Does the NUJ understand the internet?

Extracts from a report by the UK’s National Union of Journalists’ Commission on Multi-media Working have provoked a storm of commentary online.

The details are in the current issue of the NUJ magazine, The Journalist. But you can get an idea of what it says from this posting on the UK Press Gazette.

Shane Richmond at The Telegraph calls it a “blinkered approach to online“. Roy Greenslade of The Guardian argues that “the brave new world opened up by the internet makes protectionist organised labour on the lines of the NUJ outdated“.

Paul Bradshaw takes the NUJ to task for not understanding what Web 2.0 means. Part of his ire is directed at a piece published in The Journalist under the headline, Web 2.0 is rubbish. Neil McIntosh at The Guardian also weighs in on this article, arguing that by pitting professional journalists against citizen reporters, the author, “like a soldier lost in the woods, is fighting the war that was won years ago“.

My friends, Suw Charman and Kevin Anderson, dissect the NUJ piece on Web 2.0, arguing that “the article is a one-sided polemic which not only mischaracterises Web 2.0 but also misrepresents the way that journalists and editors think about collaborating with their readers.

As they point out, the tone of the piece is set right away by the use of the word “webfolk”. As Suw and Kevin point out, “that’s as dismissive and belittling as “boffins” or “nerds”, but at least it sets one’s expectations pretty accurately for the rest of the article”.

And of course, no debate on online journalism would be complete without a contribution from blogger and Guardian columnist Jeff Jarvis.

As we’ve come to expect from Jeff, he doesn’t hold back, saying “I found this whiny, territorial, ass-covering, protecting-the-priesthood, preservation-instead-of-innovation faux report from the UK’s National Union of Journalists to be particularly disturbing”.

Bottom line, the NUJ should focus less on protecting the status quo and instead helping their members adapt for a digital age.