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Journalists battle for union rights
Journalism matters - how can we attain quality journalism in the multimedia age? - was the subject of a public meeting organised by Swansea and District National Union of Journalists (NUJ), attended by around 40 people on 20 February. The meeting included journalists, media students and trade union activists from the Swansea area.
An NUJ member
The meeting was organised to address the growing pressure on journalists to produce quality journalism against ever-tighter budgets and smaller staffing levels. It was also organised to support journalists at the regional daily paper, the South Wales Evening Post, who are conducting a campaign for union recognition and collective bargaining at the paper.
The first speaker was one of the new reps from the Evening Post who explained that ever-increasing pressures from senior editorial staff and managers had led many journalists to conclude that they should join the NUJ.
Union membership had doubled at the South West Wales Media group in the last year and union reps and members were now confidently embarking on a campaign to achieve union recognition.
Two of the main speakers at the meeting were former BBC political correspondent Nicholas Jones and NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear.
Firstly, though, Kate Carr, chair of the NUJ Wales council and a rep at the BBC, highlighted the battle that the union was conducting in a fight against job cuts and pressures that were undermining the ability of the BBC to deliver public service broadcasting of any quality.
Nicholas Jones explained how a strong union had always been the best safeguard for maintaining journalistic standards and fairer, quality coverage in the media.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear spoke about how the union was making a stand against "churnalism" by defending journalists, pay and conditions and fighting for adequate staffing levels. He pointed out how, in the light of recent controversy of media coverage of the spate of deaths and suicides of young people in the nearby Bridgend area, the union had been the first body in the media to issue guidelines on reporting suicide.
He also highlighted where journalists were fighting back in disputes in Milton Keynes and Coventry and how the Stand up for Journalism campaign was challenging the corporate-dominated model of journalism.
Activities on the days leading up to and after the meeting saw further new recruits for the NUJ in the area at the South Wales Evening Post and other media outlets in the area.
In The Socialist 27 February 2008:
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