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Victory for FT Chinese journalists

February 25th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Journalism

Good news for the Financial Times journalists who faced redundancy if they did not return to China, on half their salaries.

The management has changed its mind, following the FT chapel’s threat that its members would ballot on industrial action if the FT Chinese journalists were not allowed to stay.

We reported on the National Union of Journalists’ outrage over the affair on 12 February. The latest update comes from NUJ Active (we expect a fuller NUJ statement soon):

The immediate defence by journalists at the Financial Times of Chinese colleagues threatened with redundancy by management has brought complete victory. The FT chapel demanded unanimously that the redundancy threat be lifted from their four colleagues on the FTChinese website, and warned that otherwise FT journalists might ballot on industrial action. So management did as it was told.

Update: and here’s the fuller NUJ statement:

Two of the four Chinese journalists are British citizens, and they all work on terms and conditions inferior to other journalists at the Financial Times. The newspaper had decided that the specialist group of Chinese journalists at the paper had to return to China on half their current salaries or else accept redundancy.

The NUJ chapel voted unanimously at a capacity meeting: “We condemn the outrageous treatment of journalists on FTChinese. We demand no redundancies on FTChinese and that the journalists be placed on the same terms and conditions as the rest of FT editorial We will ballot for industrial action if these demands are not met.”

“We are pleased that our employer has realised just how unfair and unacceptable were its proposals for our Chinese colleagues. We look forward to talking with management about securing the future of our Chinese journalists at the Financial Times on proper terms and conditions,” said David Crouch, the father of chapel.

“Financial Times management has had the good sense to reconsider an unacceptable decision. Our FT Chapel is to be congratulated on its speedy and determined resistance to a management error which was entirely unacceptable to the culture of the diverse media culture of the NUJ,” said NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear.

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FT Chinese staff threatened with redundancies

A group of journalists working for FT Chinese, a Chinese language website, are facing redundancy if they do not return to China, on half their salaries, the National Union of Journalists has reported.

Two of the four Chinese journalists are British citizens, and they already have “inferior” terms and conditions to other journalists at the Financial Times, it was claimed by the NUJ today.

The National Union of Journalists Financial Times chapel is threatening to ballot for action, if plans are not reversed.

The NUJ chapel at the Financial Times voted unanimously – at a meeting attended by over 80 members – to demand that the threat of the redundancies be lifted.

“We condemn the outrageous treatment of journalists on FT Chinese. We demand no redundancies on FT Chinese and that the journalists be placed on the same terms and conditions as the rest of FT editorial. It is unconscionable that the FT is sending FT Chinese journalists into harm’s way. We will ballot for industrial action if these demands are not met,” said a spokesperson from the NUJ office branch.

One of the FT Chinese staff wrote to colleagues: “It was a tremendous shock to the entire team. This reminded us of a very old Chinese saying: ‘kill the donkey after it has done its job at the mill’. The best equivalent in English I can think of is ‘kick down the ladder’.”

A email sent to FT staff on behalf of the NUJ chapel, said it “was shocked but not surprised to hear about the Chinese journalist situation”.

“This is no longer the FT that we all joined. The FT used to be a place of compassion, where people were looked after and, in return, gave the job their all.

“Now there are job cuts while new hires are ongoing, constant pressure from bosses to get more in a shrinking paper, filing for the web for ft.com and blogging, and yet no personal support in return. This new FT is not the great place to work of the past. The end result will be lack of commitment to the paper, which will, eventually, show up in the quality of the end product.

The Financial Times told Journalism.co.uk it did not have a comment to make at this point.

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13.2 jobs could go at Trinity Mirror’s Media Wales; NUJ members to hold strike ballot

September 24th, 2009 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

A plan to cut 13.2 jobs at Media Wales, a Trinity Mirror-owned subsidiary, was announced this afternoon without the  guarantee of no compulsory redundancies. A two month consultation period will now be held.

The company also announced the closure of the Neath and Port Talbot Guardian paid-for weeklies on October 1.

In response, union members at Media Wales will hold a strike ballot, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said today.

Media Wales publishes The Western Mail, The South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday and the Celtic series of weekly papers.

“Although we have been briefed fully about the financial position of the company and the group, we are determined that no NUJ member should be made compulsorily redundant as a result of these cuts. We expect the company to ensure that will be the outcome,” said Martin Shipton, NUJ father of chapel at Media Wales.

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Editorial job losses at Express Newspapers reduced from 70 following union talks

September 24th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

As reported on Journalism.co.uk in August, Northern & Shell, owners of Express Newspapers and OK! magazine, announced plans to make 70 journalists at its newspaper titles – Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Sunday Star – redundant.

Now the company has reduced the overall number of cuts at the newspapers from 90 to 75. This means the number of journalism jobs cut would be reduced from 70 to between 52 and 57 – a figure reported by the Guardian and confirmed to Journalism.co.uk by the National Union of Journalists.

“The reduction in job cuts was only announced after the NUJ had warned the company that they were not following the right procedure,” said Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary.

Stanistreet, a former Express Newspapers union representative, attended talks with the company this week.

“While we welcome the reduced numbers we still don’t know how the papers can be produced with the few people who will be left. We want to see some proper plans and we want guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies.”

Last year 80 Daily and Sunday Express redundancies were proposed by Northern & Shell, to cut the number of staff sub-editors, long-term regular casual sub-editors and other casual journalism staff.

Last year’s cutbacks included the introduction of a new working week pattern for sub-editing staff at the paper and a production system, which would allow some staff to write directly onto page templates without the need for sub-editors.

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Jon Slattery: NUJ ‘out of date’ for new media journalists, says mag branch

September 10th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Jon Slattery reports on a motion put forward by the National Union of Journalists’ (NUJ) magazine branch, which suggests new media journalists see the union as ‘out of date’ in its attitude towards online journalism and social media platforms.

“This ADM instructs the NEC [National Executive Council] to address this problem by working with the blogging community and Twitteratti to bridge this gap and create a framework that embraces the NUJ’s journalistic principles while maintaining the press freedom enjoyed by bloggers and twitterers,” the motion reads.

Full post at this link…

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NUJ Release: NUJ condemns more job cuts at Trinity Mirror regionals

August 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Media releases

Further to Trinity Mirror’s announcement that the Birmingham Post could become a weekly and the Birmingham Mail could be produced overnight, the National Union of Journalists has issued a statement condemning more job cuts at the Midlands titles.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said:

“Trinity Mirror managers have been shown to be irresponsible with regard to the truth and their attitude to their newspapers and the communities they serve.

“The union will fight to defend the jobs of journalists and the future of the Post.”

Full release at this link…

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NUJ Release: Strike action halted at Trinity Mirror Birmingham titles

July 28th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Job losses, Jobs

Earlier this afternoon the National Union of Journalists announced that strike action will no longer take place at Trinity Mirror’s Birmingham-based titles after the NUJ chapels ‘secured an agreement for no compulsory redundancies’.

Twenty-four hour industrial action had originally been planned to take place on Thursday.

Full release at this link…

Background:

NUJ members at the titles had balloted for action earlier this month, following the announcement of  job cuts and closure of weekly titles.

Trinity Mirror responded to a vote of no confidence in the TM management, via a statement, accusing the NUJ of undermining efforts for the two parties to work together.

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Journalism: an aspiration solely for the elite?

July 24th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

The all-party report led by former cabinet minister Alan Milburn, has triggered a nationwide debate on issues of social mobility and whether social class divides can be overcome to provide equal career opportunities to all. Journalists found their profession branded ‘one of the most exclusive middle-class professions’. The industry was urged to provide financial support to interns from less wealthy backgrounds and adopt a best practice code.

Media organisations were accused of recruiting trainee journalists for internships for as long as one year, without payment, as a means of filling staffing gaps instead of providing appropriate training. The unpaid placements automatically filtered out students to only those who could afford the experience, usually middle class ones, or those willing to incur massive debts.

  • The National Union of Journalists immediately welcomed the outcomes of the report and heralded the best practice code for internships as ‘a first step in tackling bogus work experience‘. The union has been campaigning for years against exploitation of work experience placements, proposing the payment of a minimum wage to students on training. Speaking in a release issued earlier in the week, the NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said that the report ‘shows how the use of unpaid internships has undermined the diversity of our profession’. “Too many employers see internships as a way of getting work done for free, without any thought towards their responsibilities to provide would-be journalists with a learning opportunity.”
  • In his Guardian blog, Roy Greenslade talked about his humble beginnings as a working-class journalist, alongside others of the same social class at regional newspapers until he was struck by the class divide between the middle-class broadsheets and the working-class tabloids in Fleet Street. Although boundaries are now less obvious between the papers, higher tuition fees at universities meant education was dearer, and less accessible. As journalism became increasingly popular in the 1990s, degree holders were preferred over school-leavers, starting the unfair selection process which favoured the middle class.

A report in 2006 by the Sutton Trust [PDF at this link] showed that more than half of editorial posts at leading national newspapers had been educated at private schools, that is to say, middle class. As middle-class senior editors tend to appoint others like themselves, birds of a different, less privileged feather cannot find a way into the flock.

The Milburn report also pointed out that ‘qualification inflation’ is a barrier towards equal social opportunities. If once an academic degree or an MA were considered desirable for a career in journalism, some people, such as Press Gazette’s Dominic Ponsford, believe it is not the case any more as theoretical courses often do not provide the practical skills needed in a ‘real’ newsroom.

Degrees do not come cheap. Whereas a full-time MA at City University will set back an aspiring journalist by £8,000, a number of institutions offer NCTJ-accredited courses of much shorter length.

The Brighton Journalist Works, for instance, offers a 10-week fast-track course leading to a Certificate in Production Journalism for £3,600. Journalist Works MD Paula O’Shea, who set it up in April 2007 in The Argus’ Brighton offices, says the course is intense as it exposes students to as many hours as they would in an academic year on an MA, but graduates had landed jobs at The Argus, Johnston Press, Time Out, local TV stations and B2B magazines.

There is recourse for students who could not afford the fast-track course: “Our course is accredited by the Learning and Skills Council, so students can apply for a career development loan (www.direct.gov.uk) or the Journalism Diversity Fund (www.journalismdiverstityfund.co.uk),” says O’Shea.

A lack of diversity in news media could pose a problem for journalism, says Charlie Beckett, director of the journalism think-tank Polis. “If the news media is not diverse then it will not reflect the wider population,” he says in his blog.

“At a time of crisis in the industry and the wider economy, that is not a good thing economically, let alone politically.”

Here is Beckett, interviewed on Channel 4 News:

Useful links:

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Media is Social: What the Herald’s new deal says about freelance journalism

July 24th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Freelance

Craig McGill reflects on news reported on Journalism.co.uk and Allmediascotland regarding changes to freelancing terms at the Herald Group.

McGill suggests the changes, while meaning lower rates for contributors, aren’t as bad as they could be:

“The underlying issue here isn’t actually that of what the Herald titles are paying, it’s one simple fact: freelance journalists for years have allowed themselves to be systematically and consistently lowly paid,” he writes.

It comes down to market forces too, he adds: “If there are too many people (or products) in a market then prices will be low as labour is cheap. If someone has a USP or top skills (for example, bringing in tons of scoops) they should do better.”

But how many freelancers will confront editors offering lower rates with a record of their work and its success?

Full post at this link…

Update: Allmediascotland is reporting that the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is now offering a consultation session with an intellectual property lawyer for freelancers affected by the Herald changes.

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Trinity Mirror Regionals: Vote of no confidence in management is ‘publicity-grabbing stunt’

July 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

The National Union of Journalists announced yesterday that its members at Trinity Mirror titles in Birmingham have ‘unanimously passed a motion of no confidence in the company’s management of its regional titles.’ NUJ members at the Birmingham titles are currently balloting for action, following the announcement of  job cuts and closure of weekly titles.

Trinity Mirror responded in a statement, accusing the NUJ of undermining efforts for the two parties to work together.

“This is yet another publicity-grabbing stunt by the NUJ which, once again, does absolutely nothing to address the commercial challenges facing our Midlands businesses and completely undermines their claims to be working constructively with us,” said Georgina Harvey, managing director at Trinity Mirror Regionals.

“A point further proved by the fact that, to date, we haven’t received a letter from the NUJ themselves and have only been made aware of its existence by the trade media.

“The NUJ’s constant claim that we are making cuts in the pursuit of short term profit is frankly laughable and insulting. The bottom line is the Midlands business is no longer profitable – it’s running at a loss. Our first priority has to be to stop the losses and reverse the trend. That will involve some hard choices; difficult decisions but necessary ones if we are to save our businesses in the Midlands.”

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