Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Unlawful killing verdict should be a wake up call

Somalia is dominating today - first the decision in the inquest in to the killing of Kate Peyton and then the news that a British journalist, who we believe is an NUJ member - has been kidnapped in north east Somalia. I am in contact with our sister union in Somalia who are helping to keep us informed.

The coroner ruled that Kate Peyton had been unlawfully killed - and the comments made by the coroner highlight concerns we have been expressing for some time - that too many journalists, particularly those with precarious employment status are being forced to take on dangerous assignments to prove their worth. The decision should force media employers to take a long hard look at their procedures and more importantly how they put them in to practice.

Back to other issues this week. I spent Monday morning working on the union's submission to Ofcom's review of Public Service Broadcasting and the afternoon meeting with staff.

I had a meeting Tuesday morning with the union's staff in the broadcasting department followed by a discussion with Neal Lawson from Compass about a possible project on media ownership.

Tuesday evening I began a run of three nights of emergency telephone conferences with reps from Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press and Newsquest building up to an emergency regional newspapers reps meeting on Saturday to talk about how we tackle the jobs crisis and pay issues facing the industry. In reality it is about how do we save the industry.

It is to borrow a phrase the "economics of the madhouse" that an industry which has had 15 years of huge profits and which is still for the most part profitable is hacking at its very core, axing hundreds of journalists and in effect destroying the ability of many of their titles to be able to thrive the bother side of a recession.

Later on Tuesday evening I spent a couple of hours in a gay bar with a bunch of young anarchists, a spook and various photographers - don't ask! It was some party though...

BBC M/FoCs met this afternoon to discuss threats of compulsory redundancies in a couple of areas - and took a strong position for us to be able to take in to tomorrow's negotiations at the World Service.

Then I met with campaigns staff and the editor of The Journalist to talk about online integration followed by a Johnston Press telephone conference.

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