While I share and agree with many of the points made by Martin Thomas (“Floods of sloppy reporting”, Solidarity 3-189), I was disappointed that he provided no possible solutions or way to lead the fight against cost-cutting by owners. That’s something I’m all too concerned with, as a local journalist myself.
Yes, much of a newspaper is made up of re-written press releases — sometimes I have even seen untouched press releases in our rival newspaper, having received the same original document myself.
Journalists often are harassed, and occasionally uninterested, as the author notes. It is true that “better reporting... could have been done by a single person with an hour available...” But an hour is a luxury for a journalist to write a story. Even if they are given that amount of time, or a chance to do their own research, they will often be required to churn out pages of copy, rather than one well-written, well-researched article.
Media workers are not just lying down and taking this comfortably. At the start of January, workers at Newsquest titles in the south of England took strike action over pay, pensions and conditions, with more action in the pipeline at other centres around the UK. Staff at other media companies are gearing up for action as job cuts are announced.
Last autumn BBC workers went on strike against changes to their pension scheme.
National Union of Journalist activists and other concerned media workers are campaigning against the “churnalism” coverage given to the far-right. I could continue.
The point (which I should make before I make the same mistake that I criticise Martin Thomas for), is that media workers are fighting for changes, in both their own conditions and in the way the media works.
If we can show the money is there to employ more reporters/sub-editors/researchers, more time can be spent on quality journalism.
Media workers should become active if they are not already. Join the NUJ, BECTU or other media union. Talk about the underlying principles behind coverage in their workplace. Set a good personal example.
I would also ask that they consider getting in touch with the AWL’s own media worker fraction, by emailing myself.
Yes, the media is far from perfect — much of what is wrong with capitalism can be seen in journalism — but there are ways to fight it in this industry as in any other.