Saturday saw around 150 gathered for the National Union of Journalists’ (NUJ) job crisis summit, part of a union-wide campaign against job cuts and pay freezes in the industry.
Speaking at the summit, Flat Earth News author and journalist Nick Davies called upon journalists to be ‘whistleblowers on our own newsrooms’:
“We need to tell the public the impact of the job cuts on newsgathering,” he said in a report on the NUJ website.
“The public must know that the corporations have taken over the newsrooms and ransacked them for profit and that is why readers have lost trust in us.
“We need to improve the status of journalists. We are not trusted; we are not liked, because we are misperceived. The best known people in journalism are people like Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre, who have brought us into disrepute.”
Exposing flaws in managements’ running of newsrooms and putting state aid into the hands of journalists and not corporations would help provide a practical solution to a financial problem, he added.
The union will launch a campaign of lobbying MPs and local authorities, protests and possible industrial action, legal challenges to staff cuts and workplace issues, and a public debate of the situation.
The meeting called on the NUJ’s general secretary, Jeremy Dear, to meet with employers on a national level, and speak with ministers about media ownership regulation:
“This meeting believes the economic model practised by media employers over recent years – a sub-prime media market – is dead. It is scoops, quality editorial content, strong images and an engaged readership which will see media survive and flourish not retrenchment and soaring executive pay,” a motion ruled by the meeting said.
“This meeting further believes that light touch media regulation and the weakening of media ownership laws has led to an unhealthy consolidation of media ownership.
“Many media owners continue to show they have no coherent strategy that can secure a viable future for media in print, broadcast or online.”
Also discussed: chapels must include freelancers, casuals and contributors in activity and agreements surrounding cutbacks.
The summit also acknowledged the wider global crisis in the industry and pledged to work with both other UK industry unions, such as BECTU and UNITE, and international representatives.