NUJ conference to launch “fight back” on integration pressures

The National Union of Journalists is planning to launch a debate about the pressures journalists face as a result of new media integration as delegates gather in Birmingham for the union's centenary conference this afternoon.

This weekend's NUJ Annual Delegate Meeting is expected to back the formation of a "national commission on media integration." The commission is set to be launched at a one-day conference on integration that will be held at the union's London headquarters on 5 May.

In a statement issued on the eve of the ADM, the NUJ announced that it plans to extend its "Journalism Matters" campaign to ensure that journalists can "fight back against employers' attempts to squeeze more and more out of staff and freelances for the same pay and often worse conditions".

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said new technologies like podcasting, on-demand television and RSS syndication are "exciting innovations that bring the news to the audience in dynamic new ways."

But he added: "At the same time we need new working practices to cope with new demands. In the corporate world that sees news merely as a commodity this is not happening.

"The demands of integration and convergence have meant a growth in 24/7 working but no growth in staffing levels. The pressure on our members is approaching breaking point in many places."

In an interview published as part of an eight-page special report on the union's centenary in tomorrow's Press Gazette magazine, Dear rejected suggestions that the union has "a dinosaur image" when it comes to new media.

"We are very clear that we are in favour of greater integration, of using new technologies, but alongside that must go proper training, health and safety, and proper regards for quality and professional standards."

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