Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Guardians of Justice?

I spent the morning with Guardian reps going over the details of their dispute with the company. There are some fundamental issues in dispute like the company expecting people to work longer hours/more days for no extra pay, expecting people to take on new responsibilities without improved pay and the threat to the no compulsory redundancy clause which the company want to ditch and rename a 'job security clause' but which members dub a job insecurity clause.

The company will try and portray the dispute as journalists being against change. Read what MoC Helene Mulholland has to say about that.

Then I had lunch with Sir Christopher Meyer, chair of the Press Complaints Commission - someone I regularly lock horns with. Once he told a group of MPs in the NUJ's Parliamentary Group how the NUJ's General Secretary Jeremy Dear had said some very nasty things about him and the PCC. Never having met before he was slightly embarrased when after he'd finished having a go (in his ever-so polite way) I, who was sat next to him, introduced myself.

The lunch, held under Chatham House rules, looked at the thorny issue of media regulation in a new media landscape. There are no easy answers but I made the point that any such self-regulation has to meet certain principles - and be effective. And the PCC just isn't. Complaints are up, public trust in journalism is down. That should send alarm bells ringing but it doesn't seem to at the PCC. The sanctions available are failing to have a proper effect and journalists in too many cases are being forced to write material they know to be untrue or in breach of the code by some of the very editors who help enforce self-regulation.

I also found myself in the slightly weird position of agreeing on many key points with Iain Dale, the high-profile Conservative blogger. In fact we formed an unlikely alliance with Camilla Wright, the founder of Popbitch.

* Now it's a dash to Luton Airport for a flight to Berlin for the European Federation of Journalists conference on the Future of Collective Bargaining and Union Organisation in Journalism (catchy title!)

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