EPUK Editorial Photographers United Kingdom and Ireland. The private mailing list and public resource for editorial photographers

NUJ denies that it shut down discussion forum to stifle debate on Drogheda

13 September 2007 - EPUK

The National Union of Journalists has today denied claims made in its own magazine that it closed an official discussion board to stifle grassroots debate on a controversial decision made by one of its most powerful committees.

According to the current issue of the official union publication The Journalist , the discussion board on a campaign website “was quickly closed down” after “photographers began to post messages denouncing the Drogheda deal”

But the claim – which is widely believed by many union photographers spoken to by EPUK – is strongly denied by other union staff who told EPUK that the discussion board closure was solely due to technical issues, and that the timing was entirely coincidental.

The discussion forum was part of the union’s flagship Stand Up for Journalism campaign, which encourages union members to take part in a Europe-wide day of action on November 5th to encourage better quality and standards in the journalism industry.

NUJ member Alan Murphy registered on the the site with 48 hours of it going live, and made one post asking that an attempt to overturn the controversial Drogheda Independent house Agreement be made “a cornerstone of the [Stand Up For Journalism] campaign”.

Referring to the emergency committee of the union’s National Executive Committee’s decision to endorse the controversial house agreement, he wrote: “It would be super if the [Stand Up For Journalism] campaign could overturn the eNEC, and would definitely send a clear message to union members.”

Discussion board suddenly closed

While the discussion board remained active immediately after the comment was posted, it suddenly became unavailable about an hour later. Links to the discussion board were then removed from the official campaign website.

According to Debbie Smith, the NUJ administrator for the Stand Up For Journalism website, the website developed sudden and unexpected technical problems which forced it to crash, and no IT technician was available to fix the problem until several weeks later

“We weren’t asked to close it down, and we didn’t close it down”, she told EPUK. “It just took a long time to resolve this and get the site up and running again.”

When the discussion board came back online last week, all the original posts were present, except for the one made by Alan Murphy.

Accusations of deliberate censorship are denied by Smith, who points out that Murphy has since reposted his original comment, and that the reposted version hasn’t been deleted from the site: “If we didn’t want it on there then the same thing would have happened again”, she told EPUK.

Further NUJPhoto claims

The move came on the same day that photographer Pete Jenkins accused the NUJ’s Deputy General Secretary John Fray of forcing the closure of another union photographers’ email list.

In a letter to the British Journal of Photography which was co-signed by 43 other photographers, Jenkins, who holds senior positions on the union’s National Executive Committee and Freelance Industrial Council writes: “It was the deputy general secretary who insisted that the NUJPhoto list be closed down”.

Fray wrote to Jenkins following the closure of NUJPhoto informing him that the NUJ “does not sanction any restarting of NUJ Photo or other similar organisation which in any way utilises the name, logo or initials or in any other way may give the impression that it is in any way authorised by the NUJ or associated with the NUJ”. Jenkins claims that he only intended the list closure to be a temporary measure , but that Fray’s letter prevented him from reopening it.

Jenkins, who founded the NUJPhoto discussion list and who has since setup a lookalike list independent of the union, previously wrote on the NUJPhoto website: “To avoid a union damaging clash which I felt was becoming inevitable, I took the unilateral decision to close the list”

Journalist editor Tim Gopsill was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Want to contact the EPUK Website editor? editor@epuk.org

Comments

Denying censorship accusations Smith says “If we didn’t want it on there then the same thing would have happened again”.

If the NUJ didn’t shut the list to censor further adverse comments previously then just what “same thing” happening again is Smith referring to.

Comment 1: David Hoffman, 22 September 2007, 04:01 PM

Comment on this article

(Your email will not appear on your comment, but we cannot accept your comment without one. We won't give your email address to anyone else)
(You don't need to enter your website address, but if you do, your post will link to it)
 

EPUK reserves the right to edit or delete posts which the moderators feel are irrelevant, offensive, libelous, untrue or just plain nutty; and in extreme cases, to ban those who make them.


EPUK is discussing:

Copyright infringements and how to manage them DACS Payback'Crafted in Britain' by Rob Scott Photographing in public places - where/when/is it allowed?

What is EPUK?

EPUK is an email group for professional editorial photographers who want to talk business. We don’t do techie stuff or in-crowd gossip. We don’t talk cameras or computers. What we talk about are the nuts and bolts of being in business - like copyright, licensing, fees and insurance.

Donate to EPUK

EPUK is run on a not-for-profit basis, funded solely by advertising, donations and hosting other lists. You can make a donation to EPUK through Paypal here:

Donate Now with PayPal

Site content is © original authors. To reproduce any content on this website, contact editor@epuk.org who will put you in touch with the copyright holder. You can read our privacy policy. Any advice given on this site is not intended to replace professional advice, and EPUK and its authors accept no liability for loss or damage arising from any errors or omissions. EPUK is not responsible for third party content, such as epuk.org adverts, other websites linked to from epuk.org, or comments added to articles by visitors.