Friday, October 19, 2007

Stand Up For Journalism: Should NUJ Organise Bloggers?

Miles has created a jump post listing some of us who have already covered the Stand Up For Journalism event. Remember, remember this is on 5th of November. Focused here in Manchester. At the site of the Peterloo Massacre.

While it is primarily about a great slump in local and regional journalist numbers and time and money constraints on their ability to be effective in the newspaper business the breaking news on job losses and rip offs in the television/radio/web trimedia does provide a momentous back drop.

The NUJ should now push the boat out in the Blogging sector. There is a considerable unmet training need - particularly afflicting the Tory lot! - and also various other areas where a collective voice and bargaining would be useful.

Special lower subs rate at entry level will be needed and also some serious targeted recruitment advertising. Preferably booked direct with bloggers rather than through some major advertising contractor. And on the basis of a small retainer and a recurring slice of subscription revenue.

Stand Up For Journalism!


Donnacha DeLong said...

Hi Chris,
There are two aspects to this. Firstly, those who are making money from blogging qualify for membership. More and more, people are finding this is possible and income from blogging counts as much as income from "traditional" journalism. So, to quote the rule book, if the blogger is a person in staff [journalistic] occupation, or a freelance who has no other full-time job, earns at least half of their income from journalism and is mainly dependent on this income, then they can become full members.

Alternatively, for the more "amateur" blogger, there is the possibility of temporary membership - "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. "

Training is another issue and it's something we're going to look at - the NUJ's professional training is open to non-members for a higher fee. If bloggers want to discuss any of these issues, please get in touch with me.

Donnacha (NEC rep for New Media).

Chris Paul said...

Hi Donnacha

Yes, yes and yes to each para. I was a member back in the 80s and well on in the process of rejoining. I've filled in the form and all that stuff. Just saving up for a stamp and trying to find the blessed thing in my "piling system".

I am also a member of GPMU/Unite and always was a dab hand with the scalpel, process camera and linotronic machines. We had a bit of a dual chapel going on even back then.

Clearly bloggers who are students can join for a much reduced fee - £10 is it? And those with relatively low income can pay a % of income but with a minimum of something like £48 a year.

These figures are not that high but I understand from my friend Jenny Lennox that the new media sector (including bloggers) have to pay top dollar once out of penury? The benefits are not well known and the closed shop is gone.

Hence the idea of a targeted advertising campaign. I'll get in touch. Thanks for responding.

Best w
Chris P

Chris Paul said...

PS Gary H's a near neighbour of mine also and planning to get on a Board of Trustees for one of my projects quite soon I hope.

Donnacha DeLong said...

Jenny was probably right when she said it to you, but thankfully, we've changed that ridiculous situation. New Media people now pay the bottom rate unless they work online for an organisation that does something different (ie. BBC, Grauniad, etc).

susan said...

I have been a member of the NUJ for 23 years. As a freelance, it costs a lot (tax deductible) but you get legal advice, a union which will chase unpaid income on your behalf and most of all credibility......

Chris Paul said...

That's good news. Picked it up on your blog re regional news employees. £1 a week may still seem like quite a bit as blogging is still (mostly) a subsistence business at best and the benefits need to become more apparent. IMO.

Miles said...

It is not just about what the union can do for you.
It is also about being part of the only organisation that is totally dedicated to improving journalists' terms and conditions and fighting for media freedom.
By being a member you help those things to happen.

Chris Paul said...

Clearly Miles. You don't have to tell me that. But this is not the same for most bloggers. Trade Union membership has declined considerably down the years. Self employed people - an increasing proportion of us are after all - have not been that prone to being in unions, and the third sector too is way behind even the private, or so it seems to me.

Solidarity and community are important. But the nitty gritty of insurance, training, collective voice, collecting unpaid fees, bargaining on rates etc begin to merge into those things once we make the case.

Who should I propose the details of the blog-ad campaign to? Might also grab a few of those reluctant scribblers and snappers.

Chris Paul said...

PS Many Labour bloggers at least are already in other unions so dusting off the co-membership deals could be of use. And also most bloggers are in a different place income wise than even regional onliners in MSM.

Miles said...

The next Manchester NUJ branch meeting will draw up motions for the annual conference.
Fill in your form. Come and propose one with your strategy. It's as easy as that.
Re the ad campaign on its own suggest to your NEC member (when you have joined) to raise it at the development committee.
Donnacha can also do this.
The NUJ is very bottom up. The Manchester branch could run the campiagn if it wanted and agreed it at a meeting. Though money is a bit tight at the moment.

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