John Ranson, NUJ Secretary
My personal experience of being an independent journalist within the NUJ has been a mixed bag.
On the one hand, I’ve had a largely positive experience within my local branch, where I’ve found great support and friendship, and serving on the national Ethics Council, which has been fascinating and has felt like a valuable opportunity to fight the corner of independent media.
On the other hand, on the one occasion when I’ve needed assistance, the union has come up short and it’s persistently managed to take too much subs money out of my bank account, while making invasive requests for personal financial information. So I’m not surprised to see similar scenarios described by other IMA members.
But the NUJ needs us.
It needs our dynamism and relevance. It needs our radical voices and our instinct for solidarity and campaigning. To be honest, it needs any money it can get from us as well.
Do we need the NUJ?
That’s a harder question. The NUJ does carry weight. It remains the foremost umbrella organisation for journalists.
And while the bureaucracy may be struggling to keep up with the times, the membership is representative of the full range of contemporary journalism, from self-published bloggers to ex-Fleet Street hacks and freelance photographers to BBC lifers.
With it being a relatively small union in terms of numbers, it’s possible to become actively involved very quickly.
To improve its accessibility to independent journos, the NUJ needs to make some changes, in my opinion.
To that end, we’ll be looking to take a motion to next year’s Delegate Meeting.
DM is the NUJ’s biennial conference at which the membership gives the union’s executive a mandate for what it needs to do over the following two years.
Our motion will note the current requirements for Full Membership (that include earning at least 50% of one’s income through journalism) and the lack of rights currently available to Associate Members.
It will propose a form of membership (details still to be filled in) that would accept independent journalists according to criteria currently required for Associate Membership while conferring most, if not all, of the rights enjoyed by Full Members.
This should make joining the union much easier, and cheaper, for independents, thereby boosting numbers and revenue while incurring little extra expenditure for the NUJ.
We will be discussing how to get this passed at the national decision making body - delegates meeting, which only happens every two years - shortly.
It is important to act soon as preparing for the Delegates Meeting happens in the Autumn so members need to be getting involved ASAP. If you want to get involved in the strategy meeting please do message me, email@example.com