London Freelance Branch meetings

LFB MEETINGS are currently virtual meetings, held via the Zoom platform over your laptop, desktop computer, tablet or other internet-enabled device. (Details of how to sign up for Zoom are below.)

These virtual LFB meetings are held at the usual time: 6:45pm sharp on the second Monday of each month (except, for the moment, August).

When face-to-face LFB meetings resume, they will be at NUJ HQ, Headland House, 72 Acton Street WC1X 9NB: go directly to the meeting schedule (or to this month's motions.)

[NUJ London Freelance Branch]

Please check back here - meeting subjects and speakers inevitably change from time to time. Members who have supplied a working email address to the NUJ centrally get a monthly email alert and virtual Freelance listing.

The Branch Committee believes that under the emergency circumstances we can take motions in online meetings and regard them as passed if there are no voices against - if, in the jargon, they are passed nem con (Latin for "none against"). There is no provision for contested votes remotely under the Branch rules. Any motion for a meeting must be sent, in writing, to the Freelance editors ten days before the meeting date: see below for a handy form for submitting motions. See here for guidance on Tweeting and recording meetings.

The Branch also organises meetings for members new to freelance journalism, to meet other people new to the Branch and members with more experience of freelance journalism. Currently these are virtual meetings via Zoom, on the last Thursday of every third month from 6pm: if you have recently joined, or transferred into, London Freelance Branch of the NUJ you should receive an invitation in email.

Date Speaker/subject
Mon Dec 14 An evening with renowned cartoonist Steve Bell
Mon Jan 11 Annual General Meeting 2021: elected the Committee and received officers' reports on the past year
Thu Jan 28 Meeting for members new to freelancing online, 6pm
Mon Feb 08 From geeks to rock stars in one grim leap data journalism
Mon Mar 08 Working well from home - or not and we heard from Andy Aitchison about his arrest and the NUJ's help getting charges dropped
Mon Apr 12 I do not have 'special needs', I have rights being a disabled journalist
Mon Apr 26

Racism in the media

A meeting to discuss responses to the Society of Editors' statement on racism in the media and the press response to it.

This meeting is open to all NUJ members and will take place on Zoom at 6:45pm. Our speakers are:

  • Haroon Siddique, Legal Affairs Correspondent at the Guardian;
  • Nosheen Iqbal, news reporter at the Observer; and
  • freelance Saima Mohsin (@SaimaMohsin), who among many other things has been an International Correspondent for CNN International.

All three are signatories to the open letter from over 250 journalists of colour rejecting the SoE statement. More details of the meeting are here.

Thu Apr 29 New members' meeting, via Zoom
Mon May 10

Union policy debates

This meeting will be fully occupied with debating the Branch positions on motions to the NUJ's delayed Delegate Meeting, the decision-making part of which will take place online on 21 and 22 May 2021.

The final agenda is available to NUJ members here. We'll post more details as they emerge.

You can sign up to Zoom now to download the app to your phone or laptop, or you can follow that link before the meeting and download the app then.

Mon Jun 14

Putting yourself about

A presentation by Donna Ferguson (@DonnaLFerguson) on putting yourself out there - including how to turn around a rejected pitch.

More details to follow...

Mon Jul 12 To be announced...
Thu Jul 29 New members' meeting
August No meeting
Mon Sep 13 To be announced...
Mon Oct 11 To be announced...
Thu Oct 28 New members' meeting
Mon Nov 8 To be announced...
Mon Dec 13 We hope for some kind of social event...
Mon Jan 10 2022 Annual General Meeting 2022: elects a new Committee.

The Branch Committee welcomes suggestions for speakers and topics for meetings: contact editor@londonfreelance.org.

Motions for the May meeting

None notified yet

The motions archive - 2021

Motions for the April meeting

Racism in the media
Passed

This Branch agrees to organise a meeting to discuss responses to the Society of Editors' statement on racism in the media and the press response to it. This meeting to take place on Zoom at 6.45 on Monday 26 April. Though no expenses are expected, the Branch agrees to authorise spending not more than £250 if it should prove to be necessary.

Remuneration
Withdrawn by proposer

The Branch Remuneration Committee recommends that the monthly remuneration for the editors of the Freelance and the social media officer be increased in line with inflation with immediate effect. Further, these officers should receive back pay covering inflationary increases since 12 months after the last time their respective rates were set.

Philip Wolmuth
Passed

Philip Wolmuth, a leading community photographer in Britain for the past forty-five years, was first diagnosed and treated for cancer a few years ago. He became very ill last December and died on 21 February 2021. He was seventy years old.

Basing it in the 510 Community Centre on the Harrow Road, Philip began the North Paddington Community Darkroom in 1976. He worked there until 1982 before going freelance. He continued his involvement, chairing a small group that managed the project. The Community Darkroom was forced to close in 2010 due to lack of funding. Philip was a trade union activist for many years.

Philip's family want very much to keep his huge archive accessible [and the Branch will be informed when] permanent arrangements are made. LFB agrees to post on its various Branch sites, including our new London Freelance Gallery, the above obituary.

  • NB: typo corrected [thus]. The short obituary, with links to others and to Philip's archive, is here.

LFB delegation decisions ahead of Delegate Meeting
Passed

LFB's delegation to the NUJ's Delegate Meeting (DM, its conference) has been asked to respond to requests by DM's Standing Orders Committee (SoC) with a deadline of 16 April.(The deadline was extended from 12 April at the LFB delegation's requests to allow them to consult the Branch.)

The requests for clarification by SoC are about motions passed by LFB to go before DM for a vote. This was originally to have been DM 2020, later postponed to become DM 2021, to be held virtually online on 21-22 May.

SoC has asked whether LFB will accept some of its motions being passed under Standing Order 3 (SO3), which allows motions deemed to be uncontroversial to be passed without a formal vote. The LFB delegation recommends accepting some of these requests but feels that some Branch motions should be still have a debate, or that at least LFB should be allowed to speak to the motion before it is passed.

SoC has asked the LFB delegation to accept an alternative motion on initiatives to support Afghanistan proposed by the Union's National Executive Council. LFB's delegation is minded to decline this request, as it feels its own motion in support of its own initiatives that already foster regular contacts with the Afghan Journalists' Federation are more effective than those proposed in the NEC's motion.

The LFB delegation is minded to decline SOC's request to accept that its motion looking at membership for those journalists who can no longer make a living from the profession full-time be passed under SO3. The delegation feels SoC and the NEC have not fully understood the intent of LFB's DM motion on this.

There are other requests from SoC for LFB amendments to other DM motions to be "composited" (compiled together with other motions amendments).

LFB's delegation has already held one meeting at which it made decisions on the above SoC requests (subject to acceptance by the Branch) and the delegation will hold another meeting before DM, there are votes at these meetings.

Should any members have strong feelings about LFB's delegation's decisions on how to handle such requests from SoC to "put motions in order", they can raise these at Branch meeting on 10 May, which debate the Branch's positions on DM motions and how the Branch delegation should vote on these at DM, and at which the delegation will update "Branch" on its decisions to date.

Motion: this Branch authorises its DM delegation to make such decisions as it finds necessary to comply with SoC's requests for clarification on LFB's DM motions and DM amendments in time for the deadline of 16 April.

DM Late Notice Motion - racism
Passed

This Branch and its delegation agree to support the following Late Notice Motion submitted to the NUJ Delegate Meeting (DM) 2021. (Text of motion below.)

Motion for Delegate Meeting, proposed by Black Members Council, untitled

DM notes the furious controversy following the television interview of Megan Markle and Prince Harry by Oprah Winfrey on 7 March 2021, which, among other things, triggered a debate about allegations of racism against the royal family. 

DM also notes the ensuing turmoil where the board of the Society of Editors was split over a statement released by its executive director, Ian Murray, saying that “racism was never a factor in the coverage of the Duchess of Sussex”. More than 160 Black journalists, as well as the editors of the Guardian, Financial Times, Voice, Evening Standard, Mirror and Huff Post, signed an open letter objecting to his statement. 

In its conclusion, the letter remarked that: “The Society of Editors should have used the comments by the Sussexes to start an open and constructive discussion about the best way to prevent racist coverage in future… The blanket refusal to accept there is any bigotry in the British press is laughable, does a disservice to journalists of colour and shows an institution and an industry in denial.”

DM commends the BMC statement published by the union on this matter. (http://www.nuj.org.uk/resource/nuj-black-members-council-statement.html)

DM observes that, as the media’s attention moved on, the NUJ should take the lead and re-open the debate on racism in the media which it started 30 years ago, during which successive ADMs discussed and took decisions on the reporting of race issues.

DM recalls that the BMC and its predecessor, the Race Relations Working Party, were the first bodies within the industry to initiate the NUJ Race Reporting Guidelines first relating to Black people and travellers and some years later, amended to include the negative and stereotypical representation of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as Muslims.

DM applauds the call made by many of these motions to “remind NUJ F/MoCs, in particular in the regional and national tabloids of their responsibility not to tolerate the production of any material which encourages discrimination on grounds of race”, and “to monitor vigorously the implementation of its race reporting guide-lines and take swift action, including disciplinary action, whenever they appear to have been breaches”.

Successive DMs also urged all journalists to adhere to the union’s code of conduct, in particular Clause 10 that “a journalist shall mention a person’s age, sex, race, colour, creed, illegitimacy, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation only if this information is strictly relevant. A journalist shall neither originate nor process material which encourages discrimination, ridicule, prejudice or hatred on any of the above-mentioned grounds” and its guidelines on reporting racist organisations.

DM recalls many instances when stories on race relations or on refugees were submerged, or worse, intentionally played up in the exciting roller coaster hysteria of tabloids and some broadsheets, the NUJ launched campaigns to ensure that its members stand by the NUJ’s Code of Conduct and guidelines when they are pressurised to indulge in racist reporting, and for a conscience clause to protect journalists against unfair dismissal when they refuse assignments which breaches their union’s code of conduct. 

DM instructs the NEC, the Black Members’ Council and the Ethics Council to:

  1. Reinvigorate the promotion of the union’s code and guidelines within newsrooms, and the calls on chapel officers to raise formally with their employers breaches of the code.
  2. Organise a one-day conference following the recent controversy in order to promote public awareness of the NUJ Code of Conduct, to improve understanding and compliance by members of the Code and guidelines
  3. Review and develop best practice of the coverage of race relations issues.
  4. Reaffirm its support for the BMC carrying out its role under rule to promote equality in the NUJ, including by the union examining its employment of Black people, at all levels, and taking up issues of unconscious bias and institutional racism.
Motions for the March meeting

Working Class Movement Library
Passed nem con

LFB recognises the great value to the trade union movement of the Working Class Movement Library in Salford with its extensive archive of union material. Noting that it relies entirely on donations to survive, the branch agrees to donate £100.

Myanmar
Passed unanimously

This Branch notes the persecution, assaults and restrictions on journalists and protesters in Myanmar since the recent military coup.

These include (so far) journalists being targeted by police for covering demonstrations and protests, being assaulted with rifle butts, having their camera phones deliberately smashed, death threats being made against independent journalists who cover protests, journalists being the subject of electronic surveillance, many journalists being driven into hiding and the frequencies used by broadcasters Democratic Voice of Burma and Mizzima News being blocked.

London Freelance Branch condemns the persecution of journalists in Myanmar following the military coup, and extends its full support to all journalists in Myanmar.

Motions for the February meeting

Decisions between Branch meetings
With amendments accepted by the mover, for Branch approval
passed

LFB agrees that in the intervals between branch and/or committee meetings if decisions, except those involving non-administrative expenditure, are urgently required and it is not possible to convene a meeting of the committee within the next seven days, they shall be taken by the branch officers – namely, the chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer – after as much consultation with the committee as practicable, and the decisions are reported to the committee and the branch.

Any branch officer may convene the officers for the decision-making process.

A majority of those voting shall decide as long as at least three votes are cast.

Jobshares will have one vote between them.

Remuneration committee
passed as amended

This branch has already agreed to set up a Remuneration Committee to recommend any changes in rates for the paid positions within the branch – namely, the editors of the Freelance and the Social media officer.

The branch now agrees on the make-up of that committee: it will be formed of up to four members (but no less fewer than three), and that it may be made up of both committee and non-committee members, and must include the branch treasurer with the branch treasurer present in an advisory capacity. The committee will bring its recommendations to the branch to be discussed and voted on.

Trades Councils
representatives elected

This Branch resolves to send representatives to Waltham Forest Trades Council and to Kensington and Chelsea area Trades Council.

Decisions between Branch meetings
Superseded - see below

LFB agrees that in future (subject to later policy change/adjustment by the branch) in the intervals between branch and/or committee meetings if decisions, except those involving non-administrative expenditure, are urgently required and it is not possible to convene a meeting of the committee by the next Monday, they shall be taken by the branch officers – namely, the chair(s), vice-chair(s), secretary/ies and treasurer(s) – after as much consultation with the committee as practicable, and the decision is reported to the committee and the branch.

Any branch officer may convene the officers for the decision-making process.

A majority of those voting shall decide as long as at least three votes are cast.

Where there are job shares each half of the share shall be counted as half a vote.

Decisions between Branch meetings
With amendments accepted by the mover, for Branch approval
Remitted to February meeting

LFB agrees that in the intervals between branch and/or committee meetings if decisions, except those involving non-administrative expenditure, are urgently required and it is not possible to convene a meeting of the committee within the next seven days, they shall be taken by the branch officers – namely, the chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer – after as much consultation with the committee as practicable, and the decisions are reported to the committee and the branch.

Any branch officer may convene the officers for the decision-making process.

A majority of those voting shall decide as long as at least three votes are cast.

Where there are job shares each half of the share shall be counted as half a vote.

Amendment to the above

Delete last paragraph ("Where ... vote").

Motions for the December 2020 meeting

NUJ Extra
passed nem con

This branch agrees to pay £100 to NUJ Extra in addition to the regular £450 per month we have been donating since physical meetings were suspended (thus making a payment of £550). This will compensate for the fact that our standing order of £100 a month came to an end at the end of October, and we did not re-start it.

The branch also resolves to restart our £100 a month standing order to NUJ Extra from the end of the month, for another year.