NUJ draws battlelines over Multi-Media working

If anyone thought integrating digital journalism into the newsroom was ever going to be easy, then they might want to think again.

The National Union of Journalists have been curiously hostile to the advent of new technology as my friend Neil McIntosh has discussed at some length in the past.

No-one should have any truck about their desire to protect the interests of their membership and journalists at large against the newspaper owners who may want to embrace evolution on the cheap.

But they should be concerned if the organisation were to become hell-bent on denying progress in a world they too struggle to understand.

Today they release a report called Shaping the Future which discusses many common sense threads including pay, working practices, training, user generated content and standards.

In it the NUJ claims to welcome the possibilities offered by the internet and media convergence.

But their true feelings appear in the words of NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear who states:

“Technology isn’t to blame. The faultline is with its appropriation by short-sighted media employers. Instead of seizing the opportunity to enhance journalistic content and build and maintain quality media, many simply seize the opportunity to reduce costs and boost profits, viewing the erosion of quality journalism as a necessary sacrifice.”

While the NUJ should be applauded for its concern over maintaining standards and looking after the interests of its members, they should show caution about seeking over-aggressive confrontations with those implementing the changes.

It must be possible to look at ways for all sides try to understand the massive implications involved, to help educate each other in the potential benefits for both employer and employee, and work together on house agreements rather than seeing who can squeeze the most out of new deals.

Employers have a duty of care to their staff, as well as their shareholders. More importantly, they have a duty to maintain the integrity of their products for the reader.

But the unions face the same responsibility to their membership and if change is what is needed to help advance journalism, they need to seek a way through, not mount roadblocks to the information superhighway.

Categories: Blogs, Media philosophy & trends

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