Ian Power, in Birmingham
Welcoming NUJ delegates to the next 100 years of the Union, President Chris Morley asked delegates to remember a member currently in grave danger. Mr Morley labeled the kidnapping of BBC Journalist Alan Johnston as a “vile attack on journalism and freedom of the press that is deeply disturbing for his family, friends and colleagues”. Speaking to a delegation of over 200 journalists from around the British Isles the NUJ President added “I hope whoever is keeping him captive will see sense and release Alan immediately”.
Addressing the Union, General Secretary Jeremy Dear echoed Chris Morley’s sentiments. Met with a rapturous applause Mr Dear commented that “Alan is more than an individual, he is one of us; his union family. We will not rest until Alan is free”.
Mr Morley also remembered Journalists who have lost their lives doing the job they love, “some of our members have already paid the price for upholding high standards in Journalism, such as Veronica Guerin and Martin O’Hagan”.
Moving onto the wider issue of the future of the NUJ, Mr Morley said that the Union was “well equipped to head into our second century”. He said that the NUJ “cannot wallow in nostalgia” but must look to the future and keep the union on the financial straight and narrow. The easiest way to do this, he said, was to go out and recruit new members.
The President went on to send a strong message to editors and management in the fight for better pay and conditions, “If you don’t value your journalists, why do you expect you readers and viewers to value the work that they do”. Speaking about the need to keep the pressure on these individuals, Mr Morley said “we cannot afford to sit back and take our foot off the pedal in our fight for decent pay and conditions”.
General Secretary Jeremy Dear was equally disgusted at the treatment of journalists by the “fat cats” in the industry. “I am sick of watching senior management reward themselves obscenely while the creative people struggle for a decent wage”.
The 100th ADM of the NUJ will continue throughout the whole weekend.