Thursday, October 30, 2008

Can we all please stop talking about Russell Brand?

Someone Googled 'NUJ, Ross, Brand, Obscene' and got a story saying NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear branded Jonathon Ross's comments obscene. I nearly went running to Ofcom or the Press Complaints Commission (fat lot of good that would have done) to complain I had been misquoted, having spent the past few days trying to avoid saying anything on the puerile schoolboy banter of Mister Ross and Mister Brand.

Actually the story was old - and was our reaction to Jonathon Ross's last obscene comment that he was worth 1000 journalists. He's proved he's worth nothing of the sort. But the thing that really annoys me about this story is the hypocrisy and the opportunity it has given to those who want to undermine the BBC - it is a gift to the
Murdoch-owned papers who are busy trying to persuade the government to cut the BBC down to size and to the Mail who pursue a similar agenda, as Roy Greenslade set out today. Ross and Brand simply give them easy ammunition at a time when all of us who believe in public service broadcasting - and that means from time to time risk-taking comedy, drama and current affairs - should be defending the BBC from the self-serving vitriol of some newspaper proprietors or rival broadcasters.

There has also been an extraordinary amount of hypocrisy. I love the fact that someone who performs with the
Satanic Sluts is distressed and being "comforted" by Max Clifford. You don't go to Max Clifford to be comforted - you go because he's the best in the business at getting a whopping deal to sell your story.

Anyway, as I say, I'm not commenting on it. D'oh!

So the rest of the week so far:

Saturday up early to go to Paris for the NUJ's Continental European Council meeting. Good discussion on a number of industrial issues and campaigns but then I spent hours on the way back stuck on a Eurostar after the toilets caught on fire while we were in the tunnel. Home at 1am.

Sunday - Wake up to news Tottenham have sacked their manager - delight in first win of the season later that day.

Monday - Met with staff reps to talk about pay grading issues and then on to lunch with the union's lawyers, Thompsons. Straight from there to the Frontline Club to meet Peter Mcintyre and
IFJ General Secretary Aidan White to offer my comments on a draft of a book they are putting together on ethical journalism. It's excellent and the campaign that goes with it will tie together lots of the current issues we are facing - protection of sources, staffing cuts, public service broadcasting, privacy, regulation and much more.
Then Aidan and I met with
Colombia campaigners to talk about the legal case against Carlos Lozano, editor of Voz and see what support we could offer.

Tuesday - morning meeting with campaigners to talk about the Press Complaints Commission and the future of regulation and then on to the
Home Office to meet Minister Vernon Coaker and senior police officials to highlight our ongoing concerns about harassment and intimidation of photographers, use of the terrorism act to restrict photography and our fears for the future of investigative journalism in the light of the Shiv Malik judgement. The meeting was relatively constructive but we will see what happens on the streets and in the courts - that's the only place we can judge the results. Past attempts to get this addressed haven't made any real difference - in fact the situation has got worse.
Back to Headland House to meet with an Egyptian journalist to talk about the serious situiation facing media there.

Wednesday - In at 8am to start interviews to fill two staff vacancies at the NUJ - campaigns officer and PA to the General Secretary's Office. We see a number of excellent candidates over several hours - and offer the two posts - let's hope they both accept!

Thursday - Morning meetings at The Guardian - meet our new Deputy MoC and along with Michelle Stanistreet catch up with management. Back to meet with NUJ President James Doherty and Vice-President Pete Murray and Deputy General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet to go through tomorrow's NEC agenda - spend the afternoon catching up on writing the reports I haven't done yet. Phew!

Today the NUJ has launched an excellent
new equal pay campaign - there's some excellent material including video of an interview with a member who won more than £25,000 in back pay and an £8,000 a year pay rise. Who says unions make no difference?

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