GUIDE MICHELIN — FRANCE 1969, 1983, pre-1980. Good condition. Offers to BM/Ellman, London WC1.
MONRO ILIAD XIII-XXIV 5th edition Oxford to Oakeehott, Old School Houtre, Eynsham, Oxon. MARK RUTHERFORD — W. H. White. Works by or about. Murray, 76 Cromwell Ave., London N6. Tel, 01-348 9858.
A PHILOSOPHY OF SOLITUDE by John Cowper Powys. Also Parson Woodforde's Diary, William Lock, 11 Castle House, Caine, Wiltshire.
A LADY OF THE SALONS by D. E. Enfield (Cape. c.1924) also her "L. E. L." (Leticia Landon) Hogarth Press c.1930. Mrs. N. Pusey, 70 East Street, Farnham, Surrey. Tel. Farnham 5433. ANY BOOKS on painting landscapes in oils, acrylics or pastels, Shape, 138 Marine Court, St. Leonards, E. Sussex.
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MONKS OF WAR by D. Seward. Eyre Methuen '72. C. K. Elliott, West Walton, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. H. F. RUBINSTEIN'S first play 'Peter and Paul' (1924). Write Spectator Box No. 769.
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LIFE AT FONTHILL by William Beckford. (Hart Davis, 1957) Write Spectator Box No. 760.
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CROQUET TODAY by Maurice B. Reckitt. J. R. Douglas, Delarnas, Fryerning, Ingatestone, Essex.
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BROADLEY AND BARTLETT 'The Three Dorset Captains at Trafalgar' and 'Nelson's Hardy'; his life, letters and friends. Write Spectator Box No. 757 soon to be joined by a third. Compare this with Manchester, whose once famous newspapers are now reduced to the Evening News, or London, that used to have three evening newspapers and may soon have only one. Many quite junior Dublin journalists earn around £120, or far above the minimum which the NUJ is claiming for them. It is true that there was an NUJ strike on one paper a few, years back, but the cause of the journalistic prosperity is healthy competition and small (if not quite small enough) staffs.
Paradoxically, the size of a newspaper may be in inverse ratic to the breadth of its overage. Not long ago I called at the offices of a newspaper in Stavanger, a small Norrwegian town, and was interested to discover that they employed staff foreign correspondents and sent reporters all over the world. I recall in the last days of the Vietnam war filing daily for an Irish newspaper but weekly for a much larger British newspaper that said it could not afford the telex bill of £30 a thousand words.
This gives me the cue to raise the case of us free—lance journalists who regard the NUJ as not only useless but actually harmful to our interests. The Freelance Branch of the NUJ is a contradiction in terms because if you sell your work to the highest buyer, you must expect him to buy from the lowest seller. It is, or ought to be a free market.
However the disappearance of so many newspapers and magazines has put those that remain in a very strong bargaining position with regard to free-lances. Some magazines and newspapers insist that the free—lance does not write for other publications, even though no extra money is paid for this exclusivity clause. But a far greater threat to the freelance journalist is posed by the staff NUJ chapels.
Some chapels have asked for and in part obtained a complete ban on outside contributors, whether or not they are union members. Other chapels, with the approval of management have sought to hold down free-lance rates which today are, in real terms, about half what they were ten years ago. Only a very good 'name' writer like Bernard Levin, can prosper, and no thanks to the NUJ Freelance Branch, which he seems to have joined for ideological reasons.
At one magazine for which I once worked, the Father of the Chapel was at the same time the business manager with whom I had to negotiate fees and expenses. At another the FOC was a deputy editor with whom I also had to discuss money and terms. The tendency of the NUJ to take over the role of management is still more pronounced and more sinister in the hiring and firing of journalists.
In the old days of the 'Street of Adventure', young people got into journalism by very varied routes. They might start as teaboys or secretaries and then work their way onto the writing side; they might work on a trial basis, getting paid by what they got in the paper; they might of course get a start because Daddy knew a newspaper proprietor. However they got in, the good journalists normally made good while those with no flair for it dropped out. These days, according to NUJ rules, the aspirant journalist must get a place in one of the training schemes run by the industry in the provinces.
This system is anyway bad because the sort of people who do well at training schemes are not necessarily the kind of people who do well in journalism. In practice all sorts of people now get NUJ cards with little or no journalistic qualifications. One can join the NUJ at a publishing house, a public relations company or at one of those small (usually left-wing) magazines, whose 'journalists' are soactive in the NUJ. It is these people who seem most eager to bar from 'their 'closed shop' others, who may have lived for years by the pen.
The demand of NUJ branches to have a say in the choosing of journalists has resulted in injustices and bad blood. For example the Observer journalists blocked for a long time the appointment of one young man who later turned out to be one of their few remaining good writers.
Still more unsavoury squabbles tend to occur when the NUJ tries to object to women journalists. As already mentioned, aspiring women journalists often take a job as a secretary or researcher, watch how the journalists work and then apply to become one. Some of the best women journalists started in this way. Nowadays, at some newspapers, the NUJ Chapel has won the right to decide by debate at a public meeting which women they think worthy of getting that membership card which alone will allow her a journalist's job. Inevitably the issue becomes confused by sentimental feelin'gs, not to say by the fact that one of the women may be the wife or mistress of one of the journalists. Worse, an ambitious, attractive girl may try on union officials the wiles she once might have exercised on an editor.
The newspaper unions have an old tradition of sexual discrimination. The compositors' union (NGA) was forced to let in some 100 women during the First World War, when the men were at the front, but although some of the women stayed on after the war, the union stopped any further recruitment on the grounds that they could not carry the heavy type. Even today, when most compositors' work is little more tiring than typewriting, the NG A remains almost wholly male. It is no coincidence that a woman journalist is the source of contention at Darlington.
The tendency of the NUJ to take on a managerial role is sometimes described as 'industrial democracy', 'decision sharing' or even 'workers' control'. Yet in those instances when the NUJ has taken a share in choosing an editor or accepting a new prioprietor, the members have tended to vote for the person they thought would favour him or her personally. At one newspaper I know, a young democratic editor, who used to consult his staff on most decisions, has now been replaced by an elderly and austere man who is addressed by almost everyone by his surname. The former advocates of 'industrial democracy' welcomed the new man who, they said, would give the paper some much-needed leadership.
If the National Union of Journalists is of little use to its members, a closed shop would prove a positive menace. The argument about the likely effects on the press of closed-shop legislation were discussed at length, in The Times and elsewhere before the Act passed through Parliament, with Lord Goodman leading the argument against Michael Foot, the author of the Bill and himself a journalist. Now that the closed shop legislation has come into force, it is time to examine its consequences in practice.
The principal theme of Mr Foot's argument was that, although a closed shop might in theory be abused, one could depend on journalists to be reasonable and tolerant. The patent fallacy in that argument is that many people in this country regard Mr Foot himself as a dangerous and censorial bigot, the champion of trade unions against the law, the supporter of despotism in India, in short the last person one might want to control press freedom.
We have seen over the last few weeks how various non-journalistic unions have used the threat of a walk-out to try and change editorial policy on the Grunwick dispute. One paper appeared with a blank space where its leading article should have been. Others lost their early editions before agreeing to put in statements of protest against their editorial views. A journalist who wrote a leader on Grunwick for one of our senior newspapers, told me candidly that he had written with an eye to avoiding such trouble. .
Why does Mr Foot imagine that journalist trade union leaders, if given the power, would not exercise the same powers of censorship? The experience of the last few months suggests that they mean to do so.
The code of the NUJ already contains a contentious and possibly dangerous rule forbidding journalists to write anything that 'discriminates' against people on grounds of race, religion or sexual proclivities. Several NUJ branches or chapels have tried to invoke this rule to ban the, reporting of National Front meetings'', brawls between whites and blacks, and orrone occasion, the story of how Asian immigrants had been lodged at a three-star hotel. This NUJ rule could also be used to gag,' for example, those who oppos.:d complete licence for homosexuals. It could mean the censorship of religious bigots on either side in Northern Ireland although, to judge by resolutions at recent NUJ conferences, it would never extend to censorship of the IRA.
Such threats are still remote, but the establishment of an NUJ closed shop poses a very immediate threat to journalists' freedom in reporting on industrial matters. The
seriousness of this threat is contained in the first two paragraphs of a recent report in The Times by Brian MacArthur, its Home News Editor:
'A sustained critique of bias and distortion in the reporting of industrial relations on television and in the newspapers is being developed in university and polytechnic social sciences departments. It has already influenced several generations of students, the opinion formers of the 1980s and 1990s, and it has powerfully influenced the Annan Committee on the future of broadcasting, the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress.
'If past experience is any guide, it will not be long before a Labour Party manifesto includes a commitment to set up some form of Ministry of Communications or proposes (as has Mr Moss Evans, the incoming general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union) an "operators licence" for newspapers and television companies'.
It is alarming to learn that our future 'opinion formers' want our press and TV to operate under government licence. Presumably it is assumed in the social science departments that future governments will share Mr Moss Evans's view of what eonstitutes fair reporting: Many journalists believe that one of the obstacles to. fair reporting of trade union matters is obligatory membership of the NUJ.
It will be recalled that during the Barnsley dispute the local trades council, the miners' leaders and public relations men from the local Coal Board, threatened to
withhold information from journalists not in the NUJ. Probably few people who have not been journalists know how hard it can be at the best of times to report on industrial relations, so I should like to give an example from my own experience, not far from Barnsley. Having heard that a certain pit was about to go on strike,! went to a nearby pub, talked to some of the miners and was taken by them to the pithead strike meeting. After a few minutes, the strike leader spotted me and had me kicked, physically, out through the gates. I then went to the Doncaster NCB offices and was told by the senior of the three PROs that there was no strike at the pit. When I explained that I had been there he asked me not to report it.
The NUJ closed shop dispute is a godsend to trade union leaders and others with something to hide from the press. If the reporter is in the NUJ they can expect, even demand, favourable treatment. If he is not, they can refuse to answer questions without being exposed as evasive. It is perhaps just coincidence that such refusals to talk to non-NUJ reporters have occurred in Birmingham,. Northamptonshire and Co Durham, where Labour politics are corrupt. As a matter of record, it was a Darlington newspaper (five years ago) that dared to publish even a tiny part of the truth about Alderman Andrew Cunningham, the associate of Poulson and T. Dan Smith, who used his control of the General and Municipal Workers Union, to turn Co Durham into a personal fief. I asked a local journalist who had helped me with information, why he himself did not write the truth about Cunningham. 'It's as much as my job is worth', he replied.
One of the attractions of the NUJ was the chance it gave guilty, middle-class socialists to identify with the working classes. This explains why so many of our profession love to refer to themselves as 'working journalists' although they would never write 'working stockbrokers' or even 'working plumbers'. Yet far from contributing to the socialist revolution, the NUJ, as I have tried to show, is the willing accomplice of greedy monopoly capitalists in the suppression of proper newspapers. What the industry needs is not more closed shops but reorganisation into a great many more, small newspapers and magazines, employing small, but well-paid staffs and using new printing technology.
How could this be done? One has only to look at the brewing industry where over the last few years the 'Big Six' comparable to our national newspapers have been losing sales and profits to small breweries making good beer. This has in part been due to consumer boycotts, the Campaign for Real Ale, but also to the failure of the 'economics of scale'. The 'Big Six' are over-staffed, plagued by union troubles and undercut by local brewers because of transportation costs. The same thing applies to the newspaper industry and still more to the BBC. Perhaps we should ask Richard Boston to lead CARP, the Campaign for a Real Press.