November 2009

Mugger to photographer: ‘Your money or your life!’

Photographer to mugger: ‘I don’t have any money and I don’t have a life.’

Oh, very well, please yourselves.

British Journal of Photography – Review recommends rethink of protest monitoring

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‘Aggressive’ policing of protests condemned in post-G20 inquiry | Politics |

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Nottingham Branch had two delegates at this years ADM at Southport. Also somewhat to our amazement there was a second year journalism student from Nottingham Trent University. Welcome. We had no idea she was coming which is of course a shame since we might have made a greater contribution to student ADM when funding was discussed at earlier branch meeting.

I’ll start by saying that this years ADM was a lot more businesslike and more centred on journalism and professional work-related matters. Previous years in my limited experience have tended to centre on wider political issues and NUJ affiliations, with many of the same people speaking time after time to these motions. Some of us have been critical of this in the past and I’m pleased to say that this appears to have changed. On Sunday morning however #145 was remitted. Speakers said it had nearly reopened old wounds, when previous motions on the Israeli – Palestinian conflict were considered to be so partial. When the condemnations and the called-for boycott caused so much heat before.

Overall, there was a general sense of gloom, I felt. Because of job cuts and wage stagnation that is obviously such a feature of current journalism. It is surprising then that didn’t seem to infect the student members to much.

The two main financial matters were headlined by motions concerning the frequency of ADM’s and the subscriptions increase. Motion #1 by what seemed to me to be a tortuous route of a process of elimination, as we waded through the amendments. We eventually arrived at the compromise position of 18month DMs. Motion #54 on Subs rise was also passed, but the idea to automatically link subs to any future rise of inflation was rejected.

Motion #72 on the establishment of virtual branches was dropped because the Netherlands Branch members were not there to move it. I thought this a shame, since I’ve always thought it relevant to not only rural, international and new media members, but also to skillsets like photographers. I am pleased also that a motion of much personal interest to me, #12 on asking for NUJ support and legal safeguards for UK Indymedia, concerning the police seizure of servers and equipment. It was passed unanimously.

Nottingham supported #125 on the ‘Photographer Matters’ Campaign and was passed. Also #92 was concerning “Special Procedure Material”, documents defines under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. There is concern that this is widely ignored by police. Further that there is now sometimes conflict with the recent anti-terrorism laws. ADM is asking for a legal guide to be produced to advise and address such conflicts. This was also carried.

The dangers of journalism in some parts of the world were highlighted with contributions from Zimbabwe and Russia. During discussion on #141, it was pointed out that every year the number of journalist killed, seriously injured or generally targeted continues to rise. One of the speakers got applause and appreciation from the platform for the idea of having a ‘roll-call’ of names at future DM’s to illustrate this rise. Delegates stood in silence in the memory of journalists killed doing their job. It was passed.

Students were congratulated on a number of occasions from the floor and the platform, for their coverage of the ADM proceedings. With writing, podcasting and photography, the material was accurate and excellent. They maintained a blog of the proceedings at At one point the president pointed to a student scoop, in that they had got the officers election results on their blog ahead of the official announcements on the ‘big screen’. Ongoing developments were regularly posted on Twitter #nujadm and on a dedicated Facebook page at: together with video on YouTube etc. It was then perhaps a bit of a shame that some officers made slight of such media as “Twatters” This comment being much re-tweeted!!

Later, at a new media event, activists discussed how to recruit ‘web workers‘. Chris Wheal said that this may best be achieved by “Perhaps not insulting potential members might be a start”.

Motions #94 onwards concerning the BNP, racist policy and the code of conduct were discussed. However, the General Secretary came to the podium within minutes at the end if this debate to say that he information that some of the photographs, many taken by the students, were already on the Redwatch site. [‘Red Journalists’ etc]. There was then some heat as some members said that they thought photographers should not be photographing speakers at the ADM! However, many of us wondered that if we couldn’t photograph journalists at a conference … what other section of society could we ever photograph? It was more widely agreed that we wouldn’t be intimidated from our activities This was their objective, after all. Anyone with concerns were offered security arrangements.

Further to this issue, a member from the London Freelance Branch told us about the death threats that he and others had now received for their coverage of the English Defence League events and assorted groups.

Motion #68 concerned photographers continued struggle in getting better representation within the NUJ. Moved by Bristol and E.Yorks, called for the establishment of a Photographer’s Industrial Council. There was then some exchange in which the motions wasn’t in order, in which case it’s strange that SOC hadn’t so ruled earlier. There was talk of the current financial climate. Money was one of the original objections to an Organiser of course. Eventually agreed to remitting it, on getting a statement from the NEC, that they would be expedite progress on his.

A video was made of this statement, just in case…. another photographer later pointed out that: “What we are left with is a likely range of options to put to a future DM, which will include:
1) a full photographer’s sector, PIC and NEC seat.
2) an NEC seat and a members council …or something else”.

Mysterious innit.

EFJ Report “Photojournalists: An endangered species in Europe?

General Secretary, Jeremy Dear introduced freelance photographer Guy Smallman. He was injured during the G8 protest in Geneva in 2003 and has won damages in his case against the State of Geneva. He had to undergo two rounds of emergency surgery after a police concussion grenade exploded at his feet, causing permanent damage to his left leg.

It has taken six years in a legal battle with the authorities over his right to compensation. Although he won the initial case, the State appealed. On Friday during the ADM we heard he has finally won his case. In his speech to ADM, He thanked the NUJ and the legal advice team for their support. Guy said: “They said they had acting within their guidelines which they clearly hadn’t, unless you think it acceptable to throw high explosive at journalists as they’re running away.”

Sunday was only a brief session finishing by 12.00 in which staff, officers and administration where thanked for their service. We now have a new President in Pete Murray from the Glasgow Broadcasting Branch and the Vice President is Donnacha Delong from London Freelance branch and New Media Industrial Council. Both in place now for 18 months. Interesting times for the union.

URL Refs:
NUJ ADM 2009
Student ADM Blog
Online journalism at the NUJ ADM: The Journalist, Twitter and new blood

Back home now from the ADM. Having had a little lie down, I thought I’d add sommat on the London Photographers Branch and issues. Personally I don’t easily fit into any  camp, I don’t think.

What I want is a better understanding of photographers specific needs and time to express them, within the NUJ. Many in common of course, but I think some are a bit different to other journo needs. Having a camera planted in from of your face means that we are obvious and get attention from the public [for being a paedo or terrorist]. From authority that also thinks the same, but additionally are concerned at their own self image. Not to mention those involved in ‘action’ of different sorts who are also worried at their representation and all the above.

We went round some of this at the photo-meet in the pub on Thursday at the ADM. Trying to build a mental model of what’s going on. I explained I don’t know if this best achieved by plan A: which was a photography organiser. Someone in post with all our collected wisdom, by their own skill and education, and what we tell them. This might be considered a ‘top down’ approach. Plan B: is with an industrial council.  It is this that was in front of us at ADM, before it evaporated, on the promise of jam tomorrow.  I guess this is the model that has a best chance of encompassing those of us up north [and everywhere else] etc.  ie. to be able to draw on collective experience from around the country. Plan C: which seem to have upset so many is a locally based photo branch, which London happens to be the first, since many of these photo-types are based in London.

It seems I still haven’t quite got it right yet, since I’ve now discovered some photographers don’t think this is choise A B or C but want all of the above. The NUJ establishment are then concerned about the cost and some are probably frighten of loosing power and want established order to remain.

I admit here I know little of the politics. For example the fascists are calling us ‘left scumbag photographers’ but they can’t mean me, can they, I’m an anarchist 🙂 But plan C in this model I think, means that folks have got together thinking they may best be able to help each other in their profession, with their collected experience and expertise. Much of it is new knowledge and not something that can be passed down from on high.  This might thus be considered a grassroots solution. However, there are 4 of us in Nottingham, so don’t know what plan C could do for me.

In sum then, I have tried to pan out my understanding so far, and all nodded up and down when I said this lot in the meeting. I have been a client of the NUJ in asking for service several times in Tash’s continued adventures with the police/law, and am of course grateful for what I’ve received from the outfit and it’s officers. Thanks. Aside from help and service and advice, I guess I’m also looking for what structure would additionally help me convey my concerns and influence decisions to them up there on the top table. Which structure best does that?

I know personally all the personalities in the current exchange. I look up to all of you / them.

The discussion on how to represent photographers has been going on for as long has I’ve been in the NUJ. But I am now frightened that the rest of the NUJ, might look at photographers and think, why should we trust any of these photographers with structure and power within the union, since an objective Martian, looking in from above, might deduce that they couldn’t organise their way out of a paper bag.  AAAAgh!

In response to David Hoffman

“The London Photographers’ Branch is a very exciting and necessary development in the NUJ.

It has been discussed across our sector as a serious prospect over the past year due to the crisis in our industry, also partly due to the success of Photo-Forum ( and the unity around campaigning against the use of the anti-terrorism legislation on photographers.

We have been involved alongside other photographers in and outside the NUJ to organise Photo-Forum which people have enjoyed and found valuable.

We have also worked with colleagues to build probably the single most effective photographer event outside New Scotland Yard about the introduction of S76 of the Terrorism Act earlier this year and the subsequent ‘I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist’ ( campaign.

The assertion that NUJ Left will somehow wield it’s secretive ‘power and control’ over the branch is frankly ridiculous. It will bring together all photographers. It will of course be open and democratic and we would like every photographer – left, right or in between – to be a part of that democratic process.

We hope to see everyone at the first branch meeting on Tuesday 26th January 2010 at 6pm at Headland House.”
A response by:

Jess Hurd
Marc Vallée
Jonathan Warren

“Several people have claimed to be the originators of the Photographers’ Branch. I recall this being discussed in the 1980s. Very likely it’s been discussed in every decade since Bert Hardy was a boy.

Over the last year the London Photographers’ Branch (LPB) has become a reality. We’ve talked of a branch run “by photographers for photographers”. I was proud to be building that with Jess Hurd, Marc Vallée, Jonathan Warren and other colleagues. I believed that we could accomplish a great deal that the NUJ has failed to do and that the time was right for a bold venture uniting photographers under the NUJ banner. I now need to make it clear why I am no longer a part of this initiative.

The discovery last month that most of the people who would be central to LPB are committed to an NUJ Left agenda took me by surprise. I had thought that I had assurances to the contrary.

Political pressure groups are entirely normal within a trade union. But NUJ Left is not just any old political force pushing their line within a trade union. The power and reach of the NUJ Left has ensured that their candidates have won every high profile election for many years. It was only the NUJ Left candidate who had a job created for him during a job freeze and at a time of redundancies. With members of NUJ Left including the General Secretary, the Deputy General Secretary, the Vice President, the (outgoing) magazine editor, the Campaigns Officer and many members of NEC as well as other influential committees, it’s clear that this low profile self-selected group has considerable power within and control of the NUJ.

I’d thought we were a group of colleagues working together to build a power base for photographers. In reality I was kept in the dark, and have been left feeling that I have been a useful patsy to disguise the real underlying aim of building a power base for NUJ Left. Not so much a branch “by photographers for photographers” but rather “by photographers for NUJ Left”.

Why does it matter? The aims of NUJ Left are not the same as the aims of LPB and at times are very likely to be quite opposed to those of LPB. Imagine an LPB committee planning a campaign for a Photographers’ Organiser. A majority of the committee will have already discussed this on NUJ Left. The timing, the best way to get a NUJ Left candidate into the post, whether to support this faction or that plan – this will all have been decided by the NUJ Left membership. The Photographers’ Branch discussion will be meaningless, fake. Whatever the views of the LPB membership the committee vote will be preordained by loyalty to NUJ Left discussions and decisions. The NUJ Left bloc will always prevail.

I cannot present myself as a candidate to the new branch on the basis that I am putting forward and working for the interests of the membership when I know that in many important matters I will be powerless. The branch will in reality be directed by the demands of an entirely separate unelected group with its own very different aims and plans.

I won’t stand for a position on a committee where I can only fight and lose. Where my role is that of a shoe tied behind a wedding car – I get to be at the wedding and even to go to the honeymoon – but in a merely decorative role and only ending up battered . We could have built a branch incandescent with energy and bursting with achievement, but without a genuinely independent voice for photographers then I cannot have a part in it.”

Quoted from : David Hoffman

Hello campers …!

I have been messing with these digital adventures for a little while now.  Adding content and checking all works ok now.

So, having messed with them, I now declare them open and working.  Please check them out as you like.

On Saturday 17th october, around one thousand climate activists had attempted to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station in Nottinghamshire, taking direct action with repeated breaches of the security fencing.

The action comes only weeks before the UN COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen, and follows the arrest of 114 activists in Nottingham for allegedly planning to infiltrate the power station in April.

Activists gathered in various points on Saturday morning, swooping on the power plant in separate groups to arrive at 1pm. Within five minutes they had already broken down one of the perimeter fences and several had entered the plant.

On Saturday night around 300 activists pitched tents in two camps outside the gates, despite attempt by police to intimidate campers by standing next to the campsite in full riot gear. The police have confirmed 58 arrests.

Natasha Blair from the Camp for Climate Action said: ‘We’ve achieved what we came here to do: to show that coal has no future and there is a growing movement which is prepared to take action on climate change.”

Activists from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to finalist plans for similar actions during the UN climate talks taking place in December. The Camp for Climate Action has announced that they will be joining other activists in the ‘Push for Climate Justice’, which aims to take over the talks for a day.

Natasha Blair continued: “In the run up to the UN climate talks in Copenhagen this December, acts of civil disobedience to confront big business and governments that are causing catastrophic climate change are gaining support.”

Camp For Climate Action –

Ratcliffe Power Station ‘Climate Swoop’ 1

Ratcliffe Power Station ‘Climate Swoop’ 2

Ratcliffe Power Station ‘Climate Swoop’ 3

Ratcliffe Power Station ‘Swoop’ [on Flickr]


Jon Slattery: Journalists in campaign move against BNP

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If you have an internet enabled mobile phone, then this is a quick way to Tash on his shiny new Facebook pages.


This is a QR code, that allows you to ‘scan’ using the camera on your mobile phone. It is simply a way to enter a long’ish URL web addresses into your mobile phone

I am one of those representing Nottingham branch to the NUJ Annual Delegate Meeting [ADM] this year. It is Southport.

They can be a bit lefty, for this anarchist 🙂 But I note this year, that the NUJ and journalism collectively, are catching up with modern electronic communications, networks, Indymedia, and the interweb. About time really.

And so, the annual National Union of Journalists (NUJ) delegate meeting (ADM) draws near; with a variety of motions and amendments up for debate on November 19-22 (final agenda available at this link – PDF).

Among them, many issues that directly concern online media: both in terms of how the NUJ communicates through the internet, and how to engage with online journalists.

How to attract new blood?

For the New Media Industrial Council (NMIC), member recruitment among the digital community is key. For this purpose, it commissioned freelancer and former newspaper journalist Vivien Sandt to research digital media, looking into employment patterns in the UK and Ireland to help the council form a new strategy. Sandt will present some of her findings at the ADM 2009.

How should the Journalist handle its web presence?

Another topic up for discussion is how campaigns and The Journalist should be managed online. As the fight for The Union publication’s editorship rages (see the forum for some lively discussion), the Press and PR branch proposes this motion [excerpt]:

“(….) Union rules allow that [the Journalist] editor has editorial content only over online content taken from the Union’s journal. ADM believes this is insufficient for the editor’s new role (…)

It proposes a motion to change the rules to allow that ‘the editor shall have additional editorial control over union and other website pages holding content taken from or associated with the union’s journal written or commissioned by the editor’.

Leeds branch wished to clarify this: ‘that all editorial content on the NUJ website shall by under the independent control of the editor of the union’s journal, unless the editor agrees to cede control of specific content for a specific purpose and for a specific amount of time’.

That is bound to raise some questions over the relationship between the Journalist and other parts of the NUJ, especially with its support of another motion proposed: ‘ADM further instructs the NEC to implement, without further delay, the integration of the Journalist’s editor into the Union’s Campaign and Communications department’.

North Wales Coast branch, which proposed the original motion, claim that the mixture of internet strategies has pushed the Journalist ‘into becoming a cross between a picture led kind of OK magazine and Agony Aunt Letters column’.

[See what the editor hopefuls suggest for the Journalist website at this link to the forum.]

How should the NUJ engage with social media?

This motion proposed by Magazine is bound to create some discussion: the last para has already been recommended as void by the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) for ‘uncertainty of meaning’”…

This ADM notes that:

1) Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging are irrevocably changing the face of journalism.
2)That many of this new wave of journalists believe the NUJ’s attitude towards them is out of date.

This ADM instructs the NEC to address this problem by working with the blogging community and Twitteratti [sic] to bridge this gap and create a framework that embraces the NUJ’s journalistic principle while maintaining the press freedom enjoyed by bloggers and twitterers.

London Magazine further suggests a survey should be carried out, organised by NMIC.

Want to get involved?

The New Media Industrial Council is currently seeking NUJ members to represent these areas: London (1 out of 2) Midlands (1) Black Members Council (1) Disabled Members Council (1) North East (1). The non-geographical seats have to be nominated by the bodies concerned, and all NMIC members must be NUJ members working in new media. Those interested can e-mail the council’s chair (Gary Herman) in confidence on this address: gary.herman [at]

Judith Townend is a member of the National Union of Journalists (Brighton & Mid-Sussex branch) and is co-opted to sit on the New Media Industrial Council – beginning after the ADM 2009.

Online journalism at the NUJ ADM: The Journalist, Twitter and new blood

I’m, not really interested in this movies subject …. but this is the second police campaign i know about in recent times, to try an stop contentious movies been shown to public audiences. The SchNews movies film on the EDO arms factory and protests in Brighton, being the last.

A worrying trend.!!!

Police try to stop gangland movie being shown

A lone policeman took it upon himself to visit local cinemas advising them not to show a movie film about a gang in the west midlands.There was a recent screening planned at the International Black Festival in Birmingham. Again no cinema would let them show it because the West Midlands police had warned them against it. Penny the director finally screened it in a place called the Custard Factory on a dvd. Police arrived 15 minutes into the screening and stopped it, turned on all the lights and came in to “count” the audience (all quietly watching the film). They also took the film crew’s details.

When the police superintendent was challenged by Penny on Radio 5 Live the next morning, the superintendent claimed that her officers had attended “because we heard there were problems with the projector” (a startling claim in its own right, no less when there was actually no projector…).

No-one can really figure out what has happened. It is deeply alarming that the police have suddenly switched sides and decided to actively censor the film by persuading cinema owners that public health and safety is at risk.

For a £750k small independent British film, perhaps the police will wreck its chances of getting a big enough audience to stay in the cinemas. It’s hard to say.

I’ve just watched C4 news tonight which has picked up the story. The same superintendent is now claiming that there has been ‘no co-ordinated actions’ by the West Midlands police to ban the film.

At any rate – the film as still been pulled from Birmingham, Walsall,
Wolverhampton and Coventry.

If you are free on Friday night and live in an area where the film is
playing, I really encourage you to check it out.

Set in a 24 hour period of the Jonnson gang and the burger bar boyz, the movie has caused a storm of protest and controversy,especially in and around Birmingham where it is set. It’s a movie called “1Day” about a day in the life of black drug gangs in Birmingham, UK.

Photography Twitter List by Jack Schofield on Listorious

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