Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Corporate media in the spotlight

Monday began with an 8am Pensions Trustees Meeting to secure approval for the changes to the staff pension scheme - mission accomplished.

Next up was a meeting with
Tribune Editor Chris McLaughlin to discuss my monthly column, forthcoming issues for the union which may make good stories and a number of other union issues.

The afternoon was dominated by the
outrageous comments made by FCO Minister Kim Howells about Justice for Colombia - an organisation I chair on behalf of the TUC - which he said effectively supports the guerrilla group, the FARC. His comments were roundly condemned and a number of unions called on Gordon Brown to sack him if he didn't withdraw his comments. What is most scandalous is that such comments put at risk the lives of those trade unionists, journalists and human rights defenders involved in projects supported by JFC.

Kim Howells was caught out posing for photos with some of those army units and individuals alleged to be involved in human rights abuses - and now he is trying to hit out at others. He's chosen the wrong target. A campaign supported by virtually every national trade union, by leading law firms, by human rights groups is hardly a sensible target. It's time the UK government switched their aid from military to humanitarian - then ministers would have nothing to hide. JFC has issued the following

Tuesday I attended the
Convergence Think Tank - a creation by BERR (the old DTI) to assess the impact and opportunities presented by convergence. It was immensely depressing. Speaker after speaker talked about the great opportunities for selling stuff to consumers, for monetisation - promoting online gambling even seemed to be presented as a good thing - and barely a word was said about how convergence could be used to deliver high quality programming or enhancing the public interest or public service. Consumers were talked about a lot, citizens hardly at all. It was also clear all the 'innovators' said the key was high speed broadband, whilst at the same time none of them could answer the question who will pay for it. It's a crucial question quality content is important but it means nothing unless people have the means to access it easily - and it can't be left top a select club who can afford it - there has to be a public policy decision that universal access is a guiding principle of digital and high speed broadband.

Back to the office to catch up on letters and emails before heading to Ipswich to attend the Suffolk Branch and talk about plans to launch a
local Stand up for Journalism campaign to highlight the negative impact threatened job cuts will have on the quality of the papers - a point excellently made by Peter Wilby in The Guardian. Did an interview with BBC Radio Suffolk (which was on this morning). The campaign has kicked off today with an against the infringements of the rights of photographers to cover protests in London due to heavy-handed policing (more on this later!), overseen the distribution of the latest NUJ Active, and met with President Michelle Stanistreet to discuss ADM and the latest situation at the Express. Oh, and answered endless emails...

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