A river that needs crossing political and tech blogs - On the political side, there is arrogance and ignorance, on the geek side there is naivety and over- complexity

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Entries with tag nuj .

A personal perspective of trade union organising - the NUJ DM


Some feeling about my personal experience of old school democratic trade unionism.

Friday Night

Had an interesting, disquieting conversation tonight at a social event after the work of the NUJ delegate meeting. I had been visiting the delegate meeting room every so often to dip in to try and engage with the process, and each time I had failed, due to bad sound, complex and obscure timing, and the opaque and ritualistic language used. Being me I looked around for a space were I could help out and found the students making media about the event – joined in there and worked with different students to make and distribute 6 video reports that day.

Back to the conversation in the bar, the overly serious youthfull man I was talking to, seemed surprised and a bit disapproving of my action. His convincing argument was that I had been mandated and “paid” to participate in the DM process, travel, accommodation and food being covered by the union. Its a strange feeling for a horizontal like me am I obliged to do work through this process?

Am more interested if the traditional union is flexible enough to work with a diversity of strategy as the current one is simply inappropriate for many people’s view of a contemporary union. As I see it my “work” at the DM is to see if I can work in this space and perhaps more importantly can this space work with me and people like me. The old problematic divide between the horizontal and the virticalist, think, the NUJ might be one of the few union's that has wiggle space, we will see.


I'try again to engage with what am now appreciating is "power politics" the ritualistic fight for notice, resources and power. After a nights sleep, understanding, of my own aversion, and the democratic nature of this anti-consensuses process. Today it is the funding debate, get up early to be there on time, lets try and make it work as good to respect the attempt.

Going better, helps to talk to my fellow delegate sitting next to me. Much of the noise has the flavourer of sectarian infighting. By asking members you CAN find your way around the process. But its a Q. of motivation to engage and stay engaged. Is this the best we can do as the left?

Life at London new media and independent broadcasting (NUJ)

Reflections on looking around the room at the 2012 NUJ DM conference - The union is by far the most democratic I have found, but this democracy is embedded in a deeply ingrained bureaucratic tradition. The is the establishment who have to keep the day to day of the union, there largely invisible agenda is hidden by the need to keep the whole thing running. Then the are a group pushing an agenda that is clearly rejected by the majority of the union that takes up a lot of time, they then feel victimised and build conspiracy around what seams to be mostly inefficiency. If they were building “transparency” I would support them much more actively if they were constructing... The problem is that they criticizes and add bureaucracy to a already over bureaucratic union.

The outcome of all this is much smoke and noise with little accountability, so as a newcomer you are put in the uncomfortable position of largely supporting the powers that be. And the root needs for change and renewal are lost from the conversation and decisions of the union. 

The NUJ and Bluesky thinking 2012

My last report on the NUJ conference was Graysky thinking. Lets look for a moment at some Bluesky thinking for the NUJ.

The nutcracker – The union and money

A few blue sky ideas:

* Have a roll out of support the union buttons on members blogs and sites and have the revenue offset the membership fee of that member. This would motivate them to push the buttons into visibility. Self interest and the greater good pushed together.

* Hard one to pull off and would need to be centrally negotiated. Use something like http://flattr.com on members story’s in corporate media, get an agreement with publications to do this and do a revenue split with the journalist and the union. 

* Humm... who is going to buy me a beer to come up with more.


Launch a micro-union for citizen journalists, open media people.

* Very low fees

* Self help

* Horizontal web organising

* Open to any one

Technological leadership

At the moment members activity’s are fractured amongst many different websites and corporatist social networks. Everybody knows this is a failed strategy, could the NUJ help to lead the momentum to jumping off this sinking ship?

Use a small amount of its resources to fund a openmedianetwork for the membership. This will provide a bag of tools for members projects.

* use an existing opensource tool such as liferay (http://liferay.com) to provide tools to its membership.

* it has OPEN drag and drop working to build websites in hours rather than days or months

* the CMS can host as many websites and user blogs as are needed, it will build a single login in and single activity stream experience out of the box. And is scalable on modest resources.

* it is opendata and open standered so users can leave if they grow beyond its scope or expand functionality as they need.

NUJ Delegate Meeting 2012 - Newcastle


The union's Delegate Meeting (DM 2012) will take place from Friday 5 until Sunday 7 October 2012 in Newcastle.

This is a reaction to the  final agenda  PDF

Thinking about the NUJ delegate meeting. We all agree we need a union, but it isn’t obvious what is its role, used to be about negotiating with the bosses, but now we are all our own bosses so a bit schizophrenic to be negotiating with our selves. Were are we now?

The digital age is in transition. Many in the new media are working for nothing, for nothing, where we should work for nothing for something. What is the something we should be working for? To repeat as the majority of people in the media (for a while) will be paid nothing would be good if they were working for something to help them be paid something in future.  


Over all I feel this DM is full of graysky solutions to the need for blue sky thinking – but better something now than pie in the sky maybe (;


1) performance related pay

* (graysky thinking) this is an attempt to keep “strong connections' between worker and employer, these are appropriate during the analogue age – were movement was limited and control was strong. In the digital age it is potently the opposite, movement liberated and control limited. We are replacing strong connections with weak connections. But this frees us up to be exploited as much as it frees us up to do what we wont... so think this is needed but shouldn’t be used as an attempt to get back into the trenches.

2) fair pensions

* (graysky thinking) are a way of forcing good action on people and rely on a strong state... do we have a strong state, will we have a strong state – if we don’t/won’t we should re-think this. What dose the world look like with out a strong state?

3) part timers redundancy

* good background action, increasing the cost of redundancy.

4) redress for young journalist in unpaid intern-ships

* trying to use the inertia of the 20th century to shape the 21st century is usefull but not forwarded thinking.

5) unpaid contributors

* 20th century from amateur to professional, 21st century from professional to amateur, general knowledge industry’s are increasingly becoming amateur agen. Forward thinking?


“A positive future for media sees a wholesale de-professionalism of media production and distribution, the numbers of full time paid media producers will fall by a factor of 100, that is for ever person paid to produce, distribute media in the turn of the century only 1 in 100 will be paid to do it in the positive view of the future of media. The logical transition of digitisation will being a shift from a small elite (paid) minority to a large amorphous (unpaid) majority.”


6) introduction of a levy system

* interesting (but old) idea, but can lead to new inefficient bureaucracy, has this worked in the 20th century? needs more research and blue sky thinking.

7) Copyright enforcement

* the spirit of this is “correct” the SOC amendment moves it into the irreverent, this is the big debate which will not happen.

8) moral rights

* fighting against bad contracts is a good thing to do. But the Q is what are “moral rights” in the age of re-mix?

10) privatisation of the assessment of the impact of government proposals

* in general I agree, but feel the current consensus of what needs to be done in the union would lead to the funding being miss-spent? Ideas?

11) opening up academic publishing, while protecting copy editors jobs/role.

* opening is essential, how to fund is a core question.

12) same as 11

13) freelance guide

* good plan, and outreach to wider “amateur content publishers”

14) platform neutral strategy

* working out new working relationships, should be seen for what it is, trying not to hold onto the old when it is blocking is a balance to this...

16) assault by media bosses on jobs and pensions

* fighting against change needs to be balanced with fighting for the better new.

17/18) pay freeze at newsquest

* fighting a rearguard action against profiteering is good but should not be used as an excuse not to ingade with building the new.

22) regional newspapers

* this is very muddled thinking, this is a question of the value of local brands and community traditions – and the lack of value the market places on them.

21) community interest companies

* more to co-operatives? This is a question of new business models?

24) assets of community value

* why not – what are the pro's and cons?

25) same as 24

26) Future of media in Scotland

* why not, IF the remit is wide anufe.

28) BBC

* The sacred cow of the BBC... and the question of a licence to view news?

30) commercialisation of BBC

* the culling of the sacred cow by 1000 cuts...

31) ITV and regional news

* the motion is a please be nice to use statement – the amendment has teeth.

33) Scotland and STV training

* what are they training them – if its 20th century this is a wasted opportunity.

34) replacing the government

* good rabble rousing stuff (:

36) pickles code

* this is full of contradictions... bureaucracy central media or decentralised citizen media? The union will support the bureaucracy but should we is a real question?

38) convention of human rights

* go for it, a diversity of strategy is a good thing.

40) black workers equality

* OK

41) defend the right to protest

* yep, give um the money?

43) regional pay


44/45) democratise remuneration commits


46/48) healthcare?


49) paid lobbying


20) digital transition (:

* very good and needed – BUT have a strong feeling the people who are pushing this might not be the people who would lead to a useful outcome – need to know more to always this worry.

72) bring diversity into the union

* its what its about – but who is pushing this?

50) internal politics?

* Need to know more

51) equality and women representation in the union


53) to much paperwork?

* Need to know more?

55) photographers representation with in the union

interesting – but photograph as a proffeern is being pushed out of paid work and is likely to be pushed further... need to know for what resion this is being pushed? What outcome?

58/63) ageism

* internal politics? Need to know more

60) ageism

* sounds good, what is the outcome?

65) dead members rights

* interesting, needs clearer proposals

66) internal politics

* maybe, need to know more.

67/68) virtual meetings

* Think this should be rolled out rather than imposed, bring the virtual INTO the physical... see how this works and only then replace if appropriate.

69/88) internal politics


71) electing executive positions

* yep

73/74/77/78/79/80) increase union fees

* need to know more about the options

81) treat unemployed members better?

* need more information

82) using union company's to travel

* OK need back ground why this is an issue

83) get shares in media company’s to course trouble (:

* like the plan.

84/86/87) longer gap between DM (conference)

* physical meet-ups are good, this is the first one I have been to so will update this.

89) widen membership

* need to know how members feel about this (will update)

90/92) defining membership, kids care or age

* needs thought

95) refuges as members

* seams reasonable?

97) student members not studying journalism can be members

* OK

98) joint union membership

* OK

99) make joining the union easer

* online should be sought

103) training

* this one is vague, glad its put aside?

105) representatives training

* yes...

106/107) expanding the journalist magazine

* depends on what the space is for?

 109/110) leveson enquiry




Donnacha DeLong - what's wrong with the traditional media?

President of the National Union of Journalists Donnacha DeLong tells HamishCampbell what's wrong with the traditional media - who owns it! http://visionon.tv/grassroots

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