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‘This won’t be solved through recruitment alone’: Your thoughts on the NUJ’s financial crisis

May 29th, 2012 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Journalism

Confirmation from the National Union of Journalists that it is facing insolvency has prompted journalists to suggest some ideas on how to improve the union’s situation.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said in an email to all members yesterday that “doing nothing is not an option” – and she asked members to encourage colleagues to join the union.

She said: “If no action is taken the union would face insolvency and the consequential prospect of a merger as soon as later this year.

“We have been here before, and the way out is by acting together in the collective interests of the union we are all passionate about.”

Journalist Leah Borromeo said the NUJ’s problems would not be solved through recruitment alone and that a merger with broadcasting union Bectu would reflect convergence in the wider media industry. Back in 2008, the NUJ looked at leaving its Headland House headquarters in London and sharing with Bectu, but nothing came of it.

Brian Whelan says not enough is being done to recruit graduates:

NUI Galway MA student Colette Sexton adds:

And Sheffield Uni MA student Luke Martin says the NUJ’s antiquated website isn’t helping:

However, Donnacha DeLong says improvements to the site are on the way:

One option being proposed is a five per cent rise in subscription rates. However, Telegraph journalist Jennifer O’Mahony suggests rethinking the membership fees structure altogether:

Any ideas? What would you do to improve the finances of the NUJ?

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Bristol branch of NUJ to protest over Evening Post cuts

The Bristol branch of the National Union of Journalists is due to hold a peaceful demonstration later today following news that 20 jobs were at risk with publication of the Evening Post’s Saturday edition to be stopped from next month.

The protest will take place outside an exhibition marking 80 years of the Northcliffe Media’s title from 6.15pm outside the Galleries in Bristol. The union branch says it has received much support from the local community.

Last week NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the changes to the Evening Post were a “shock announcement”.

We call on the paper’s management to take steps to avoid job losses and enter into meaningful consultation with staff and their union representatives.

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NUJ invites News International journalists to meeting

November 1st, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

The National Union of Journalists is due to hold a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, 2 November) to discuss the recently announced cuts to editorial within the Times and Sunday Times, which is open to member and non-member freelance, casual and staff journalists at the publisher’s titles.

Last month the Times announced it was to cut around 100 staff from the newspapers’ editorial workforce, with the bulk of those said to be to casual staff. It was also confirmed that 20 compulsory redundancies are due to be made from full-time staff at the Sunday Times, which is cutting 30 per cent of its casual editorial workforce.

Following this announcement the NUJ set up a meeting, which is open to any staff who wish to seek advice. It will be held from 1 to 3pm at the Captain Kidd pub, 108 Wapping High Street, E1W 2NE. The union has also invited representatives of the company’s in-house union NISA to attend if interested in working with the NUJ.

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#jpod in depth: Strikers on BBC picket lines

August 5th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Job losses, Jobs, Podcast

This week’s #jpod looks at the BBC strikes which have been held by members of the National Union of Journalists in recent weeks. Staff performed their second 24-hour walk-out in protest at compulsory redundancies at the broadcaster, this week.

According to the union, more than 100 people are at risk of losing their jobs at the BBC World Service and jobs are also said to be at risk in divisions including BBC Monitoring, BBC Scotland and potentially BBC Wales, BBC 4, BBC Sport and TV Current Affairs.

In this podcast we visit the picket lines to speak to journalists striking at a regional BBC outlet and hear their concerns, as well as Jonathan Lovett, father of the chapel for the NUJ at Tindle Newspapers in Enfield, to discuss the power of industrial action and how him and his colleagues won concessions from management.

You can sign up to our iTunes podcast feed for future audio.

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Johnston Press strike breakers brag about newsroom antics on Facebook

Johnston Press journalists picket the offices of the South Yorkshire Times

Johnston Press in South Yorkshire are out on indefinite strike over planned redundancies at five titles in the region. (See more from Journalism.co.uk about the strike action at this link).

Management have come in for a lot of flak from the unions over their handling of the strike, which included asking a 16-year-old schoolboy on work experience to stay on an extra week and help cover the newsdesk.

Further embarrassment for the company comes in the form of Tom Bills and friend Jack Reed. Tom – the son of Johnston Press managing director John Bills – and Jack were drafted in to help out on the newsdesk of the Doncaster Free Press, according to NUJ deputy organiser for the region Lawrence Shaw, despite having no journalistic experience.

But rather than hide their faces away like strike breakers might normally do, ferried through a picket line on a bus with wire mesh on the windows, Tom and Jack publicised their newsroom antics on Facebook, for the world to see.

Shaw spotted the Facebook status updates and reposted them on his blog.

They include such gems from Tom as:

workin in a newsroom in doncaster, av been for a couple of weeks! Its reaaaaalllly goood!:) x

is it bad that I found the word ‘erection’ funny at work in a story about a building being built?!!:)

sooooo bored at work I’ve actually started look at the clock more than my computer screen.

Bored, but managing to get though it:

just thinkin of the dollar atm!

As, I’m sure, are the journalists out on strike with no pay.

And from Tom’s equally eloquent friend Jack:

nothing get a man erect like doncaster editorial. lets toss each other off.

And:

can u listen to ur ipod in a newsroom wen ur sposed to be workin?

Humorous yes, but as Shaw points out, the move raises questions about John Bills’ judgement:

Why did he employ his own son and his friend to work in editorial when neither appear to have any journalistic training or experience, then allow them to sarcastically spout forth on facebook belittling the newspapers he runs? It reinforces the belief held by the NUJ that John Bills cares not a jot about the editorial coverage in the newspaper, or even the reputation of the papers.

Had any ordinary NUJ member been caught mouthing off on facebook in the same way, they would have almost certainly been sacked for bringing the company into disrepute. So seeing as John Bills is ultimately responsible for employing his son to sit in the office and mouth off about how crap it is working at the Doncaster Free Press, surely Johnston Press directors should be seriously questioning his suitability for running a newspaper group.

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‘There’s no fat to cut away here’: BBC Sussex staff join nationwide strikes

August 1st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Job losses, Jobs

BBC journalists in Brighton, hometown of Journalism.co.uk, are taking part in today’s nationwide strikes at the corporation over compulsory redundancies. Staff at BBC Radio Sussex formed a picket outside the station’s offices on Queen’s Road this morning (1 August) from 4am, leaving management to find non-union staff to present the station’s programmes.

The mid-morning show, which airs from 9am-12pm, was produced at the Sussex offices by stand-ins and broadcast simultaneously by BBC Kent Radio.

There are no compulsory redundancies proposed at BBC Sussex, but Paul Siegert, the NUJ rep for the region, told Journalism.co.uk this morning he feared that the implementation of BBC’s Delivering Quality First Strategy could lead to cuts at the station.

“We know that there is a thing that BBC management are looking at at the moment called DQF, which we call Destroying Quality Forever, which is going to mean that there will be 20 per cent cuts across the BBC, and so we are expecting that there will be job cuts in places like this if we don’t take action now.”

Danielle Glavin, Siegert’s deputy at the Sussex chapel and West Sussex reporter for the station, said: “We are just trying to protect the BBC, otherwise it will be desolated”.

John Lees, the station’s sports correspondent, was outside the BBC Sussex building at 4am this morning to begin the picket, about the time he would arrive for work. His part of the show was presented by another member of staff this morning. He said that no union members had crossed the picket line in Sussex, and that the staff were “standing firm” in today’s strike and in the indefinite work to rule beginning tomorrow.

“Either you’re an NUJ member or you’re not, and if you are you’ve got to support to strike. And we do.”

Also among the picketers was Kathy Caton, a World Service employee on a year’s attachment in Sussex. Caton is among those to have already been made compulsorily redundant, and would have been forced out of the BBC last month if she had still been working out of the World Service offices at Bush House, London. Because of her attachment to BBC Sussex, she has a stay of execution until next June.

She told Journalism.co.uk that there is “simply no fat to cut away” at the local station.

“Everything is done on such a tight ship, and to achieve the cuts that the BBC has planned means losing jobs, losing services and losing programmes.

“But there’s no slack here, people aren’t sitting around eating foie gras and swilling it down with champagne. It’s a tight ship.”

Caton will see out her attachment in Sussex until June next year, and then join the other World Service staff forced out by the cutbacks. The BBC intends to make 100 staff compulsorily redundant, out of a total of 387 job cuts across the World Service and BBC Monitoring.

She praised the World Service as “one of the finest things that the BBC is involved in”.

“What it produces versus its annual cost is extraordinary. To kill it off so fundamentally is something future generations will look back on and despair.”

The BBC has defended the need to make compulsory redundancies in order to achieve the savings set out by last year’s comprehensive spending review. Lucy Adams, the corporation’s director of business operations, said in a message to staff today that the corporation could not agree to the union’s demands for no compulsory redundancies.

“Following the cuts in central Government grants to the World Service and BBC Monitoring we have had to close 387 posts, meaning that regrettably there are nearly 100 staff who as a result are facing compulsory redundancy. We have been working with all these affected staff to ensure that they have opportunities for redeployment and retraining but we cannot and will not give preferential treatment to individuals depending on their union status.

“We hope the NUJ will realise that these issues are best solved at a local level, and a national strike that penalises all our audiences is not in the interests of their members, other BBC staff or licence fee payers.”

See more from Journalism.co.uk on industrial action and cuts at the BBC at this link.

Hear Rachel McAthy’s interview with Paul Siegert below:

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‘Embarrassed bosses’ stop strike breaking with work experience, NUJ claims

July 22nd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Local media

Johnston Press bosses in South Yorkshire, who reportedly asked a 16-year-old teenager to cover the news desk during a strike, have asked the work experience student to leave, the National Union of Journalists has claimed.

The teenager, who has just completed his GCSEs, had come to the group’s Selby Times for work experience but, when the strike to protect jobs and quality journalism began at the Selby Times, Doncaster Free Press and South Yorkshire Times on 15 July, management extended his engagement to get the paper out, the union has said.

He was put to work writing news stories – despite having originally asked the paper to do his work experience on the sports desk, the NUJ said.

Rival title the Selby Post reported the story.

NUJ negotiator Lawrence Shaw told Journalism.co.uk he believes “embarrassed Johnston Press bosses” asked the work experience teenager to leave after the paper went to press on Wednesday.

Around 25 members of staff are striking indefinitely, leaving the editor, sports editor and, at the beginning of the week the 16-year-old on work placement, Journalism.co.uk understands.

“In more than 10 years of being a union representative I have never seen a more determined group,” Shaw said.

Asked to confirm or deny the claims both the editor of the Selby Times and Johnston Press’ head office in Edinburgh declined to comment.

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Voluntary redundancies as Future Publishing focuses on digital

July 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Journalism, Magazines

Magazine publisher Future PLC is to cut around 100 jobs based in the UK and worldwide – in a move favouring digital over print.

The job losses are expected due to “restructuring” in the company, following a 5 per cent circulation revenue fall in the past nine months.

In a statement, it said the websites were performing well and the main problems were in America.

In an email to staff, Future Publishing UK CEO, Mark Wood, said restructure would be likely to result in about 10 per cent of the firm’s workforce being made redundant. This however, would mostly be through voluntary redundancies.

The company – which publishes around 80 magazines and has 1,000 staff in Bath – said advertising revenue from its websites has offset a decline in print-related income.

The business is executing its operational review of geography and function, to accelerate the move of the US business to one that is a primarily digital business model, simultaneously reducing volatility associated with print data flows, and to reorganise the UK business, re-calibrating it to ensure faster adaptation to digital and more efficient execution of print.

The benefit of these steps will be to improve efficiency, reduce headcount, reduce property requirements, and help accelerate the most promising areas of digital product development.

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NUJ: Journalists demand ‘immediate talks’ as 22 jobs face cut at Media Wales

July 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Local media

The National Union of Journalists claims reporters at Media Wales are demanding “immediate talks” with management following plans to cut 22 jobs at the publisher.

According to the union, under the proposals 10 district office staff, eight production journalists and four members of the sports staff would be made redundant. Media Wales, part of the Trinity Mirror group, publishes titles including the Western Mail, South Wales Echo and the Wales on Sunday.

The NUJ chapel members have unanimously passed a motion which states the chapel “expresses shock at the scale of editorial cuts being proposed”, adding that “it is determined to do everything possible to protect the jobs, wages and conditions of its members, as well as the quality of our products”.

Father of the chapel Martin Shipton said: “We shall be entering an intensive period of negotiation with management to mitigate the damage to our members’ livelihood and the newspapers we produce.

“Members are especially angry that while they are expected to lose their jobs or in some cases take pay cuts, Sly Bailey and her fellow directors continue to be paid obscene amounts of money.”

Within the motion the chapel also authorises its committee “to take whatever action it sees fit in association with the union’s national officers”, which could include organising a strike ballot.

In a statement Media Wales confirmed the proposals, which centre on the introduction of a single production team for news and features across the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday and all its weekly titles.

This means cuts to the number of full-time roles in the editorial production department and the introduction of a new part-time system, the company said.

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Reaction round-up on News of the World closure

The morning after the announcement that News International is to scrap the News of the World has predictably spawned a variety of reaction from the blogosphere.

Despite rumours that folding the newspaper in favour of a seven day Sun had been on the cards for a while (TheSunOnSunday.co.uk, TheSunOnSunday.com and SunOnSunday.co.uk were all registered on July 5, albeit by a private individual), a source at News International confirmed today that a Sunday edition of the paper wouldn’t be on the cards for several weeks to come.

This morning Times today led with a story that the collapse in advertising was due to online protest and the final nail in the coffin for the paper.

The withdrawal of advertising appeared to be in response to a public backlash that had been led primarily on the internet. Thousands of people had used Twitter and Facebook to express their outrage at allegations of phone hacking at the paper.

This was after a list of the News of the World’s advertising clients had been published online, encouraging people to send Twitter messages to the companies to express concern at the activities of the paper’s journalists.

You can read the full article here (behind the paywall).

Emily Bell, director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism and former director of digital content for Guardian News & Media sees the decision as part of a long line of bold and audacious moves from the Murdochs, from the bid to buy the Times, to the launch of Sky News, and recently the proposed takeover of BSkyB.

James’s Wapping moment sees him making a gesture he hopes will be grand enough to soften the focus of any phone-hacking inquiry, bold enough to allow the company to extricate itself from present trouble and, in the process, allow him to reshape News International around the digital television platforms he feels both more comfortable with and which are undoubtedly more profitable.

But what about the wider implications? Many are agreed that the decision is brutal and the loss of 200 journalists terrible, but Andrew Gilligan, London editor for the Sunday Telegraph, argues that it could also give way to a muzzled British press in the future. As talk turns to how press regulation should be managed, Gilligan says:

For be in no doubt: hateful as the behaviour of some journalists has been, we may now face something even worse. For many in power, or previously in power, the News of the World’s crimes are a God-given opening to diminish one of the greatest checks on that power: the media.

Regulation was also on Alan Rusbridger‘s mind yesterday, when he took part in a live Q & A regarding phone hacking (before NI announced the News of the World’s closure). Rusbridger drew attention to alleged weaknesses of the PCC (the code committee of which Rusbridger quit in November 2009) and the quandary of state v self-regulation. Today the Press Complaints Commission sought to defend its work following calls for it to be scrapped by both Labour leader Ed Miliband and prime minister David Cameron.

This hasn’t been a wonderful advertisement for self-regulation. The short answer is that, no, the PCC can’t go on as it is. Its credibility is hanging by a thread.

We did say this back in November 2009 when the PCC came out with its laughable report into phone-hacking. We said in an editorial that this was a dangerous day for press regulation – and so it’s turned out.

The PCC has this week withdrawn that report and has a team looking at the issues and at the mistakes it’s made in the past.

I don’t know how Ofcom could do the job without falling into the category of statutory regulation. Does anyone else?

On her blog former Channel 4 presenter Samira Ahmed also draws some comparisons with the past, saying that the affair is “only my second major moral outcry against the news media” during her twenty years in journalism, the first being the death of Princess Diana. Hugh Grant has won public approval over the last week or so because of his overt opposition to phonehacking, but Ahmed is wary of putting people like Grant on a pedestal.

Many celebrities understand the privacy trade-off with press coverage, or get their lawyers to settle a payoff. Incidentally we should be wary of deifying celebrities, such as Hugh Grant, who have publicly defended the principle of rich people taking out superinjunctions to cover up their bad behaviour, when there might be a legitimate public interest. But I’ve met ordinary people over the years whose suffering has been deeply compounded by salacious press intrusion.

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