Thursday 4 December 2008

Can politicians save journalists' jobs?

The NUJ is marshalling as much support as it can from politicians in the battle over redundancies at Newsquest in Glasgow, where all but a handful of the staff of around 250 on The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times have been told they will be made redundant and have to reapply for their own jobs. The union believes up to 40 jobs could be cut.
Rather than taking immediate industrial action the union is appealing directly to politicians and public opinion. Significantly, rather than just having the backing of the NUJ's Parliamentary Group of MPs, the union could today count on the support of Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond.
He told MSPs in Holyrood: "If this was happening in another employer in Scotland, if an approach was being taken to make an entire workforce redundant, what would we imagine that the editorial stance of the Herald newspaper would've been?.....I think that the owners of the Herald group should think carefully about the credibility of the newspaper given the stance they have adopted."
It is always a good argument to ask newspaper publishers, when they are accused of some dubious behaviour, how they would cover the same story if it was someone else. For instance, closing down a local print plant with the loss of local jobs, or disciplining staff who speak out or represent a union, or when they refuse to comment to other media. It has seldom, if ever, made a difference.
Politicians are waking up to the fact that regional newspapers are under threat but their intervention will not be welcomed by publishers who will claim they are interfering in their right to manage their own companies. This is going to be some battle that will show if politicians can save journalists' jobs.

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