Big ideas

Very quickly:

This is what the NUJ has to say in response to Tory newspaper plans.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “This looks like a policy that has been rushed out in response to calls by media owners who are simply looking to make even more cuts to our already limping local press.

“These plans fail to deal with the problems facing local journalists. Consolidation of media ownership has meant office and title closures; it has meant journalists taken out of their communities, fundamentally undermining their ability to do their jobs well. The Conservative response to these problems seems to be more of the same, which will do nothing to help quality journalism.

“Where are the big ideas? We need our politicians to come up with proposals for how local journalism can be saved – not surrendered to big business interests who have taken multi-million pound profits whilst cutting back on quality journalism.

“The Conservatives might see media regulation as burdensome red tape – but it is what ensures people have access to varied media and different voices. To throw that protection away in response to business demands without any plans to secure improvement in journalism is foolhardy and an insult to our local communities.”

Now I happen to agree that letting the big companies buy up more papers so they can centralise all the subbing and make them soulless press release factories is a terrible idea.

But this?

“Where are the big ideas? We need our politicians to come up with proposals for how local journalism can be saved – not surrendered to big business interests who have taken multi-million pound profits whilst cutting back on quality journalism.”

Why on earth would we leave the saving of local journalism, that thing we love and care about, to politicians? Why would  we, the people who talk to our readers, who work with and see the applications of new technology, who have strong opinions about what makes good local news and how we’d do things differently if we were in charge – leave the future of our industry to people who know nothing about how it works?

Here’s an idea, Jeremy. Why don’t we, the journalists, try and come up with some ‘big ideas’ of our own? Why on earth would any body want to ‘save us’ if all we do is bleat about how the owners have taken our toys away without making any suggestions about what we’d do if they gave them back?

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2 thoughts on “Big ideas

  1. gingerelvis says:

    Nicely put.
    But I wouldn’t trust an NUJ plan anymore than I would one from the owners. They’re at opposite ends of the divide, but neither are in touch with the journalists I know.

    People can submit their own letters to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee –
    http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/culture__media_and_sport/cms090325a.cfm

  2. Actually, you’re both wrong and right. The NUJ isn’t leaving things up to politicians – but is challenging politicians to engage in the discussion. The Tory’s statement came just after the NUJ’s parliamentary lobby and Jeremy’s response is part of that discussion.

    If there are journalists who feel the union isn’t in touch with them, gingerelvis, ask them why not. If they’re members of the union, they ARE the union as much as anyone else and all their supposed disconnection from the union is their own fault for not coming to those of us who represent them on the union’s democratic bodies (I’m on the NEC btw) and telling us what they think. For example, we’ve just completed another survey of members on convergence issues and got a reasonable number of responses, but more would have been better.

    If, on the other hand, they’re not members of the union, then is it any surprise that their views are not represented? That’s why people join unions.

    The union leadership isn’t just sitting in a room randomly firing out ideas either. As Jeremy points out on his blog – http://jeremydear.blogspot.com/2009/03/standing-room-onlyno-really.html – “on Monday our Commission on Local Media meets – with Roy Greenslade, John Lloyd, Barbara Gunnell, the Community Media Association, Keith Sutton, Nick Davies and others coming together to discuss the future of local media.” The union is doing everything it can to encourage debate, discussion and ideas at every level of the industry and society – from the parliamentary lobby to local community meetings. The Commission is an attempt to build an expert group to help inform that debate.

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