Trade unionists expected to support call for Scottish Government inquiry into future of media

THE Scottish Government is expected to be urged to launch an investigation into the future of the country’s media.

The appeal is expected to be made by the Scottish Trades Union Congress, which is staging its annual conference today until Wednesday, in Inverness.

A motion is being presented to the conference by National Union of Journalists’ delegates: about the future of the Scottish media.

Three years ago, a summit on the future of the Scottish newspaper industry was hosted by then Scottish Government enterprise minister, Jim Mather, attended by, among others, Tim Blott, managing director of the Herald group of newspapers and Michael Johnston, then the MD of The Scotsman Publications Ltd.

The media motion reads: “Congress recognises that free, responsible, diverse and challenging media play a vital role in the life of any democratic society, and therefore notes with concern the mounting threats to their existence in both Scotland and the UK, due to the decline of the economic models that traditionally supported them. Congress especially notes:

1) the devastating consequences for journalists’ pay, working conditions and authors’ rights

2) the collapse of ethical conduct in some newspapers, engendering hostility from politicians and public, and a threat of legislation which may restrict investigative journalism, as well as unacceptable invasions of privacy

3) the rise in  unverified ‘free’ journalism provided by PR and other unpaid sources

4) the widespread exploitation of unpaid interns

5) the rapid decline in the availability of local newspapers produced locally

6) the specific threats facing the Scottish media, with print journalism in Scotland suffering round after round of cost-cutting

7) the difficulty in gaining sufficient income from online media to finance serious journalistic activity.

Congress calls on General Council to urge the Scottish Government to set up urgently a Commision of Inquiry into the future of the media in Scotland, and to call on all member unions and the Scottish Government to promote the survival of thriving and responsible media, including:

a) supporting the creation of a Scottish Digital Broadcasting Network.

b) supporting the development of trust models of media ownership, such as the Scott Trust which owns The Guardian and Observer group

c) campaigning for the development of new forms of community media

d) identifying and prosecuting media behaviour that breaches privacy laws

e) developing new regulatory mechanisms to replace the discredited UK Press Complaints Commission.

f) encouraging the development of new sources of funding for investigative journalism, including academic institutions, and foundations concerned with civil society and democracy.”

It is being submitted by the Edinburgh Freelance and Edinburgh and District branches of the NUJ.