Month: March 2014

A body-blow for local papers – goodbye to the newsroom at Trinity Mirror’s Crewe Chronicle

So Trinity Mirror is carrying out another “experiment” on their favourite lab-rat, the local newspaper journalist.

Not content with shutting district newspaper offices and slashing jobs, they now want to say goodbye to the newsroom at the Crewe Chronicle. It’s been described as a “pilot” project, so so presumably will be rolled out elsewhere if it proves a success.

According to the National Union of Journalists, this latest brainwave involves the closure of the Crewe office and the paper being produced from the kitchen table of its eight staff members. The company have said the journalists can work from home or from their cars.

Oh yes, I can see that working really well. I can just see the young hack alone on a roadside with a tablet or laptop or expensive smartphone and maybe a video camera as well, in full view view every passer by as they try to file their copy. That sounds so safe and responsible.

Of course all this is done in the best interests of local journalism and is “not primarily driven by financial reasons but as an experiment to see to see how journalists might be able to work in isolation”.

Well, Ms Bailey or who-ever it is who has come up with this crackpot idea, there have already been a number of experiments done on the problems of working from home or in isolation.

Susan Baines in her paper New technologies and old ways of working in the home of the self-employed teleworker concludes that as home-based workbecomes more widespread, the results may not only be harsh for many individuals but damaging overall to the quality of working life. It is notable that even the most positive accounts of freelancing at home almost never include personal and professional development, or opportunities to pass on skills to younger people.”

Quite apart from these effects on the well-being and health and safety of journalists there will be an obvious impact on the quality of local news. It surely does not take an experiment like this to conclude that a local newspaper needs to be visibly based in the heart of the community it serves.

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Thanks for the votes

Thanks to everyone who voted for myself and Jade Wright in the election for the North West rep for the NUJ’s National Executive Council.

Unfortunately we lost the election by just four votes. Congratulations to Chris Frost who was elected to the position.

Of course, NUJ members can rest assured I will continue to campaign and fight for the interests of journalists across the North West, and I know Jade will continue her excellent work at Trinity Mirror.

Pay the best tribute to Tony Benn – make a pledge to build a better world

BennThe British Labour movement has lost one of its most important figures. Tony Benn’s unflinching commitment to socialism and the daily fight of working people was an inspiration to generations of activists.

And most importantly, Tony’s influence will live on for generations to come. When I woke up to hear the news, my first thought was “how are we going to break it to our kids?” They have been brought up on a diet of Tony Benn, and having seen him speak every year at Tolpuddle Martyr festivals, his death is like losing a member of the family.

Like a lot of NUJ activists I had the pleasure of meeting Tony on a number of occasions. Often when you meet your heroes they turn out to be a massive disappointment. This was not the case with Tony – a political giant and generous in spirit – he was everything you would expect him to be.

His life and work is a priceless resource for the Labour movement. Any thought that Tony’s death is the “end of and era” or that “something has ended” must be banished, if we are to pay the ultimate tribute to the socialist veteran.

Tony’s spirit lives on. In the words of John Steinbeck, he is “part of the one big soul that belongs to everyone”. Where ever there is a fight against injustice, where every there is a fight against hunger, where ever there is a fight against poverty, where ever there is a fight against racism and fascism, he will be there.

We must never lose sight of that, and if we are to preserve Tony’s legacy all socialists must make a pledge today that his fight for a better world will continue.