Tight budgeting needed at NUJ to avoid 'financial crisis'

The National Union of Journalists has warned its financial situation could move “headlong into another financial crisis” if savings are not made.

In its 2007 annual report, published this week, the union revealed it made a £269,000 loss last year, up from £193,000 in 2006.

While spending remained relatively stable, the NUJ saw a decline in revenue – down from £4.92m to £4.87m – because of a fall in subscriptions.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said union membership fell last year, for the first time in seven years – a move blamed in part on redundancies in the journalism sector.

“The union faces an extremely difficult financial situation,” he said. “Without strong action it will become a financial crisis. Some unpopular decisions will have to be made as we prioritise our work.”

The 2007 accounts reveal debts of £780,000, including a £447,000 bank overdraft. The NUJ staff pension fund is facing a £1.6m shortfall, and the union said it was “still in negotiations to find a recovery package”.

Finance officer Anita Halpin said the union was under “tight financial constraints”.

“It was not an easy year financially,” she said. “This is a trend that must be reversed.

“This situation can be managed with extremely tight budgeting. The minute anyone loses sight of the need to do this, our assets will become vulnerable and we will be hurtling headlong into another financial crisis.”

The news came as the NUJ announced that the next edition of in-house magazine The Journalist would be online-only, partly to save costs. It is a move which – if mdae permanent – could save the union at least £120,000 a year.

The title suffered a “serious shortfall in advertising revenue” last year, according to the NUJ annual report. The finance committee on the union’s National Executive Committee has said the title is costing too much and “not paying its way”.

The Journalist last year settled a libel action brought by Democratic Unionist Party MP Gregory Campbell over an article published in 2006. The NUJ is now paying £700 per issue for the entire magazine to be legalled by “one of London’s top media law firms”.

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