The NUJ is addressing concerns among journalists over PA’s introduction of broadcasting to its editorial staff’s duty roster, in what the union has dubbed “a cash-starved and slapdash roll-out of broadcasting” at the news agency.
The union has alleged that some reporters who have spent their whole careers in newspapers are being compelled to shoot television footage to broadcast standard after just a week’s training as part of PA’s plan to increase its video news output.
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PA insists that the staff involved are part of an experiment into new ways of collecting footage for different multi-media platforms and that those involved have been more than happy to take part.
The union said this week that it will be writing to PA editor in chief and chief executive Paul Potts to raise its unease, after several wire journalists expressed “deep concern about how they have had broadcasting dumped on them.”
It will suggest that PA could restore goodwill among its editorial staff by “giving pay rises to those hardest hit by broadcasting and giving them more comprehensive training.
“The NUJ believes PA can start this by employing more specialist broadcasters in the regions, who care passionately about their work and want to see it thrive.”
“The agency is foisting this labour and time-intensive task on wire reporters without any extra help or money. Journalists are now getting close to breaking point trying to cope with an ever-increasing workload,” said NUJ North of England regional organiser Miles Barter.
He claimed that PA staff were given no choice about whether they wanted to learn a new skill.
A PA spokeswoman said the agency was “experimenting with a variety of methods of collecting footage including dedicated broadcasting staff, multi-skilled reporters and multiskilled photographers.”
“We are equipping a number of journalists and photographers with the new generation of video cameras as part of this in-house experiment.
All staff involved are given fully adequate initial training followed by continued support and further training.
“Journalists have responded enthusiastically to the trial and we have had a stream of volunteers who want o take part in another exciting period in the PA’s development,” she added
By Wale Azeez