Michelle Stanistreet is the president of the NUJ and also works for the Sunday Express, here she writes about the Stand Up for Journalism campaign.

Monday November 5 is Stand Up for Journalism day.

All over Europe media workers will be standing up to demand more investment in editorial budgets and better pay and conditions for journalists.

The event was called to coincide with the Society of Editors conference being held in Manchester.

The National Union of Journalists had the idea of lobbying the conference to call on editors to stand up to media owners who demand round after round of cuts in newsrooms.

The European Federation of Journalists voted to support the action and events are planned in 20 countries across the continent.

Journalists from all sectors of the media - online, broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, books and PR - will be joining in to protest against savage cuts which are hampering their ability to keep the public informed.

Most media companies make big money - but they engage in round after round of cuts to increase their profit margins.

Journalists are too often reduced to a cross between call-centre workers and data processors, stuck at their desks re-jigging press releases. Who knows what corruption, lies, and law breaking is going on in the corridors of power - no one has the time to look.

Content editors, photographers, reporters, sub-editors, producers, and newsreaders are saying enough is enough.

The NUJ believes that whilst media technology and the industry inevitably change, quality content remains central to commercial success and our role in the democratic process.

As more and more companies cut staff, hold down pay, increase workloads, reduce budgets, axe pensions or compromise quality, journalists and editors should be united in campaigning for more resources.

We want our editors to join with us and stand up to the culture of cuts. If they believe that journalism is important for democracy and for local communities they must take a stand.

They are meeting in Manchester on the site of the old Free Trade Hall, a site that was developed to commemorate the Peterloo massacre - when state troopers killed demonstrators. We hope they will take courage from history and seize the moment.

The Society of Editors is embracing the digital age. Its vice president is Simon Buck the associate editor, online, at Sky News.

Its president Paul Horrocks, from the Manchester Evening News, is quoted on its website saying: "If we are willing to embrace the opportunities now available to us, this will be the industry's heyday.

"Now is the time to be bold, to experiment, to be prepared to fail and then have another go."

It sounds like a great rallying cry. But in less than two years, while they have been introducing multi-platform convergence, the MEN has slashed the jobs of more than 30 journalists. Far fewer people doing far more work.

This formula is repeated all over the country leading to more cases of stress, repetitive strain injury, and talented, experienced journalists quitting.

The NUJ is not against new technology. The ability to publish instantly to the whole world is an incredible advance. The opportunity to distribute news online makes it cheaper and easier to be a publisher.

But we are against exploitation and dangerous workloads. We are against working journalists so hard they have no time for proper investigations.

Cutbacks aren't just being felt in the new media bits of the old media. Some of the biggest names in the new media industry have already started cutting journalists.

AOL, which had merged with Time Warner in 2001, is undergoing its third restructuring in as many years and recently announced plans to cut 20 per cent of its global workforce.

AOL UK, where the NUJ won the right to negotiate pay and conditions against management hostility, has seen its focus change from editorial to advertising output over the past few years.

So whatever the medium the problems are the same - cost cutting, over work, and an apparent lack of interest from bosses in quality editorial.

In Teesside the giant publisher Trinity Mirror has gone a step further by using content generated free by readers on the web to fill its free newspapers.

It sounds a bit grand - but the union believes that democracy and communities are best served by professional journalists writing balanced stories for well-informed citizens who can watch them, listen to them, download them or read them in whatever format is most convenient.

We believe that those principles are worth standing up for.

Please join us.

Events in support of the Stand Up for Journalism campaign:

  • There will be a two-minute work stoppage by media workers in Serbia
  • A demonstration outside the National Assembly in Paris
  • A petition to the government in Romania.
  • Events in the UK include a bonfire in South Yorkshire, a street stall in Scarborough and an exhibition of quality local journalism in Oxford.
  • The centrepiece is in Manchester where journalists and their supporters will gather outside the Manchester Evening News offices on Hardman at 12.30pm before marching the short distance to the editors' conference at the Radisson Hotel on Peter Street.
After the lobby there will be a public meeting at the Manchester Friends Meeting House, Mount Street.

To find out what's happening in the UK and Ireland - www.standupforjournalism.org.uk

For events elsewhere in Europe - click here

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