Cynical public must see benefit of newspaper VAT cut – NUJ

THE National Union of Journalists has called for greater investment in journalism by media organisations and has urged newspaper publishers to use savings achieved from the abolition of VAT on newspapers to safeguard employment.

NUJ Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley

Confirming details of a conference in Dublin later this month entitled “Journalism, Not Just Busin€ss” Séamus Dooley, told a committee meeting of the NUJ’s Irish Executive Council that the public would be “extremely cynical if the 0 VAT rating was used merely to shore up profits.”

Mr Dooley said: “The government has recognised the public interest role of journalism in society and that recognition is welcome. From an NUJ perspective we want to see editorial resources safeguarded, we want to see jobs in journalism protected and we need to see strategic investment in the transition to digitalisation, especially in the regional press sector.

The General-Purpose Committee is holding a conference in the Gresham Hotel, Dublin on October 22nd to discuss the report of the Future of Media Commission and recent decisions on media funding announced in Budget 2022. Mr Dooley is writing to Minister Catherine Martin seeking clarification of two schemes announced in the budget, a Local Democracy Reporting Scheme and a fund for court reporting described as “part of a wider support package for local, regional and national, media and journalism.”

He said: “In principle we welcome the allocation of €6m for these schemes but we are very concerned that there has been no consultation on how the schemes will operate, what criteria will apply and what safeguards will be introduced to ensure compliance with best practice and industrial relation norms by media organisations applying for assistance. It would be a travesty if these schemes were used to displace staff or to fill gaps left by enforced redundancies. The overworked and understaffed BAI appears to be expected to develop new programmes without additional resources. There has been no industry consultation and no structure put in place to consult with the NUJ. An open, transparent and fair process is essential if public money is to be spent. It is also important that freelance journalists are able to apply and compete for funding.”

The Dublin conference will focus on the public interest role of journalism. Among those taking part will be historian Dr Ida Milne who will outline the role of the regional press, in particular, in recording social history and Séamus Boland, CEO, Irish Rural Link who will emphasise the role of media in developing and maintain community cohesion.

The conference is open to NUJ members and student journalists. Information can sought by contacting