said they should not just
see “an uphill struggle in the fiercely
competitive world of news journalism.
“Just by doing the stories you choose
to tackle and being true to yourself, you
will be changing newsrooms for the
better.”
The young journalists should see
their background and experiences as a
great asset – but “they are not a substi-
tute for working hard, pitching good
stories, and writing well”.
Samira Ahmed added: “Most of all
enjoy yourselves. Journalism has been
for me fascinating, thrilling and never
boring.”
WORLD PRESS
FREEDOM DAY
2008
NEW MEDIA
ARE KILLING
JOURNALISM
Debate and panel discussion
Friday May 2, 10 am–12 noon
at the Frontline Club, Norfolk Place, London W2
Speakers include
ANDREW KEEN author of Cult of the Amateur
SIMON KELNER editor, the Independent
NICK DAVIES author of Flat Earth News
Admission free but registration required.
Registration opens on April 1 at
www.unesco.org.uk
The NUJ is part of the Press Freedom Network which
is organising the 2008 event with the UK National
Commission for UNESCO and the Frontline Club
THE NUJ is calling on management at
the finance news agencies Thomson and
Reuters to get into urgent talks with the
union, following the final go-ahead for
their £8.7 billion merger by regulators in
Europe, Canada and the USA.
Management at both companies had
been saying that uncertainties around
the regulators’ decisions were preventing
them from engaging in meaningful
consultation with unions. What is effec-
tively a takeover of Reuters by Thomson
of Canada will be finalised in April.
Journalists at Reuters had been about
to vote on industrial action to force
managers to discuss the implications for
staff. They were worried at a company
plan to impose changes to journalists’
career structures. Reuters agreed to put
back the proposals and the strike ballot
was called off in February.
The NUJ’s National Organiser for
Newspapers and Agencies, Barry
Fitzpatrick, said: “We’re pleased that
Reuters management saw sense and
suspended the implementation of these
changes. But members, both in Reuters
and Thomson, still have concerns.
“They want to know the implications
for jobs, work roles and career progres-
sion. In particular, they are looking for a
commitment that any redundancies will
be voluntary.
“The companies need their
employees’ support to make this new
venture a success, so the sooner they
meet with their recognised unions the
better.”
THE NUJ and French journalists’ N
union SNJ-CGT have launched a joint
legal action against Bloomberg News
in Paris.
The unions claim that the company
has underpaid staff and broken the
collective agreement that covers the
pay and working conditions of French
journalists in France.
The case is that Bloomberg has failed
to properly apply two bonus schemes.
In one, the company introduced a “13th
month” bonus as required under the
agreement, but only by cutting journal-
ists’ base salaries. In the second, the
company calculated a seniority bonus
using only the minimum wage, rather
than journalists’ full salaries.
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Information
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where HPt fared a terìet of
thorkt over theìr fìnanret:
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pubIìr purte, and drawìng
expentet and aIIowanret
wìthout any terìout rherkt.
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Art to keep up the rherkt on
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POLITICAL pundits are still coming to terms with the fall of the
House of Paisley at Stormont, and in their commentaries there
is a danger that the central role of freedom of information
could be overlooked.
The fact is that Ian Paisley Jnr would still be in his comfort-
able job as a junior minister in his own father’s office if the
Freedom of Information Act were not on the statute books.
The younger Paisley has the distinction of being FoI’s
first ministerial scalp in the UK. His resignation in February
weakened his First Minister father, Ian Paisley Snr, and helped
push him towards the exit door within a matter of days.
Ian Paisley Jr stood down as minister in Northern Ireland’s
Office of the First Minister and Deputy, after months of
controversy over his lobbying for a developer — and fellow
Democratic Unionist Party member — called Seymour Sweeney.
He denied any wrongdoing, and his fall was anything but
inevitable; after all, his dad was the boss.
David Gordon is
Father of the NUJ
Chapel at the
Belfast Telegraph
and the paper’s
investigations
editor.
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Heather Brooke
is a member of
the NUJ London
Freelance branch
who teaches
the union’s FoI
training course.
The next course is
on July 1.
BRITISH MPs are being made more directly accountable to
their constituents. For the first time they will have to supply
the documentation behind their claims for second home
allowances.
It’s taken four years of campaigning, probing and persist-
ence but it now seems that Parliament may finally be dragged
(albeit with whingeing ingratitude) into the 21st century.
It was always my belief that if you’re going to campaign
for transparency you should start at the top. I targeted MPs
and MPs’ expenses because I thought our elected representa-
tives ought to be setting an example of open and accountable
government to the rest of the nation. MPs seem to look on the
public purse as a sack of free money and resent it when anyone
questions how they’ve spent it.
At the Information Tribunal hearing last month, it was
revealed that MPs don’t have to provide any documentation at
all for claims of less than £250, or £400 for food. And the food
rule isn’t even clear. Is it £400 per claim or £400 per month?
Andrew Walker, the House of Commons Director of Finance,
had to admit he didn’t know. If the head of the Fees Office
doesn’t know, no one else is going to.
It also transpired that as well as MPs self-certifying their
claims and providing no documentation, there was little
checking done to ensure that money had been used for the
reason claimed. “There is checking where there are receipts.
Where there are no receipts there is no checking,” said Andrew
Walker, adding: “If it’s below £250 then the assumption is that
it’s going to be reasonable.”
This is the sort of lax and unprofessional system that
develops in secrecy. Even knowing about such laxity is the first
benefit of Freedom of Information, because until we know the
extent of the problem it can’t be fixed.
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again involving Seymour Sweeney. The First Minister himself
became embroiled in the “cronyism” story. A letter I obtained
under FoI revealed that Ian Paisley Snr had also lobbied in
favour of a Sweeney grant application. The First Minister hit
back, denouncing the use of the Freedom of Information Act
by “lazy journalists”.
Another FOI request accidentally helped
bring about the resignation. This involved rental
expenses claimed by Assembly members for
their constituency offices. The Paisleys’ office
was by far the most expensive, prompting
investigations by the News Letter and Belfast
Telegraph.
It transpired that the rent was going to a
firm controlled by Ian Paisley Jnr’s father-in-law
and was used to pay off the mortgage for the
property. Renting from relatives is permitted
under Assembly rules, but Seymour Sweeney
was a past director of the firm and had secured
the mortgage.
Ian Paisley Jnr stressed that the businessman’s services had
been provided free of charge. But senior party colleagues had by
this stage run out of patience and his resignation swiftly followed.
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I can’t help comparing the laxity of Parliament’s expenses
system to my experience examining the expense claims of poli-
ticians in America when I was a novice reporter, 15 years ago. I
was asked by my editor to have a look at the expense claims of
the area’s senators and representatives.
A clerk brought out boxes full of receipts. Everything was
there: restaurant bills, hotel bills, airline receipts, postage
accounts, stationery costs. I went through it all — and found
nothing. Not one improper claim.
That is the benefit of open, accountable government.
Simply knowing that the eye of the public would be on these
expenses was enough to make politicians behave with
propriety. No need for an expensive government regulator,
or a Standards Commissioner, or a Committee on Standards
in Public Life. In a democracy it is to the people directly that
public officials should account. This is precisely what British
politicians fail to grasp.
I first encountered the elitist attitude of government offi-
cials when I naively tried to replicate my American request to
the Mother of Parliaments. The House of Commons had grudg-
ingly agreed to publish bulk annual figures of MPs’ expenses.
But from an anti-corruption point of view, these are no good. A
multitude of sins can be hidden in say, an annual second-home
claim for £22,000. Is it for mortgage interest or rent? A new
kitchen or a cleaner? And what if the MP is a minister living
in a grace-and-favour home? Why claim the full amount on a
second home?
The House has not launched any investigations into MPs’
expense claims other than as a result of tip-offs and leaks
exposed by the media.
When the Freedom of Information Act came into force
January 2005 I began making formal requests for breakdowns
His troubles began last September over a controversial
planned development beside the Giant’s Causeway, the
dramatic rock formation on the Antrim coast that is Northern
Ireland’s top natural attraction. Another DUP minister had
given Seymour Sweeney preliminary approval for a visitors’
centre there, horrifying the National Trust, which owns the
Causeway.
Ian Paisley Junior went on BBC Radio Ulster
to trumpet the Sweeney scheme. Asked about
the businessman, the Minister said: “I know of
him, yes.” That coyness helped inspire the subse-
quent onslaught.
It was quickly demonstrated that Paisley
Jnr had long-time links with Seymour Sweeney.
Some of the revelations came from old-fash-
ioned methods — leaks, official records, tip-offs
etc, but FoI disclosures added substantial and
crucial weight to the evidence.
One department released details of 13
different occasions when Ian Paisley Jnr had
pressed senior officials or British Ministers on the Causeway
scheme. Information emerged — again through FoI — of
separate lobbying on a massive government land sale plan,
David Gordon: NUJ FoC
and freedom of information
champion
Father and Son on the
way out: the Paisleys’
domination of Ulster
politics was shaken by
David Gordon’s work
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of various expenses. Little did I know the lengths to which MPs
and the House of Commons Commission would go to avoid
being accountable.
I asked for a list of the names and salaries of MPs’ staff
(blocked by Speaker Michael Martin in May 2006); I asked
for a breakdown of travel expense (denied by the House of
Commons Commission on the grounds of privacy); and finally
I asked for a detailed breakdown of MPs’ Additional Costs
Allowance, used to fund their second homes.
I encountered relentless opposition from the House of
Commons Commission and Speaker Michael Martin. They
claimed such disclosure was an invasion of MPs’ privacy. Funny
that, considering that this government has done more to strip
away the privacy rights of private citizens than any other.
When it came to the Information Tribunal hearing, offi-
cials from the House of Commons Commission, the Treasury
Solicitor and an externally hired barrister took all the seats at
the front. Refusing to sit in the back of the room for my own
case, I decided to occupy a table already covered with some-
one’s papers.
“I say, you’ve taken my seat.” It was the superior presence
of Andrew Walker looming over me. I may not have invaded
his fortress of archaic elitism in Parliament, but I had taken his
desk. I refused to budge and he had to shift over. Fortunately,
unlike most citizens, I was not alone in taking on the state,
but had lawyers — Hugh Tomlinson QC and solicitors Simons
Muirhead Burton, acting pro bono.
Andrew Walker was the only witness against us. He was
straight out of central casting, playing the role of the arrogant,
elitist bureaucrat with great aplomb. “MPs should be allowed
to carry on their duties free from interference,” he said.
Not for much longer, if journalists do their job properly.
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President
Hlfhllll !IAkl!IkllI, k0j Pretìdent for the Iatt
year, ttopt to draw breath and tum ìt aII up
=dllZ[aZl
I USED TO roll my eyes when my nan would start on one of
her “doesn’t time fly” contemplations so I’ve felt really old in
the last few weeks when I’ve found myself — several times —
saying precisely the same thing.
It seems just yesterday that I was at ADM in Birmingham,
with Chris Morley passing on the presidential chain of office
to me, feeling just a little bit sick at the thought of how I was
going to fit it all in.
But the evidence is there in my rather dog-eared diary of
the year. I’ve somehow managed to fit plenty in, admittedly
winging it from week to week, juggling a full-time job at the
Sunday Express with what has often seemed another full-time
job as NUJ President.
There’s been chapel meetings, branch meetings, banners
to carry, conferences, events, speeches, envelopes to stuff,
demonstrations, committee meetings, trustee meetings, pay
negotiations, placard waving, pickets to
join, members to meet, email exchanges
with sister unions abroad, bosses to slag
off, more speeches, and hours and hours
of general chitchat at head office.
So there’s certainly been no
shortage of conversation topics when
I’ve been out and about. Fresh from last
ADM, the conference decision to call for
a boycott of Israeli goods provoked debate aplenty. Then there
was the Drogheda Independent house agreement in Ireland
that provoked concern in some quarters about the future of
photography and the general debate about how the NUJ is
geared up to meet the challenges of new technology.
Any regular reader of the Journalist knows there are vastly
different opinions among members on all of these issues. And
thank god for that — one of the strengths, I think, of this union
is that we’re a broad church. Of course we’re going to have our
differences from time to time, that’s what makes us the vibrant,
diverse and, most importantly, grass-roots led union we are
today and why we’ll still be going strong in another hundred
years.
What’s important is that we come together collectively on
issues that matter to all of us, as journalists and as trade union-
ists. And my answer to anyone I meet who has a moan about
what the union is doing, or not doing, on one issue or another
is: get off your arse, get involved and change things; maybe
my tolerance for whingeing is low, given I that have daily small
doses of from my four-year-old son!
There are lots of highlights to choose from: first, the day the
BBC’s Alan Johnston walked free, after 114 days in captivity in
Gaza. It was a pleasure to meet him soon after his release and
I’m looking forward to hearing him speak at ADM in Belfast.
On the campaigning front, Stand Up for Journalism was
launched to brilliant success on November 5 — the first union-
wide day of action in 20 years. There were so many sleepless
nights in the run-up to that day, but the amazing number of
events, meetings, conferences and demonstrations held on the
day made it all worthwhile.
Members from all over the union’s nations and regions pulled
out all the stops to make it a really memorable occasion. So many
people have told me how it really reinvigorated their enthusiasm
and commitment to the union, which was so great to hear.
It won’t stop there — the campaign is broadening out into a
recruitment phase that will start with a reps’ week, to engage
and support our reps. But winning new members and retaining
existing ones is the responsibility of every NUJ member. It’s
the only way we can keep union density strong in places we
already have recognition, and gain new agreements where we
don’t, and it’s the only way we can truly strengthen our collec-
tive might.
It’s also the fundamental solution to the financial problems
we currently face. We’ve got to recruit our way out of them and
emerge from what is undoubtedly a tough financial climate as
a stronger, better equipped fighting force.
If we all went out and recruited one extra member this year
our problems would disappear. Until then, yes, unpopular deci-
sions will have to be made, at the coming ADM and no doubt
in the future, but our shared priority has to be keeping the NUJ
in good financial health and ensuring we’re in fighting shape
to meet the challenges of the next hundred years, and beyond.
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Michelle Stanistreet led the protests on Stand Up for
Journalism day in Manchester
A year ago:
Michelle
Stanistreet with
three-year-old son
Wilf as she began
her presidency
Alan Johnson:
meeting him
after his kidnap
release was the
highlight of the
year
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Journalism
NICK DAVIES has taken up smoking again — and stopped,
and started, and stopped again. It is not the stress from the
attacks on his new book, Flat Earth News, that have done it, he
says — virtually all the response has been positive — but there
has simply been so much of it: hundreds of emails, invitations
to speak at meetings — two or three a week — press, TV and
radio interviews ... He is feeling the kind of pressure that the
book says is brought to bear on the mass of working journalists
themselves.
For our industry, Flat Earth News is something of a sensa-
tion — and if it’s not, it ought to be. It brings up truths about
our work that have long been underground — understood by
journalists but not often openly expressed. Nick Davies found
“a huge camp of journalists, print and broadcast, national and
local, from this country and numerous countries around the
world, getting in touch, generally saying ‘Thank God you said
that. Let me tell you something that’s going on in my place’”.
But the British media being what they are, it is the critics
that made the early running. Flat Earth News goes for what
he calls the “Fleet Street Establishment” -— The Sunday Times,
Observer, Daily Mail and the PA — which have been “pouring
invective down on the book”. It accuses them variously of
concocting stories by dubious means, of running stories they
know to be untrue, and of generally following the rules of what
Nick Davies calls “churnalism” — the practice of continually
regurgitating unchecked stories that may or may not be true,
which passes for journalism in the much of the British press.
“Our job is to check facts to get to the truth,” he says, “but
Ihey taìd ìt wat dog eatìng dog when
6uardìan freeIanre kìrk 0avìet produred
a book that took rontemporary 8rìtìth
journaIìtm to pìeret, raIIìng ìt "rhurnaIìtm"
for the way ìt reryrIet ttorìet that aren't
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in the world of churnalism with a ‘ch’ the process of checking
has been reduced to a joke procedure where journalists pick up,
or sometimes make up, an allegation, trot off to the other side,
get a quote and stick it in the paper.
“That does not amount to checking. That does not enable
them to get to the truth. In fact what it allows them to do, is
that with the exception of serious libels, they can publish any
damn allegation they want because it’s covered up with a
denial. That’s not checking. That’s not getting to the truth. It’s
disgusting.”
So Nick Davies can meet the accusations from people like
former Observer editor Roger Alton and David Leppard from
the Sunday Times who say he didn’t ask them for their side of
the story by pointing to the enormous amount of checking he
did into the stories about them.
He worked on the book for 18 months non-stop, with eight
researchers, including a team at the journalism department
at Cardiff University. (He got outside funding for the Cardiff
research but paid for the rest out of his own pocket). There are
half a dozen stories that he checked in extravagant detail, to
the extent that his subjects were effectively bang to rights.
NICK DAVIES is a reporter who likes to get into long-term
investigations, into areas like crime and social problems. He
decided on this one, he says, because of the coverage of
Iraq, the constant assumption that there were weapons of
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Journalism
mass destruction that threatened the west, in the run-up to the
invasion of 2003. “I wanted to see why the media put out so
much falsehood.
“For better or worse” — this will surprise some people — “I am
pro-war, and the problem with [the stories about Iraq’s] WMD for
me is a journalistic one. What irritated was that in the 12 months
after the invasion, as it became increasingly clear that the
WMD didn’t exist, that the media with very, very few exceptions
debated that as though it were merely a problem of intelligence
agencies and government. Whereas of course the misinformation
had a third corner to it. The global media. So you stand back and
ask the question that any hack would ask: ‘Why? Why did that
happen?’
“I started off with absolutely no idea of where I was going to
go. My formula, whenever I start with one of these long-term
projects, is always the same. You ask obvious questions of acces-
sible people. And because I’m researching an industry in which
I’ve worked for 31 years, I’ve got some ideas of my own based on
my own experience, and also I know masses of hacks so I know
what they say. And I have this vague idea that it’s something to
do with what we’re now calling churnalism.”
“And asking obvious questions of accessible sources, there are
soon four separate leads pointing towards these stories.” On the
Observer’s stream of articles backing the invasion, written by
political editor Kamal Ahmed and security specialist David Rose,
MOST ACADEMIC research is only read by academics. But
occasionally it pricks a nerve and stirs a broader debate. The
research that underpins Flat Earth News is an example.
Since the book was launched, Professor Justin Lewis has
been inundated with interview requests. He headed the
research team at Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and
Cultural Studies that provided some of the most potent data
in Nick Davies’s book.
Justin Lewis said the team began the project with open
minds. But they soon realised that some people, typically
those at the top of the media pyramid, would take the results
badly. “The one criticism that really hit home was that jour-
nalists could in any way be conduits for PR,” he says. The
research revealed that fewer than half of the stories analysed
appeared to be entirely independent of traceable PR.
Nick Davies argues that endemic cost-cutting is the
underlying reason. But is the prevalence of “churnalism”
wholly attributable to the economic imperatives of the
media business? Don’t educators have a duty to help fight
the malaise?
Justin Lewis says: “Students are already taught how to
use PR critically and how to contextualise information.” But
these skills are taught within other modules (law, public
administration and, of course, practical journalism training.)
Isn’t there a case for separate modules covering, for example,
critical thinking or statistical analysis? Justin Lewis says
he would like to introduce such classes. But his aspirations
are tempered by a limit to
resources.
At Sheffield University, Tony
Harcup, director of teaching
of Journalism Studies, says he
is torn between a commitment
to the principles of journalism,
and the demands of students
destined to work in a profit-led
industry.
“We encourage students to
look beyond the press release,
to get out and meet people, to
corroborate and to be sceptical,”
he says, “but few students are
able to find jobs that allow them
to fully use their critical skills.”
And with curricula heavily influ-
enced by employers, the practical
elements of journalism take priority.
The economic forces that restrict on British journalism
filter into academia. Journalism schools must provide what
their fee-paying customers need. Academic research may
reveal the inadequacies of journalism, but it can do little to
change an industry that is driven by the omnipresent quest
for shareholder value.
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Gary Merrill
is a lecturer in
journalism at
Cardiff University
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for instance, he says: “I did a massive media database search on
everything that David Rose had written, everything that Kamal
had written. Masses and masses of checking to see whether
these stories are true. So there’s a story by Kamal which says,
‘Downing Street sources say that next week there’s going to be a
report from the Strategic Studies Institute saying such and such.
So then I get the report which is published three days later, and it
doesn’t say such and such at all.
“So, you look around for the correction. It wasn’t there. So now
that’s becoming a little bit more solid. These guys were running
false stories, but why? So then I start contacting Observer staff. I
spoke to a dozen Observer staff. And you slowly start to get this
picture of what was going on inside that newsroom. So then I
get onto David Rose. Long, long conversations with him about
exactly how these false stories were passed into the newspaper.
And then I have a long conversation with Kamal, and a detailed
exchange of memos, and then I took the whole lot to [deputy
editor] Paul Webster, and said, ‘let’s talk through all this’.”
It has to be said that spending so much time and effort on
a single project is well beyond the opportunities open to most
journalists, so how would a churnalist have done it? “Well if you
take the current convention,” says Nick Davies, “what I would
do is I’d collect all this anecdotal evidence, and then I would
ring the editors and say, ‘is it true that your journalists are so
overworked that they don’t check most of their facts and recycle
a lot of second-hand material?’ Well I didn’t do that because it’s
a complete waste of time. The Press Gazette rang those people
when they were publishing extracts from the book and asked
‘Is it true?’ and they said ‘Absolutely untrue. It’s all garbage.’
Marvellous.”
“When you’ve got the story right, and people are stung by it,
they can’t complain about the story, so instead they find some-
thing else to complain about. I talked to Kamal through every
single allegation — he then gets on his high horse and says ‘Nick
didn’t listen to what I said’. So all that happens is that the angle
of criticism moves.”
NICK DAVIES says he makes “a distinction between accuracy and
truth.” This is the point of one of his most discomforting revela-
tions: the reliance of British national papers on the PA, the source
of more news copy than everything else added together, and the
agency’s inadequacy for the task.
A group of nine PA correspondents, journalists who are
highly esteemed for the accuracy of their work, wrote a hurt and
angry letter to the Press Gazette, but Nick Davies says: “I’m not
attacking PA reporters. I’m saying they are honest in intent, and I
think that agency reporting tends to be accurate. But newsrooms
need to recognise that PA is not trying to tell the truth. All PA is
trying to do is to be accurate. I quoted the editor saying what’s
important is what’s between the quote marks.”
It’s the oldest problem in journalism: how to report someone
who is lying. “If Blair makes a speech you can produce an
accurate account it, that is one thing,” Nick Davies explains, “but
you may well not be telling the truth.”
But papers depend on PA. They can’t cover every single story
themselves. What are they supposed to do? “Well, you have a
decently staffed newsroom with the right objectives, you set
aside some reporters to go out and check the truth.” This is now
approaching the heart of the matter, which is, what are journal-
ists, and the NUJ, supposed to do about it?
Nick Davies doesn’t claim to have the answer. “I think there’s
no way out of this. With a very few exceptions the book is not
an attack on individual journalists at all. It’s an attack on the
structures that constrain them. As long as newspapers, broadly
speaking, are in the hands of these big corporations, they will
impose their logic on us and I don’t see a way out of that in the
real world.
“A lot of outsiders think ‘Ah, it’s because you’re all cynical liars.
You couldn’t care less.’ I’m afraid to say there are some cynical
liars in our profession, but most journalists are not. Most journal-
ists want to tell the truth. There are still a lot of seriously good
journalists working in British media.
“Every time any one of those good people says to their
newsdesk, ‘You have to give me time to work on this difficult
story’, or ‘this story may not sell newspapers, but it’s important,
so you have to give me space’, every time somebody wins a battle
like that we hold back the tide of churnalism.
“And in that context a well-organised union in an office can be
important. And if the union keeps staffing levels in an office, that
would help. We might not be able to stop the papers, but we can
negotiate, we can do our best.”
So the NUJ does have a job it can do? “Yes,” he says. “There’s
something to be fought for.”
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quaIìfìratìont the onIy optìon he ran tee ìt unpaìd
work experìenre. And that he ran't afford to do
IN 2006, after graduating from university, I made the noble
decision to become a journalist. I faced just two problems: I’m
poor and I’m black.
The press has an uneasy relationship with minority groups.
Newspapers are often guilty of casual but shocking racism.
Even when not openly racist the national press often tacitly
reproduces racist stereotypes: the hooded black youth; the
fundamentalist imam; the downtrodden Asian woman. All
this fuels a perception among minority communities that the
national press is “by white people, for white people”.
This perception is not far off the mark. Far more than the
BBC, the British national press is “hideously white”. According
to the NUJ, fewer than 2 per cent of journalists on national
newspapers are black. The situation is even worse at senior
levels; a recent article in the Guardian’s Media supplement
could identify just two black section editors in the whole
national press.
Naïve and hopeful, still I dreamed of working as a journalist.
I had a rude awakening. It seemed I wasn’t the only kid who
wanted to write the news.
Entry to journalism is highly competitive. Junior reporter
jobs ask that candidates have both significant experience
and costly journalism qualifications. I had neither. Graduate
schemes look for candidates with impressive academic records,
considerable journalism experience and, increasingly, post-
graduate degrees. Definitely not me. Even positive action
grad schemes like those run by the BBC and Guardian seemed
only open to candidates with bulging clippings books and 2:1
degrees in English.
It seemed that the only way to get a foothold on a career
was to put in months of unpaid work experience. The print
media have taken heavily to the use of work experience to vet
candidates. The NUJ has estimated that 7-8 per cent of the
industry is staffed by unpaid labour.
I could not afford to work for free. Although Mummy
welcomed me home after university, now I was expected to
pay my share of rent, bills and food. What’s more, I had consid-
erable bank debts, and the interest was mounting up. I had to
find full-time, paid work immediately, or go on benefits and
face a Jobcentre advisor choosing a career for me.
I got a job as an editorial assistant with the Financial Times,
and joined the NUJ, but that didn’t last long.
My dilemma was that faced by many other black and
minority ethnic graduates. In 2001 as many as 68 per cent of
Pakistanis and Bangladeshis lived in low-income households.
The same survey found the highest proportion of single-parent
families, like mine, among the mixed ethnic group, at 61 per
cent, followed by black-Caribbeans, at 54 per cent. Like me,
graduates from these backgrounds cannot entertain the possi-
bility of working for free.
Unpaid work experience is really only open to those with a
high level of financial support – typically white, middle-class
candidates. White graduates are four times more likely to be
offered a graduate job at a top 100 British company than
their ethnic minority counterparts. Internships exacerbate
this inequality by giving the children of the mainly white
middle classes an unfair head start in their careers. They are a
barrier to social mobility and make a mockery of meritocracy.
Industries that rely heavily on internships for recruitment, like
the media, effectively exclude poorer candidates.
Effective journalism requires understanding. Journalists
need to identify with the issues affecting their audiences, and
the best way to ensure this is to recruit from the entire breadth
of society. But the terms of an unpaid position make it avail-
able to only those applicants who can afford to work for free. A
significant pool of talent remains untapped.
Joseph Harker, head of the Guardian’s Positive Action
Work Scheme, told me that the problem is one of complacency.
“Racism is never discussed properly any more. Newspapers
claim to adopt a colour blind approach, but this results in an
approach that is merely racism blind.” He is keen to talk up his
positive action scheme and says that the situation is slowly
getting better for new recruits. But, he says, significant steps
still need to be taken at executive levels.
The schemes run by the Guardian and others are just
a drop in the ocean of media recruitment. A few positive
action programmes can’t reverse a trend that has become
institutionalised.
What is needed is a total overhaul in recruitment to jour-
nalism. Graduate level candidates should expect a fair wage
for their services, and media companies should take responsi-
bility for training their staff. This is the only way make a career
in journalism accessible to the best candidates, as opposed to
just the richest.
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Damien Gayle: what chances for young black people from
poor families?
19
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Journalist
I]Z?djgcVa^hi'#%
Ihe future of your magatìne ìt up for dìtruttìon
at dìgìtaI ronvergenre hìtt the k0j.
Ihìt ìttue hat not been prìnted and ìt avaìIabIe
onIy at a pdf from the k0j webtìte. Ihe k0j
natìonaI exerutìve't motìve for doìng thìt wat
to tave the rott of prìnt, pott and parkagìng,
but ìt romet at a tìme when the reIatìonthìp
between prìnt and ìnternet ìt rhangìng fatt.
Ihe journaIìtt ldìtorìaI Advìtory 8oard ìt
aIready workìng on a pIan to go onIìne
wìth a tìte ¬ a proper webtìte, not pdft ¬
Iaunrhìng Iater thìt year. Ihe reIatìonthìp to
the prìnted magatìne ¬ and to the unìon't
offìrìaI webtìte ¬ are under dìtruttìon.
What do membert thìnk! What do you
want from the unìon't pubIìratìon! 0o
you want more or fewer ìttuet, a webtìte
onIy or a hybrìd! 0r nothìng at aII!
8eIow ìt a tampIe of the rommentt the unìon
hat had over the onIìne appearanre of thìt
ìttue. 8ut thìt ìt a one·off. Ihe journaIìtt ìt now
kìrkìng off a debate to whìrh aII ran rontrìbute.
kìght, fhkl! WhlAl arguet that the edìtorthìp
thouId be a fuII·tìme freeIanre job, runnìng
a fuIIy ìnterartìve 'Web 2.0' webtìte.
AT AN NUJ Annual Delegate Meeting in the early 1990s, when
the Journalist had been cut to six issues a year because of the
then financial crisis, one London Freelance Branch delegate
suggested that the editorship should not be a full-time post,
but freelance. He was heckled and I was the first to condemn
him, but with hindsight, perhaps he was right.
The role, which attracts a full-time official’s salary of more
than £45,000, involves more than just editing the magazine.
For years the editor was also the press officer for the union.
The current incumbent, Tim Gopsill, has taken on other roles,
including “servicing” committees (organising meetings and
dealing with correspondence) — currently for the Ethics
Council. He launched the union’s website, was its first health
and safety official, and he edited and wrote much of the report
of last year’s multimedia working party.
Being both an independent editor and a union apparatchik
is a difficult balancing act that few can or would choose to
do. Tim Gopsill estimates that about 60 per cent of his time is
spent editing the magazine.
The last time the editor was up for election was 1998. Five
prospective candidates requested application packs but, in
the end, nobody but Tim Gopsill applied. Two of those who did
not said their reason was that they wanted only to be editor
and not a union official. So is it possible to create a job of
editor alone when Tim Gopsill retires in a couple of years time?
General Secretary Jeremy Dear says the full cost of
employing the editor is about £65,000. This year’s budget for
producing the magazine, excluding the salary, is £204,500,
with each issue costing just under 70p per member. Even
including the overheads, this is only 90p per copy.
If a freelance were offered about 60 per cent of the total
cost of an editor, the fee would be about £40,000 for ten
I spend more than enough time
looking at a computer screen and
really don’t want to have to do more. I
realise the need to save money and I
would be happy to pay the 70p cost of
receiving a printed copy
Roger Jones , Warwickshire
This completely undermines our faith
in the newspaper and magazine
business. Many members will not
bother to access the NUJ site
Michael Commins , Mayo, Ireland
I applaud your experiment. The
magazine is wasteful of money, plastic,
energy, and paper. Could we have a
corresponding cut in membership fees?
Leyla Boulton, Financial Times
By all means use the web to comple-
ment the Journalist but do not shut the
door on print and paper. There’s life
in it yet
Terence Burke, Financial Times
The number of readers will drop
substantially as a result of this change.
Of all unions, the NUJ really should be
able to sustain a printed publication
Chris Wilson, Lewes, East Sussex
I am sure this will damage links with
members and decrease their support.
Many members who read it thoroughly
when it comes through the post will
not bother if it comes online
Trevor Goodchild, London E11
A magazine is something most of us
stuff into our briefcases to pick up
to dip into. This is one of those nice
ideas that in theory ought to work, but
actually won’t
Peter Moeller, Ipswich
I’m afraid I require the NUJ’s mighty
organ to be in my hand, not on a website.
This is a really bad move, particularly for
members who aren’t in a chapel, and
don’t attend branch meetings
Stewart Perkins, Wolverhampton
Email your
comments to
journalist@
nuj.org.uk
Chris Wheal is
a freelance and
chair of the NUJ
Professional
Training
Committee
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Chief sub Journalist
issues a year. Such a change — effectively offering a five-year
freelance contract — might attract a journalist thinking of
taking the self-employment plunge. That would increase the
number of people standing for the post and create a lively
election period, with candidates outlining the editorial direc-
tion they intend for the Journalist.
But all the NUJ would save is £25,000 a year. There are
much bigger saving plans afoot, particularly as the biggest
costs are printing, postage and distribution. One proposal is to
produce the magazine as a downloadable PDF for all but a few
issues a year. That way, the editing and production roles would
stay the same.
A better option, surely, would be to embrace the multi-
media working party’s report — as drafted by the current
editor — and have a new Journalist website as a full-on multi-
media service with the editor doing video and podcasting
and photography as well as writing. The site could integrate a
bulletin board and blogs and offer an RSS feed.
User-generated content could come in the form of union
bodies posting updates of their activities, images from
meetings and picket lines and messages of support from fellow
members around the country. The NUJ’s nitty-gritty could be
covered, with committee chairs open to scrutiny and ques-
tions from the members. It could even be our very own social
networking site. Web 2.0? This would be Journalist 2.0.
It would also demonstrate that the NUJ can go multimedia
in a planned, well thought-out and funded way. The current
editor spends between 60 per cent of his time on the Journalist.
We know that producing multimedia content takes longer than
producing single media content. So make the editor’s role full-
time, with no committees to service or reports to write.
There won’t be magazines to lay out, but instead of that
work, the website content will need subbing properly (so rarely
done on most websites these days). And if just a little of the
savings from scrapping the printing, postage and distribution
costs, could go on more multimedia contributors, the NUJ could
have one of the most up-to-date websites and still save money.
It is time to make the editor of The Journalist a full-time role,
not just a full-time job.
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headIìnet and traìIt wrìtten for webtìtet
need to teII the readert exartIy what
ìt goìng on, tayt h0HPhklY lVAk!
HEADLINES ON websites have to work fast. One commen-
tator* suggests you have just two hot words at the begin-
ning of a headline which are all that readers take in when
scanning for information that interests them. This is a
useful discipline for headline writers of all kinds: stick two
info-laden words up front so readers know what’s going on.
But there’s a new kind of headline peculiar to websites,
which at the Guardian they call “pixies”, presumably
because they’re little pics. Some call them picture trails
or come-ons. They’re important in getting readers to
click through to the stories. You need to make sure the
meaning is clear if they’re going to work.
Every pixie has two lines. You could call them decks, of
a single line with up to 16 characters. Line 1, which they
call the trail strap, sets the general topic. Line 2, the link
text, conveys something more specific.
A rollover caption, which shows up when the cursor
hovers over the picture, can run to 55 characters and
wavers between adding extra headline-style information
and acting as a standfirst.
One Guardian pixie featured a photo of Johnny Depp
in full Pirates of the Caribbean mode under the double
headline Piracy and Zut Alors! Unrevealingly elusive,
n’est-ce pas?
The rollover text read: “Sarkozy backs new policy to
tackle French downloaders”. This shows what is wrong
with the headlines — there was no mention of computers
and no direct reference to France.
“Piracy” and “Zut alors!” make some sort of sense when
we know that the story is about internet piracy. But that is
the wrong way round.
People writing headlines, particularly headlines for
websites, must continually remind themselves that readers
have no idea of what is about to hit them. The subject should
be spelt out, rather than alluded to. In this case you might
think about “Internet piracy” and “France cracks down”.
Remember, too, that print usually provides more
context. An article on internet piracy in France in the print
version of the Guardian, for example, would have been in
the technology section. Material on websites usually has
to stand alone.
*Find out more at www.useit.com where the commentator
and researcher Jakob Nielsen outlines his findings
www.nuj.org.uk
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21
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Overseas
;:7GJ6GN'%/ The 18 passengers on my flight have 34
seats each. A hammer-and-sickle shaped patch of woodland is
silhouetted against the snow as we descend on Minsk airport. I
learn that Belarus’s President Alaksandr Lukashenko recently
told journalism students that the media is a weapon of mass
destruction that must be kept under state control.
;:7GJ6GN'&/ An early start to visit the weekly Slonim
Gazette, the last independent regional. No local printer will
handle their paper, so copy is taken on disk 150 km to Minsk.
Banned from the state-run distribution system, the papers are
posted to subscribers who must come to the office to order
them. It cannot be sold in shops or kiosks but has a circulation
of 7,000.
Success has got it into trouble. Reprimanded for exceeding
the official 30 per cent space limit on advertising, it must
increase pagination and thus its costs, but not its income. The
law forbids changes to the cover price and ad rates set when a
paper was first registered.
We reach Hrodna at dusk. All seven local independent
papers have been shut down. BAJ members must work abroad
or online. “Were it not for the internet we would all have
packed in and just gone to bed,” says one of them.
;:7GJ6GN''/ Jailed journalist Alaksandr Zdvizhkou has
won his appeal against a three-year sentence for reprinting
the Danish Mohammed cartoons as deputy editor of Zhoda.
The paper was closed down and he left the country but
was arrested when he returned for his father’s funeral. The
sentence was attributed to Lukashenko’s desire to win favour
with Iran and Arab countries now investing in Belarus, but
local Muslim leaders appealed for leniency.
I meet former editor Aliaksej Karol who is worried that their
new publication Novy Chas (New Times) will close if it cannot
raise the damages bill of £15,000 over another article that
upset the authorities.
;:7GJ6GN'(/ To Vileyka, where all the independent publi-
cations are unregistered, which means they can only distribute
299 copies. When plaster fell from the ceiling of a local school
it could only be mentioned by publishing an advert for student
safety helmets.
Back in Minsk there is news that Iryna Kazulin, wife of the
jailed opposition leader Alaksandar Kazulin, has died. Told he
could be freed to nurse her if they went into exile, her husband
had refused.
;:7GJ6GN')/ Seven hours by car to the grim northern city
of Novapolatsk, where BAJ branch members, lacking local
print outlets, have instead launched a website campaign
around conservation issues. Access to the web is growing, but
internet café owners must inform the KGB about the sites their
clients visit. Oppositionist web sites are monitored and regu-
larly blocked.
;:7GJ6GN'*/ Five of us pack into a small car to reach
Homiel, an industrial city on the edge of the Chernobyl exclu-
sion zone near the Ukraine border. Again all the main inde-
pendent newspapers have been axed. We meet in a building
shared by NGOs and an opposition party whose computers are
regularly removed by the KGB, which still operates in Belarus
under its old Russian title.
While we are there Alaksandr Zdvizhkou announces to a
press conference at BAJ HQ in Minsk that he is to quit Belarus.
“I know am not safe here, and I will only be able to breathe
calmly when I have left,” he says.
The same day a reporter on Komsomolskaya Pravda is
found hanged in a forest near Minsk. Many question the official
announcement that it is suicide. The body of TV cameraman
Dzmitry Zavadski who disappeared in 2000 has yet to be recov-
ered, though his kidnappers were jailed. In 2002 Ukrainian jour-
nalist Mikhail Kolomiets was also found hanged in a Belarussian
forest. The killer of BAJ activist Veronika Cherkasova, stabbed to
death in her Minsk flat four years ago, has never been found, nor
has there been a satisfactory explanation for the violent death
of freelancer Vasilij Gorodnikov in 2005.
Back at my hotel staff say there has been a murder in the
bar. “Nothing to worry about. Just some local businessmen
who knew each other.”
;:7GJ6GN'+/ Alaksandar Kazulin has been granted a
three-day release from jail for his wife’s funeral. I join the
crowds at the Catholic Church where he and his family are
greeting friends and supporters beside Iryna’s open coffin.
There is tension and sadness and mournful music. Plain-clothes
KGB men keep a watchful eye.
;:7GJ6GN',/ Back at Gatwick I devour all the newspapers
I can buy. We just do not appreciate how lucky we are.
6cYlZi]^c`
lZÉkZ\di
egdWaZbh½
Hlkl jlHP!0k tpent a week ìn 8eIarut wìth
the IoraI journaIìttt' unìon. Hembert of the
8eIarut Attorìatìon of journaIìttt (8Aj) are
farìng the wortt rettrìrtìont and offìrìaI
obttrurtìon ìn lurope ¬ and that't not aII
Alaksandr
Zdvizhkou, who
was jailed for
three months
for publishing
the Mohammed
cartoons,
announces he
is leaving the
country at a news
conference at the
BAJ HQ
Mike Jempson
visited Belarus for
a project run by
the International
Federation
of Journalists
in support of
the Belarus
Association of
Journalists www.
baj.by. The project
is funded by the
International
Media Support
Fund. For more on
the project go to
www.ifj.org and
follow “reports”
Aliaksej Karol,
former editor of
Zhoda: worried
about the future
of the paper set
up to replace it
M
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GET TRAINED WITH NUJ (SCOTLAND) in 2008
Tel: 0141 248 6648
e-mail: angelaa@nuj.org.uk
Training can also be delivered
inhouse and tailored to requirements.
For all details contact Angela Austin
LEARN IN CLASS
TEELINE SHORTHAND
Theory and/or Speed.
(price dependent on entry level)
PREVIEW at www.onlineshorthand.com
LEARN AT DISTANCE
COMING SOON . . .
We are planning evening “crash
courses” in specific
aspects of Scots Law.
Whether these go ahead depends on
demand, so people interested should
contact Angela Austin as soon as
possible.
Most courses are repeated throughout the
year so if you can’t make the dates given,
put your name on the waiting list.
Course outlines can be checked at
www.nujscotland.com
Dates for the courses below are to be finalised. Anyone interested should contact Angela at 0141 248 6648.
MEDIA AWARENESS
Training for trade unionists.
One-day course. £80
(available to TUC and STUC affiliates)
SCOTTISH PUBLIC AFFAIRS
One-day course. £80
FORENSIC REPORTING
Half-day seminar. £50
COPYRIGHT & COMMISSIONING
One-day course. £80
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
(SCOTLAND) ACT
One-day course. £80
FEATURE WRITING
One-day course.
Thursday June 5. £80
REPORT WRITING
One day course. £80
TRAVEL WRITING
One-day course.
Friday June 20. £80
LEARN ON THE INTERNET
INTERACTIVE ONLINE COURSES
SUB-EDITING ONLINE £50
FREE sampler at www.
MediaEditing.co.uk
MEDIA AWARENESS ONLINE £25
ENGLISH FOR JOURNALISTS ONLINE £75
QUARKXPRESS
One night a week for 10 weeks.
Starts April 16 and September 2008.
Glasgow Metropolitan College. £100
PR TRAINING
One-day course.
Mondays March 31 and May 19. £80
NEWSPAPER TEXT HANDLING
(subbing)
One night a week for 10 weeks.
Starts April 15 and September 2008.
Glasgow Metropolitan College. £100
INDESIGN (Quark’s rival)
One night a week for 10 weeks.
Starts April 17 and September 2008.
Glasgow Metropolitan College. £100
FREELANCE JOURNALISM
One-day course.
Friday May 30. £80
LAW FOR JOURNALISTS
IN SCOTLAND
One-day course.
Friday May 16. £80
SCRIPT WRITING
One-day course.
Saturday May 17. £80
ADVANCED INTERNET RESEARCH
One-day course.
Wednesdays March 26 and June 18.
NUJ members – £100
Non-members – £200
NEW
SCOTS GAELIC WRITING SKILLS ONLINE £100
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86GIDDCH6<6>CHI<AD76AL6GB>C<
Awards
ROSEMARY GOODCHILD PRIZE
Deadline: 28 March
Categories: (1) best published article on a
sexual health issue
Prizes: £500
Sponsors: FPA
Contact: Adam Stevens, FPA, 50
Featherstone Street, London, EC1Y 8QU
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Deadline: 31 March
Categories: (10) international TV &
radio, TV news, periodicals, online, radio,
photojournalism, TV documentary &
docudrama, national newspapers, nations &
regions, Gaby Rado memorial award
Prizes: awards
Sponsors: Amnesty
Contact: www.amnesty.org.uk/awards
BRIDGESTONE E-REPORTER
YOUNG JOURNALISTS
Deadline: 31 March
Categories: on motor racing for journalists
18-30 across Europe
Prizes: attend Spanish & Italian GPs
Sponsors: Bridgestone
Contact: debbie.beale@jardine-international.
com
CO-OPERATIVE GROUP STUDENT
JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
Deadline: 1 April
Categories: student feature on one of
5 topics ‘central to the Group’s mission’ —
climate change, social inclusion, tackling
crime, food ethics and modern co-operation
Prizes: £1,000-£3,000
Sponsors: Co-operative Group
Contact: www.co-operative.co.uk
ILARIA ALPI AWARD
Deadline: 5 April
Categories: (1) best international TV report
covering social unrest
Prizes: €2,500
Sponsors: various Italian
Contact: info@ilariaalpi.it
CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS
Deadline: 15 April
Categories: (3) print journalism story, video
documentary, TV news story
Prizes: awards
Sponsors: Creative Communications
Contact: ccma@hotmail.com
IUALTD PRIZE FOR JOURNALISTS
TO COMBAT TUBERCULOSIS
Deadline: 30 April
Categories: reporting that increases
knowledge of TB in developing countries
Prizes: $3,000
Sponsors: IUALTD, Stop TB, Lilly MDR-TB
Contact: Phone 00 33 144 320 360
DECADE OF EXCELLENCE AWARD
Deadline: 5 May
Categories: aerospace journalism over past
10 years
Prizes: award
Sponsors: Royal Aeronautical Society
Contact: www.ajoya.com
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Deadline: 6 May
Categories: (2, 1 professional) feature on UN
Millennium Development Goals
Prizes: computing equipment worth £1,500,
1,000, flights to Africa, publication in the
Guardian
Sponsors: Guardian, Marie Stopes
International
Contact: www.guardian.co.uk/
developmentcompetition
WASH MEDIA AWARDS
Deadline: 15 May
Categories: (4, on water supply, sanitation
& hygiene issues) print, online & journals,
radio, TV
Prizes: awards
Sponsors: WSSCC
Contact: casteleins@who.int
VOICE OF THE LISTENER &
VIEWER STUDENT ESSAY
Deadline: 30 May
Categories: (2) student essay on what
citizens & consumers need from their
communications environment
Prizes: £500 plus work experience
Sponsors: Voice of the Listener Trust
Contact: info@vlv.org.uk, www.vlv.org.uk
?djgcVa^hi6lVgYhHZgk^XZ
9Wb[dZWh7fh_bÆCWo(&&.
CARTOONISTS HAVE the chance to
demonstrate their talent and do their
bit for the environment.
The Ken Sprague Fund has
launched its second international
political cartoon competition on the
subject of the environment, entitled
Earthworks 2008. Cartoonists are
invited to submit works on the subject
of our threatened environment, partic-
ularly global warming.
The competition is sponsored by
the Political Cartoon Gallery, New
Internationalist and the Morning Star.
Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson is
chair of the jury.
The Ken Sprague Fund was set up
to commemorate the work and ideas
of the cartoonist and graphic artist,
Ken Sprague, who died in 2004.
The first prize is £500, the second
£300 and the third £200.
Cartoons can be submitted in
electronic format (good resolution)
or, preferably, as original works.
Cartoons with text and/or captions
not in English should (if possible) be
accompanied by a translation.
An exhibition of the best of
the submissions will be organised
in London and the prize-winning
cartoons will be published in the
Morning Star and other journals.
The organisers undertake to give
due credit to the artists and ensure
they receive any royalties/payments
that may accrue as a result of the
competition.
The first ten cartoons
will be displayed on
www.kenspraguefund.org
Entries must be submitted
by June 1. Submissions to:
comp2008@kenspraguefund.org
More information at www. N
kenspraguefund.org
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Overseas
NEWSPAPER BOSS David Montgomery
is facing a newsroom revolt at his titles
in Germany. Staff on papers owned
by his European group Mecom have
demanded changes in the way they are
run in the face of massive spending cuts.
David Montgomery earned a
reputation for ruthless cost-cutting
when he was chief executive of the
Mirror Group in London in the 1990s.
He sacked more than 100 journalists,
including most of the leading members
of the NUJ at the group, and at the
Independent, which was under Mirror
group management for a time.
He is now building a Europe-wide
empire, taking over papers and cutting
costs to achieve profit margins of up to
20 per cent.
He bought the Berliner Zeitung in
2005 and the Hamburg Morgenpost
in 2006, and is now seeking cuts of €5
million — 20 per cent of spending — at a
time when investment is needed for the
papers to establish decent websites.
Representatives of the two German
journalists unions, the DJV and Ver.di,
visited the NUJ in London in March to
seek the union’s support.
In February the journalists wrote to
David Montgomery and the manager
he has installed, Josef Depenbrock,
demanding that they “rethink the
current business policy” and urging
him to invest in the titles. “If Mecom is
unable to come up with such a strategy,
a new, appropriate proprietor should be
sought,” said the letter.
Josef Depenbrock holds the posi-
tions of editor-in-chief and chief execu-
tive, in defiance of the papers’ editorial
6ermant fìght bark
agaìntt Hontgomery
Montgomery: continental cost-cutter
statutes, which stipulate they must be
kept separate. The unions are mounting
a legal case for a court order that the
posts be separated.
Staff told Josef Depenbrock: “After
almost two years of your administration,
all of our fears have been realised. You are
either unwilling, or unable, to adequately
control the editorial department. We
have lost faith in you. Stand down.”
Nineteen top journalists have
left the titles and not been replaced.
Working conditions are deteriorating
and there are fears for editorial quality.
Journalists say morale is very low.
Journalists are struggling to
produce the websites on an 11-year-old
computer system. To work on the sites
they have to use the superior terminals
in the secretarial department, which
they have dubbed the “internet café”.
The German daily paper market is
highly competitive, with 12 in Berlin
alone.
Mecom owns more than 300 titles
in Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark,
Germany, Poland and Ukraine and
employs 12,000 people.
THE MOROCCAN supreme court
has rejected an appeal by journalist
Mustapha Hurmatallah against a seven-
month jail sentence over a story in Al
Watan Al An newspaper last July that
revealed internal government docu-
ments on security and terrorism.
Mustapha Hurmatallah and
managing director Abderrahim Ariri were
arrested and charged with receiving
documents obtained by criminal means.
Abderrahim Ariri received a six-month
suspended sentence.
The Casablanca appeals court
reduced both sentence by a month but
now both have been confirmed by the
supreme court.
The International Federation of
Journalists backed the Moroccan jour-
nalists’ union’s call for the charges to be
dropped. IFJ President Jim Boumelha,
who is himself Moroccan, said: “There
can be no claim to press freedom in
Morocco if the courts are throwing jour-
nalists into prison for doing their job.”
A LEADING journalist from the Burmese
weekly Myanmar Nation was arrested
in February after police and intelligence
officials conducted a four-hour search
of the office.
Chief Editor Thet Zin was held along
with office manager Sein Win Maung.
Thet Zin was able to meet his wife in a
police station three days later and told
her he was facing a 10-year sentence,
though he did not know what he had
been charged with.
The next day police returned to the
Myanmar Nation office for a three-hour
search and seized data from Thet Zin’s
computer. They then closed the office.
Myanmar Nation was published with
clearance from the official censorship
board.
Thet Zin had been a student democ-
racy activist before working for various
weekly journals. He was arrested and
tortured in the pro-democracy uprising
of 1988.
JAWED AHMAD,
an Afghan
journalist working
for a Canadian
television
network who has
been held for four
months without
charge has been
designated an
“unlawful enemy
combatant” by
the US military.
He was detained
last October at
a NATO airbase
in Kandahar and
transferred to
the notorious
detention centre
at Bagram airfield,
north of Kabul.
According to local
reports, he had
interviewed the
Taliban for a story,
which is common
for Afghan
journalists.
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ldìtor faret 10 yeart ìn jaìI
THE NUJ has joined its sister union in
Colombia to condemn the murder of
radio journalist Manuel Arturo Macías
Cerrera on Colombia’s national journal-
ists’ day.
He was shot as he was going home
on February 9 in Algeciras, central
Colombia. A founding member of the
Journalists’ Association of Huila, part of
the Colombian Federation of Journalists,
he was also the sole opposition coun-
cillor on Algeciras council.
Eduardo Márquez, President of the
federation, said: “The cowards who shot
our colleague were sending us a death
message when we were celebrating
Colombia’s Day of the Journalist.
“We got the message. We will
double our efforts to ensure our safety
throughout the country, but also be
increasingly alert in keeping an eye on
the intolerant, be they corrupt politicians,
paramilitary groups, guerrillas, corrupt
state agents or organised crime groups.”
The NUJ has strong ties with the
federation and assisted in its formation
last year.
keporter tent
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Overseas
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THE PRESIDENT of the Iraqi Union of Journalists,
Shihab Al-Timimi, has become the 250th journalist
to be killed in the country since the invasion five
years ago. He was fatally wounded on February 27
when four gunmen opened fire on his car.
Shihab Al-Timimi, 74, was hit by a hail of bullets
following a meeting of the union leadership in the
Al Wazeiriyah district of Baghdad about plans for a
seminar on the safety of journalists.
His life had been spent in the struggle for an
independent, democratic and secular Iraq. He was
first imprisoned in 1948 at the tender age of 14, as
a member of the banned Iraqi Communist Party. His
commitment to social justice saw him imprisoned
many times after this, under the regime of Saddam
Hussein.
He was later to leave the Communist Party, but
always remained committed to the goal of a demo-
cratic, non-sectarian, independent and secular Iraq.
These principals enabled the Iraqi Union of
Journalists, and its predecessor the Iraqi Syndicate
of Journalists, to remain politically independent,
non-sectarian and secular, while many other organi-
sations in Iraq have split along religious or political
lines in the chaos and social breakdown since the
invasion. Shihab Al-Timimi was implacably opposed
to the US and British occupation.
He was an outspoken opponent of sectarian
violence and he spent his life defending journalists
and journalism. His was dedicated to improving the
safety of Iraqi journalists and fighting to preserve
their independence and professionalism.
The NUJ has supported the call by the
International Federation of Journalists for the UN
to lead the defence of journalists and the media in
Iraq. The union has demanded that the Iraqi govern-
ment investigate this crime and prosecute those
responsible.
David Ayrton
THE INTERNATIONAL Federation of
Journalists is calling on journalists’
unions around the world to join protests
over a “cynical campaign” by Russian
political bosses to close down the
Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ).
For the past year state agencies in
Moscow have been trying to evict the
union from the premises it has occupied
for almost 30 years, claiming the
building is unsafe.
Now the RUJ has learned that the
government is trying to sell the building
to a private owner and throw the union
onto the street.
“The Russian union has been one of
the most strident critics of government
pressure on independent journalism,”
said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
“It is the victim of intimidation and a
cynical campaign by its political oppo-
nents who have failed to close the union
using trumped up charges of breaching
fire regulations, who are now trying to
sell off offices that the union insists are
legally their own.”
The IFJ traces the campaign against
the union to the World Congress of
Journalists it hosted in Moscow in June
last year when journalists’ leaders
from almost 100 countries strongly
criticised attacks on press freedom and
the government’s failure to act over the
killings of journalists.
“This crisis is not a property dispute,”
said Aidan White. “It is a determined
effort to stifle the voice of independent
journalism in a country where democ-
racy is under fire and media freedom
has been plunged into darkness.”
!tate 'ìt tryìng to throw
kuttìan unìon onto ttreet'
REBECCA Wilbrod Kasujja, presenter
of a morning show on community radio
station Buwama FM in Uganda was
raped and killed by unidentified assail-
ants in February.
She was on her way to the station
when she was attacked. Villagers found
her body later that day. Fellow journal-
ists believe she was attacked because of
her journalistic work.
“This incident once again high-
lights the dangers facing journalists
who work odd hours,” said Ugandan
Journalists’ Union President Michael
Wakabi. “Female journalists, who form
the bulk of newscasters, are particularly
vulnerable.”
A COURT IN Azerbaijan has sentenced
Ganimat Zahidov, the editor of the
opposition daily Azadlig, to four years
in prison for “aggravated hooliganism”
and “assault and battery” in connection
with an incident last year in which he
was accosted by a stranger.
He was summoned by the police
three days later and has been held ever
since. The man who accosted him got
an 18-month sentence.
Ganimat Zahidov regards the
incident as deliberate provocation in
retaliation for his articles, including
those accusing Azerbaijan President
Ilham Aliev’s wife of corruption.
Azadlig (“freedom” in Azeri) is often
the target of harassment. Ganimat
Zahidov’s brother Sakit, a reporter for
the paper, was sentenced last year to
three years in prison for possession of
drugs, although prosecutors failed to
prove that he possessed any.
Sakit Zahidov began a hunger strike
in prison on February 3 to protest
against his conditions of detention
and to demand medical attention. He
staged two hunger strikes last year,
demanding to be transferred to a
hospital for treatment.
Another Azadlig reporter, Agil
Khalilov, was attacked and beaten in
February.
REPORTER Mike
Chipalasa and
managing editor
James Mphande
of the Daily Times
in Malawi have
been charged
with “publishing
false news likely
to lead to a
breach of public
order”, over an
article quoting an
opposition leader
as saying the
government was
trying to rig the
2009 elections.
FAUSTIN Bambou,
editor of a weekly
in the Central
African Republic,
was sentenced
to six months in
prison in January
but pardoned
after six weeks. He
had been charged
over an article
claiming that
two government
ministers
received massive
commissions from
a French nuclear
company.
Aterìt farìng
harattment
Pretenter
raped, kìIIed
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Obituaries
FORMER News of the World journalist
Nicholas Light has died aged 69. He
worked on national and regional news-
papers, in TV and finally as a senior infor-
mation officer for Hampshire council.
His career began in 1958 when
he joined the Hampshire Chronicle
in Winchester, straight from National
Service. He worked casual shifts at
the Daily Mail, where his talents were
spotted and he was invited to work on
ATV’s Braden’s Beat along with Esther
Rantzen and her talented young team.
When the News of the World
took him on he remained based in
Winchester but travelled the world,
often following his own leads.
In 1981 he joined Southern
Television where he worked on the
newsdesk until illness struck. He fought
it with extraordinary courage and came
back to work as a senior information
officer for Hampshire County Council.
Madeleine Warren
DAVE WATSON lived his life at high
volume. Colleagues at BBC Radio Derby
used to say that he didn’t need a landline
when he was reporting from Matlock. If
he just opened the window, they could
hear him in Derby 20 miles away.
Dave was an outstanding radio jour-
nalist who always brought that human
dimension to his work. His coverage
of the miners’ strike in the mid-1980s
gained him recognition throughout the
BBC as an outstanding journalist “who
got under the skin of the dispute.”
After a brief stint at Radio One’s
News Beat, he joined the BBC Midlands
Today and then Central TV News in
Birmingham.
He had no time for the personality
culture that too many in the profession
get sucked into. His mission was to be
Dave Watson
covering the
miners’ strike in
1984
I FIRST met the French-born free-
lance photographer Philippe Haÿs
(pictured) while doorstepping Michael
Barrymore’s house shortly after the pool
death in 2001. We gelled immediately
having not only a passion for photog-
raphy but also for good food and the
music of Frank Zappa.
I covered many assignments with
Philippe. He was a perfectionist, his
light meter often seen swinging from
A STAUNCH union member since
1959 when he joined the Huddersfield
Examiner as a trainee, Michael Jackson
has died of a heart attack aged 65.
Born in Wetherby, Michael remained
a proud Yorkshireman of Lithuanian
Jewish stock.
His grandfather, Chaim Jakowitz,
had emigrated to Yorkshire but it was
his father, Isaac, who anglicized the
name to Jackson.
Michael made his name writing
about beer. Early in his career on the
Examiner he went to the editor with an
idea to write a series called ”This is your
Pub”. The editor liked the enterprise of
a 16-year-old seeking to visit pubs on
expenses.
Moving to London, Michael worked
for the Daily Herald and then the trade
weekly World Press News, which he
helped transform into the Campaign,
before becoming an investigative
reporter with Granada’s World In Action.
It was here, he said, his career shift
came about as a result of lunch in a
pub with his editor, who said, “a good
reporter can find a good story under his
nose” and under Michael’s nose was a
beer.
Working in Amsterdam in 1969 he
became captivated by the Belgian beer
culture which was to play a significant
part in The World Guide to Beer (1977),
his second book which made his name.
His Channel 4 series The Beer Hunter
was shown worldwide.
Last December he revealed he’d
been suffering from Parkinson’s for
more than a decade. He was planning
to write a book about it called “I am not
drunk”. Sadly it was not to be.
Guy Thornton
DC:D;I=:DA98D9<:GH
PETER REED, for many years one of the Daily Mirror’s
famous Old Codgers, has died at 85 after 60 years of
NUJ membership. Peter spent almost his entire career
within the Mirror fold, starting before the war as office
boy to William Connor, the great columnist Cassandra.
After war service he returned to Fleet Street, working
successively on Junior Mirror and Woman’s Sunday
Mirror, where he became production editor. In 1964, he
rejoined the Daily Mirror as editor of the Live Letters
column dealing with a mailbag of thousands a day.
Tony Hoskins
a good journalist first and last, and the
peripheral froth was of no interest to him.
He would bring a smile to everyone’s
face as he strode out of the gallery,
holding his scripts aloft and proclaiming
with mocking pride: “Another two
minutes of television history.”
His sheer zest for life equipped him
to meet the toughest challenge imagi-
nable when he contracted multiple
sclerosis. It was a condition to which he
refused to submit. Even when he could
no longer speak, he somehow found the
strength and the will to make himself
understood. He inspired everyone
around him, including the medical staff,
who were devoted to him.
Allister Craddock
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his neck, something few photographers
bother with.
He provided photographs to Still
Pictures and Rex Features and had
pictures published in top periodicals.
He read the Daily Telegraph but was
liberal in his political outlook.
Last October he collapsed at his
home and was diagnosed with pneu-
monia. He died the next day.
Rob Welham
Hatter of newt, IV and Pk
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SARAH OLOWE died in London in
December after a sudden illness, aged
45. A philosophy graduate, she had
the mind of a lawyer and the pen of a
first class journalist. She was forthright,
brave and feisty, as the BBC and others
found out when she fought them in race
and sex discrimination cases.
We quickly bonded as activists in
the London Television branch and the
union’s Race Relations Working Party
— before it became the Black Members
Council. Sarah went on to Chair the BMC.
Her commitment to the advancement of
black journalists was unrivalled. She also
chaired the Equality Council and was a
member of the NEC, the Ethics Council
and Broadcasting Industrial Council.
Sarah could have become the
union’s first black female Deputy
General Secretary when she stood for
the post in the 1990s, but was beaten.
She refused to fit the stereotype
some white people have of black
women. She wasn’t “ghetto”, she spoke
crystal-clear BBC English, loved good
champagne and also had a fondness
for horse riding, classical music and fine
wines.
She was a BBC Radio 4 reporter and
presenter, on programmes including
Today in Parliament, and wrote features
for the Financial Times, Sunday Times
and Caribbean Times. She edited two
books.
Marc Wadsworth
ONE OF THE union’s longest-serving
members has died at the age of 96.
Noel Richley was born in Lancashire
where his father was a church minister
and started on the Bury Times, later
working as a reporter on the Daily
Mirror and Daily Herald in Manchester.
After war service in the navy he
rejoined the Herald before moving to
PA in London in
1947. Noel became
defence corre-
spondent and then
chief news editor
until his retirement
in 1975. He was
the PA chapel’s
welfare officer for
many years and
became an NUJ
Life Member on retirement.
As well as his 77 years in the NUJ —
believed to be a record — he worked with
the Newspaper Press Fund — now the
Journalists’ Charity — and was its treas-
urer until the age of 94. He was made an
MBE for his services to the fund.
Noel’s wife Sue was a journalist
before they married and so are two of his
children and one grandchild: daughter
Samantha worked in newspapers and
radio, and son Rob runs a corporate
communications business after a career
in newspapers. Granddaughter Emma
Mason has her own PR business too.
Rob Richley
JIMMY BARNES was a socialist who
mixed journalism, philosophy and
trades unionism with extraordinary
practical skill.
Apprenticed as an engineer in 1966,
he worked for London Underground and
the National Coal Board. From 1977
Jimmy studied philosophy and politics
at Sunderland Polytechnic and was a
Communist Party activist, but always
his own man.
Jimmy’s finances were precarious.
Living on benefits and erratic freelance
journalism he devoted his energies to
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his own publications, Trade Union CND,
which tackled “arms conversion” — how
nuclear arms industry workers could be
persuaded to support nuclear disarma-
ment — and Trade Union Review, which
dished the dirt on the more unsavoury
union leaders. Both projects generated
intense hostility as well as stories that
ended in the Guardian.
In 2000 Jimmy returned to Carlisle
to care for his dying parents and helped
revive the NUJ Cumbria Branch. For a
few years he was a forceful if sometimes
irascible delegate to union conferences.
Three years ago he bought a pub
near Accrington, Lancashire, and set up
a publishing company. He republished
John Milton’s classic tract on freedom
of expression, Areopagitica, for which I
wrote an introduction.
The pub made Jimmy financially
stable and last December we were
discussing his plans to reprint another
classic, Ralph Korngold’s Citizen
Toussaint. But in January he died
suddenly, aged 57. Friends intend to
publish the book in his memory.
Granville Williams
Sarah Olowe at the 1990 NUJ annual conference
Noel Richley:
made an MBE
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Victor Noir
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IF I WERE to criticise Nick Davies’s
supposedly controversial book Flat
Earth News it would be for taking 400
pages to state the obvious. Reading
practically every story he tells, I found
myself saying, “of course, it all makes
sense, I knew it all along”.
Even as the book came out, Flat
Earth stories — the ones that don’t make
sense but are recycled everywhere —
were swirling all around us.
Here’s one that came with the
news blackout on Prince Harry in
Afghanistan: the flat earth story is that
Harry is a brave warrior who is one of
the lads but had to be protected as a
“bullet magnet” while on active service.
In truth he was in no more danger
than any of his comrades — probably
considerably less, with the protection
he has. Danger of kidnap? All soldiers
in Afghanistan are in danger of kidnap,
aren’t they? And none have been yet.
Harry’s function apparently was to
call in fighter planes, the most deadly
and terrifying war machines ever
constructed, from a safe distance, to
blast villages built of mud. That’s brave?
He would never have been allowed
to go to Afghanistan without the
blackout, so effectively it was the media
that sent him there. Yet it was reported
as if it was a real event.
The publicist Max Clifford got it
right. He said: “To me it’s blatantly
obvious. It’s a PR stunt, the whole thing
has been put together. He was getting
increasing bad publicity from hanging
around in clubs and pubs, and coming
out drunk.” Max Clifford knows what
he’s talking about.
By the way, Harry said in an inter-
view: “I generally don’t like England that
much.” Isn’t that quote from a possible
future monarch rather more of a REAL
story? And how much play did it get?
JOURNALISTS often say they only
realise how bad some reporting is when
they see a story about something they
know about. Nick Davies could say that
himself after some of the stories about
his supposed motivation.
According to these, Nick Davies,
who has a freelance contract with the
Guardian, included his chapter on the
Observer at the behest of Guardian
editor Alan Rusbridger, in pursuit of
a vendetta against its Sunday sister
title, either because its editor Roger
Alton was pro-war or because he
was obstructing a crusade on Alan
Rusbridger’s part to bring the Observer
more tightly under Guardian control.
Peter Preston, reviewing Flat Earth
News, put it all down to the war: “Davies
doesn’t agree with the Observer’s leader
line on Iraq.” Other reviewers said much
the same.
The facts are that Nick Davies was
given time off on his retainer to write
the book on an understanding that
the Guardian could have extracts if it
wanted them. Alan Rusbridger knew
nothing of what Nick Davies was
writing until he saw a proof, when he
realised that he couldn’t run the chapter
on the Observer and therefore couldn’t
really run anything at all.
Far from dictating a hatchet job, he
ended up with nothing but embarrass-
ment from an exercise that cost him
18 months of Nick Davies’s pay, and it
seems to me he should be applauded
for giving the author his head. How
many editors would do that?
Finally, there is the small considera-
tion that Nick Davies is not anti-war.
TO HIS CREDIT, Nick Davies doesn’t
claim to have coined the word “chur-
nalism” to define the kind of mindless
repetitive journalism that is blighting
our profession.
Apparently it was first used by a BBC
Midlands journalist, Waseem Zakir, in
the late 1990s. I’m obliged for this tip
to Tony Harcup lecturer in journalism at
Sheffield University (and a former chair
of the Journalist’s editorial board), who
heard Waseem Kazir’s neologism quoted
by colleagues at an NUJ meeting.
Waseem Zakir is now a journalist
— not, I’m sure, a churnalist — at BBC
Glasgow. He modestly accepts the
accolade. “We were just getting copy
from the wires and processing stuff and
maybe adding the odd local quote,” he
says, “just churning it out.”
EVEN STUDENT journalists are told
to look out for PR-inspired non-
stories with a barely hidden commer-
cial agenda, especially those based
on implausible surveys. But one
did the rounds in February, about
the supposed danger for pedes-
trians from walking into lampposts
and other “street furniture” while
texting on their mobiles.
There are 6.5 million “street
incidents and injuries” every year, it
said, and a “survey” had shown that
68,258 people in London alone had
suffered them while texting last year.
It even came with a headline
— “unprotected text” — and a
picture of a pretty woman bumping
into a lamppost. Here it is (left).
Fortunately the lamppost had been
lagged like a hot water tank, and
the padding had a company logo on
it — that of the 118118 telephone
enquiry company.
Yet this nonsense appeared in
most UK nationals, including the
precious Guardian, and on ITN, CNN,
Sky and Fox TV.
The 118118 PR agency deserves
a fat bonus, but the journalists who
churned the story?
As my informant, East London
Advertiser reporter Ted Jeory, put it:
“It’s the Flat Earth hacks who smacked
straight into a PR puff that really
need to look where they’re going.”
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be proud of
ONE OF THE most common insults
thrown at the union is that we’re all
Luddites — opposing technological
change because of our innate conserva-
tism and fear.
We always respond: “Of course we’re
not Luddites, we like technology, we
just want to ensure that this so-called
progress is not used to undermine
professionalism, wages and our terms
and conditions.”
We should stop saying this — not the
part about liking technology, but the
part about saying we’re not Luddites.
Nedd Ludd’s gang of angry artisans
were not conservatives and were not
opposed to technology. Like us, they
were opposed to the way machines were
being used to destroy wages, conditions
and the professionalism they brought to
their trade.
The Luddites were one of the most
important influences on the develop-
ment of the trade union movement.
Their tactics — sabotage and
destruction of the new machinery —
was an extreme response to extreme
circumstances.
Within a few years of the introduc-
tion of machinery to the textile industry
of the early 19th Century, the artisans
and their guilds had all but disappeared,
replaced by the brutal sweatshops of
the industrial revolution.
The Luddites’ actions were taken
in the context of rising food prices,
depressed trade caused by the wars
of the time and government-imposed
trading restrictions.
This was in a time without the safety
net of social welfare, where unemploy-
ment and poverty meant being sent to
the workhouse or worse.
As trade unionists, we need to
remember and celebrate our history.
Without the radicals of the 19th
Century, we would very likely not have
seen the explosion in union organising
100 or so years ago.
To see the name of our forefathers
as an insult that we have to deny, is an
insult to those upon whose shoulders
we stand.
We need to declare that, like the
Luddites, we will stand in solidarity
with our fellows until the entire industry
ensures proper payment for quality work.
I’m proud to call myself a Luddite
— as proud as I am of also being a
technophile.
New Media Luddites Unite!
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1 Like Diana, she’s looking for a
quarry (8)
5 About to make savings, business
produces cement (6)
9 Religious chap returned opening
wine (8)
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12 No fat to shed (4-2)
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18 Possibly causing hole on English bit of
furniture (6,6)
23 Seaman with two lots of cards (4,4)
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28 Writer boiled rice in company (6)
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3 Bird’s egg in a list (7)
4 We hear quote from internet
location (4)
6 In love with Communist going North?
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7 Give instruction to old soldier (8)
8 Get a new order from Roses Ltd —
they’ve experienced many birthdays! (8)
11 Cooked duck with orange herb (7)
14 Phoning could be a profession (7)
16 Don is of no practical use (8)
17 Touring Arctic on strong drug (8)
19 One studying strange corals around
end of beach (7)
20 It’s pathetic how those saving
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21 Reckless daughter gets a piece of
jewellery (6)
22 Love means nothing in this sport ! (6)
25 Fish with a bit at the end (4)
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