Hello from cowboy country.
I'm in Saskatoon at the Canadian media union's conference and although things are very different here (this province alone is 6 times the size of the UK with less than one fiftieth of the population and bison is on every menu!) it's amazing how many things are also the same, especially when it comes to media issues.
The CEP represents members working across all sectors of the media and like journalists and media workers in the UK they are facing cuts to jobs, increasing concentration of media ownership and a threat to the future of public service broadcasting.
I was guest speaker at the conference on Friday and took part in a panel discussion on the challenges facing the union in a new media environment on Saturday. From CBC to CTV, the Toronto Star and other media companies there were reports of job cuts, managements rushing to implement new media working with too few staff and a lack of training, of quality across media being compromised by the profiteering of the big corporations. It all sounded too familiar. But it also meant the trip was extremely fruitful as I had the chance to swap agreements with reps from Canadian companies, discuss good and bad experiences of organising across different sectors, exchange information on campaigns to save local news at commercial public service broadcasters and much more besides.
I was also able to deliver a message of solidarity to locked-out workers at the Journal de Quebec newspaper, owned by Quebecor/Corporation Sun Media, who have been in dispute for almost a year - and are now producing their own, free daily newspaper for the city. It's also available online. The dispute is all about breaking the power of the union and getting rid of staff deemed too costly by a company which made $25m last year and recorded a 2.5% circulation growth.
I was also able to help support Petro-Canada workers involved in a dispute. You can support them too here
Before leaving the UK on Thursday I met with Shiv Malik to discuss the latest in relation to his case against a production order granted to Greater Manchester Police who are trying to seize his notes. I also issued a statement reacting to Ofcom's consultation over the future of public service broadcasting - and in particular in opposition to the suggestion that top slicing the licence fee is the answer.
* Press Gazette has published the My Week piece I wrote about the union's annual conference.