I’m not leaving the NUJ… Posted on November 7, 2007 by Joanna … nor is Paul Bradshaw. His reasons why are outlined here. I commented (with appalling typos).
Joanna, if you actually want to engage, how about switching to the new media sector? Or even just having a chat with the Midlands new media rep, Gaynor Blackhouse. You repeated the “NUJ hates the web” canard on Paul’s blog, but that’s complete nonsense and maybe if you actually knew what we’re doing in the sector, you’d have a different view.
Thanks for your comment.
Firstly, I have to say I’m a little confused by your first suggestion. “Switching to the new media sector” – do you mean changing my job or changing my NUJ membership?
Secondly, I haven’t said the NUJ hates the web. In fact, I’ve said that the organisation has said it embraces the internet.
I have, however, said the NUJ fears the idea that non-journalists can contribute to news writing/gathering through Web 2.0 and, by taking this stance, it is in danger of making itself irrelevent to a growing sector of the media.
Also, I’d be happy to talk to Gaynor if she feels that would be productive. I’m keen to find out more about what the NUJ is doing in the sector.
As I’ve said, I honestly want to feel my union is leading the way on these issues and not leaving it up to the big corporations to shape the future.
But,I also feel, I’m already engaging with the NUJ by being part of the online debate.
This whole issue has sparked responses from journalists, analysts and bloggers in the UK and abroad and you (and others in the NUJ) have been reading what these people have had to say.
This is what excites me about Web 2.0, it puts people who care about an issue in touch with each other.
Some of the many comments, I’m sure, you’ll have disregarded as twaddle. Some of it you may have found insightful.
Just as not all footballers have the talent to play for Manchester United, not all bloggers can help shape NUJ policy.
But maybe, just maybe, some will.
Just realised (one of the flaws of the world of blogs – writing without a sub) that I mistyped “fears” as “hates”! Also, it’s not fear of non-professionals contributing, it’s about the reality that more and more media proprietors think the public can fill in where they’ve cut journalists. Call it “citizen journalism”, “user-generated content” or “crowd-sourcing”, these are fine in and of them themselves and present a potentially constructive challenge to the mainstream, but instead we have cut, cut, cut in professionals and the idea that the public will just fill in. Anyway, the debate has been good, if not necessarily constructive. To change sector, if you think you belong more in the new media world rather than print, just call membership. Your subs will be exactly the same. You can also join the union’s new media discussion list at http://lists.bristolnuj.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/nujnewmedia
All signed up to the discussion list! As for my membership, my job is primarily print-based at present, so I’ll probably stick as I am for now. Currently I just write the blog for kicks (I know. GEEK.)
Just one more point and then I promise to leave it!
…it’s not fear of non-professionals contributing, it’s about the reality that more and more media proprietors think the public can fill in where they’ve cut journalists.
I think this is the fundemental nub of the whole debate:
I remain pretty convinced that media proprietors with a duty to shareholders will always experiment with new potential cost-cutting models.
As a trained journalist, my main concern is whether journalism can survive outside of this business model.
I suspect – with the web allowing anyone the chance to publish cheaply and with more access than ever to online sources and to reader feedback – it is possible for a professional journalist to earn a living without being employed by an established news brand.
It would require adopting a very different business model and it would require some serious thought as to how it might work. But that is something I’d hope the NUJ would help journalists to explore.
This is the part that excites me because it, potentially, opens a new chapter in how quality journalism can be published. It makes Web 2.0 an opportunity, not a threat.
Where I’d quibble with you there is that I don’t regard professional journalists using new technology as having anything to do with Web 2.0. Journalists were using bulleting boards and newsgroups before the web, I started (with some friends) a online magazine in ’96/’97 when we realised we couldn’t afford to print a second issue. I reject the concept of Web 2.0, not because I don’t recognise the potential in new media and software, but because I think it’s an abitrary term with no technological relevance and some underlying concepts that threaten quality journalism. Web 2.0 is not the web and it’s definitely not the internet (you should read this about Tim Berners-Lee’s views: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/30/web_20_berners_lee/ )
Yes, I acquiesce: Web 2.0 is one of those horrid, cliquey phrases and I promise not to use it from now on!
I always thought it defined the increasing amount of user-generated content on the web, which was created by the rising popularity of WIKIs, blogs and social networking.
The thing is I can’t believe that, if this is Web 2.0, it can be dismissed as rubbish for the future of professional journalism. Surely it’s something we need to find a way to use to our advantage?
Maybe it’s my age, but I am sick and tired of day-in, day-out hearing that my profession is dying – whether it’s because of the web, the way news is distributed or because of the companies that own news.
And, when the NUJ appears on my radar, it only serves to reinforce that message.
I know, I know. Blogging or citizen journalism may be used by some media companies as a way to cut costs. But if not user-generated content, then it’s going to be something else. It is what they do, it’s what’s been happening for years.
Yet here we are in the middle of an explosion of new ways to publish. Along with it comes the possibliity of new audiences, new jobs and new business models for the profession (outside of large companies, perhaps?). Yet I don’t hear anyone talking about these things. It’s just fear, fear, fear all the time.
I guess you’ve been at the forefront of the web explosion and seen things change a lot. In 1997, I had just got my first PC with a dial-up modem and was playing around with the internet for the first time.
But in ten years things have changed rapidly. Would it be the same publishing an online magazine now as it was a decade ago? Haven’t advertisers caught up a bit? Isn’t there more money online?
I understand the NUJ’s work involves protecting jobs but it would be so nice to feel it was finding ways to create them elsewhere too. Who else would want to train us to find a living through the web, if not the NUJ?
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Just reading through the discussion ‘from the outside’, this line sticks out from what Donnacha commented:
“To change sector, if you think you belong more in the new media world rather than print, just call membership. Your subs will be exactly the same. You can also join the union’s new media discussion list at http://lists.bristolnuj.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/nujnewmedia”
From my point of view, the whole idea that the concept of journalism exists only within the medium in which that journalism is presented to users/readers just sounds extremely outmoded.
Surely journalism is the researching and reporting of ideas to a readership and doesn’t rely on a particular medium in which that happens.
It strikes me (as a reader of Joanna’s blog and not a journalist) that a representative group set up to represent the needs of journalists must be organised in a way that will react rapidly to any industry changes.
Isn’t it just about the production of (that horrible word) ‘content’ not about where that content is displayed?
Anyway – feel free to ignore my comments as an outsider to the whole thing, but I had an interesting chat with a friend today who was amazed that I hadn’t heard about the writers’ strikes in the States.
Why was that? Because I have an RSS feed reader and I get most of my news by finding out what my friends and contents have posted on their blog/website/facebook/flickr/etc. rather than the Guardian/BBC/other news source, or in fact any printed medium.
In fact – as papers go, what Joanna is doing with her blog and column is exactly where I see things going over the next few years, and the only reason I’m commenting on this post is because, yes, I heard about it through friend-based RSS – does that count as Web 2.0? 🙂
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Thanks for the comment. I would have to say that I agree with you. I think maybe there is this division because historically those working in so-called “new media” and those in print had very different workplace issues to negotiate (I believe web journalists were rather marginalised by some news organisations at one point).
But nowadays it does seem a little arbitrary.
Actually, come to think about it, it’s pretty appalling that I know so little about my union and why it chooses to operate in the way it does.
It’s no excuse, but in the past I’ve found it quite unapproachable and confrontational, so I’ve shyed away from it. I should probably try and rectify that.