Friday, October 15, 2004

Union City Blues

I attended my first NUJ meeting last night. I think it's fair to say that it will also be my last.

On a certain level it was exciting; a small group of people are trying to set up a new media branch, and I thought this was going to be their first branch meeting, which is why I went. However, it turns out that they've run into a lot of staunch opposition from both within the NUJ and *ahem* from certain large broadcasting corporations who are afraid that creating a new branch from new media will cull members from the existing branches, causing them to lose standing and presumably imbuing the workers with a newfound sense of solidarity - shock horror!

So the end result is that we have no branch, and because we have no branch we have no funding, and because we have no funding we're unable to organise to anywhere near the level needed. Best of all is the fact that the NUJ website has no section for new media workers! Oh, the irony.

I am a newbie to the world of unions. I joined about 10 months ago and had yet to attend a single meeting until last night, and if I'm honest, the only reason I went was in the hopes of scoring interesting contacts from the likes of Guardian Unlimited. Gi's a job! Yeah right. The meeting was attended by a total of six people, including my boyfriend who isn't a new media worker but who tagged along for support. Bless.

The point is that I now know why hardly anyone goes. I'd been "warned" beforehand that the meetings would be "full of Trots", but that wasn't entirely true at the meeting I attended. What I did find was people who seemed to be much more into active union politics than they were into journalism, which seemed a bit of a shame. But fair play, unions need members like that to keep them going.

What I didn't like was how two-faced the organisers were. If you're going to go on for ages (two bloody hours that I'll never get back) about how you want to recruit new members and proselytise about how most media workers out there don't realise what the union is and what it can do for them, that's fine. But getting so caught up in your own politics often means that you forget about the very people you want to join your cause. I must have sat through a good half hour of what was supposed to be the introductory talk (!) listening to phrases riddled with acronyms of organisations that I had never heard of and nobody bothered to explain.

But that's ok, I thought. The pub will save me.

Nope, don't think so. After the meeting, having spotted one obvious potential organiser among the attendees, the organisers spent the whole time in the pub plotting with him and completely ignoring those of us who were obviously new but were interested to learn more. Ugh. I left after one pint; I'd have more fun watching paint dry.

I did learn one thing from the experience, though: I do not want to be a "new media" worker anymore. Insular, boring people. And they're not journalists!

I have spoken.


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