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Student support, rates of pay - and no pay

WHAT DO London Freelance Branch members, especially new members, want? At April's LFB meeting a panel of recently-joined Branch members described their experiences of coming into journalism and into the Union, with suggestions on what the Branch and the Union could work on. The panel was instigated by Elizabeth Ingrams, LFB's Membership and New Members officer, herself a member for just two years.

Panel discussion © Hazel Dunlop

New members speak: left to right - Brian Belle-Fortune, Francesca Marchese, Zaki Dogliani (speaking), Elizabeth Ingrams, Rashmee Roshan Lall, Dan Davies, Yousif Nur, David Wilkins

David Wilkins is a recent graduate of a journalism course. David reported from South Africa and for BBC Lincolnshire before starting an NCTJ course at a small college in Brighton.

David experienced severe difficulties as a journalist with visual and hearing disabilities on a training course. After "employers like the BBC bent over backwards" to help, David joined his course only to be told "if you can't do video (or social media) you can"t be a journalist anymore." Big names like Gary O'Donoghue (the BBC's blind Washington DC correspondent) were "last year's journalist".

Zaki Dogliani is a recent University of Bristol graduate (in politics and Italian) who"s since worked for outlets including BBC Country File. He is now active with the Student Publications Association, and in talks about training for them. He says journalists on student newspapers are "threatened with expulsion or funding being cut for exposing the truth". He suggested established NUJ members giving impartial one-to-one advice to students on journalism courses: we need to ensure that "students aren't pressured into taking expensive postgrad courses unnecessarily."

Yousif Nur has been with LFB for just 18 months, and writes about music and "a bit of tech" He's not the only panelist to admit joining the NUJ "looking for revenge" after a national daily's website hired him as a moderator on the "basis of no contract" and then sacked him for being too thorough. Since joining, Jusuf's "skillset, prospects, even my confidence has shot up."

Francesca Marchese, writing in English and Italian, set up Giornalisti Italiani a Londra (see ).

Dan Davies, broadcaster and playwright, identified "pay structure issues in social media." The Canary... supported Corbyn when no one else did", yet "underlying it is the most neo-liberal model imaginable... you get 50 per cent of the clicks generated from your story." This is, says Dan, "the Uberisation of journalism... You're asking people to take the risk of an entrepreneur... for, if you're lucky, £180-200." There was support for reviving the Union's Cashback for Interns campaign: see www.londonfreelance.org/interns

Last modified: 27 Apr 2016 - © 2016 contributors
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