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27 April 2008

ADM 2008 – New Media news

This year's ADM came wrapped up a year of controversy for the union. The debate over Israel raged for a few months after ADM 2006, but for the new media sector, it was the Drogheda debate that's most important. The debate (if you can call what was often an ugly spat a debate) centred around a deal at the Drogheda Independent in Ireland, which, amongst many other very positive issues, was the first time a newspaper chapel had agreed, in principle, to the possibility that print journalists might, at some point, take pictures.

But, let's come back to Drogheda later, because the biggest news for the new media sector came early in day one of ADM, right at the beginning of the second order paper on Finance and Recruitment. The New Media Industrial Council had proposed a motion to make recruitment in new media a priority with major investment in promotional materials and, most importantly, a mapping exercise to help branches find and identify potential members in the sector. The National Executive Council (NEC) submitted an amendment to broaden the motion and make recruitment a priority for all sectors of the union and, after a little bit of discussion to make sure the mapping exercise of the new media stayed in, it was passed overwhelmingly. So expect to see some results from that fairly soon.

But, back to Drogheda. Due to some overlong speeches, the planned running order of the conference got a bit messed up, but that ended up being for the best for the debate. The Drogheda debate, which had its own order paper, ended up coming before the general Wages, Payments and Conditions motions. As the latter included a motion on the Multimedia Commission Report, that could have become a debate on Drogheda. As it happened, though, there was a robust debate on the two main Drogheda motions themselves, leaving the WPC motions to mop up.

The first Drogheda motion was the more extreme one – calling for the resignation of the NEC's Emergency Committee (which would have led to chaos as the President, Vice-President and General Treasurer were all on the committee) and for the adoption a principle that all Chapel agreements be approved by a higher body. So much for Chapel power, eh? That motion was roundly defeated and so, thankfully, was the following motion, against which I spoke. That motion called for the return of a variation on the old point in the union's Working Practices about writers not normally taking photographs – a proposal I called regressive and out of touch with the reality faced by many of our members.

With those out of the way, the scene was set for Composite H, as it was called, which endorsed "Shaping the Future", the Multimedia Commission's report and planned the way forward – protecting quality journalism online through negotiation on pay, conditions, health and safety and training. All these are, of course, hugely important for our sector and, if you haven't read the document, you should do so, it's easily accessible on the NUJ website (under Activists). The Commission, which features three members of NMIC, Gary Herman, Jemima Kiss and yours truly, is to continue its work on an ongoing basis with elections at the next ADM.

On top of this endorsement was the adoption of a new principle, which added a positive statement to the rejection of the regressive motions about Drogheda. ADM agreed that the NEC should "ensure demarcation rules do not prevent members from seizing the opportunities available to them." In other words, the union's highest body has recognised that multimedia journalism is increasingly the norm in our industry and that we can't let old ideas of who does what stand in the way of our members engaging completely in a multimedia world. For our sector, where, of course, multimedia working is the norm and always has been, this is great news and it will hopefully aid in the recruitment the union has made its priority for the year.

There were a couple more bits and pieces of relevance to our sector, one long-running issue, in particular, took a step forward – that of online branches. For a few years now, European branches or the Continental European Council have brought a motion calling for the rules to allow for branches that exist online only to help branches with geographically disparate members. Each time, it's been knocked back after a long (and sometimes humorous debate), despite regular support from NMIC. This year, though, the movers rejected a call for the issue to be remitted for consideration by the Structure Review and there was a debate. This year, though, the vote was won and the NEC is now obligated to bring a motion calling for a change in the rules to next year's ADM.

Finally, there's the question of the online future of The Journalist magazine. The NEC had put forward a couple of specific issues about the Journalist, such as restricting the number of print editions, but ADM voted instead for a review of the magazine and its relationship to the Campaigns and Communications office and rejected a number of the specific recommendations. So, that's one to watch over the next few months.

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9 Comments:

At 3:55 pm, Blogger pmclaughlin said...

I thought the best bit of the NUJ ADM was John Fray's speech and the section where Alan Johnston spoke, audio of Alan's speech is available here http://nujbroadcastingblog.blogspot.com/ you have to click on the player and wait five seconds before it starts but it is well worth it!

 
At 3:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi

I am afraid the truth is there wasn't much debate allowed about Drogheda - The eNEC rowed rough shod over the IEC and we all know the rest. I welcome new media and all the exciting things that it offers - but I don't believe that journalism is best served by undermining photojournalists. For more issues on the Drogheda Independent one can see the microsite -
http://standupforjournalism.com/

But then my comment will probably be censored here also.

Alan Murphy
Dublin Freelance

 
At 3:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In fact the rode - they weren't in a boat!!!

That's why I'm a photographer...

:-)

 
At 10:34 pm, Blogger Donnacha DeLong said...

Alan,
Of course your comment will not be censored, being completely wrong is not a reason to remove your comments. It's completely ridiculous to say that there wasn't much debate allowed - the debate wasn't shortened, all speakers who had something to say in favour of the two motions had their chance. Seeing as I was whipping that paper for the NEC, as well as the NEC speaker on the Working Practices motion, I know this very well. The fact that the critics of the Drogheda deal failed to present any reasonable arguments and were beaten is their own fault and it's churlish, to say the least, to imply that anyone tried to stop debate.

 
At 4:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Donnacha,

Thanks for posting the comment. Why are you being personal and saying I am being churlish. I am merely correcting your report and pointing out that there was No Debate on the Drogheda Agreement before it was adopted as practice within the NUJ. ADM was after the FACT!

Regards

Alan Murphy

 
At 6:58 pm, Blogger Donnacha DeLong said...

You weren't clear that you were talking about the period before ADM, seeing as you were responding to my ADM report, I assumed you were talking about at ADM. And your comments about being censored here were inappropriate, so don't complain about me calling you churlish.

As for there being a debate to a chapel signing a deal that was completely consistent with the union's rules at the time - why would there be a debate? As ADM agreed, forcing chapels to get "approval" on deals would cripple their ability to do anything and damage the union. As also pointed out, the principle of multimedia journalism in Ireland had been long established in RTÉ and was not new to Drogheda.

Finally, might I remind you that you're posting on the NUJ New Media site - a part of the industry where most people are multimedia journalists and the old sectoral divisions make no sense. ADM agreed with us and rejected criticism of the Drogheda deal and the complaints about the process - time to move on.

 
At 10:39 pm, Blogger Paula Geraghty said...

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to set the record straight here - there was no debate on the Drogheda Independent!

Also you gravely misrepresent why I objected so strongly to the DI - if you are interested in the truth you might like to read the articles I posted online - these were the arguments that persuaded the IEC before the eNEC rode rough shod over it.

You are right about one thing though it is time to move on - but please don't try to rewrite history.

Alan Murphy

 
At 11:11 pm, Anonymous Alan Murphy said...

Not sure why but the Paula's name comes up on the top of my last post - didn't want to appear an anonymous - anyway Paula has nothing to do with these posts and not quite sure why her name is coming up - have tried to so apologies to all

Regards

Alan M

 
At 11:15 pm, Blogger Donnacha DeLong said...

Alan (or Paula? LOL! dunno why that's happening),
A broad debate about an individual chapel's house agreement is not appropriate and, as ADM agreed, is not union policy now or will not in the future. The IEC had no role in the agreement, despite what view they might have taken, and the NEC is perfectly entitled to "ride rough shod" over the IEC as it is the highest body of the NUJ between ADMs (the full NEC endorsed the eNEC). ADM had the opportunity to sanction the NEC and it didn't - so there's nothing wrong. On the contrary, ADM agreed that the NEC should "ensure demarcation rules do not prevent members from seizing the opportunities available to them." It's over, the debate is lost, union policy supports the Drogheda agreement and the right of chapels to negotiate on multimedia working.

 

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