I am now a card-carrying, Code of Conduct adhering, press freedom defending and proud member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Or as my significant other said when he saw the NUJ acronym on the confirmation letter and my membership card, “Ooooh, you’re a NUDGE!”
Yes, I am a NUDGE. I am an official NUDGE with a card and everything, and I’m really very happy about this. I have a tendency to put things off, and despite meeting with NUJ members at an event designed to get Edinburgh’s student journalists to join the union in 2010, and despite urging others to join the union in my libel blog post, I never got round to it.
There were two reasons for this; first of all, I wasn’t a student, and therefore couldn’t register as a student member. I discussed this with the union representatives, and they said that I could probably register as a Temporary Member in the meantime. Secondly, to join the NUJ, you had to print off and fill out a couple of forms and then have two people NUJ members sign your forms as a kind of reference or endorsement. I did manage to get two people to sign the forms, but my busy schedule meant the forms lay forgotten in my bag until a few months later, when I found them crumpled and ripped and forgotten. I couldn’t send these forms to the NUJ, surely?
Due to my embarrassment at how poorly I’d treated such important documents, I didn’t, and every so often I would remind myself that I really should join the NUJ at some point. That was, until a few months ago, when the union announced that they were letting new members join online. No printing off forms, no signatures, no fuss. So, I took the plunge, and I filled out an online application to be a Temporary Member.
A few weeks later, the NUJ Membership office got in touch to say that they’d reviewed my application, and they felt that I was more suitable for full membership. So, a few changes to my application later, and pending approval from my local office, which could take up to 60 days, I was, unofficially, a member of the NUJ.
My confirmation and membership card came through at the beginning of October, and finally, I was in the union. So, after three years of thinking about joining the union and talking about joining the union, why did I suddenly decide that the time was right? I had two very strong reasons; the NUJ offers support and training to all members. As the NUJ is a union, it endeavours to give all its members a level of protection, whether this is legal assistance, financial support through NUJ Extra and campaigning for better pay and holidays.
Training is very important to me, and throughout the year, the NUJ holds various training days throughout the UK on topics such as freelancing, feature writing, media law and more technical subjects, such as website building. A good journalist should always be learning, but there is only so much that you can teach yourself on the job, so the NUJ offer training days to all members which cost around £100, and are also open to non-members for a slightly larger fee.
While the NUJ has had its problems recently, such as issues with cash flow, it remains an important union for journalists, writers, photographers and everyone involved in the media. it campaigns for our rights and with all the job cuts, redundancies and other issues in the industry, it’s good to know that there are people on our side fighting for the freedoms and interests of journalists, not just in the UK but around the world.
And in a country where the government’s plans for a state regulated press have become a real threat to journalistic freedom, it’s important to stand up and say: “I’m a NUDGE, are you?”