Branch July2021

Following Delegate Meeting, the union has a full work programme ahead and branches can play a full role in its plan for a vigorous recruitment drive and participate in its campaigns.


he messages of racist hate sent via social media to three black English footballers were beyond disgusting – fortunately

many others took to the same platforms to pay tribute and offer solidarity to Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka. Many journalists can sympathise from their own experience of being the target of abuse from people all too oſten hiding under the cowardly cloak of anonymity. A recent survey of more than 900 journalists carried out in 125 counties by Unesco found nearly three-quarters of female journalists had experienced online hostility of some sort, while a quarter had been threatened with sexual violence and death.

Filipina journalist Maria Ressa was

receiving 90 hate messages an hour on Facebook alone and Ghada Oueiss, an Al Jazeera Arabic presenter, was geting at least one death threat every day she was on air. Te UN report, Te Chilling, said the intent is to “belitle, humiliate, shame, induce fear, silence and discredit” women and to chill their active participation in debate. Te NUJ’s survey of members elicited a similar response. Patricia Devlin, who the union has supported following numerous online death threats and vile abuse, will be sharing her experience with a meeting of the government’s National Commitee for the Safety of Journalists this month, alongside three other journalists in a session I’ll be facilitating. Te NUJ’s is also part of a sub-commitee driving forward the commitee’s action plan, so members will be hearing more about this important work in the coming

weeks and months. Part of that work will also be exerting pressure on the government to make the tech giants, which make billions from the very same platforms where these threats and abuse are found, remove this material as soon as it appears, or else receive punitive fines.

In this month’s NUJ Branch, former

George Viner Memorial Fund scholar Nabil Mehdinejad explains how his bursary from the NUJ charity enabled him to take a journalism MA at City University and go on to make documentary videos shortlisted for awards. Te fund was set up to broaden the diversity of journalists working in the British and Irish media and has been the backbone of the NUJ’s work to put its collective commitment to diversity and representation into practice. And it remains vital work Latest figures from the National Council for the Training of Journalists show that our newsrooms comprise 92 per cent journalists from white ethnic groups. So much more needs to be done to encourage journalism students from a greater range of backgrounds. Nabil told NUJ Branch that when he started his course he was immediately realised how few students did not share his background and was even told that he sounded like Ali G. But he soon proved he could prosper and believes he can offer a different perspective when covering stories. Te deadline for this year’s applications to the fund is Monday 19 July, so if you know someone who would benefit, make sure they apply now. Branches are being encouraged to

get involved in the union’s Hands Off Channel 4 campaign. Te government’s

proposal can be seen only as an ideological atack on the public service broadcaster. In the government’s own terms it has successfully fulfilled its remit to show innovative programmes and champion unheard voices. And Channel 4 News’ mantelpiece is groaning with awards. Leeds branch, where the station has its headquarters, has already started to contact local MPs, mayors and trade councils. C4 has a base in Bristol and also Glasgow, which has a thriving indie production sector. C4 as a publisher/broadcaster has invested in hundreds of these companies and has acted as a catalyst to the creative sector – find out more about how we can collectively do batle to secure its future on page 5. Global press freedom was a major DM

topic and the shocking shooting of Dutch investigative journalist Peter R de Vries, the reports of intimidation of journalists in India, Belarus and Afghanistan show just how important it is to show solidarity with sister unions in these countries. Tis month’s issue provides a plan for branches to organise their efforts.

In Solidarity

Michelle Stanistreet


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