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Nick Davies urges journalists to become whistleblowers

24 January 2009

The media owners are responsible for the crisis in the industry and they are incapable of providing the solution, the NUJ's Jobs Summit in London today was told.

Nick Davies, the investigative reporter whose book Flat Earth News caused a sensation last year for its exposure of the state of journalism in Britain, said that journalists must go public, above the heads of their bosses, in the fight to save the media from destruction in the economic crisis.

Nick Davies said:

"If we have a public debate we might find the solution to our problems, we need to be whistleblowers on our own newsrooms. We need to tell the public the impact of the job cuts on newsgathering.
"The public must know that the corporations have taken over the newsrooms and ransacked them for profit and that is why readers have lost trust in us.
"We need to improve the status of journalists. We are not trusted; we are not liked, because we are misperceived. The best-known people in journalism are people like Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre, who have brought us into disrepute."

Nick Davies was the star speaker at the opening of the NUJ Jobs Summit, which attracted around 150 NUJ members from all around Britain and Ireland. There were workshop sessions on how journalists can campaign in their communities to win public support and how they can organise against job cuts within their offices.

Nick Davies said the corporations could not provide solutions to the crisis:

"Their reaction now is the same as it always has been, based on prioritising profit over news values.
"The big lie you find all over the world from media corporations that they can cut staffing and resources without damaging the quality news they produce. They say the internet is the problem and the credit crunch has made it worse, but they have already ransacked the newsrooms for profit.
"The problem is clearly financial, but the solution is political. We have to show everybody that they need us. Everybody needs reliable information.
"But people are frightened of Murdoch and Dacre. They are powerful. But we have to expose them to remove the public's fear of our profession."

He said that one solution could be state funding of local media:

"We have to be much more open about solutions. We need to get public funding into the media – not into the pockets of companies like Johnston Press or Newsquest, but into the hands of journalists.
"We must say that we matter, we are good at our jobs and we should be allowed to do our jobs properly. The NUJ's Journalism Matters campaign is the right start. If we fight we can win and save the quality of news."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, reinforced the message:

"Scoops, quality content and images are what will see the media revive and flourish. This is what we need the backing of the public for. We will not stand by and let them destroy our industry."

Tags: , nick davies, jobs summit 2009, whistleblowers, ethics, cuts, rupert murdoch, paul dacre, johnston press, newsquest, stand up for journalism