NUJ announces first nationwide action in 15 years

The National Union of Journalists today announced a national day of action to highlight the growing challenges the industry faces from changing working conditions and diminishing investment.

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear told today's Annual Delegates Meeting in Birmingham that the union would stage its first national protest in 15 years to show the union's opposition to "job cuts, to the undermining of collective bargaining [and the] erosion of terms of conditions and to low pay".

Dear said the day of action would be the biggest protest in British in journalism since Wapping. And the significance of staging the event in London on Bonfire Night wasn't lost him.

He said: "Someone asked if we chose 5 November because there would be fireworks. They might well be right. Someone asked me if we chose it because it coincides with the Society of Editors' conference in Manchester. I couldn't possibly comment."

He said: "There could be no more important time for journalism than a year in which integration has gone from being a buzzword to a reality for many of our members.

"Sweeping and fundamental technological change…are changing the media landscape."

Dear said the union did not reject technological change but sought to "shape the future so it serves not the accountants but journalists".

He continued: "The real threat to quality comes not from technology, not from new media, not from trends such as citizen journalism, but from those who treat information and the news as nothing more than a commodity."

In his conference address Dear repeated the union's call for the release of kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

Dear said that Johnston was not just an individual but a "symbol for the right to report free from threats and violence around the world".

Dear thanked the Palestinian Journalists' Society, who staged a series of strikes and protests against his capture, and said that neither organisation would rest until he was released.

Dear also congratulated Robin Ackroyd on his victory in the Court of Appeal in February in his seven-year battle to keep the identity of a source secret. And he said he expected to hear soon whether the House of Lords will consider hearing an appeal from NHS Mersey Care Trust, who want the source revealed.

Ackroyd's lawyers claimed this week that the trust had missed the deadline to appeal – although it is now understood that the Lords could consider an "out of time" application. A final decision is expected within weeks.

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