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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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NUJ ‘financial crisis': Leaked report in full

May 25th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Jobs

The National Union of Journalists is in ‘financial crisis’, a report leaked to Journalism.co.uk reveals.

Update 4.52pm: This document has been removed at the request of the NUJ.

 

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Media release: NUJ wants Scottish government inquiry into future of media

May 2nd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism

The National Union of Journalists is calling on the Scottish government to carry out an inquiry into the effect that editorial cutbacks are having on “a free and diverse media in the country”.

A similar inquiry was held by the Welsh Assembly last year – with a report expected shortly. The union’s Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said in a release:

The NUJ in Scotland has sought political support for our hard pressed industry for a number of years but the situation has deteriorated to where there is a serious threat to the future of titles but also to the existence of some newspaper groups. We believe there is a duty on government to intervene and help create a safer, robust environment for the press and media to operate.

A motion at the Scottish Trades Union Congress said:

Congress calls on the general council to urge the Scottish Government to set up urgently a Commission of Inquiry into the future of the media in Scotland, and to call on all member unions and the Scottish Government to promote the survival of thriving and responsible media, including:

  • supporting the creation of a Scottish Digital Broadcasting Network;
  • supporting the development of trust models of media ownership, such as the Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian and Observer Group;
  • campaigning for the development of new forms of community media;
  • identifying and prosecuting media behaviour that breaches privacy laws;
  • developing new regulatory mechanisms to replace the discredited UK Press Complaints Commission; and
  • encouraging the development of new sources of funding for investigative journalism, including academic institutions and foundations concerned with civil society and democracy.
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NUJ: More newspaper bosses should take pay cuts

February 10th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism

The National Union of Journalists has welcomed news that Guardian News and Media editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger has offered to take a pay cut – and the union has called on other newspaper bosses to do the same.

The Guardian reported that Rusbridger would take a 10 per cent voluntary cut in the 2012-13 financial year, from £438,900 to £395,010. His pension contribution will also be reduced.

NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said in a release:

“I welcome Alan’s response to the NUJ’s suggestion that he should take a pay cut and show a lead to executives within the industry at a time when many journalists face redundancy and pay freezes. I hope that others including Sly Bailey, chief executive of Trinity Mirror, and Richard Desmond owner of the Express newspapers, will now be following suit.”

Trinity Mirror investors have expressed concern about Bailey’s pay package, almost £1.7 million in 2010. The company’s share price has fallen by 87 per cent in the past decade.

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Unions jointly submit pay claim for BBC staff

January 26th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

The National Union of Journalists, Bectu and Unite have jointly issued a pay claim for BBC staff for 2012 to 2013, which according to union statements, asks for a rise “of RPI plus two per cent, with a minimum increase of £1,000″.

The NUJ says this would apply to BBC staff in bands two to 11. In a statement the NUJ’s broadcasting organiser Sue Harris said they consider it “a fair claim”.

According to the unions the claim “also seeks the reinstatement of a previous right for staff to lodge pay appeals” and “encourages BBC management to agree to the inclusion of elected staff representatives on the Executive Remuneration Committee”.

Read more on the pay claim on the NUJ and Bectu websites.

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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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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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South Yorkshire Times front page reports on journalist job cuts

June 23rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs

The editor of Johnston Press title the South Yorkshire Times has reported editorial job cuts on its front page, receiving praise from the National Union of Journalists.

The NUJ congratulates the editor – whose own job is under threat – for “standing up for quality journalism”.

The article, headlined “Strike looms over Times job cuts”, states: “Journalists at South Yorkshire Newspapers are to ballot on strike action over a proposal by the company to axe half of the Mexborough editorial jobs at the South Yorkshire Times.”

Speaking to the NUJ, Jim Oldfield, South Yorkshire Times editor said: “This is real journalism in action. The Times is currently fighting a brave and protracted battle to keep its core towns from decimation during this recession, I make no apology for acquainting our readers with the changes being proposed for their champion title.

“I am pleased that the company appear to have had an adult reaction to the story.”

NUJ general secretary-elect Michelle Stanistreet said “This is a great example of our members standing up for quality journalism and we hope other editors will follow the example set by the South Yorkshire Times.”

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