04 November 2007

Standing up for journalism

Tomorrow - Monday 5 November - is official Stand Up For Journalism day.

I won't be doing anything myself to mark the day. Firstly, I'm providing editing cover for a foreign colleague so I'll be chained to my PC all day waiting for Swedish equity analysts to send me their reports. Pity, as the main event - a big rally in Manchester - is not far from me and looks like it could be interesting, as activists will be targeting the conference of the Society of Editors (that's newspaper editors, btw, not lowly copy editors like moi).

Secondly, I'm not currently a member of the NUJ. My membership lapsed when I went abroad and when I first attempted to renew it I was told I couldn't, for a couple of technical reasons. Then my old union did a few things I wasn't terribly keen on so, for reasons too complex to explain here, I haven't yet renewed my membership. I keep toying with it - it is, after all, the only union I have ever belonged to - but nothing has yet managed to persuade me to bite the bullet and fill in the forms again.

I like the idea of a day of action, though. The day is a protest against the huge media conglomerates that own our newspapers and magazines yet keep cutting staff and budgets to boost their profit margins. It's a serious problem in an industry that hasn't seen day rates rise for freelance shift workers in more than 17 years, that means many regional papers can't afford specialist staff such as crime reporters and many national newspapers can't afford to send their reporters out to cover news on the ground. A lot of journalists are reduced to recycling press releases and ultimately it is the public that suffers as they don't get proper news. For a good summary of the situation, read this.

I'll be thinking of my paid-up colleagues while I sit at home correcting Swedish finance reports.

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