New demands on journalists require new working practices, claims NUJ

DEMANDS on journalists to provide content for a variety of ‘media platforms’ – for instance, an article for a newspaper, plus a podcast for its website – requires new working practices to be introduced, according to the general-secretary of the National Union of Journalists.

Jeremy Dear was speaking ahead of the union’s annual conference, beginning today in Birmingham and coinciding with the NUJ’s centenary celebrations.

With 300 delegates expected to attend the conference, Dear said: “New technologies bring new opportunities – podcasting, vidcasting, TV on demand, broadband TV, RSS – and the convergence of media platforms are all exciting innovations that bring the news to the audience in dynamic new ways.

“But at the same time we need new working practices to cope with new demands. In the corporate world that sees news merely as a commodity, this is not happening.

“The demands of integration and convergence have meant a growth in 24/7 working but no growth in staffing levels. The pressure on our members is approaching breaking point in many places.”

The NUJ says it is planning a campaign “to make sure that media workers can fight back against employers’ attempts to squeeze more and more out of staff and freelances for the same pay and often worse conditions”. It begins with debate in Birmingham and then a follow-up one day conference in London on the fifth of next month.

Added Dear: “This is the new direction of our hugely successful Journalism Matters campaign. As we have argued from the very start: whatever the technology, it’s the quality of the content that counts.

“At a time when media employers are using that new technology, not to enhance journalism and build quality, but simply to reduce costs, undermine collective bargaining and boost profits, the NUJ’s campaign for quality journalism is ever more vital.”