Month: January 2014

Greedy bosses to blame for local newspaper crisis, not the BBC

The BBC’s head of news, James Harding has hit back at claims that the crisis facing the local newspaper industry is the fault of the corporation.

In his WT Stead Lecture at the British Library, Harding said Home Secretary Theresa May was wrong when she claimed the BBC’s local coverage is undermining a newspaper industry in trouble.

Harding is right. The BBC were not to blame for Trinity Mirror ditching Port Talbot when they closed the Guardian,  leaving the area without a paper, or for Johnston Press shedding 44 per cent of its full time journalists in five years. (more…)


North West NUJ members – Vote Wright / Toomer and Stand Up for Journalism!

I am delighted to be standing alongside NUJ activist Jade Wright to represent the North West on the National Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists

We are standing as a jobshare  to represent the region in this crucial period for journalism and the NUJ.

I have been a member of this union for 28 years and my passion and energy is as strong now as it was when I joined as student in 1986. As some-one who was sacked by Newsquest for trade union activity, I know what it’s like to fight against the odds so I am ready to take on the current challenges facing our union and any new ones that are thrown at us.

I have represented the union at every level and have worked in most sectors of the industry, including newspapers – as both a staffer and freelancer, new media, public relations, magazines and broadcasting so I understand the issues facing our members.

I relish the prospect of working alongside Jade to represent our members and contribute to developing a strategy that will ensure that the union continues to defend journalism effectively.

My colleague, Jade, says: “Journalism is changing on a daily basis, and the way we work is changing with it. As a full time journalist working in a busy newsroom, I understand the challenges members face every day.During my time as Mother of the Chapel at the Liverpool ECHO and Post we have successfully campaigned to make sure that no compulsory redundancies have been made – with two strong ballots.

“We are strongest when we stand up together in the face of attempts to undermine our strength. I believe in negotiation and finding solutions, but not in giving in when it comes to people’s jobs. Our chapel has proved it will take action to protect our members, and jobs remain as a result. I believe that the union’s best asset is its members, and my focus would be on making sure members’ voices are heard. “I believe in the union and I have the experience, the passion and the loyalty to make sure that we become bigger, bolder, louder and stronger. I hope you will put your faith and trust in me to help us make this happen.”

What we stand for:

Fighting cuts in in local newspapers and radio. In the past decade, 20 per cent of the UK’s local newspapers have closed. An estimated 40 per cent of jobs in the UK regional press have gone during the last seven years.

A campaign to save local radio saw the BBC back down on £15 million of cuts and plans to share output in afternoon programming. But we were still left with £8 million worth of cuts and the introduction of programme sharing in the evening with “Radio England”. The cuts have been met with protests from listeners.

We will work with chapels and branches to protect jobs and these vital services. The union has done some good work lobbying ministers on these issues but we need our branches and chapels to take the campaign into our local communities working with councillors, campaign groups and other unions.

Standing up for freelancers – We have both worked as freelancers as well as staff journalists, so we understand the needs of members who work independently and know the issues non-staffers face. We would therefore make sure each and every member, no matter what their circumstances, gets the very best support.

Recruitment is our future – Our union faces many challenges as the media mix changes. Not least of these challenges is the financial pressure on our union. We believe the key to facing these challenges is recruitment. It means supporting existing branches and launching new ones. The change in the media landscape brings with it a wealth of untapped opportunities for bringing media workers into our fold and building the foundations for a long term future for the union. We pledge to do that work in the North West.

For an accountable leadership supporting every member – We pledge to support every member who needs us. We both have strong track records in representing members individually and collectively and we want to do that as NEC members. We will keep branches informed of what the NEC is doing on behalf of its members and are committed to transparency. Our combined experience and energy will ensure we can respond to the needs and concerns of our members in the region. As a jobshare our effectiveness is doubled and we pledge to be there for every member as well as every branch and chapel.

Defending media freedom – We will continue to campaign to protect journalists in carrying out their work unimpeded. We have campaigned for the protection of sources and journalistic material and the integrity of the press card. We stand for a regulatory system which is independent of both the vested interests of media owners and politicians. We are therefore opposed to a  Royal Charter system which can be altered by MPs.