NUJ conference report

Delegates at Scarborough

Regional newspapers are missing out on talented graduates because of low pay, union executive member Chris Morley claimed. He said graduates were no longer prepared to take starting salaries of £10,000 to £12,000 in the regional press. Morley said local papers were losing out to teaching, which was offering starting salaries of £17,000 with the possibility of being on £25,000 within eight years. Delegates backed a motion calling on the union to campaign against low pay.

All pictures courtesy of Dobson Agency

One minute’s silence was observed as a mark of respect to APTN journalist Kerem Lawton who was killed in the mortar attack in Kosovo last week. NUJ president Dave Toomer sent the union’s deepest condolences to Lawton’s widow, Elida Ramadani, who is expecting their first child.

Labour MP Tony Benn has been made an NUJ Member of Honour. Benn, a long-time member of the union, is standing down from Parliament at the next election.

The NUJ launched a new stakeholder pension scheme at the conference, in partnership with the Norwich Union, to try to encourage more members to take out pensions. The scheme is open to all NUJ members and can be used by employers as their designated stakeholder scheme if their staff are in the union.

The union’s executive is to carry out a survey of night-work pay and conditions of all its members and will campaign for improvements where necessary. It follows the dispute at BBC World Service over night working.

Welsh anger over Anne Robinson’s remarks on Room 101 was reflected in a successful motion condemning attacks in the British media on the Welsh people, culture and language.

Conference expressed its horror at the intimidation of journalists on The Daily News in Zimbabwe. The paper’s office and print works have suffered bomb attacks.

Delegates voiced concern about new legislation in the UK and Ireland which allows council executives or their committees to meet in private, with the press excluded. They called on the executive to campaign for private meetings to be kept to a minimum.

The NUJ is to run investigative journalism courses to show how the new Freedom of Information Act, criticised for being too weak, can be used.

The growth of online services gives the NUJ the chance to recruit tens of thousands of new members, the conference was told. It was agreed that an Online Media Joint Council be established to promote recruitment, training and negotiations for online media journalists.

Delegates condemn cynical NoW campaign

by Jon Slattery

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