Slightly longer online version

Of course it rained. It was a festival!

THE RAIN was pelting onto the flimsy roof of the tent as a bunch of bedraggled freelances huddled together to talk about what the NUJ meant to them.

Members are sometimes called on to make sacrifices for the NUJ and six LFB members joined other freelances in braving the hazards of an English summer festival over the August bank holiday weekend.

The Byline Festival in Ashdown Forest in Sussex was organised by a radical crowd-funded publishing and campaigning group of London-based journalists. There were hundreds of journalists there and LFB had a stall and ran a union workshop.

The Branch workshop in a tent

The Branch workshop

This took place in the torrential downpour but still 16 colleagues picked their way through the mud to get to the panel discussion conducted by branch officers and other union reps.

As at all festivals there was music and comedy, but in addition a dozen sessions a day with prominent journalists discussing current themes such as fake news, media regulation, data exploitation by the tech giants, brexit and so on. Much of the discussion focused on the responsibility of journalists to stick to the highest standards - which is where the NUJ comes in.

A highlight was the annual Bad Press Awards at which ironic accolades were heaped mostly on the Daily Mail, but the Mirror and The Times featured as well.

Nicci Talbot, LFB's social media officer, was the initiator of enterprise, who had established contact with Byline at LFB's latest Freelance Salon. She had some NUJ T-shirts printed for the festival.

The Branch stall

The Branch stall

It has been confirmed that Byline will take place again on 23-26 August next year and preparations will be made for a deeper level of activity. The freelance team has submitted a report to the National Executive Council (NEC) with recommendations for a union presence at national level.

The London Freelance participants along with Nicci were vice-chair Pierre Alozie and secretary Tim Gopsill, with members Elizabeth Ingrams and Laura Laker. They were joined by Nick McGowan-Lowe, chair of the Freelance Industrial Council, and NEC member Natasha Hirst - both of them freelance photographers.