Yesterday, I went to the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) Edinburgh freelance meeting, which included a talk of Napier University’s Journalism senior lecturer Rob Brown. The NUJ always supported Indymedia UK, when we got into trouble, so I looked forward to meet some of the individuals behind it, and had probably high expectations.
At the end of the evening I left quite disappointed, and wondering if the progressive libertarian lefty forces of the NUJ are all accumulated in London.
Rob Brown’s talk was quite good, if you like his style. I always have a bit of problem with his style and find it a bit boring and structured like a rant, and yesterday, I suddenly realised why: he actually seems to talk like a written feature. He has nice quotes in there, interesting tales and funny incidents, some thoughtfull, intelligent, provocative statements and draws logical conclusions. For the first time I also yesterday realised that he makes quite expressive hand gestures and signals during his speech, and I only found it out after wondering why the photographer seemed to take a picture every 10 seconds, which led to me considering on what has changed in between.
Anyways, the freelancers had organised a meeting and provided crisps and wine and water for the guests. I found it quite interesting to talk to the different people present: one person was an international athletic and has founded a sports news agency, another person is proud to be involved in the allmediascotland website. One woman seemed to have just returned from Cuba, and I seemed to get on well with a former medic, now turned freelance journalist.
What I was a bit shocked about, was that there do not seem to be actually workshops for knowledge- and skillsharing for each other happening. There seemed to be a lot of underlying fear of competition flowing around each other, which is a bit sad.
We also talked a bit about the Scotsman and the Herald being forced by its owning companies to return a 20-30% profit margin, which squeezes the quality of journalism to the limits in benefit for quantity.
Finally, it was quite interesting to have a look and to know who identifies with the NUJ freelance branch in Edinburgh, and how it is organised, but I don’t think it makes much sense going there regularily, as the underlying fear of competition seems to minimise the cooperation, enthusiasm, motivation, organising and struggling for a better and fairer society.