Tuesday 17 November 2009

Jeremy Dear 'my anger' at Mark Watts

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear comments today for the first time on the election for the new editor of the Journalist.
Writing on his blog, Dear congratulates winner Christine Buckley but adds: "I've kept as quiet as possible during the campaign about the relative merits of candidates but I am angry at the way Richard Simcox was attacked and the union's reputation rubbished by Mark Watts. Richard didn't deserve that."
His blog reveals that Buckley won by almost 1,000 votes.


MartinBuckley said...

Dear, dear. Perhaps the NUJ should pay for the Gen Sec to do some anger management. Watts may have expressed himself strongly, but his emphasis was very obviously on a faction trying to take control of the union. Nor did he make a personal attack on Simcox. By contrast, Watts was smeared by various people -- including Roy Greenslade, who was very shifty about his own connections with NUJ Left, then forced into a humiliating apology for insulting Watts in his Guardian blog.

Watts's target was a faction seeking influence in an underhand way. The electorate showed how they felt about it all -- the turnout was much higher than early estimates predicted, and Simcox was emphatically rejected. Some very vocal people seem to be smarting about that. But why knock Watts? Far more people agreed with him than was apparent in the blogosphere. While anti-Watts comments on the Greenslade blog outnumbered the pro-, readers' recommendations looked to be in Watts's favour by a factor of 3:1 or 4:1. That perception was confirmed by the voting returns. Anyone who thinks Watts swayed the NUJ vote unfairly is not crediting the voters with much critical intelligence. The people he persuaded were sophisticated and sceptical journalists. They read, they voted, they rejected Simcox, they went for a safe-looking compromise candidate, and they gave Watts a respectable third. End of story, I would have thought. Unless we decide to ask why Jeremy Dear finds it necessary retrospectively to attack Watts and express implicit support for Simcox... Is Dear by any chance part of the NUJ Left?

William Goodwin said...

Its not true to suggest that Mark Watts rubbished the union. That sounds to me like a case of shooting the messenger.

The issue Mark highlighted – that a political group within the NUJ is, behind the scenes, trying to place its own candidates in elected positions– is something that NUJ members clearly need to know about.

Mark came in from a lot of very personal flack from members of the NUJ Left, including some very bizarre allegations from its members, for raising this issue.

The focus of Mark’s criticism was always the lack of transparency in the behaviour of the NUJ Left. He certainly hasn’t attacked Richard Simcox, or any other individual on a personal level.