‘This won’t be solved through recruitment alone’: Your thoughts on the NUJ’s financial crisis

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?

2 thoughts on “‘This won’t be solved through recruitment alone’: Your thoughts on the NUJ’s financial crisis

  1. Chris Wheal

    This reminds me of the chap in South-East London asking for directions to South West London. The answer was: “I wouldn’t start from here.”

    If we were setting up a union now it would look nothing like the current structure, would not have the current subs rates, would not pay the staff the current wage rates and so on. But we’re not starting from scratch.

    Change is always difficult. It is made harder in the NUJ but the fact that the current system benefits the small number of already elected long-serving officials and they would have to vote through changes that would see them lose their positions – like turkeys voting for Christmas.

    There is an alternative – the members turning up to meetings and taking over from the current crop of activists. If existing branches were run by normal members – working journalists (unlike many of the NEC) – and sent delegates to DM in October we could shake-up the union for once and for all.

  2. Donnacha DeLong

    Absolutely agree with Chris, which is why I’ve been arguing for more local branches in london – like the Lewisham Branch launching tonight after Chris proposed it. I’ve also revived the London Independent Broadcasting Branch by adding New Media. I’m crying out for new people to take it over.

    The problem is, unfortunately, too few people have been willing to pick up the baton. That’s thankfully changing – the current NEC features more new faces than any in years – more women, younger members. I’m no longer the youngest member of the NEC.

    I’ve been an advocate of radical change in the union for the best part of 10 years and am finally seeing the results. But they haven’t happened fast enough. The new website with online joining is years late. A major recruitment campaign is finally getting going. But, that’s not enough to save the finances and the plan passed at the NEC is what’s needed to put us back in a state where we can start rebuilding.

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