Category Archives: digital

A Panama Papers moment for Oxford?

Remember the Panama Papers? Who doesn’t? At the root of the story was the leaking of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The documents showed how the rich exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. What made the story memorable was the international collaboration that allowed 370 journalists across almost 80 countries involving more than 100 media organisations, to make sense of this huge amount of complex information, pick out the angles most relevant to their own national audiences, and publish simultaneously across the world.

What if that could be done by local journalists? Continue reading

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Dreaming Spires branch Inspires


More than 60 journalist from every sector came to Oxford NUJ branch’s ‘digitally-converged summer social’.

Those attending included a sizeable contingent from BBC Oxford – whose chapel co-organised the event – on-screen reporters from Meridan TV’s newsroom, Chapel representatives from the Oxford Mail and Oxford Guardian and members working in book publishing.

Anna Wagstaff, branch secretary, explained the thinking behind the event:  “Our local media is interlinked. And in this fast-changing media sector, we all have an interest in fostering a local media ecosystem that offers opportunities to earn a decent living, doing whatever we do to the best of our ability. We wanted to bring together the broadest possible range of members to start to explore common areas of interest.”

The energy generated by the event – which was held in an arts centre near BBC Oxford – was palpable.  Alison Campbell, a Banbury-based PR said: “I can’t believe it when I meet PRs who aren’t in the NUJ – this event is another example of how relevant the NUJ is to us”.  Several others at the event were equally committed to building NUJ membership.

Paul Jenner, BBC Oxford FOC, said: “I was delighted at the wide range of people who came to the social, and as a result we have had several new membership enquiries. We truly are stronger when we work together.”

NUJ president, Tim Dawson, who was invited to the event to speak, later described the social as one of the best NUJ branch meetings he had ever attended.  “The plan to bring people together from every sector really worked.  The mix of people made for an enormously stimulating event – if other branches could emulate this success it would be an enormous boost to the entire union,” he said.

Cross-posted from the

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Filed under broadcasting, digital, freelance, newspapers, Oxfordshire, recent events, union

Our first digitally converged summer social: will you be there?

If you play a role in Oxfordshire’s interlinked and multi-platformed media ecosystem then  you’re invited to our summer social. Don’t let us down.

When? Thursday July 7th, 7.00-9.00pm

Where? North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Summertown, Oxford, OX2 7JN

Who? News reporters, photographers, documentary makers, press officers, comms workers – staff and freelances, print, broadcast and online, working for small outfits or global giants, serving hyperlocal or international audiences…

Why? Because news and information know no boundaries, because we all care about ethics, quality and professionalism, and getting a fair return for what we do, because you never know where you might find an opening to change job… and because all of the above are a good excuse to party

The social is being hosted by the BBC Oxford NUJ chapel, complete with free buffet and first drink and a bar. Continue reading

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Freelance Salon: new ways to make online journalism pay

London Freelance Branch have always been an asset to freelances throughout the NUJ – their newsletter (mailed to all freelance members) is full of pertinent information, their Freelance Fees Guide is an excellent resource, and they have run some inspiring conferences on new ways to make journalism pay.

Their latest venture, the Freelance Salon (in partnership with Freelance Industrial Council), is an offshoot of those conferences, designed to reflect the way the freelance world is changing and to share new ideas. Continue reading

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Covering stories from the migration frontline: an open meeting

Thursday Sept 10th, 7.00-8.15pm, St Aldates Tavern, opposite Oxford Town Hall

Discussion with videoclips led by Jason Parkinson 


Videojournalist Jason Parkinson spent 10 days in August recording events around Calais, one of Europe’s many migration frontlines, which he first visited in 2007.

He used his camera to document the realities of  daily life for the people trapped in this permanent transit camp on the Calais dunes, and to give a voice to people like Alpha, pictured below, to tell their stories – (you can see the full 5-min video here.

At our September meeting, Jason will show some of his footage, talk about his experiences and lead a discussion about covering the stories of migrants and migration.

This part of the meeting will start at 7.00pm and will be open to anyone interested in joining the discussion.

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News from Palestine – exhibition and roundtable discussion


As part of the Palestine Unlocked festival ( the Oxford NUJ branch is hosting a roundtable discussion about how news from Palestine is gathered and reported. This is a public event

Venue: Friends Meeting House, 43 St Giles, Oxford

Date/time: Tuesday June 16th, 7.00pm

The discussion will be preceded, at 6.30pm, by the formal opening of an exhibition of photographs taken by Nablus-based photojournalist Abed Qusini, which will be on display until Friday June 26th. (For details of opening times please see below)

Our knowledge of what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza depends in no small part on the ability of Palestinian journalists to gather and report news stories.

They work against the odds. Continue reading

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Surveillance awareness: what we all need to know

arjen kamphuis






7.00pm, Thursday November 13th, upstairs in the St Aldates Tavern, St Aldates (opposite Oxford Town Hall)

Who can get access to what information about my personal and professional life, and the lives of those I interact with – and does it really matter? 

At our November branch meeting we invite members to think about the last question first. And we invite Arjen Kamphuis (pictured above), who co-authored the book on Information Security for Journalists (available free online), and does training in conjunction with the Centre for Investigative Journalism, to talk us through who could get access to our information and the abc of how we can protect ourselves.
Does it matter?
For our members involved in print, broadcast and online journalism, the answer is clear. If sources cannot trust us to protect them from the repercussions of talking to us, we will no longer be able find out about – much less report on – any stories that powerful organisations or individuals don’t want to be told.
But this is not just an issue for reporters. We all make assumptions about the security of what we have stored on our computers and remote servers, and we interact daily with others, on a personal and professional basis, on assumptions of trust and confidentiality that often fail to take into account the potential for other people to access those conversations.
At the same time our legislative protection is being undermined, for instance, by police abusing the 2000 RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) to get access to confidential information in a way that bypasses the requirement to go before a judge to demonstrate that such access can be justified in the public interest.
Our responsibility
Our opinions on the use and abuse of such powers may vary, but as media workers we all have a responsibility to be aware of how secure our information is, and ensure that we don’t inadvertently put other people, ourselves or our work in harms way by making assumptions about confidentiality or promises that we can’t keep.
If you are a member,  join us at the branch meeting, Thursday November 13th, to learn about how to safely receive, store and send information. If you are not a member, but work in media and would like to attend, contact the branch secretary at or by Twitter on @oxfordnuj
Background info
You can see a report by James Murdock (with a ‘k’), editor of Off the Record and blogger for the Huffington Post, of a day long session led by Arjen Kamphuis in July, here.
Video clips from some compelling presentations made at the recent conference on Journalism in the Age of Mass Surveillance: Safeguarding Journalists and their sources, organised by the NUJ in conjunction with the IFJ and The Guardian, can be seen here. Definitely worth watching.


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Making digital journalism pay: doable. Making a living: difficult.



SA Mathieson was one of three speakers at an NUJ Oxford event on 3 July on how to make digital journalism pay. In a guest post, he sums up the key points.

It is perfectly realistic for journalists to make money out of digital journalism, but the problem comes from making a decent living.

That was the theme to emerge from the NUJ Oxford event on making digital journalism pay.

Speaking first, Tim Dawson, vice-president of the National Union of Journalists and a long-time writer and editor for The Sunday Times, has literally written the book on this area: Help Yourself – new ways to make money from writing. (It’s also available free for NUJ members – details here.)

He outlined some of the methods for raising money, which can be divided into three types: advertising-funded, marketing for other business and reader-funded. (More on his New Model Journalism site here.)

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by | August 22, 2014 · 4:52 pm

Making journalism pay in the digital age – a networking event

Thursday July 3rd, 7,00pm, upstairs in the St Aldates Tavern,
Opposite Oxford Town Hall, St Aldates


An open networking event for journalists and would-be journalists working online and/or in broadcasting and print, as reporters, feature writers, photo/video-journalists, editors, PRs, designers, bloggers, front-end developers and more.


This is the second in our new-style branch meetings which aim to be more informal and inclusive, and follows a very successful June meeting where we piloted the new format.

Tim Dawson, chair of the NUJ’s Freelance Industrial Council, who writes regularly for a range of national newspapers and magazines including the Sunday Times, New Statesman and Times Education Supplement, blogs at and is co-publisher of, will present a short overview of some of the innovative ways journalists are using the internet and digital media to find new ways of working, and new ways to promote themselves and earn a living from what they do.

Steven Mathieson, a freelance member of the Oxford NUJ branch who has spent many years on the Guardian, specialising in information technology in healthcare and government, will talk about his experiences using the internet to reach a wider audience, build his profile, gather information, advertise his book CardDeclined, and crowdfund his reporting on the Ends of Britain via the Beacon journalism platform. He will set out why he thinks raising money from subscriptions is a more workable model than advertising for sustaining quality journalism.

We will also have contributions from Sonja Francis the editor of, who moved from a background in local newspapers to set up the web-based news service, as well as from members who started off on the web development side and are now looking to expand into creating content.

If you have experiences good or bad in using digital media to earn money from journalism – offering web-based services or using the internet to boost your profile, find new clients, network within your specialist area, gather information – please come to the meeting and share them. If you are looking for tips and advice on getting started, or maybe for opportunities to collaborate, then this is the place to be.

The meeting is open to all NUJ members, whatever media sector you work in.

If you are not a member but are interested in joining or learning more about the union and getting started in journalism, you can apply to attend the meeting by sending an email to subject line ˂making journalism pay˃


Filed under broadcasting, digital, freelance, PR, publishing, upcoming events

Do you belong in the NUJ’s digital media sector?

donnacha b&w smallWhat do content uploaders, website editors, frontend developers, online communications consultants, bloggers, tweeters, live streamers and html designers have in common? They’re just some of the roles that make up the membership of the NUJ’s new media sector, writes Donnacha DeLong,founding member of the NUJ’s ‘new media’ sector and the first online member to be elected President of the union.

The first thing to point out about the name is, yes, we know the web isn’t new any more. In fact, we know that better than most, as representatives of the sector have histories that, in a number of cases, have careers that go back many years. When we say new media, we don’t mean the technology, though new bits and pieces come along all the time, we mean the industry.

The new media industry is still in its infancy – many are still trying to figure out how to make money. Companies appear and disappear with disturbing regularity, making it a highly insecure sector in which to work. When a newspaper closes, we are often looking at many decades of existence and history. When an independent website disappears, we’re usually looking at only a few years of existence.

This insecurity and constant change is something that makes the NUJ so important for people in the sector – it also makes it very difficult to recruit and organise. What the union can do is fight back, help prevent cuts and offer alternatives, at the very least, the union can (and has) negotiate a far better redundancy settlement when the axe does fall. However, because people change jobs so often, getting a handle on who works where is difficult. There’s no guarantee that the people with whom you start a recruitment and organising drive will even be there a few months down the line when you start to talk about recognition.

The NUJ created new media sector back in 2005. The debate about whether or not it should exist had gone on for years – the NUJ has had online journalists in membership as long as they have existed. I was one of Ireland’s first online journalists back in 1998 and I was a member as were my colleagues. But most of our online members worked for employers like the BBC or the Guardian, in Ireland, RTÉ or the Irish Times (where the NUJ negotiated the first two house agreements exclusively covering website staff). They were covered by existing workplace organisations and didn’t need a separate sector.

By 2004, though, independent websites were becoming established parts of the media. We had a growing membership in AOL and were preparing a case for recognition. The journalists at AOL didn’t work in broadcasting or newspapers or PR or any of the other sectors that existed in the union. Within a year, we had set up the new media sector (and got recognition in AOL).

The sector has continued to grow, but slowly – there’s a lot more potential. A study a few years ago estimated there could be up to 100,000 people doing NUJ eligible tasks in the sector in the UK and Ireland. That’s the future of the union.

Donnacha DeLong worked on the website of RTÉ News (the Irish equivalent of the BBC) and played a key part in developing online journalism in Ireland in the heyday of the He has worked for Amnesty International, editing the news section of their website and as senior site editor of He now describes himself as an online communications consultant and a freelance writer and conference rent-a-mouth. Throughout these years he has been a union activist in his workplace, his branch, and nationally within the New Media Sector and eventually as NUJ President.

For further information about the NUJ New Media sector go to

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