Thursday, March 31

Early day motion 1674: BBC Radio Tees
That this House celebrates the work of BBC Radio Tees in serving the communities of Teesside; values its unique role in providing news and information across Middlesbrough, Redcar, Stockton-upon-Tees and Hartlepool; acknowledges, in particular, its service during the recent uncertainty over the future of Teesside Cast Products; is deeply concerned that the BBC is considering reducing local radio output; believes that such a move would undermine local radio stations as a whole and if it were to happen would be a huge disservice to Teesside's communities and to the millions of visitors to the region who rely upon the service; and calls on the BBC to maintain the current level of output from Radio Tees.
Primary sponsor: Tom Blenkinsop, Date tabled: 30.03.2011

Tuesday, March 29

Interim ban on TV programme was in breach of Belgian broadcaster’s freedom of expression

In today’s (29/03/11) Chamber judgment in the case RTBF v. Belgium (application no. 50084/06), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

A violation of Articles 6 § 1 (access to court) and Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned an interim injunction ordered by an urgent-applications judge against the Belgian French-language broadcasting corporation RTBF, preventing the broadcasting of a programme – partly about the rights of patients vis-à-vis doctors –, until the final decision in a dispute between a doctor named in the programme and the RTBF.

You can access the full summary here . . . .
When the page loads, go to 'Recent press releases', left hand column

Monday, March 28

Union acts to reverse drop in standards in academic publishing

In A bid to reverse the decline in editorial quality in academic publishing houses, the NUJ has called for all university dons and editorial boards to insist on traditional high British standards in all publishing contracts.

A public meeting, organised by NUJ Oxford Branch on Wednesday 16th March, heard that publishers who had outsourced all or part of the editorial process only ended up pushing extra work back onto the shoulders of the academics that they were supposed to be serving.

Peter Wrobel, former Managing Editor of Nature magazine, said that he had recently been contracted to train up copy editors in the Indian sub-continent - and quickly found that the English spoken in India was not the same as that spoken in the British Isles. He added that this often meant the extra work was pushed back onto over-worked British academics.

He noted: “Academic publishing is unusual in that the copy and peer reviews are free and the works are then sold back to higher education at very high prices. There are instances of each chapter given to a different copy editor. Publishers only offshore work because other firms are doing it”.

Oxford Branch Secretary Anna Wagstaff said that she had called the public meeting over concerns her members had over the drop in editorial standards in academic publishing. This was a major employer in the Oxford area. She told the packed meeting: “We want partnerships with university academics - and every head of department at Oxford and Brookes universities were invited.

Above is an extract from the report by Brother Chris Youett, who attended the meeting as a delegate of Birmingham & Coventry NUJ, his full report on the meeting, can be downloaded here . . . . .

Friday, March 25

March with the NUJ on Saturday 26th MArch!

On Saturday 26 March hundreds of thousands of trade unionists will March for the Alternative to cuts and austerity.
Come and march with the NUJ!
The demonstration will start at 11am on Saturday 26 March 2011 in London. The NUJ as part of the Federation of Entertainment Unions has been allocated an assembly point, all the assembly points are between Hungerford Bridge and the rear of Temple Place. Signs will be put on lamp posts and other street furniture to demarcate the different zones and we have been allocated position 13 along the Embankment - next to the east end of Temple Place. At the assembly point we will have 100 new NUJ flags and save the BBC World Service t-shirts to hand out before the demonstration starts so come along and march with the NUJ.
There will also be a rally in Belfast organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The Belfast march begins at the Art College in Donegal Street at 12.30 pm on Saturday March 26, with a rally at City Hall.
See you on Saturday 26 March!

Thursday, March 24

Can the Media use Parliamentary Privilege to Circumvent Reporting Restrictions in Privacy Injunctions?
The recent claim in Parliament by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming that Sir Fred Goodwin has obtained an injunction to prevent him being identified as a banker has re-ignited interest in the suggestion that the media can in some way sidestep the secrecy of an injunction through the indirect use of Parliamentary privilege. The incident is reminiscent of Paul Farelly’s revelation to Parliament that Trafigura had obtained a so-called “super-injunction” against the Guardian in October 2009.
Read the full article: UK Human Rights Blog, 24th March 2011

Wednesday, March 23

Early day motion 1640: BBC Radio Merseyside
That this House believes BBC Radio Merseyside is a loved and valuable institution within Merseyside, providing local news and entertainment to over 300,000 listeners; notes that BBC local radio offers exceptional value for money at a cost of 3.2 pence per listener hour, in comparison with other stations such as BBC Parliament (14.1 pence) and Radio 3 (6.3 pence); further notes that BBC Radio Merseyside is the most listened to BBC local radio station outside London; further notes that for a third of its listeners, 100,000 people, it is the only BBC radio station that they choose to listen to; is highly concerned at proposals that would end daytime programming; and calls on the BBC to protect its proud history of broadcasting on Merseyside with a commitment to fund BBC Radio Merseyside.
Primary sponsor: Berger, Luciana, Date tabled: 22/03/2011

Tuesday, March 22

A number of Early Day Motions (EDMs) specific to local radio across the UK, will be tabled as and when MPs agree to table them, most if not all BBC local radio stations have NUJ members. Contact your MP and ask them to sign the EDMs.

Popular protest has forced the BBC Trust to reconsider plans to scrub the BBC Asian Network.

Early day motion 1634: BBC Radio Cumbria
That this House celebrates the work of Radio Cumbria in serving the communities of Cumbria; values its unique role in providing news and information county-wide; acknowledges in particular its service during crises such as the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, the 2007 Grayrigg tragedy and the 2009 Cumbrian floods; is deeply concerned that the BBC is considering reducing Radio Cumbria's output to merely breakfast and drive-time shows; believes that such a move would undermine the station as a whole and be a huge disservice to Cumbria's communities and to the millions of visitors to the county who rely upon Radio Cumbria to provide them with up-to-date information, for example with regard to weather conditions in the mountains; and calls on the BBC to maintain the current level of output from Radio Cumbria.
Primary sponsor: Tim Farron, Date tabled: 21/03/2011

Sunday, March 20

MP breaches “hyper” injunctions in name of open justice
It all started with the reporting of an injunction, supposedly obtained by former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive, “preventing him being identified as a banker”. A mildly interesting story, made marginally more so by the fact that the injunction had been breached by an MP during a Parliamentary debate.
Read more: UK Human Rights Blog: March 20, 2011 by Adam Wagner

Saturday, March 19

Corporate Watch - Watching the Corporations

Have produced a number of articles on free newspapers

Free papers: Some history
Free daily newspapers have, in the past decade, been heralded as a
wholly new model for the modern newspaper, one which 'challenges' the
'traditional' business model, but which also holds the potential to
'save' an ailing industry beset with falling readership and
circulation figures in the age of online news content. However, the
history of free papers is longer than that presented by many of the
scholars and journalists commenting on their current manifestation,
Hannah Schling writes.
Read more:

Business as usual: The economics of 'free' dailies
The proliferation of free daily newspapers over the last decade has
triggered wide-spread fears that newspapers as we know them are dying
and being replaced by low-standard freesheets. Many scholars and
commentators have argued that free papers represent a 'new business
model'. Shiar Youssef argues that such claims are exaggerated and that
the dichotomy created between free and paid-for papers is a false one.
Read more:

The cost of free: What's wrong with free dailies
Free daily newspapers may provide easily acquired basic news and
information for free, but the social, political, journalistic and
other costs are too high to overlook. From limited original content
and lack of investigative journalism to environmental impact,
everything is sacrificed for the maximisation of profits.
Read more:

Thursday, March 17

Early day motion 1611 (EDM): BBC Asian Network (No. 2)
That this House welcomes the announcement that the BBC Asian Network will not close; supports the role of the Asian Network as a platform for new and emerging UK Asian talent; notes that BBC Asian Network reaches a listenership of nearly half a million Asians living in the UK; recognizes that the BBC has a remit to air different types of programmes that truly reflect British society; and calls on the Government to ensure that the BBC continues to offer this invaluable service unhindered by large cuts to its budget.
Primary sponsor: Vaz, Keith - Date tabled: 16.03.2011

Wednesday, March 16

Early Day Motion (EDM) 1593: BBC Local Radio
That this House values BBC local radio as a key voice in the community; is highly concerned at the threat to local daytime programming; notes the contradiction between the centralization of programme-making and the BBC's stated aim of moving production to the regions and nations; and calls on the BBC to dismiss this idea outright.
Primary sponsor: Therese Coffey, Tabled Monday 14th March 2011

Put your MP to work request they sign EDM 1593
Early Day Motions are very good ways of raising issues in parliament, which may not get debated in normal sittings of parliament.
You can contact your MP for free, through: WriteToThem.Com

Saturday, March 12

BBC plans could kill local radio - Step back from brink, urges NUJ

The NUJ has condemned proposals which could see BBC local radio services being axed as part of a programme of savage spending cuts.

Staff have been briefed about a series of proposals for the future of local radio - including plans to produce only breakfast and drive-time shows locally, with all other programming being delivered by Radio 5 Live. BBC staff fear the plans would mean the loss of at least 700 jobs and the possible closure of some stations. Read the full article here . . . .

Friday, March 11

Where will you be on 26th March?

The TUC is organising the biggest protest against cuts to public services in years. I'll be there, where will you be?

Thursday, March 10

National Union of Journalists Birmingham and Coventry Branch

Next branch Meeting – Tuesday 15th March - 6:00 pm for 6:30 pm start

Red Peppers Restaurant and Bar
117 Wharfside Street
B1 1RF

Please come along with some ideas and suggestions for guest speakers and workshops you would like to see organised. The branch is in a position to pay for some agreed speakers, and certainly can pay expenses.

Refreshments will be available and the branch committee are always glad to welcome new members.

Tuesday, March 8

Happy International Women’s Day - in solidarity and sisterhood

International Women’s Day has been an important date in the NUJ’s calendar of celebration for many years now. That’s as it should be, because our union has a proud tradition of activity by women journalists over the past century in advancing the rights and careers of colleagues, particularly in an environment which was often decidedly hostile to the very notion of women having real careers.

To read the special edition of NUJ Active celebrating 100 years of International Women's Day, go here . . . .

Right to strike given a boost by Court of Appeal

Aslef and RMT rail unions have succeeded in challenging injunctions that blocked their strike action over small faults in procedure.
The Court of Appeal has ruled that minor mistakes in balloting  such as polling non-constituent workers - did not justify the injunctions that had prevented them from taking strike action. Trade union leaders have called the ruling a "major step for industrial freedom".
UK Human Rights Blog,  March 8, 2011 by Rosalind English @

Monday, March 7

False Self-employment Status

'In this country we have a problem with a substantial minority of employers falsely declaring their staff to be self-employed to avoid their obligations to them'
'Employment is an individual's passport to a plethora of protections and rights that have been put in place over the years to afford people protection in our market-based economy so that it works in a more balanced way, not just for the rich and powerful, but for everyone. Many of those rights and protections were introduced at the behest of the Labour movement. When people talk down our trade unions in this country, they would do well to reflect on how they have helped deliver for working people over the decades'

Above extracts from debate in Parliament, full text can be found here.
House of Commons / 4 Mar 2011 : Column 613

NUJ General Secretary Election 2011 - Invitation to Apply

The NUJ is inviting applications from members of the union for the post of General Secretary. The closing date for applications is noon on 6 April 2011.
The post is subject to election/re-election by ballot of the NUJ membership every five years. Read more:

Friday, March 4

Daily Mail and the Sun convicted of contempt of court

For the first time  a court in England has convicted two newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Sun, of contempt of court in breach of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, for the publication of a photograph relating to an ongoing criminal trial  on their websites.
UK Human Rights Blog, March 3, 2011 by Adam Wagner:

Tuesday, March 1

Urge your MP to support Early Day Motion 1489

Austin Mitchell MP has tabled an Early Day Motion relating to health and safety for journalists. The motion raises the issue of stress as an occupational issue, please contact your MP and urge them to sign EDM motion 1489.

EDM 1489: Health and safety for journalistsThat this House notes that journalists provide news and information as part of their job, which is essential for a functioning democracy and an informed public; further notes that their work can place some journalists at considerable risk from time to time; believes that a major cause of risk to journalists based in the UK is stress and that excessive job-related stress levels have been taken for granted by many in the industry and that at present stress levels are increasingly exacerbated by policies introduced by media employers; further notes that, on the international league table of occupational stress, journalists share third place with prison officers and airline pilots; considers that stress is associated with higher workloads caused by cuts, low wages, excessive overtime and the introduction of new working methods by employers such as Newsquest and Johnston Press, and that these factors have all contributed towards unhealthy working environments; and further believes that these problems have a knock-on effect which can damage quality journalism.
Tabled by Austin Mitchell, Monday 28th February 2011.

Put your MP to work request they sign EDM 1489Early Day Motions are very good ways of raising issues in parliament, which may not get debated in normal sittings of parliament.
You can contact your MP for free, through: WriteToThem.Com