The National Union of Journalists has organised a conference in Bristol to introduce out-of-work journalists to the PR industry – which it admits is a “sad indictment of the newspaper industry”.
The “opportunities day” on Saturday 4 April aims to help journalists find work in public relations and new media.
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The NUJ was approached by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, and Bristol Media, which represents 1,600 media firms in the South West, to help run the day.
The approach came after Northcliffe, which runs Bristol’s Evening Post and the Western Daily Press, announced in January it was cutting 45 jobs.
NUJ Bristol branch chair Christina Zaba told Press Gazette there was huge demand for out-of-work journalists but said it should not have come to this.
“It’s a sad indictment of the way regional media has been managed, and how newsgathering has been made such a low-value activity,” she said.
“The Western Daily Press is 150 years old this year, and they [Northcliffe] have destroyed it.
“Bristol is the second media city in the UK, and it’s a booming city, but Northcliffe are dismantling newspapers in the South West – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other organisations looking for staff.”
Zaba, a freelance, said trained journalists had in-demand skills.
“Journalists who have been working 12-hour days at these papers haven’t had the chance to notice how in demand they are at these organisations,” she said.
“Employers are very keen. They want to meet journalists.
“What we’re hearing from the PR organisations is journalists know what a story is, they know how to write, they know what’s newsworthy. That’s one thing, the ability to supply material to the media that media can use.
“As well as that, they’re disciplined, professional, used to working under pressure. They have earned their stripes.”
Zaba said the conference would help “lift the doom and gloom” for out-of-work journalists.
“We can’t bang on the door of Northcliffe any more,” she said. “They’re steamrolling the thing out of existence.
“We’re trying to keep people”s spirits up. It’s not all doom and gloom – there are other ways of doing it.”
The event, at the Bristol Ramada Plaza hotel, runs from 11am to 4,30 pm on Saturday 4 April.
It will include workshops and presentations from PR executives, including Tom Bowden-Green, chair of CIPR West of England, and Sarah Pinch, head of communications at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.
Entry is £5 to NUJ members, and £25 to non-NUJ members. To book a place, email firstname.lastname@example.org.