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Rival union in bid to poach disillusioned NUJ members

A rival journalists’ union is trying to recruit disillusioned members of the National Union of Journalists over its stance on statutory regulation of the press.

The Chartered Institute of Journalists is offering like-for-like free membership to those currently part of the NUJ, until their subs are due for renewal.

The CIoJ said it made the offer because of the NUJ’s support for statutory underpinning of press regulation and said there had been an “influx” of NUJ defectors joining in recent months.

It comes after the NUJ backed a cross-party deal on press regulation set up by Royal Charter in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry, which has since been rejected by the industry, which has put forward its own rival plan.

CIoJ President Charlie Harris said the Institute opposed any state involvement in regulation and said the NUJ’s position on Leveson amounted to an “insupportable attack on the integrity of its own members.”

He said: “The NUJ is supporting statutory regulation of the press without consulting its members.

“The CIoJ, backed by its members, believes that restrictions on the press – however light-touch now – open the door to tough state interference in free speech under a future government.

“We have already seen several attempts to shut down embarrassing stories using Leveson as an excuse.

“The CIoJ’s position is clear: the allegations made against the media at the Leveson inquiry involved illegality – phone hacking, bribing of public officials, and interception of e-mails. This was a failure of law enforcement by the police, and others.

“We do not support state interference in a free press, however it is achieved, whether through legislation, statutory underpinning or a Royal Charter.”

Charlie said the CIoJ aimed to promote journalism, uphold editorial standards and protect the freedom of the media.

He added: “We cannot sit back and watch as the NUJ throws away 300 years of press freedom.”

But the National Union of Journalists has hit back at the CIoJ, saying that it has “never called for or supported statutory regulation of the press” and it had consulted with its members throughout the Leveson Inquiry.

NUJ President Barry McCall said: “It is clear from this so-called offer that the CIoJ and its leadership either have not read the Leveson Report or have failed to understand it.

“The Leveson Inquiry certainly uncovered many instances of illegality on the part of national newspapers but what it also laid bare was the culture within those newspapers which not only allowed but encouraged that illegal behaviour to take place.

“This is what the NUJ wishes to see tackled by any new regulatory body and is why the NUJ believes that a strong trade union presence in the workplace and the incorporation of a conscience clause into contracts of employment are vital first steps in the reform process.

“It is also a pity that the CIOJ has not paid closer attention to the NUJ submission’s to the Leveson Inquiry or to the union’s many public statements following the publication of the Inquiry Report.

“The NUJ has never called for or supported statutory regulation of the press and it is a gross misrepresentation of the facts to claim otherwise. Furthermore, unlike the CIOJ, the NUJ has consulted with its members throughout the Leveson Inquiry and the subsequent parliamentary and public debates on the matter and the vast majority of our members support their union’s policy.

“The CIOJ obviously does not understand the meaning of a free press and is no longer relevant to the huge majority of working journalists, despite its own royal charter.”

The NUJ added that the CIoJ could not offer like-for-like membership as it did not organise and represent journalists in their workplaces.

NUJ members can find out more about the CIoJ’s offer by emailing memberservices@cioj.co.uk or calling 020 7252 1187.

14 comments

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  • May 14, 2013 at 9:36 am
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    Having worked in a newsroom where NUJ militants checked copy for political correctness and pro-Labour bias, nothing the NUJ could ever say would convince me they would know a free press if they saw one, let alone desire one.

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  • May 14, 2013 at 11:06 am
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    The CIJ could hardly be described as a “union” – unless, of course, you take the Mothers’ Union into account..

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  • May 14, 2013 at 11:58 am
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    Never mind press regulation. Supporting your members is what matters, or should matter, to provincial journos, & the CiJ doesn’t do that. Never did, never intended to. Anyone who jumps ship from the NUJ over press regulation is daft

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  • May 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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    Dear Helen Lambourne

    The story and content of the NUJ’s, I believe, fine contribution to the Leveson enquiry can be read by hitting the Leveson Enquiry button on the NUJ website home page. It includes reference to some of the constant consultation with members which took place during the process – it comprised not just meetings around the country and email circulars but an actual snail-mail letter sent to each individual member seeking their views. The non-consultation accusation is false.

    The “statutory underpinning” the NUJ does propose (your 3rd par) is to give teeth to an independent oversight body with representatives from all “sides”. Such a system – a body including editor/proprietor, journalist and general public representatives, plus the services of an ombudsman – has operated in Ireland for several years now and is generally seen as a success (for sure, nothing’s perfect in this complicated area of civilisation). It might be worth your readers’ consideration if they’re not familiar with it.

    But in your fourth par you write “the NUJ backed a cross-party deal on press regulation set up by Royal Charter in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry”. This is the exact opposite of the truth so perhaps you would consider correcting yourself. What the NUJ in fact said was “The NUJ has condemned the Conservative Party’s attempt to introduce the Leveson recommendations on press regulation through a royal charter as pointless and doomed to failure. The charter is a sell-out to the press proprietors etc” – the full statement is still on the site at http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=2812&string=royal%20charter

    We journalists are just making a living and we have a big responsibility to society too. It helps if we can steer clear of the internecine nonsense (yup, and I do mean that when the NUJ goes internecine too, which it can). Let’s just stay cool and serious and stand up for intelligent journalism, the best we can deliver.

    All the best to all

    Phil

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  • May 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm
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    I would like to correct some factual errors in Barry McCall’s statement:
    1 “The CIOJ cannot offer “like for like” membership to NUJ members as the organisation does not organise and represent working journalists in workplaces”
    – As chairman of the CIoJ’s trade union arm, I can assure him that we can and do represent working journalists in workplaces, right up to tribunal level if necessary.
    2. “CIOJ has no standing whatsoever when it comes to matters of media freedom and ethics as evidenced by its almost complete silence throughout the Leveson Inquiry.”
    – We made a written submission to the inquiry, which is available on our website, plus we have sent out numerous press releases and organised and attended a private meeting with DCMS on press regulation.
    3. I do not know what gives Barry the right to claim we have not consulted our members on press regulation, which again is untrue.

    Amanda Brodie
    Chairman, Professional Practices Board,
    CIOJ

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  • May 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm
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    Its about time the NUJ were crushed for good. Other staff at the newspaper in other departments such as advertising have to put up or shut up, while NUJ members walk around like they own the place while having a face like a wet tuesday.

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  • May 14, 2013 at 4:36 pm
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    One wonders if there is anything true at all in the NUJ’s response. They have consistently supported statutory underpinning – which is state regulation by another name. Instead of playing word games, they should cease trying to mislead their members and stand up for a free press. The comment above about opposing the Conservative Party after speaking about the NUJ’s ‘fine efforts’ really says it all: we need a union which stands up for press freedom and journalists’ rights, not some 1980’s style ‘out brothers out’ union which appears to be putting political partisanship ahead of the real issues.

    As for the rest, the CIoJ has been representing members’ interests for over 100 years, and continues to do so on a daily basis. In any case, NUJ members can find out the truth of things for themselves – it’s free for NUJ members, so you can see which suits you best: a professional association for professionals, or the NUJ.

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  • May 14, 2013 at 5:09 pm
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    Good point Biller. When the JP Pre-press/ Creative Departments were outsourced to India, nothing was said. No word went out to other local media either, as if the journos didn’t pass on what should have been local headline news (with the numbers involved). But if the NUJ had a gripe we all used to know about it.

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  • May 15, 2013 at 9:23 am
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    The CIOJ is the world’s oldest professional body for journalists, and it is also a trade union. In fact, the NUJ is a spin-off from CIOJ at the beginning of last century and has attempted to remerge three times since.

    The CIOJ also provides far greater support to its members in terms of employment disputes, and through its significant benevolent, pension and orphan funds, all way above that provided by the NUJ.

    Any journalist who feels a union which still has a 1980s ethos is good for them, or for this industry are similarly daft!

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  • May 15, 2013 at 9:59 am
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    Same at Northcliffe / Local world. Despite editorial / NUJ members banging on about redudancies, they keep mentioning that no other deparments have been touched. In Leicester for example, there was 15 advertising staff made redudandant in one go not long ago where their jobs were re-located to Bristol, yet noone said anything. Yet when 10 editorial jobs go, there is uproar.

    I’d rather not be in a union if it means I retain my pride, my postive attitude and my dignity. Others could learn a lot.

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  • May 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm
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    I really do think it’s time that the NUJ Chairman and one or two others here stop making fatuous claims that The Institute of Journalists doesn’t organise or support it’s members – “never did, never intended to”! For some 25 years I worked at the BBC, representing Institute members in difficulty or in need of advice. We helped to achieve civilised work patterns and negotiated decent settlements for those leaving the Corporation.

    We called it “looking after our members”. I started doing that in 1977 when I left the NUJ, and my colleagues and I are still looking after our members today. Our well-documented opposition to state regulation of the press is just one important aspect of that.

    Paul Leighton, Vice-President CIoJ

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  • May 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm
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    I left the NUJ to join the CIoJ ages ago. Have never looked back. CIoJ stick up for reporters. My years of NUJ subs were a complete waste.

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  • May 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm
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    Is this the same IoJ that was in merger talks with the NUJ? As Private Eye would say, er, yes.

    All the IoJ has ever done is to under-cut the NUJ at every possible moment. It has always crossed NUJ picket lines, rarely ever negotiated its own agreement and has only put its head above the parapet because the employers have told it to.

    If the IoJ didn’t exist, journalists wages would be between £5K and £15 a year higher.

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