I have something of a love/hate relationship with the National Union of Journalists. Love, because I believe in the principle of unions, and because the NUJ has done good things for some of my former colleagues. Hate, because I think it’s completely fumbling the transition to digital journalism.
Case in point: one of my colleagues, Martin Couzins of Travel Weekly, posted his criticisms of the NUJ’s training over on his personal blog, ItsDevelopmental:
What will be even more tragic is if the NUJ fails to rise to the training challenge because it is too busy ‘defending jobs’.
I would have expected a bit more creativity at a time like this (do unions do creativity?) and more focus on what members need to do to be employable. We know there will be more jobs lost across the industry but the union could and should be mapping out what a future in digital publishing will look like.
Now the good news is that the union responded. The bad news is how Chris Wheal, chair of the NUJ Professional Training Committee, did so:
Try to be a bit more constructive.
That’s how he kicked off. Not “thanks for sharing your thoughts”, not “please be more constructive”. He was just, well, rude.
And further on, this:
Don’t bother doing it on a blog; you can phone the training department and tell them (politely).
So, you know, don’t bother having an open conversation about union issues. Don’t bother engaging with them through the very social media that journalists need to learn about. No, come cap in hand (politely) to your union betters.
The union’s reputation in this area is bad enough. Responses like this just make it worse.