Online journalism at the NUJ ADM: The Journalist, Twitter and new blood

And so, the annual National Union of Journalists (NUJ) delegate meeting (ADM) draws near; with a variety of motions and amendments up for debate on November 19-22 (final agenda available at this link – PDF).

Among them, many issues that directly concern online media: both in terms of how the NUJ communicates through the internet, and how to engage with online journalists.

How to attract new blood?

For the New Media Industrial Council (NMIC), member recruitment among the digital community is key. For this purpose, it commissioned freelancer and former newspaper journalist Vivien Sandt to research digital media, looking into employment patterns in the UK and Ireland to help the council form a new strategy. Sandt will present some of her findings at the ADM 2009.

How should the Journalist handle its web presence?

Another topic up for discussion is how campaigns and The Journalist should be managed online. As the fight for The Union publication’s editorship rages (see the forum for some lively discussion), the Press and PR branch proposes this motion [excerpt]:

“(….) Union rules allow that [the Journalist] editor has editorial content only over online content taken from the Union’s journal. ADM believes this is insufficient for the editor’s new role (…)

It proposes a motion to change the rules to allow that ‘the editor shall have additional editorial control over union and other website pages holding content taken from or associated with the union’s journal written or commissioned by the editor’.

Leeds branch wished to clarify this: ‘that all editorial content on the NUJ website shall by under the independent control of the editor of the union’s journal, unless the editor agrees to cede control of specific content for a specific purpose and for a specific amount of time’.

That is bound to raise some questions over the relationship between the Journalist and other parts of the NUJ, especially with its support of another motion proposed: ‘ADM further instructs the NEC to implement, without further delay, the integration of the Journalist’s editor into the Union’s Campaign and Communications department’.

North Wales Coast branch, which proposed the original motion, claim that the mixture of internet strategies has pushed the Journalist ‘into becoming a cross between a picture led kind of OK magazine and Agony Aunt Letters column’.

[See what the editor hopefuls suggest for the Journalist website at this link to the forum.]

How should the NUJ engage with social media?

This motion proposed by Magazine is bound to create some discussion: the last para has already been recommended as void by the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) for ‘uncertainty of meaning'”…

This ADM notes that:

1) Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging are irrevocably changing the face of journalism.
2)That many of this new wave of journalists believe the NUJ’s attitude towards them is out of date.

This ADM instructs the NEC to address this problem by working with the blogging community and Twitteratti [sic] to bridge this gap and create a framework that embraces the NUJ’s journalistic principle while maintaining the press freedom enjoyed by bloggers and twitterers.

London Magazine further suggests a survey should be carried out, organised by NMIC.

Want to get involved?

The New Media Industrial Council is currently seeking NUJ members to represent these areas: London (1 out of 2) Midlands (1) Black Members Council (1) Disabled Members Council (1) North East (1). The non-geographical seats have to be nominated by the bodies concerned, and all NMIC members must be NUJ members working in new media. Those interested can e-mail the council’s chair (Gary Herman) in confidence on this address: gary.herman [at]

Judith Townend is a member of the National Union of Journalists (Brighton & Mid-Sussex branch) and is co-opted to sit on the New Media Industrial Council – beginning after the ADM 2009.

8 thoughts on “Online journalism at the NUJ ADM: The Journalist, Twitter and new blood

  1. Chris Wheal

    While the delegates talk about it, some will be getting on with it.

    Student members attending the NUJ’s student conference on the Thursday will also be reporting the conference using audio, video, photos and words on

    They will be using Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube etc.

    The site will be up and running shortly. All delegates and onlookers will be welcome to comment or get involved.

  2. Donnacha DeLong

    Hi Judith,
    Thanks for this, hopefully some people will come forward. To be clear, though – you’re only co-opted until ADM, then you become a fully-fledged elected member of the council.


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  4. Judith Townend Post author

    @Donnacha: Thanks for the clarification!

    @Chris Wheal: do keep us posted on that. Interesting that students are able to report back, but from reading the ADM rules (ADM 1982 motion p5 of the final agenda) delegates are not able to work as a reporter of proceedings, unless for an internal publication. How does social media / blogging fit into that?

  5. Chris Wheal

    The students are not ADM delegates. They are attending a student conference and then staying to observe ADM.

    Two former students are being paid to coordinate things.

    Only I am a delegate. My work on this has been and is, entirely unpaid.

    Many NUJ members give up days and weeks of their time for free to help the union.

  6. Judith Townend Post author

    @Chris: I realise that it’s a completely separate event – sorry if my wording was unclear. I think it’s great that the students are doing what they’re doing for their conference. It would be great to flag it up further on this blog.

    My point was that I don’t really understand why there’s a rule preventing ADM delegates from communicating proceedings, and whether this can be prevented in an age of social media? Or is it only paid-reporting which is forbidden?

  7. Donnacha DeLong

    I asked about this recently and the rule doesn’t prevent communicating proceedings, just people working professionally as reporters while delegates to the conference. Personal tweeting or blogging is allowed, so watch my tweets!

  8. Chris Wheal

    The rule has never prevented branch delegates from reporting in their newsletters or on their own websites what happened.

    I am not sure what the reasoning behind the rule was. Two possibles:
    there would be a conflict of interest for a reporter who was a delegate
    A delegate being paid for a small amount of freelance coverage might be taking away the job of someone who might otherwise have been sent to cover it full-time.

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