Branch reports 2018

OFFICERS of London Freelance Branch presented reports to the Annual General Meeting in January. Here are those most readily to hand. More may follow later.

Chair

Firstly: I would like to thank my co-chair Zaki for all his hard work over 2017, it has been good to share the role. Secondly my thanks to what has been a wonderful committee to work with. Thanks to Phil and Tim as joint secretary and Jenny as treasurer, also to Magda and Safi in their job share as equality officer and Arjum and David in joint their role as welfare officer. Thanks also to Mike Holderness and Matt as Freelance editor and deputy editor and thanks to Nikki as Social media officer. Thanks to Francesca as out excellent membership secretary and to Frederica for her great work as training officer.

In March 2017, the branch committee organised a conference on rights for atypical workers, called "The Precarity conference with speakers Professor Guy Standing author of Precarity and The Precarity Charter, branch member Professor Ursula Haws also spoke at the conference on a panel with Mags Dewhurst of the independent workers' union following her victory in gaining rights for workers on precarious contracts at a tribunal and we were also lucky to have a speaker from Equity.

The conference was fully booked and came in under budget.

LFB also organised a freelance salon in July 2017 which was well attended, with excellent speakers working in journalism giving inspiring tips on how to get ahead in the industry.

Throughout the year the branch has organised a varied programme of speakers for the second half of branch meetings, including: Duncan Campbell, Merion Jones, Molly Clarke the communications officer for the Rory Peck Trust and Gavin Rees from Dart Europe. Sue Turton & Vaughan Smith on reporting safely from dangerous place, how to earn more money by diversifying - with photojournalist Jill Furmanovsky and copywriting trainer Jackie Barrie with our final meeting of the year on reinventing women's magazines.

In 2017 the branch passed a motion to donate money to support the survivors of Grenfell Tower.

I shall end by expressing thanks on behalf of the committee to all our the branch members who regularly attend and make these meetings worthwhile with their contributions. The new committee faces an active 2018 with meetings already arranged for February and March on how the data protection act affects journalists with our Freelance editor Mike Holderness , and a discussion on the dearth of commissions in the national press for women cartoonists, with Kate Evans author of Red Rosa and Blue Lou.

Equalities

Equality in 2017 was a major talking point like never before. Inequalities in the media and other organisations were regularly highlighted and exposed by prominent individuals and groups, including the latest storm over BBC journalist Carrie Gracie's pay and resignation.

In July, Amy Lame, the newly appointed Night Czar of London, hosted London's first Women's Night Safety Summit at the City Hall. More than 100 attendees from women's groups, charities, businesses, councils, transport organisations and the police participated in workshops led by Valerie Shawcross, Deputy Mayor for Transport, Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Joan Smith, Chair of the Mayor's Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Board.

From LFB, Safiullah Tazib, co-equality officer, and Federica Tedeschi, training officer, represented the branch at the summit.

Tazib focused on the lack of timely and adequate response from the Met Police to reports of crime against women in the capital, while Tedeschi highlighted the dangers that women who work anti-social hours are facing at isolated tube stations with no ticket barriers.

In October, the BBC launched a Diversity and Inclusion Guide for Radio. In the same month, The Eastern Daily Press joined forces with the Mental Health Media, to urge responsible and stigma-free reporting of mental health issues in the media.

In November, in a gathering at the University of Westminster, Kelly Wright, the only black male anchor at Fox News, said: "Fox News is fostering a culture of severe racial harassment."

A few days later, the head of Sky News, John Ryley, told the NCTJ conference: "British journalists were taken by surprise by the outcome of 2016's Brexit vote because of a lack of diversity in newsrooms."

In December, Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, said that he is looking at plans to outlaw algorithmic discrimination against ethnic minorities by online giants such as Google and Facebook, where women and ethnic minorities have been systematically discriminated against, according to research by Harvard University.

At the NUJ, when the LFB set to move their monthly branch meeting from Friends House to the basement of the union's Head Quarters at Headland House (HH), David Wilkins, disabled LFB member and co-welfare officer at the branch, raised serious concerns about the acoustics of the basement for members with hearing disabilities.

LFB committee took the matter to HH management, who agreed to improve the room's acoustics. But the issue seems to be ongoing, with Mr Wilkins unable to hear discussions at the LFB AGM on 8 January, and needing to ask speaker to use his equipment.

In upcoming equality work, co-equality officer Magda Ibrahim is among the four-strong NUJ national delegation to represent the union at the TUC Women's conference 2018.

Along with LFB member Maureen Paton, Disabled Members Council chair Ann Galpin and NUJ Norfolk's Cath Saunt, the group will present two motions to the 300-delegate conference, which takes place on 7-9 March.

The General Secretary has signed off these motions after a period of discussion and amendment and they were submitted to conference in December 2017.

The first of these addresses the gender pay gap, and calls on the Women's TUC conference to require companies to publish gender-pay gaps for employers with 50 or more staff, introduce fines for significant failings and require salary/tax publication.

The second motion looks at the discrepancy in maternity pay for self-employed and employed women, in the context that 42 per cent of journalists are self-employed, according to ONS stats, and calls for the TUC to publicly back the Six Weeks Support campaign, which wants the self-employed paid the same 90 per cent of their earnings for the first six weeks of maternity leave.

The motion also calls on the TUC to lobby government on addressing the discrepancies in maternity pay between employed workers and the self-employed, and lobby for a lengthier period of "decent maternity pay" for both employed and self-employed women.

In 2018, the equality team would welcome members to share their experiences and any concerns they have, and can be contacted using the details listed at www.londonfreelance.org/lfb/contact.html

The Freelance

The Freelance has continued to inform Branch members and other Freelance members of the NUJ on the issues that affect them and their work in 2017.

Highlights include:

  • reports of all Branch meetings;
  • comprehensive reports of special meetings such as the March Precarity event;
  • a comprehensive guide to protecting your sources, informed by expert speakers at Branch meetings (www.londonfreelance.org/fl/sources.html);
  • updating www.londonfreelance.org/FAQ for members who prefer to access information that way;
  • redesigning all new Freelance pages and Branch information pages as responsive mobile-phone-friendly resources with close attention to ensuring accessibility for readers with print disabilities;
  • revising and updating the guide to defending copyright in your work at www.londonfreelance.org/c-basics.html and the converse guide at www.londonfreelance.org/quoting.html and distributing these with a special issue of the Freelance sent to all NUJ members;
  • detailed updates on the issues facing members who are citizens of one EU member state living in another.
  • The Gig, the one-off extra "precarious work special" of the Freelance, will be published in early 2018. It will include testimony from precarious workers who work both within and outside journalism; an interview with the organiser of the McDonalds workers' campaign; a look some new tactics precarious workers are using to organise. There will also be some Frequenty Asked Questions about your rights at work and what you can do about them, answered by the TUC's senior employment rights officer. It is hoped The Gig will have distribution beyond the usual Freelance mailout and email-out.

We continue to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from freelances. Apparently for many, at least, this is the best and most useful publication that the union emits...

Social media

Throughout 2017, the NUJ social team has been posting 3-4 tweets a day, sharing news and trending content, engaging with followers and following up on queries about membership. Content is a mix of trending news, job opportunities, journo resources and training, NUJ campaigns and LFB news, and live tweeting from our events. We have also created Lists on Twitter of contacts and organisations for members' use. The aim is to share valuable content to help members get more work, improve skills, to offer support and networking to journalists working from home, and to grow the membership!

This year, the NUJ twitter account gained 2769 new followers, 10,851 profile visits, 1133 mentions, and averaged 70K - 116K tweet impressions each month (the total number of views of a conversation). The level of social engagement is high, and this is reflected in the number of new members who have joined LFB this year. The social team are using Hootsuite Pro to schedule content (a paid for service), Eventbrite to advertise member events, and the main NUJ Facebook page and member groups.

The social team has been informed that we can now advertise LFB events in NUJ Active and on the main website, so we are doing this directly. We have also been added as administrators on the NUJ Facebook page so can share our news and events there to reach a wider audience. There is an NUJ Comms Review in progress, so we expect to have further updates to share in early 2018.

Points raised this year - NUJ can supply a new logo for the LFB Twitter account (header and logo is dated), having our own Facebook Page/Group, paying speakers for members' meetings, having membership material at branch meetings (sign up, copies of The Freelance etc, along with the new Branch banner, inviting guests to meetings, a presence at Byline Festival and International Festival of Journalism.

Top tweets and favourite content is as follows - to build on in 2018. It would be fantastic to profile our diverse membership, share articles and projects, and if members could engage more with the feeds! Many do, but we just want to remind people the platform is an excellent resource for sharing work and asking for help.

Top tweets /popular themes:

  • Primark/Sports Direct underpaying workers, list of companies
  • Copywriting course with Eleanor Gould, a snip at £49! (This may be running three times due to a wait list)
  • Fighting racism in Brexit Britain, via Byline Festival
  • How to choose the right microphone for your smartphone
  • LFB Freelance Salon - diversifying your income
  • Byline Festival full line up
  • Stop the Home Office rushing through surveillance - consultation ends today.
  • Members' meeting with Duncan Campbell
  • Claire Hollingworth's life, first war correspondent to report the outbreak of WW2, plus profiles of journalists
  • How to be a reporter - free training via Washington Post and similar online resources/training.