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Jeremy Dear: ‘Self-harm – there should be a BBC website about that’

March 30th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick, Jobs

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary Jeremy Dear has strongly criticised the BBC Trust and the corporation’s strategic review of its online activities in a post on his blog.

He describes the Trust’s decision to delay the launch of BBC iPhone apps as a move to “prostrate themselves before the commercial sector”, before suggesting that the proposed changes to the BBC’s websites don’t add up:

They are going to cut 25 per cent of staff – and yet every time they are asked which sites and which staff, they refer to mothballed sites, links that just redirect or pages that haven’t been updated since 2006. So we ask the question again – come clean. Which sites and which staff are to be axed. You are paid lots of money. You’ve had months to come up with the plan. So tell us. Or do you intend to wait until the consultation is over, then spring it on staff and readers.

Full post at this link…

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NUJ general secretary calls on coroner to allow blogger into court

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called upon the Isle of Wight coroner to allow a banned blogger into his court.

As we reported yesterday, Simon Perry of the VentnorBlog – a site that has been publishing local news for over four years – was refused entry, both as a journalist or a member of the public, to the Isle of Wight coroner’s court on Tuesday (23 February).  Perry has been a member of the NUJ for over nine years.

While parts of a small number of inquests may be held in private for reasons of national security, in this instance the hearing was public – and the local newspaper journalist was allowed to stay.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has written to the Isle of Wight coroner’s office expressing “grave concern” at the decision to ban Simon Perry, Journalism.co.uk has learned.

“The principle of open justice is vital to any democracy,” said Jeremy Dear. “Any journalist will tell you that the right of the public to know what happens in a coroner’s court is fundamental to a free society.

“I’m glad that Simon Perry regards this serious incident as a matter for his union, the NUJ. We will certainly pursue the issue vigorously.”

Over nine years of NUJ membership “would surely point to me not being fly by night,” Perry told Journalism.co.uk yesterday.

When Journalism.co.uk contacted the coroner’s court yesterday, the official did not wish to comment, but confirmed that the Coroner had made a statement once VentnorBlog had left the room.

The Ministry of Justice guide to coroner and inquests says (available via this link):

All inquests must be held in public in accordance with the principle of open justice, and so members of the public and journalists have the right to, and indeed may, attend (although parts of a very small number of inquests may be held in private for national security reasons). Whether journalists attend a particular inquest – and whether they report on it – is a matter for them. If any such report is fair and accurate it cannot be used to sue for defamation.

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NUJ membership cost rises

For the first time in two years, subscriptions for the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have gone up.

Journalists’ subscriptions to the NUJ are to rise from 1 March, by between 8p and 15p a week – or between £4.16 and £7.80 per year.

The new grades (described at this link):

Grade 1: £150 now 154.16 a year. Grade 2:  £189 now 195.24 a year. Grade 3: £260 now 267.80 a year.

The changes were decided at the NUJ’s annual conference at the end of last year and come into effect on 1 March.

“Nobody likes an increase in subscriptions, but this small increase is unavoidable if we are to keep the union financially healthy,” said general secretary Jeremy Dear.

NUJ subscriptions still represent “tremendous value” for money, Dear claimed. “Last year the union secured more than £3m for staff and freelance members who were unfairly treated at work, saved jobs, and secured improved redundancy terms. And it remains true that in unionised workplaces workers earn 12.5 per cent more than in non-unionised workplaces.”

The NUJ is also currently promoting its ‘union recognition’ campaign, encouraging more workplaces to work with the union.

Full statement at this link…

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Media for All: Solving convergence and ownership consolidation problems

November 3rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Press freedom and ethics

As the traditional media continue their seemingly inexorable decline, how can journalists use new media to fulfil their remit to provide information and hold to power to account?  Journalists, academics and activists gathered in Bloomsbury, London last Saturday (October 31) to try to find an answer.

The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom’s (CPBF) Media for All conference aimed to tackle problems posed by technological convergence and ownership consolidation in the media industry.

Topics covered included the friction between increasingly consolidated media ownership and democracy, gaps and biases in news reporting, threats to local and regional news, and protecting and campaigning for diverse and high quality media.

“The collapse of people who are actually communicating is radical, it’s ongoing and it’s extreme,” said John Nichols, correspondent on American news magazine The Nation.

“In the USA today there are roughly 3,000 people working on the internet making news. Last year alone 16,000 newspaper employees lost their jobs.

“The internet is not replacing old media.  At best it is aggregating old media.”

Graham Murdock, author of Media in the Age of Marketization, spoke of the danger of powerful commercial interests closing off the creative commons offered by the internet.

Net neutrality was an issue, he said, citing how private media companies lobby for priority of access to the internet.

This must be countered by an online ‘revivification of public cultural institutions’, and the creation of alternative information networks to counter those being created by private companies, he added.

NUJ president Jeremy Dear looked how the crisis was affecting local news, taking as an example the closure of the Long Eaton advertiser last year, leaving the town with no local news outlet.  “The Long Eaton Advertiser was not a victim of the recession, it was a victim of a failed corporate culture,” said Dear.

Dear continued: “At the heart of our campaign must be the total rejection that profit must be the determinant of the success of local news.

“It’s that threat that led our union to launch the ‘Journalism Matters’ campaign, based on the premise that the supply of information is too important to be left to private companies.”

Dear called for a campaign to exert political pressure in the run up to the next general election: “Be assured that editors and owners are out there wining and dining the politicians,” he said.

“In the run-up to any vote we will be mobilising days of action.  These are battles for jobs, but they are also all about people standing up for local news.  We need to make the media an election issue.”

Damien Gayle is a postgraduate journalism student at City University, London.

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Parliamentary committee calls for police training in role of protest journalists

March 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

The UK parliament’s Human Rights Joint Committee has published the following advisory, as part of today’s release of its March 3 session’s minutes:

“Effective training of front line police officers on the role of journalists in protests is vital. Police forces should consider how to ensure their officers follow the media guidelines which have been agreed between ACPO [Association of Chief Police Officers] and the NUJ [National Union of Journalists], and take steps to deal with officers who do not follow them.”

The committee came out in support of journalists covering protests, stating that they are entitled to carry out ‘their lawful business’ and report on how demos are handled by the police free from state intervention, unless this is deemed ‘necessary and proportionate’.

In his evidence to the committee, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear, said guidelines agreed by the union and ACPO were useless, because officers dealing with journalists and protests are not aware of them.

Vernon Coaker MP added that the NUJ has been invited to attend demonstrations with the police to suggest possible changes to procedure.

Evidence was given to the committee last year as part of its inquiry into”

  • the proportionality of legislative measures to restrict protest or peaceful assembly;
  • existing powers available to the police and their use in practice; and
  • reconciling competing interests of public order and protest
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OMC09: Levies for aggregators?

January 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

Interesting suggestion from National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary and Oxford Media Convention panellist, Jeremy Dear, that content aggregators should be subject to levies.

Dear said the union is opposed to state aid for local media and the relaxation of local media regulation rules, but would consider introducing a levy for those who ‘do not produce content, but live off the back of those who do’.

New media and digital technology is not a threat to journalism – the danger is people who treat news and information as just a commodity, he said.

Online media is becoming dominated in the same ways as traditional media, he added.

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, Dear said the idea is discussed in a report set for release next week, which focuses on public service broadcasting.

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Organ Grinder: Jeremy Dear: end casualisation in war reporting

Journalist Kate Peyton, who was killed in Somalia in 2005, was a victim of ‘the creeping casualisation of the media workforce’, argues the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Peyton agreed to work in Somalia to protect her contract with the BBC, says Dear.

“It casualisation makes people disposable and discourages dissent and caution. Staff near the end of their contracts feel they have to go to any lengths to prove their worth,” he adds.

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Jeremy Dear responds to regional media/BBC Local row

October 27th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

Following coverage of last week’s comments by National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chief Jeremy Dear, about his bemusement with the regional press’ opposition to the BBC’s proposals to extend local video offerings online, the general secretary has responded, saying that there’s ‘room for everyone’ in the regional market.

“My point is that the local newspapers campaign is for their own vested interests – they don’t care about ensuring local people have a variety of sources of news, comment and entertainment. They want to be able to capture the market themselves. I fully support the newspapers’ expansion in to online media and I hope they capture a significant part of the audience – but it has to be done through quality content, with enough staff and resources to win ‘eyeballs’ not by stopping the licence fee payer being able to access BBC local services,” he writes in a blog post.

Dear adds that he has replied to a letter from Trinity Mirror’s director of corporate communications about his remarks, but is yet to receive a response:

“I simply asked him the question that if we believe in media plurality and we accept that commercial local TV and radio can exist alongside the BBC what is so different about online?”

Regional newspaper publishers have previously told Journalism.co.uk that ‘enough staff and resources to win “eyeballs”‘ would be a much easier prospect if a £68 million, five-year investment plan was available.

The final decision on the plans is fast approaching – it’s scheduled for February 25 2009 – and perhaps now is the time for the regional press to ask themselves what can be done if their opposition fails.

Is there potential for collaboration with the BBC online, and could this drive further innovation by regional titles online in response to the competition? Or will approval of the scheme lead to a reduction in online investment by the regional media?

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Twitter service soars to new heights in Japan

April 29th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Last week’s launch of Twitter in Japan is showing early signs of success, reports ReadWriteWeb.

The new version was born when it was noticed that a significant percentage of Twitter usage was originating from Japan, despite the service being in English.

Now the dedicated Japanese version has been launched many sites are predicting an explosion of Twitter in the country.

Twitterlocal shows that Tokyo already has the highest usage of any city – almost three-times higher than second place location San Francisco.

Google Trends supports Twitterlocal statistics, as its stats show: Japan as the region with the highest overall usage, Japanese cities make up the top three globally and the Japanese language is the most prevalent across the service.

An interesting difference in the new version was the inclusion of ‘some commercial experimentation’ by Twitter. The Japanese service carries advertising media from two clients. The move has been interpreted by many of a sign of things to come for the rest of the service.

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