Monday, November 05, 2007

Stand Up for Journalism - On Tour

Sunday 5pm - It's in to the office to sort out placards, pick up banners and put final preparations in place for our Stand Up for Journalism day.

Sunday 10pm - Cardiff - A quick drink and briefing with Lawrence Shaw our Assistant Organiser for Wales and Meic Birtwistle our NEC member in advance of a morning meeting at the National Assembly.

Monday 7.30am - Meet with members of the Wales Council. Hear news of more likely cuts at the Western Mail and Echo - looks like 16 journalists could face the chop.

Monday 8am - Meet with Rhodri Glynn Thomas the Welsh culture minister who is hosting a Stand Up for Journalism breakfast meeting. Get the chance to put our case against job cuts. Race from National Assembly to station. Just make the train to take me to Manchester. Write up report of Wales meeting.

12.30pm Manchester. Despite the driving rain 200 of us march from the Manchester Evening News to the Society of Editors conference and rally outside. The editors scurry away for their slap-up lunch - one comes out to support us. If only the others would get off their knees.

1.15pm - Society of Editors Chief Bob Satchwell waits until the protesters have gone - and then nips out to have a word with me. He assures me that they are discussing the very issues we are concerned about. Excuse me if I'm not reassured!

1.30pm - Rally at Friends' Meeting House in Manchester. Karen Reissman, an NHS whistleblower, sacked for speaking out, powerfully sets out the case for a strong, inquiring media. While she's speaking to us, MI5 are speaking to the Society of Editors! Judy Gordon from the Manchester Evening News and others highlight the real day to day problems facing their newsrooms as a result of ongoing cuts.

2.45pm - It's back on a train to London for President Michelle Stanistret and I and a chance to catch up what's been happening across the union. The news is brilliant. Big rally at the BBC, excellent lobby at Stormont and dozens of other events - it's clear it's been a bigger success than we imagined.

6.30pm - Rally number three - this time in London. It's standing room only and some unable to even get in the room are forced to retreat to the bar. BBC Newsnight's Paul Mason, John McDonnell MP, Tony Benn, TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady, NUJ President Michelle Stanistreet and I speak to an enthusiastic gathering, bouyed up by the success of the day.

7.45pm - It's time to unwind as over 150 NUJ members and supporters from across the trade union movement eat, drink and some of them are even merry.

11pm - Lug the banners and posters back to the NUJ office and head for home.

A big thank you to all those chapels, branches, activists and staff who helped make our Stand Up for Journalism day such a success. But that's not the end of it, it's only the beginning. The hard work starts now...

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