NUJ alarm over Murdoch’s DNA test
The General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists Michelle Stanistreet has called on News International to clarify an email relating to changes at the Irish Sun newspaper which the NUJ described as “worrying and bizarre”. The union has expressed grave concern for the future of employment at the newspaper.
Irish Sun Editor Mike McNiffe has been replaced by a UK appointee and News International is planning to implement six redundancies in the Irish title.
In an email to Irish staff on Tuesday Dominic Mohan, editor of the Sun, said the Irish Sun needed to make "significant changes" to secure its long-term future.
He said: "After an extensive review of the Irish Sun we are making significant changes to ensure it has a successful future in a difficult economy. Our guiding principle is to bring more of the DNA that lies at the heart of the Sun into the Irish edition without compromising the paper's Irish identity."
Michelle Stanistreet challenged Dominic Mohan to clarify the term “DNA” in the context of the selection criteria to be used for redundancies at the title.
She asked: “What exactly is meant by the term ‘the DNA at the heart of the Sun’? Will staff be targeted for redundancy on the basis of not having the ‘Sun DNA’? How is it defined and is it a national characteristic?” How is it measured and who determines the appropriate level of ‘Sun DNA’ when it comes to redundancy or recruitment?”
NUJ President Barry McCall said Irish journalists had served the Sun well over many years and the implication of the statement was “profoundly insulting”.
Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said that “not for the first time” News International had displayed crass insensitivity in dealing with Irish staff. He pointed out that Rupert Murdoch had praised the Irish Sun on his visit to Ireland earlier this year, following the closure of the News of the World.
The company does not recognise the NUJ for collective bargaining purposes but Mr Dooley and other NUJ colleagues, including IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran are available to offer advice and assistance.