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Seminar examines demise of labour correspondent

29 March 2011

Once, labour correspondents explained the world of work and the concerns of trade union members to readers, listeners and viewers. Their expertise had an apparent simplicity belying a deep professional commitment to accurate reporting of complex issues.

These NUJ members were bound together through the Labour and Industrial Correspondents' Group, a bulwark against both management unease at seeing trade union perspectives presented to the public and the reservations of some less enlightened trade union leaders about the notion of telling the story as it was rather than as it ought to be.

However, since the days of the NUM's Great Strike of 1984/85, the Wapping struggle for trade union rights against Rupert Murdoch's News International and his government allies, and other headline-making disputes, the industrial and labour corrs are now a much-diminished band.

Nicholas Jones, former BBC industrial and political correspondent, asked the question: Whatever happened to the Labour and Industrial Correspondents' Group? To help provide answers, he organised a seminar at TUC headquarters on Wednesday 16 March.

Nick Jones invited group members to meet former colleagues, trade union general secretaries and press officers to debate the group's demise and the future prospects for labour and industrial reporting.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary; Rodney Bickerstaffe (Unison); Fred Jarvis (NUT) and Geoffrey Goodman (Daily Mirror), with Nicholas Jones as Chair, discussed Why did it happen? What can be done to encourage a revival in reporting the world of work?

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, then opened a debate hosted by the Media Society: Labour Correspondents RIP. Who cares? David Walter, former political correspondent ITN and President of the Media Society, chaired a panel of experts.

Tags: , newspapers, trade union freedom, unison, nut, daily mirror, tuc, seminar, debate, itn, media society