Thursday, November 13, 2008

Editors - they're like buses

Blimey - they're all at it. No sooner does one editor speak out than, like buses another comes along, calling on media owners to "stop milking papers dry". If only we'd thought of that.

Press Gazette today has come up with some useful figures on job losses - 140 per week (and climbing) it estimates. But that seriously underplays the problem which is in large part caused by non-replacement of staff. The true picture in some newsrooms is grim. For example yesterday I spoke to a journalist at a daily regional paper who was the only reporter there that day. The reporting staff as a whole has dropped by half. It's a familiar story for those working in local newspapers. But it is also now becoming more familiar to those working across the media - Time Out is the latest to announce cuts today.

And Mark Thompson at the BBC is threatening yet more cuts - despite commitments given just a few months ago. Bectu General Secretary Gerry Morrissey and I have written a letter to Ariel setting out our opposition to such threats. The BBC cannot make compromises on quality at the same time as campaigning to defend its future funding. More staffing cuts will compromise quality.

I'll just climb off my high horse and go back to keeping you updated on work.

On Tuesday I met with Jeremy Hunt, the Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport. We discussed Conservative Party policy on public service broadcasting and Ofcom's proposals and I made representations on the future of ITV local and regional news, BBC funding, regulation and a number of other key issues for journalists.

On Wednesday amongst many other meetings I met with the Colombian ambassador to make representations about Carlos Lozano, a journalist facing trumped-up charges of 'rebellion'.

I also set out the terms of a new agreement we have reached with Johnston Press to handle restructuring across the group and highlighted the broad support for our campaign against job cuts at UTV.

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