Dinosaur watch

Bristol NUJ meeting earlier this week

That wacky bunch of no-hoper Stalinists, conspiracy nuts and embittered ex-Northcliffe hacks who make up the membership of the local branch of the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) have come up with a recruitment plan.

“BRISTOL NUJ can be at the forefront of the union’s drive to recruit the thousands of creative workers in the new media industry who have so far gone unrepresented,” drivels the NUJ’s former local Northcliffe poster boy Paul Breedan.

“Those present broadly agreed that anyone producing creative content online who isn’t merely a blogger should be able to join the NUJ,” he writes on his, er … Blog!

Top plan that is Paul. Suck up to a load of people producing mindless corporate PR guff devoid of any journalistic value whatsoever while slagging off one of the few groups in this city – bloggers – who regularly produce original investigative reporting for the public and who have an increasingly large reach and influence.

It also makes you wonder what understanding of marketing and PR the Bristol NUJ and this clown Breedan have to offer any new media workers. To openly disparage an important local new media constituency to a PR savvy audience may not be the wisest recruitment move.

Always nice to know who your friends and supporters are though innit?

This entry was posted in Blogging, Bristol, Journalism, Media, The British Left, Trade Unionism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Dinosaur watch

  1. BristleKRS says:

    Meanwhile, in another corner of Bnujland

    …Tony Gosling sits on New Media Industrial Council and the Ethics Council.

    Crikey!

  2. chris hutt says:

    And did you see the recent blog post by Bristol Editor (http://bit.ly/8JGvrC) where he gives the game away about writing PR –

    “There are five basic ingredients which will make up your press release, namely
    * Angle – what is the main thrust of the news in the editorial
    * Unique – you will have something unique, different or interesting to say
    * Relevance – you News will be highly relevant to the readership
    * Value – your news will add value to the publication’s content
    * Timeliness – the editorial will be timely, contemporary and factual”

    That’s it, apparently. All you need to know to do your own PR and ditch the so-called professionals. I reckon BB scores 5 out of 5 most of the time.

  3. Christina Zaba says:

    Oh good. Nice to see you’re so interested in what Bristol NUJ gets up to! Hope you’ll be joining us soon, then. Or maybe you’re a member already?!

    If you’re not and you join, media workers all over the city and beyond could benefit from your insight and support. Even more than they do now of course from your brilliant regular original investigative reporting with its increasingly large reach and influence. Fab.

    Wikipedia (I know, that fount of all accuracy – but hey, it’s a blog) says that there are more than 100 million blogs in the world. Not surprising really, since anyone can set one up and lots of people like to. And why not.

    Are you really saying that all these 100 million bloggers should be eligible to join a journalists’ trade union?

    Personally I think just the good ones should be, the ones who make a living from it, or try to, and have lots of regular readers, but hey, that’s just me.

    Anyway, I love your story. It’s really cute! Let’s slice off all the subtlety and indulge in a really nice bit of good ol’ unfounded and unpleasant personal mudslinging which misguides people in finest tabloid stylee for no better reason than because you can. It’s clever and soooo cool.

    For info, Bristol NUJ http://www.bristolnuj.org.uk isn’t a ‘blog’; it’s a ‘site’ (see your own categories, right). I admit these are nice distinctions. And look forward to your response of course, which is bound to be edifying.

    As well as to inclusion in your blogroll, or site list. You list Ian Bone and not us?? Why, we were both on the same Paul Foot Award list, back in the day. Admittedly he won. But that’s how it goes. Some you win… Go Ian!

    Hope to see you tomorrow night down at Arnolfini 7 p.m. to carry on the mudslinging in person at the annual NUJ/Arnolfini Benn Lecture, where Nick Davies from the Guardian will be speaking on ‘Bad News: What’s Wrong with the Press’. Everyone welcome! Come along, tickets 917 2300 or on the door. Nick will be signing copies of his book, Flat Earth News, which won the first Bristol Festival of Ideas prize earlier this year, after the debate.

    If you feel nervous or anxious about being identified, you could always wear a ‘Bristol Blogger Black Balaclava’ or similar. That way everyone would know who you were but no-one would know it was you. Just like on this blog really.

    I, on the other hand, will be easy to spot as I’ll be chairing the evening, and women readers of this site, or is it a blog? will be interested to note I’ll be wearing gold high heels. So come and say hello and we can share a jar of vitriol or two.

    Tickets are £5 if you’re an NUJ member, £7 if not.

    See you there and welcome to Bristol NUJ!

  4. badnewswade says:

    Ahh, the NUJ, led by the notorious mentalist Tony Gosling…

    The people who put the “partial” in “impartiality”.

    ducks

  5. badnewswade says:

    OMG it just gets better and better! From the NUJ site:

    ” Tony Gosling sits on New Media Industrial Council and the Ethics Council”

    Tony’s homepage:

    http://www.bilderberg.org/tonyhom.htm

    Tony’s ethical beliefs:

    Many problems have been caused by some of the Jewish people’s refusal to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Many Jews, for example, live in old Testament Torah Times – believeing they are still ‘God’s chosen people’. It seems clear to me that God cut off the Jewish heirarchy from his favour after they pleaded successfully for the unjust death of his only son. The Israeli state’s brutal and racist treatment of the Palestinian people makes it clear to me that Israel is no longer interested in the will of God.

    in other words blahblah blah teh j0000z blah blah blah Christ killers blah blah blah bilderberg blah blah blah wibble wibble whibble

    After hiring an anti-semitic version of Grassy Knollington to run the NuMedia an4d Ethics bits of the NUJ, why are you surprised that people don’t take your organisation seriously?

  6. bristolgraffiti says:

    So we’re now not ‘merely bloggers’ if we try and make a living out of our blog?

    What about us bloggers who deliberately do it for no money, turning down offers of cash for advertising and so on? In fact, some of us spend a lot of our own money on doing it, as profit’s not what blogging’s about.

    Few bloggers try to make a living from their blog, and very, very few manage it. You probably need to rethink your membership criteria some more (what was that ‘you can join if you use video’ thing about?), perhaps after working out why people blog.

  7. BristleKRS says:

    Christina, that’s not exactly the sort of thing that makes me want to join. TBB raised some important issues, and your only response is bargain basement sneering?

    FWIW when I first saw the new website it impressed me – a great improvement. I even considering joining, but then I saw that Tony Gosling still had his sticky mitts on stuff. That made me hesitant, but still open to the idea. Then I saw your comments on here and thought, ‘are these the sort of people whom I could trust to watch my back?’

    It’s a shame that the union dismisses out of hand the likes of Bristol Graffiti, TBB and others, when they do, in their own fields, produce some outstanding and socially valuable work. I’m still unsure as to why unpaid journalists are excluded, yet paid PR flacks are welcomed.

  8. The Bristol Blogger says:

    Christina,

    I don’t need to attend a lecture with someone from the fucking Guardian to tell me that the press (largely produced by your members) is full of PR drivel and advertiser-friendly copy. I can tell that from reading the Post, looking at the local BBC website of flicking through Venue.

    But have a nice evening drooling over your liberal pin-up boy. And – ooh fuck me! – according to the incredibly accurate and useful Wikipedia he went to Oxford University so he’s well qualified to stand around telling starry-eyed idiots the bleedin’ obvious.

    No doubt some people are really impressed you’ll be sitting next to him.

    Instead, I might stay in and prove that all our local politicians, journalists and council officers have been quoting from a report by Price Waterhouse Cooper about the World Cup that they quite clearly haven’t bothered to read.

    But no doubt – because I’m not paid – it will be an inaccurate bunch of lies because the lazy professionals (and your members) must be telling us the truth mustn’t they?

  9. Eugene Byrne says:

    Hi KRS! You said:

    “Christina, that’s not exactly the sort of thing that makes me want to join. TBB raised some important issues, and your only response is bargain basement sneering?”

    TBB does indeed raise some important issues, but he started the scornfest. To be described as “That wacky bunch of no-hoper Stalinists, conspiracy nuts and embittered ex-Northcliffe hacks” isn’t exactly an invitation to calm discussion. That description doesn’t fit Christina or most other NUJ members. I think her response is remarkably measured considering.

    Paul Breeden’s remark about “mere” bloggers I’m sure was aimed at the sort of folks who write the occasional update about their lives. I for one would be delighted to propose or second several serious local bloggers, including TBB and Bristol Graffiti, as NUJ members. And of course yourself, in either your journalistic or blogging capacity.

    My own personal conspiracy theory on Tony Gosling is that the NUJ allows him to sit on various committees in order to shame non-activists like me into getting involved in the branch and standing against him. The idea of him being on anyone’s “ethics committee” is … strange. Stranger than fiction.

  10. bristolgraffiti says:

    Aw, bless you both, am touched, always nice to know people like what you do!

    Only just spotted Paul Breeden’s comment on the original article that ‘bloggers are no substitute for well resourced journalism’. We are actually. In the last year alone we got the world exclusive on the Banksy show happening in Bristol, and could have given away a lot more about it had we not had the integrity not to.

    We’ve uncovered stories that have then been picked up by the likes of the BBC, the Evening Post and various radio stations, and provided content for papers from Venue to the Guardian and New Zealand Herald. All with just a camera, a free website and some spare time.

    Maybe that’s the problem, that encouraging people like us to join would show that we are a very definite substitute to well resourced journalism, at a time resources for journalism are being squeezed left, right and centre.

    Personally, I think it’s great the NUJ is recognising new media more, and looking to invite people in. It just looks like a missed opportunity if they’re not going to look at the actual picture of what goes on and shape their response according to that.

    Kinda like BCC and their new graffiti policy

  11. BristleKRS says:

    Eugene: You’re right that TBB did start it, but then (i) he’s quite good at it; (ii) it’s what ‘mere bloggers’ do; and (iii) he’s not the chair of an NUJ branch hoping to recruit members to strengthen the union’s effectiveness in the local area!

    But cheers for sticking up for local bloggers 🙂

    With regards to the tension between ‘proper journalists’ and ‘citizen journalists’/’activist reporters’/’bloggers’, Paul Bradshaw’s Online Journalism Blog is doing interesting work in helping hacks get to terms with how social media works, and hosting an ongoing dialogue on the nature of journalism.

  12. BristleKRS says:

    That was a genuine 🙂 rather than a sarky one BTW!

  13. The debate running on…interesting to see.

    Bristol Blogger, if you put down your weapons so will I. Your call.

    But if you go round insulting hardworking volunteers who spend their free time doing their best to protect and support people in crisis, what do you expect me to say?

    You decline my invitation to tonight’s event – no surprise, sadly – most ungraciously, and again you’re spiteful about a well-meaning and difficult event that was hard to set up and should be good.

    Why not turn up and explain what it is that you’re so cross about?

    The NUJ is about service, not point-scoring. It’s part of the TUC, which has been helping literally millions of people since before the First World War, and is still doing so today.

    It has a code of conduct and a parliamentary group. If you read our site you’ll see we do our best to help people, some of them in huge need. And we do our best to be fair. So I don’t think it’s a good use of your remarkable journalistic talents to try to shoot down this small group of volunteers who give so much time.

    I agree, spend tonight finding out about press releases masquerading as news rather than coming to a conversation with other people concerned about the same thing if you think that’s a better use of your time (though I had rather hoped to see you in a monogrammed balaclava…oh well).

    And maybe be grateful, as I am, that you don’t have to queue in a breadline hoping for crumbs from the PR table. Slag off the people who do, why not? Maybe you can afford to.

    As to NUJ members sitting on NUJ councils – every full member is allowed to stand for these positions and if there’s more than one volunteer then there is an election. If you think Tony shouldn’t be on these councils, badnewswade, then join the NUJ and stand against him and there will be an election in the usual way. If you can’t be bothered to do something yourself to change things if you think they’re wrong, then don’t criticise.

    Again there is a code of conduct in the NUJ and since we are not Stalinists, despite what the anonymous blogger has told you, the position in the union, as in any union, is that people’s conscience is a private matter unless it actually goes against that code.

    You might not like or agree with Tony’s site, but it’s his site, not an NUJ one, and he’s doing the very thing you’re defending – creating an online presence and doing his own investigations.

    Nothing is easier than to mock a belief you don’t share, but Tony’s site, believe it or not, has huge numbers of fans worldwide.

    As I say, if you want to stand against him then get on with it!

    BristleKRS – be fair. I have to defend my members if people are totally unjust about them and sneering. You would do the same. I have invited Bristol Blogger to come to tonight’s event and have a drink, and he responds by spweing forth further hostile insults. Yes, he is making some very important comments, but why wrap them in barbed wire?

    That has to come down first. I am not going to throw myself on hostile barricades for no good reason. Let him be polite and sensible and then let’s have a discussion.

    It’s a good discussion and an interesting one. And it’s happening not just in Bristol but country- and worldwide, as we all know. We should stop fighting and pick up the point.

    The boundaries are merging and the NUJ ADM fringe meeting on new media which Paul reported on discussed the interesting point that the people who are creating blogs and online original work *are* in some sense – a sense which is new – journalists, that they are doing what journalists do, and should therefore be involved in the NUJ – it should be their natural home.

    One delegate said: “Anyone who is creating online content should be in the NUJ.” It went from there.

    It was a discussion though, not a decision. There’s a long way to go before that. And a lot more to say that I don’t have time for here at this moment.

    I do find it depressing though that, judging from the comments on this blog, it looks unlikely that bloggers would want even to have the conversation and think about what a trade union’s role should be in this still-new online world.

    After all, big business is gobbling it up as we speak. Look at the power of Google and look at how it grabs rights. Look at where the money is going. These are really important issues for everyone and for the whole notion of creative rights, democracy and free speech. And for wage slavery. It’s a huge topic. And we are fiddling here, while Rome burns.

    I would love to look at the actual picture of what goes on and in fact the union has just (I think this was in Paul’s piece?) commissioned in-depth research which did just that. No time to point to it now but go to http://www.nuj.org.uk and have a look, if you’re interested we can post it on the nujbristol website later. It was very interesting and that was what the meeting was about.

    But why should bloggers bother to talk to union members if they see the trade union movement as the serried ranks of the indoctrinated, marching in lockstep time to the call of some old-fashioned political notion of left and right? Populated by cranks and “rich daddy’s boys” (yep – I’m a boy all right…)

    No-one could blame you.

    It doesn’t have to be like that. Bristol NUJ is a space where we can talk about it and perhaps even have an effect. Influence the outcome. Create something new.

    It’s depressing that all people seem to want to do is roll out the cliches instead. So forgive me if I seem tetchy and must go and get those gold shoes on now, and head on down to greet a guest (oooh, hurray I’ll be sitting next to him! How insulting do you want to be, anon?) who has come a long way.

    Cheers and keep talking but please, without the barbs.

    Christina

    Nothing could be further from what blogging or the internet is.

    So let’s not extend union membership to bloggers, is that what you’re saying?

    Or extend it to all 100 million of them?

    Or somewhere in between. But then, where exactly?

    This is what the union is thinking about – note – has not taken any position on.

    Go to the main NUJ website and have a look round and join in – http://www.nuj.org.uk.

    See, I think that creators need and deserve protection and support. Just like musicians, writers, commentators, photographers and film-makers need someone to stand up for them and they also surely deserve to make a living.

    That’s where a union comes in. But how do you define a blogger as a journalist if they’re not paid by anyone for what they do?

    Membership eligibility of the NUJ is that 51% of your income or more should come from journalism, unless you’re just starting out or there are other mitigating circs, eg you’ve just been made redundant.

    That’s because it’s not just a club, it’s a legal entity with links into employment laws and employment rights.

    So should unions relax their rules because blogging is unpaid? And if so, where do you draw the line?

  14. eek that was a whole lot of previous thoughts at the end….please ignore unless you want to do some heavy-duty wading and I must learn not to write outside the box !

    thanks for further comments Bristle KRS etc

    no intention whatsoever to deride local bloggers 🙂

  15. bristolgraffiti says:

    Lots of points Christina, will reply in the spirit of genuine conversation if that’s ok?

    “And maybe be grateful, as I am, that you don’t have to queue in a breadline hoping for crumbs from the PR table. Slag off the people who do, why not?”

    If those people are doing what they do just for the living, then fair enough, but they shouldn’t be bitter at people who do it because they believe in what they’re writing and so get the news rewards from that. Perhaps you should wonder why PR agencies and other sources are so keen to talk to bloggers instead of regional press these days. Why do we get given the stories? Seemingly because bloggers often fill a publicly popular role that mainstream journalists used to, they write what they think.

    “Yes, he is making some very important comments, but why wrap them in barbed wire?”

    That’s what a great many of your mainstream media members do on a daily basis surely?

    “I do find it depressing though that, judging from the comments on this blog, it looks unlikely that bloggers would want even to have the conversation and think about what a trade union’s role should be in this still-new online world.”

    If you have a re read, that’s exactly what many of us were doing.

    “After all, big business is gobbling it up as we speak. Look at the power of Google and look at how it grabs rights. Look at where the money is going.”

    Google grabbing rights is what Rupert Murdoch’s complaining about right now isn’t it? Surely he’s an odd compatriot for the NUJ?

    Ultimately though, and this is a point the NUJ needs to get to grips with, who cares where the money is going? We don’t. We’re putting time into our blogs, much more than just the time spent physically writing.

    So how is a person’s labour only valid in the eyes of a union if they’re being paid for it? Do unions now not care about those working unpaid or paid below a living wage for their work?

    “Cheers and keep talking but please, without the barbs.”

    Likewise, less of the ‘mere bloggers’ and aspersions on how little we can achieve from your side please.

    “But how do you define a blogger as a journalist if they’re not paid by anyone for what they do?

    Membership eligibility of the NUJ is that 51% of your income or more should come from journalism, unless you’re just starting out or there are other mitigating circs, eg you’ve just been made redundant.

    That’s because it’s not just a club, it’s a legal entity with links into employment laws and employment rights.

    So should unions relax their rules because blogging is unpaid? And if so, where do you draw the line?’

    Those are two interesting questions.

    On where to draw the line? Why not let the bloggers draw it themselves?Realistically, how many are going to want to join the NUJ for the benefits it provides them for what they do? Very few. Those that need the services you provide will join. Those that don’t, won’t.

    After all, we don’t need the employment rights protection, but we may benefit from your help with legal support, and even the training you offer, if it’s any good. The work you say you do for maintaining press freedoms could be very important to bloggers. But if you’re just writing a blog about your day and your random thoughts, you’re not going to bother joining are you.

    So, should the NUJ relax the rules on needing to be paid in order to be a member? Frankly, it would seem odd if it didn’t. You’re a National Union of Journalists, but are you there to protect journalism or unionism? From what you say, and a look at your website, it sounds like you’re worrying about the latter and forgetting about the former at the moment.

    Unpaid bloggers, tweeters and so on have become a very important part of journalism in this country over the last few years. It’s changed some things about how journalism works, and the mainstream media is copying what it does. Perhaps it’s time the journalists’ union caught up with these changes?

  16. Donnacha DeLong says:

    Hi,
    Jumping in here because I represent the new media sector for the union’s NEC (and am now Vice President). You raise some very important questions that we have been trying to figure out for a few years. How do you square being a trade union – which depends on people being in paid employment – with being a professional organisation for a profession where increasing numbers of people are not getting paid or seeking payment?

    We do have blogger members – those who get paid to do it. We’re keen to engage with more bloggers who see themselves as journalists (as Christina points out, there are a lot of bloggers out there and only a handful of them would see themselves as journalists). The more people engage constructively with us from the blogosphere, the easier it will be to come up with a workable solution.

    If people do want to engage, join our mailing list: http://mailman.journonet.co.uk/mailman/listinfo/newmedia – you don’t have to be an NUJ member to join and it’s free. We’re just about to relaunch our website for the New Media sector as well and that will have a forum.

    On the issue of Mr Gosling, he ran for election and was elected unopposed this year. I’m sure he’d enjoy the cut and thrust of a proper election, so if people disagree with him being Bristol’s rep on the New Media Industrial Council, get involved and run for election next time.

    Finally, “merely a blogger” is probably not the best choice of words, but I think people are over-reacting. We are interested in talking to journalistic bloggers and recruiting professional (in terms of being paid for their work) bloggers, it’s just that that only makes up a small percentage of bloggers. Far more people use them to talk to their friends about their life.

  17. bristolgraffiti says:

    That’s cool, but you’re still missing the point a bit. People who get paid to blog are people who write content for a blog as part of PR campaigns for their own organisations, or for other organisations who pay the agency they work for.

    It’s a moot point whether these people are actually bloggers, or just people who write PR and news copy that gets published through a blog platform. Don’t confuse the software with the practice.

    Of people who actually blog, in terms of having set up their own web presence and kept posting their own thoughts and opinions to it regularly, how many in the UK get paid for the act of blogging?

    Other than adword click throughs or paid sponsorship for posting content (which both agencies and bloggers don’t generally do), what other ways are there to get paid for blogging itself? All the other money earners are running a web business that draws traffic and potential customers to the site using a blog as part of this.

    Blogging in and of itself, unless someone’s paying you to write a blog for them, is not something you can really earn much of a wage from.

    Have you got a link to actual stats showing the majority of blogging being social networking (talking to your friends about your life) at all? It sounds like a pretty dated conception of blogging, as that activity has now moved to facetwitterspace and the like.

    In Bristol certainly, most blogs are about talking to people you’ll never meet about things that interest you. Just like journalism.

    Ultimately though, is a trade union really defining people and restricting membership on the basis of how much a person gets paid for their labour? Wow.

  18. Donnacha DeLong says:

    To deal with the last point first, the union restricts membership based on the proportion of their income they make from journalism, not how much. Now, I’m not defending the system as it needs revision, but it has always been about ensuring that the NUJ’s members are journalists and not hobbyists. Indymedia and blogging have changed that logic, we need to figure out how to change the rules.

    I don’t really agree with your definition of journalism – I agree that blogs are about conversation, but journalism, at its core, is about information. The conversation aspect has been added, in many cases to the detriment of the informational aspect, but the best journalism should be telling people something they don’t already know.

    As for paid blogging, you raise a number of very valid questions, many of which are relevant to the rest of the media as well. The question of monetising journalism is a huge one at the moment and I don’t have the answers yet. If you’re in London in early January, you might be interested in this – http://media.gn.apc.org/fl/0911ways.html

    However, I will point out that there are a few people being paid to actually blog. Some, for example those who work for campaign organisations, write blogs about their activities in campaigns or actions, etc. It’s the original kind of blogging – basic online diaries. As well, you have journalists being paid to blog to give a more personal slant to their work. Again, that is blogging and not just PR/news.

  19. Christina Zaba says:

    Hi, just coming back to this. And thanks for good discussions.

    Bristolgraffiti, I don’t think that anyone is bitter at people who write because they believe in what they’re doing and want to make a difference to the world. No-one at all.

    Personally that is the thing that drives my life and I’d be the last one to cast aspersions. That’s why as well as working in journalism I also teach creative writing to adults and students at various classes, run songwriting workshops for kids, etc. Creativity is the key to all authentic living, but I do get angry when people’s love for and commitment to that leads to them being exploited by the greedy and unscrupulous. That’s one among many reasons why I give time to the NUJ, an organisation which works for fairness in employment.

    However, as Donnacha says, journalism is really about information, though conversation does come into it too in various ways.

    Meanwhile a lot of people who have been thrown on the scrapheap in this city are both traumatised and literally without money – and I mean local journalists. As chair of the local NUJ I’ve been trying, with the other volunteers, to think of ways to help them find jobs.

    It can be a shaming thing to admit you’re in trouble and I really don’t want to start rehearsing the ins and outs of what people have been going through on this public and not-wholly-friendly (yet) forum. None the less, helping members in trouble is part of what we do, and that includes trying to help them get started again and pick themselves up. There are NO jobs at the local papers now – none. So what can we advise?

    The PR sector is booming in Bristol – for reasons well beyond what we locally have done or might do – and it’s an obvious choice to look for a job, if you’re a journalist and stuck. There is also an argument to be made that PR needs to be properly and responsibly done. There are lots of arguments and there is also need. It is by no means easy to get a good job in PR – it’s a highly skilled profession in its own right, and anyone who is paid well in PR has done a lot to earn it.

    You may not agree with the PR industry and may wish it didn’t exist, but it does and we have to work with that.

    The NUJ has a PR Industrial Council which aims to promote and support ethical PR. Make of that what you will, but people working in PR are welcome in our organisation. It is a sector the NUJ includes, just as it includes people working in book publishing, for example, and film production. And website content creation.

    As to why PR agencies contact bloggers – well of course, the answer is that you have something they really need, and you’re prepared to give it to them, for no money, it sounds like. So obviously they will come to you.

    As a trade unionist I do look at the politics of that and who is being exploited/exploiting. Who is being ripped off and for whose benefit.

    I well know that exploitation is to some extent in the eye of the beholder of course – eg I do a lot of things for free because I believe in them, such as leading this NUJ branch, and others can and do say that that’s exploitation. So I know – go figure.

    All I’m saying is that if bloggers are giving valuable assistance and saleable material to commercial organisations who are making sometimes considerable money out of that, then please beware and maybe it would be worth asking for some of that money back in payment?

    It’s like the gifted and shy woman who came to an NUJ meeting back in the day – it was 2006, I think – and told us that she had been writing a double-page spread on health for the Bristol Evening Post every week for 12 months and had not been paid a penny for it. They didn’t pay her because they told her it was an advert for her business, which was given in a footer every week, and because, they said, she was an amateur.

    She gave up every Sunday for a year to write very successfully for no money on a topic no BEP journalist was qualified to handle, and although at first she was proud to see her name in the paper, by the end of it she just felt used.

    Which she was, because they were *selling* the material – and keeping the cash. They were taking the mickey, pure and simple. These were not NUJ members – we know who they were.

    She was shocked to hear that she was entitled to be paid, but stopped us from making a fuss. That was it – sold down the river, 52 days’ work gone forever. It was worth at least £5,200 and possibly more. Why shouldn’t she have had that? But she never got it.

    These are the experiences we meet and so we’re alert to that sort of transaction, which can and does happen everywhere.

    But this is not to knock what bloggers do, and as with any pioneering work, it’s never going to be clear-cut.

    And I don’t know all that much about the blogging community, so await correction.

    As to barbed wire, well, mainstream journalists do it, but not so horribly except for a few on the Mail, surely?!

    I’m not answerable for all journalists everywhere, but please remember that not every working journalist is a member of the NUJ, and you might also be interested to know that eg there was a 2-minute silence at this year’s conference for all the journalists worldwide who had died in the previous 12 months doing their work of reporting.

    http://www.nujadm.org.uk/journalist-deaths/
    http://www.nujadm.org.uk/delegates-stand-in-silence-in-memory-of-journalists-killed-doing-their-job/

    These people are not “dinosaurs” – they’re sacrificing their lives to get the truth told, this year, now.

    The media is a broad spectrum of selfishness and altruism and not everyone is the same. So please don’t tar us all with the same brush.

    It’s easy to throw knives at people – and it can be fun – but only if you treat it as an exercise in style and don’t care about the pain you inflict. I’m not responsible for colleagues right across the UK, only the people who work with me on a voluntary basis, who I know to be men and women of integrity – even though we’ll all agree that we do have some massive arguments sometimes – and it’s just heartbreaking to see them being lampooned in a public forum for no good reason and on the basis of no real information. That’s not clever, it’s not journalism and it’s just simply ignorant. Come and meet us, find out what we do, maybe join in some of it, have a proper look around our site and them make cricitisms if you like, but don’t call us Stalinists, embittered hacks, conspiracy nuts, poster boys….dear God, what’s all this about?

    A waste of energy when there is so much real stuff to do.

    I suppose it got this discussion going, OK, but please, enough already with the insults.

    yes, I agree that we’re talking about what a trade union’s role should be in an online world…now that the smoke’s clearing somewhat 🙂

    As Donnacha said, we’ve been talking about it in the union for a while now so I’m glad we can extend the conversation.

    The fact that Murdoch is complaining about Google doesn’t make what Google is doing legitimate. He’s definitely not any kind of NUJ compatriot to my knowledge! None the less, if we don’t have ownership of or rights over our created work, that’s theft.

    If you don’t care where the money is going, that’s fine for you. But trade unions are about just that – pay and conditions, and trying to ensure that people who work are paid fairly for that work. When I sell a piece of work to a newspaper that I may have spent a few days creating, and they offer me say £25, or nothing at all, as the Evening Post now does when ten years ago it would offer £70 or £100, how am I supposed to live on that or how is anybody? Or are we supposed to live off something else and just write after working hours?

    Again, fine if that’s what you choose. If you’re trying to do journalistic work, though – that is, delivering accurate and timely, hopefully also insightful, information – you often have to be working on it in the daytime so that you can gather the facts and quotes you need. So you can’t have a “day job” as well. Even if you are freelance, this is true.

    That’s why the press benches are empty at council meetings and courts. There is no-one there because no-one pays them to be there any more (the BEP sacked the last court reporter some time ago – she was paid £9,000 a year, which they said they couldn’t afford). Even if bloggers were to cover those events, would the wide public know where to look to find them? And if not, what is happening to the fourth estate – the watchdog of democratic process that holds authority to account?

    Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree that it’s great not to mind about the money. It gives you creative freedom and independence and means you have to answer to no-one. It means you can delve deeper, go further, spend time you want, all sorts of things. It’s good.

    But it depends what your aims are. When I write a song I don’t expect to earn a single penny and that’s fine by me, it’s my thing. But if I’m writing a report for a big newspaper that makes billions in profits for its shareholders, then I do mind. Because I and our members’ work is being sold and all the money is going to someone else, who didn’t create that work. How can that be right?

    Similarly if, as often happens in my case, I publish something in say the Guardian and get paid say £85 or £200 for it, and then I see that same work get passed from blog to blog all over the world, how is it right if newspaper and news aggregation sites pick it up and use it to attract readers and pay me not a penny for the privilege? They are making money off my back and not compensating me a thing. I don’t mean me, but everyone. How can that be right?

    If a ‘private’ blogger picks up or refers to my work, then that’s a privilege, just like when someone comments on my work via a site. I feel honoured, because those are my readers, whom I respect. But if a newspaper or aggregation site picks up my work and uses it, or even charges online readers to read it, without asking me and without giving me any money, frankly I think that’s a total rip-off.

    And it’s even worse for press photographers.

    Citizen journalists too, that is, members of the public who get good stuff and give it to the papers, ought also to be paid if the papers are making a profit. They are frequently not offered any fee, even if their work – a video clip, a photo – flows right round the world. I think that is a rip-off too. The money should be shared with the people supplying the stuff, whoever they are, not just kept by the newspapers. That’s not fiery trade union talk, it’s simple justice.

    No ‘mere bloggers’ and aspersions here – it’s an important debate.

    Does the union care if people are not paid a living wage? Of course it does – there’s been a campaign against poverty pay for a long time now. What with the anti-trade union laws there isn’t all that much we can do to stop it, but we do try and encourage people who supply their work for free to commercial organisations to ask for some money – otherwise no-one will be paid, and in the freelance world, nothing is easier than divide and rule. The NUJ has a freelance fees guide, updated daily and freely available online, to help people – any people – know more or less what other people are being paid, so that they too can ask accordingly.

    It’s here:

    http://www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/index.php?language=en&country=UK&section=Welcome

    As to ‘only valid in the eyes of a union if they’re being paid for it’ – I think that’s just because the nature of trade unions mean they’re about paid work. It’s all about fair pay and conditions – it’s about workers, people who work for a living. A trade union is a legal entity, tied up with employment law – that means paid employment. That is the framework within which the NUJ and all its activists operate.

    If people are working and not being paid, but should be paid, and feel they should be paid, then the union can and does pick that up. Unemployment or low pay is no bar to entry, as I explained before. The monthly sub is on a sliding scale/grades depending how much you’re earning.

    If people are working but don’t expect or want to be paid, as with voluntary work, religious cults, keeping an allotment, etc etc, or in terms of writing, keeping a journal to share with your friends or a blog ditto, then no problem and why should a trade union be involved?

    The blog phenomenon is an amazing one because it crosses so many divides and is at once both small and very big, both completely not-for-profit and a feature of huge and voraciously greedy organisations whose aim is to hoover up as much profit as possible.

    Point taken about the bloggers deciding. Of course that’s how it can and should work. You’d be surprised though to know that a lot of people do want to join the NUJ – and especially get a press card – who aren’t really interested in doing journalistic work, but for other purposes. Not everyone is sincere.

    So there do need to be some checks and usually that means applicants turning up to a branch meeting and saying hello, and possibly showing members what they’ve done or saying something about it, as well as being vouched for by someone else and a few other things.

    Generally the difficulties arise if a prospective member has a different ‘day job’ but wants to become a journalist and has done just a little bit of work. They have to join as temporary members for a while (‘working towards becoming a journalist’) and hopefully that gives them time to make the transition while being supported by the union.

    With new media this system has obvious problems though, for all the reasons we’re talking about. So I don’t have the answers, but I’m willing to chew it over and try and come up with some, along with all the other people who care about this. Maybe in the end there will be answers.

    I completely agree that the journalists’ union needs to catch up with the changes and it’s our aim to offer help to people. I also know that if people know the union is there, like I did they will find their way to the bits that interest them or are useful, and perhaps get changes introduced accordingly – since it’s driven by the membership, not the leadership, that’s quite easy to do.

    As to protecting journalism or unionism – the reason the NUJ is the organisation it is, is that it is about journalists in a trade union setting. I’m a member also eg of Women in Journalism, who have seminars and parties, and of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, who hold weekend schools…you get the idea I’m sure. These organisations are really just ways of meeting fellow enthusiasts/professionals, but they don’t have anything like the legal and campaigning muscle that a trade union does.

    One of the things that happens with trade unions is that you meet other trade unions, and when things get hard they help you. It’s about solidarity – working people helping each other when in trouble. Together the trade unions also, through the votes of their members, can elect to support other campaigns, eg. for justice for workers in other countries etc. They all have a code of conduct, so in that sense it is political. Some are affiliated to political parties too, but the NUJ isn’t.

    http://www.tuc.org.uk/

    Trade unions also do a lot around education, rights, health and safety, green issues, equality, etc etc.

    Obviously people who support the NUJ do so both because they see their own interests well served by it and because they are OK about it being a trade union – or actively support trade unions. I have been in the NUJ for 12 years now and I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t approve of it. It does good work and helps people, and I’ve had a lot of good things out of it for my career – training, contacts, colleagues, advice on marketing my work, advice on fees, legal support and advice, advantageous insurance rates, a cut-price Mac, access to top website designers and photographers, support in crisis, professional advice of all kinds, good festivals, good music, good fun, practice in public speaking….the chance to be heard. The list goes on. As a freelance it’s a big benefit to me.

    But if you don’t approve of trade unions then you won’t approve of the NUJ, because it is one.

    On the final couple of entries – I take the point and I’m interested also because I’ve got my own blog to start getting going. The way I thought about it, I figured I might be able to do it in such a way that it would be like self-publishing, unique and self-driven but attracting readers (hopefully), and that then I could do ads or links to generate some income in ancillary media. But that’s just theory and clearly might be naive or unworkable. In which case I could imagine that it might be like facebook writ larger – a place to create a self, or a consistent voice or information gathering point.

    I would also aim if so to link it to a more brochure-like website which, as a freelance writer, I would aim perhaps to be a professional showcase. I know a lot of photographers do this.

    What I have noticed is that blogs are hard to do, and few journalists are really good at them from what I have seen. Piers Morgan, for example, can’t seem to manage his. Jon Slattery and Roy Greenslade, on the other hand, do great. My friend Jemima Kiss – jemimakiss.com – has been running her blog for longer than anyone else I know, but she’s very disciplined about what she puts on it. Joan Smith, feminist columnist at the Independent on Sunday, blogs at politicalblonde.com, which is one I read. I think for established journalists it can be a material help to their careers. But of course I can imagine that for some bloggers, that’s the last thing they’re looking at.

    It’s a fantastic form of communication and an art. But the point stands. What do we do with this, if anything, in the NUJ?

    What I’ve suggested on http://www.bristolnuj.org.uk is that some time next year we could meet up and talk properly about it – these long posts have to stop 🙂 – with maybe Donnacha coming down from London. I know people want to remain anonymous (that balaclava again), but it’s a thought. The NUJ could host it and I’m sure there would be lots of people who would want to hear from Bristol’s blogging community, including some people in the universities and maybe from places like HP Labs and or the pervasive media lab…it could be good to just bring people together and mix it up.

    just a thought and of course possibly inappropriate, but not intended to offend!

    Have to go now – this conversation having taken over my life 🙂

    But thanks to all for interesting everything and for visiting our site anyway. And let’s keep talking and being and doing our thing even if we disagree and get angry and misunderstand or misunderstood…it’s good we’re all there. That is the most important thing – to have the space.

    In solidarity, notwithstanding,

    Christina

  20. BristleKRS says:

    Donnacha, I’m with Bristol Graffiti on this.

    From where I’m looking, the union does discriminate against those who produce good quality, probing or culturally resonant journalism on a low wage or for free, in favour of those who coast along, rephrasing press releases whilst on a relatively decent full time salary.

    The (hypothetical) former’s journalistic achievements are belittled because s/he needs to hold down another, non-journalistic job in order to pay the bills.

    The (hypothetical) latter’s journalistic credentials are hyped up because there’s a big bluechip media company’s name emblazoned across the top of their pay slips.

    In each instance the quality of the work carried out, its social value, the probity of the individual in question – none of these things are taken into consideration when it comes to the union considering them for membership.

    And again, why have a union which welcomes both journalists and PR bods, both lowly reporters and high-and-mighty editors? Surely there is too much scope for conflicts of interest?

    Re the Gosling conundrum: It’s not good enough to say ‘if you don’t like him, join the union and stand against him’. If the NUJ itself isn’t willing to make a stand against conspiracy nuts who cite Jew-hating forgeries as credible evidence (amongst many other troubling issues), then it can hardly expect people to join up to deal with it themselves.

    Re the ‘most blogs are just fluff about what was for tea, I wasn’t dissing acksuall proper bloggers who, like, write about heavy stuff’ comments: Maybe, maybe not. If you are going to go in heavy with sweeping statements, back them up with evidence and stats. You will be pulled up on evidence-free assertion, and simply tacking on ‘it’s plain to see’ addenda doesn’t cut the mustard.

    Engagement is a two-way street. The NUJ doesn’t get to tell bloggers or other social media users how blogging or social media works, or how it is relevant or otherwise, or anything else. It can certainly join the conversation, but lecturing us is just going to make the union look foolish. There are many social media-engaged journalists out there who are doing interesting things, who are using the technologies and the communities to help improve their work, who are reaching out to their readers and blurring the lines between producer and consumer. Sadly such forward thinking is not something I see in the statements from those on here (and elsewhere) representing the NUJ.

    In a nutshell: You’re looking for new members from those in ‘new media’; so don’t diss and belittle them and their work. Good journalism is good journalism if it’s by a “mere blogger” or a “hobbyist” as much as if it’s by a “professional”. Crap journalism ditto.

    As ever, Anton Vowl nails it far better and more succinctly.

  21. Donnacha DeLong says:

    Let me reiterate, the NUJ is a trade union. It’s primary purpose is to represent its members in dealing with their employers (or commissioners when freelance). The fact that there are now lots of people out there doing the same kind of work for free is a challenge for the union. This isn’t a question of “endorsement”, it’s a question of union organising.

    You don’t have citizen doctors or hobbyist mechanics looking to join the relevant trade unions. We’ve got a fairly unique situation that I’ve already said we’re looking at and will try to come up with a solution that suits Bristol as well as London as well as Limerick – because that’s what we have to do. The situation I mentioned previous in relation to Indymedia has been based on engagement and discussion over the past few years.

    I’m not going to get into a pissing contest about who knows most about blogs and social media, but I’ll try and root out some of the stuff about use of blogs that I’ve used in work over the years. In the meantime, let me just prove that I’m not just inventing stuff and have been watching the blogosphere for years – http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/POL30/015/2005

  22. BristleKRS says:

    I’m not going to get into a pissing contest

    TBH it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re trying to do.

    Based on the arguments laid out on here by you and by Christina, I’m afraid that my opinion of the NUJ has been lowered. I haven’t heard anything that persuades me that either my professional interests or my interests as a blogger would be better represented as a member of the NUJ than not, which is a shame.

    However, I’d be (genuinely) interested in hearing about the union’s moves to engage with the likes of IndyMedia.

  23. thebristolblogger says:

    You don’t have citizen doctors or hobbyist mechanics looking to join the relevant trade unions.

    What you also don’t have is the near-complete collapse in standards in medicine and car mechanics creating the need for hobbyists etc.

    In Bristol, it’s no use talking about the “blurring of lines” between news and PR. We’re beyond that. Our mainstream news is now PR. The recent World Cup host city bid has proved that.

    There’s been no attempt by mainstream news organisations to broadcast or print facts based on evidence. They’ve just published crude, simplistic and quite often inaccurate promotional material as news.

    This is a worrying development because it means the corporates, the wealthy and big government – with access to budgets and PR expertise – now appear to have direct and unmediated access to making the news as they want it.

  24. Donnacha DeLong says:

    @BristleKRS – are you facing redundancy as a blogger? Does your boss bully you as a blogger? Do you have problems getting paid for your work as a blogger? Have so many of your co-workers been made redundant that you’re struggling to do the job of four or five people as a blogger? Are you, as thebristolblogger points out, in a position where you have no capacity to research and write stories and instead have to fill your paper/website with PA copy and rewritten press releases as a blogger? Are you stressed, demotivated and scared for your professional future as a blogger?

    These are the main reasons people join a trade union. These are the main reasons people join the NUJ. We’re fighting back, it’s not easy, we’re not necessarily winning, but we’re trying hard. People posting here seem to think we should just give up on journalism as a profession, stop expecting to be able to do it as a job and accept that the future of journalism is, as Roy Greenslade put it in 2007
    “We are surely moving towards a situation in which relatively small “core” staffs will process material from freelances and/or citizen journalists, bloggers, whatever…”

    I don’t accept that, I’ve been elected Vice President with the intention to keep fighting that and to work with my colleagues to reinvent the media completely, create models that work for us as journalists. If you want to join in, come talk to us. If you want to stay outside throwing stones, that’s up to you.

  25. Hi, somewhat out of the loop here now – I posted a long reply to everyone yesterday which vanished instead of appearing….maybe it was too long? So sorry for the silence, posting this to see if it works this time, and if so will post later with more. This is a test.

    Cheers,

    Christina

  26. thebristolblogger says:

    It got put in the spam queue (probably due to the amount of links?). It’s up now.

  27. BristleKRS says:

    Donnacha:

    You seem to be making some big assumptions about what I am and what I do. Your rhetoric does not, sadly, match my experience of the NUJ.

    Christina:

    Some responses.

    …If you don’t care where the money is going, that’s fine for you. But trade unions are about just that – pay and conditions, and trying to ensure that people who work are paid fairly for that work…Does the union care if people are not paid a living wage? Of course it does – there’s been a campaign against poverty pay for a long time now.

    I don’t doubt that to be the case in the abstract, but my personal experience, in the cold, hard, material world of actual practice, is (for example) of being sacked after complaining about consistently late payments and failure to honour penalty clauses – in a workplace where the boss was a local branch NUJ official. I nearly suffered eviction because my wages were paid so late.

    Again, I am not suggesting that this one small example reflects the union as a whole – but individuals’ opinions are shaped by the reality of what actually happens, not warm sentiment.

    Over time, based on my personal experiences, I have come to respect the profession less and less. I see less and less trade, less and less craft, and more of a ‘coolness’ attached, not to the work itself or the social function it serves, but to the idea of what it is. I have seen firsthand the ubiquitous ‘churnalism’ merry-go-round of press releases recycled into news stories which then spawn yet more press releases lauding press coverage. I have seen shameless exploitation by reporters of civilians, whilst at the self-same time managers at their own publications exploit them.

    As a process it is little shy of tragic inevitability that readers become less trusting of what they read, whilst writers pander to lower and lower common denominators. Where is the pride in the work, the search for truth, where are the high ideals?

    It is also sometimes difficult to square the crusading, high-minded assertions of the union with the sometimes venal, ethically-deficient actions of its members, or of its members silent complicity in the debasement of news reporting by way of (barely) rewriting press releases as ‘news’, or of the shift from complacent attitudes (‘we are the news and we’ll do what we damned please’ to ‘please support us, our industry is collapsing’).

    don’t call us… conspiracy nuts

    I was the one who used the term ‘conspiracy nut’, so it falls to me to back it up. I didn’t use it as a buckshot insult against all hacks or even the whole of BNUJ. I used it specifically, to describe Tony Gosling. It is an accurate description. It was accurate back in 1997/8 when I first met him (and when, incidentally, he told me that the NUJ was a dead union and he’s never join it), and it is an accurate description now. I have never, incidentally, seen any paid journalistic work by him.

    If you’re trying to do journalistic work, though – that is, delivering accurate and timely, hopefully also insightful, information – you often have to be working on it in the daytime so that you can gather the facts and quotes you need. So you can’t have a “day job” as well. Even if you are freelance, this is true.

    Respectfully, this is not my experience. That is exactly what the majority of freelances I know do – fitting in their journalistic work around regular working hours.

    That’s why the press benches are empty at council meetings and courts

    Well, many of Bristol’s local bloggers – TBB, Chris Hutt, the Bristol Traffic team, Tony D and others – have taken up just that slack, and have done for a long time. I have been to more court and council hearings where there have been other bloggers present than where there have been salaried journalists.

    But if I’m writing a report for a big newspaper that makes billions in profits for its shareholders, then I do mind. Because I and our members’ work is being sold and all the money is going to someone else, who didn’t create that work. How can that be right?

    To look at it another way, when we bloggers write something, is it any more acceptable for a salaried journalist from a bluechip paper to c&p our words into an article and cite them as coming from a ‘bystander’ or to attribute them to some mysteriously etheral internet sentiment? And of course the individual journalists, whilst working to parameters and protocols set by their employers, are often themselves NUJ members. Where is the professional ethics in that, to deliberately remove context and attribution? Things like this stick in the craw of many a blogger who has put in the graft – unpaid – only to subsequently see their sweat and toil translated into a trite soundbite buried in a story rewritten to give the impression that the journalist researched it from scratch.

    What I’ve suggested on http://www.bristolnuj.org.uk is that some time next year we could meet up and talk properly about it

    I think this is a very sensible suggestion – not to ‘solve’ anything, but at least to open up the eyes of NUJ members and officers to the possibilities, and to show willingness to engage with bloggers rather than to make assumptions about them. *Insert partisan reversal regarding blogger-journalist relationship here 😉 *

    I know people want to remain anonymous

    Well, some do, some don’t. But I am minded of the various times when various (self-described) journalists have stated their intention to ‘unmask’ various bloggers – TBB included. Tony Gosling has certainly had a go on a couple of occasions. Not quite fraternal behaviour! (As a side note, I’ve always been fascinated by the inability of them to do so accurately. I clocked who it was pretty much from the start, as I am sure others did.)

    My own blogging identity is an extension of an online identity I have had for nigh on ten years. My ‘real identity’ is not a secret, but being ‘BristleKRS’ does help provide something of a cushion between the different aspects of my life. I have been subject to various stalking campaigns, threats, harassment etc over the years, so not publishing what at times can be quite personal material alongside more newsy stuff is simply common sense in my opinion. Of course, any particularly determined fruitcake with a modicum of skill could swiftly ‘unmask’ me. Fortunately most such nutters are idiots *touches wood*.

    I know that at least one less anonymous blogger writing critically of the supermarket/stadium proposals received several threatening phonecalls of a ‘we know where you live’ variety; so to hear NUJ advocates demean the work of someone like that as ‘mere blogging’ jars.

    What I have noticed is that blogs are hard to do, and few journalists are really good at them from what I have seen

    Yes, blogs are hard to do (I’ve been on an extended break from my main one for various reasons, including lack of time), but I think that there are many, many good journalist-bloggers out there; just perhaps not the big name stars. There are also many journalists who engage with social media to interesting effect (locally Marc Cooper has been game enough to engage with the local blogging scene, even when we’re beastly to him, and met the Twitter challenge; Phil Chamberlain uses his blog to fill in the gaps between his published articles, to add detail and context, to ask for assistance. Wider afield Andrew Collins, Graham Linehan, Charlie Brooker, Ben Goldacre, Krish Guru-Murthy, Julia Reid, Paul Lewis, Hamish Macdonald, Alan Lodge, Marc Vallee, Jason Parkinson, David Hoffman, Kevin McGeever at the St Petersburg Times in Florida, and many, many more have managed to use social media and reach out to other social media users in ways that add depth and breadth to their work. It can be done, it is being done.

    I completely agree that the journalists’ union needs to catch up with the changes and it’s our aim to offer help to people.

    I welcome your candour here – cheers for saying as much. Again I would point you in the direction of Paul Bradshaw, course director in online journalism at Birmingham City University, and the team at Online Journalism Blog. They are doing interesting work helping to inspire young journalists with the possibilities that are out there with social media, engaging with ‘non-journalists’, actually generating hard news stories through processes like crowd-sourcing, and encouraging a culture of acknowledgment and attribution.

  28. bristolgraffiti says:

    Hello again all,

    Had some more points to make, but having read through all of the above and the debate elsewhere, I’d just be regurgitating someone else’s content, which wouldn’t really be on.

    So, guess in a nutshell the point is that bloggers, paid or not, could by the looks of things make use of some of the services the NUJ provides. If they’re producing regular information based content, are proposed/seconded by other people and are willing to pay a monthly sub, what’s the problem with them joining, or at least having their own category of membership?

  29. Donnacha DeLong says:

    I’ll repost what I posted below the original article –
    “We recently agreed to allow non-journalistic members of Indymedia collectives to join the union as associate members, so bloggers who earn money in other ways can also join in the same way. Just fill out the form and write associate member across the top (maybe include a cover note explaining).”

    I’m getting my usual “arguing online” feeling that we’re not going to get anywhere and will defer to the suggestion that I come down to Bristol at some stage for a meeting and we try and do this properly – in person with booze.

    PS. for the record, I’m an anarchist, not a Stalinist, and I’m with Robert Anton Wilson on conspiracy theories.

  30. bristolgraffiti says:

    Thanks, seen that. It’s not clear what the difference between the two types of membership are though. A unique search for associate member returns nothing, either on the Bristol or national NUJ sites, and the membership form has no info on it either, especially around how much us types would be expected to pay.

    So yeah, a meeting about this would probably be handy.

  31. Donnacha DeLong says:

    From the rule book (which we really need to get online in html rather than just a pdf – http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=182 )
    Rule 2 (d):
    (i) Full members: Persons in staff occupations, freelances who have no other full-time job, earn at least half of their income from journalism and are mainly dependent on this income or asylum seekers or refugees who can demonstrate they were engaged in such work immediately prior to arriving in the UK or Ireland.
    (vi) Temporary members: A branch or the General Secretary may, with the agreement of a branch, issue a temporary membership card to a new entrant to journalism – or to a person returning to journalism – who proves he/she is seeking to establish or re-establish himself/herself as a full-time freelance journalist without any other full-time paid occupation. Such cards shall be issued annually for a maximum of three years, during which time the temporary member may apply for full membership.
    (viii) Associate members: Any person who satisfies the NEC he or she is carrying out significant journalistic work and has a continuing commitment to journalism and trade unionism.

  32. Donnacha DeLong says:

    As for subs, they match the full members divisions, so bloggers would be Grade 1 along with New Media people outside established media companies.

  33. bristolgraffiti says:

    Nice one, ta!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.