It’s Halloween, and the NUJ are coming as trolls

NUJ recruitment posterThere should be a footnote to this National Union of Journalists recruitment poster. Join the union unless you are one of those

“self-serving bloggers who don’t really want to be in a union ‘cos it doesn’t have that ‘I’m a digital revolutionary and I’m out there, doing it’ vibe”

This is a line from Gary Herman on NUJ New Media Industrial Council site. I’d leave a comment, but alas, there are none. Have they ever heard the old adage, when you’re in a hole stop digging? Hey guys, if you want to create an ‘us versus them’ line in the sand, congratulations, you’ve succeeded. And the ‘them’ isn’t The Man in management. There is obviously no room in your union for a “brain dead digital enthusiast” like me. (Just to be fair, lest I’m accused of taking the quote out of context. The full sentence is: “Redundancies at AoL should give the most brain dead digital enthusiast pause for thought.”) And right before that, Herman takes a most unprofessional jab at Roy Greenslade:

At the very best, people like Roy Greenslade who huff and puff and storm out of the union are behaving precipitately. At worst, they’re trying to put the boot in. Probably, they’re just a bit dim.

I’m not anti-union. But how am I supposed to interpret such statements? It doesn’t fill me with the warm feelings of union solidarity. “Sorry, but you’re a bit dim comrade?” Is that the message you really wish to convey? Herman rails away against PR and blogs in his piece, but I’m going to give a piece of advice that I never thought I’d suggest to anyone: The NUJ really needs to work on its PR in terms of courting new media journalists.

Emotive and irresponsible attacks such as those in Herman’s piece have muddled the NUJ’s core argument of maintaining journalistic quality and integrity under challenges not from the internet but from economic pressures of changing business models. We all agree that journalists should be ethical, our journalism of the highest possible quality and that our journalism should serve the public good. I have forgone lucrative opportunities in for-profit journalism and consulting because I believe in the mission of public service journalism and its place in a democratic society. We agree that journalists should be compensated for their work. We are not in disagreement over these points, and I – as a digital enthusiast – am not the enemy.

As for the NUJ, I’m moving on. Jeff Jarvis is right:

It’s a mistake, I think, to let the curmudgeons set the agenda and, for that matter, get the attention. It doesn’t move us forward.

I’ve got plenty of colleagues and collaborators to work with to create the future of journalism. I’m part of the new collective and have been for a long time. Online journalist since 1996 and damn proud of it.

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