28/06/2011 - Bittersweet News

THE REVELATION that both national daily and Sunday newspaper sales are plummeting (1) comes as bittersweet news to nationalist and patriotic trade unionists.  It’s bitter because falling sales will probably mean job losses across the board.  However, it’s sweet in that some sections of media have blatantly lied about Solidarity Trade Union.

As trade unionists we don’t like to see companies going bust or anyone lose their job.  At the same time, we have no sympathy with those journalists who have sought to twist the facts – or even make up stories – about us and others. 

There are some excellent publications and journalists out there.  For instance, Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent for the Independent and Nathalie Rothschild, commissioning editor for Spiked spring to mind.  At the same time, there are newspapers and ‘journalists’ who just deal in on sleaze, scandal, sensationalism, gossip, speculation and scantily clad girls.

Both the Third Way Think Tank and (2) and the Index on Censorship web-site (3) have recently discussed these differing forms of journalism. 

The Third Way Think Tank article was written by David Kerr – who is also a National Executive member of Solidarity Trade Union.  He highlighted a problem that can result from self-regulation, “in this case self-regulation of the Press”. The case illustrates how self-regulation can result in a failure to act against those who breach professional and moral standards (4).

For the Index on Censorship, Brian Cathcart spoke about the issue of privacy invaders (5).  Mr. Cathcart is a journalist and professor of journalism at Kingston University, London.  He noted:

“There is a confusion at the heart of British debates about privacy. We tend to speak of journalists, of their role, their rights, their responsibilities and very often their lack of restraint and how it should be addressed. But this is misleading, and prevents us from seeing some of the complexities and possibilities, because the word ‘journalist’, in this context, covers two very different groups of people. One group is the actual journalists, as traditionally understood, and the other is those people whose principal professional activity is invading other people’s privacy for the purpose of publication.”

Let’s hope that those publications and journalists who deal in cold hard facts win the day. 

However – and away from this battle for the soul of journalism - what do these plummeting newspaper sales mean Solidarity Trade Union?

Solidarity General Secretary Pat Harrington had this to say:

“Firstly, it dovetails with our policy of workers building their own political and economic counter-power. It also sits alongside our intention to build the infrastructure of a mass media of news and entertainment.

Secondly, it opens up wonderful opportunities for our own free printed media.  It’s been suggested that we publish a more regular agitprop version of British Worker (with more in-depth articles being featured in a ‘theoretical’ type of Trade Union publication).

We’re also interested in producing various national, regional and trade-based agitprop publications.

Thirdly, it’ll spur us on to look at other forms of mass communications.  In addition to our printed media, I’d like to see Solidarity developing podcasts as well as internet-based radio and TV stations.

I hope to be sharing – and developing – all of these ideas in the coming months.

In the meantime I’d urge everyone to get hold of the latest issue of British Worker.  It’s mainly organisational in tone and details what the union is planning for the future – including the need to build an alternative media.  If you haven’t got your copy yet, simply e-mail the union at [email protected] and ask for a pdf copy.