The National Union of Journalists has strongly criticised the terms of reference and composition of the Future of the Media Commission announced today by the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sports and the Gaeltacht.
In a statement Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary said the minister’s announcement was “long on jargon, short on specific action points and notable for a complete disregard for the consequences for workers within a sector in crisis”.
The NUJ also criticised the absence of trade union representation on the Commission and the exclusion of members with direct meaningful Irish print journalism experience.
Séamus Dooley said: “We are surprised and gravely disappointed that the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sports and the Gaeltacht should find it acceptable to nominate a Commission which is devoid of any trade union representation and which has no obvious print industry expertise. We are now formally requesting that the NUJ be included in the composition of the Commission and that the membership be extended to include expertise drawn from the regional press sector.
The crisis in the print industry is most acutely felt in the regional press sector yet there appears to have been no attempt to reflect the experience of that sector within the membership.
While all the nominees will no doubt contribute to interesting discussions there are yawning gaps in the composition of the Commission while the terms of reference fail to address some of the core issues, including the urgent need for an economic stimulus package to save jobs in this crucial sector of the economy.
The NUJ has long advocated a Media Commission and had hoped that with the creation of a new department the media in Ireland would be given the priority it deserves, both in terms of employment and in recognition of the role of public interest journalism, in its many manifestations. What has been announced today is profoundly disappointing.
It is worth remembering that the original commission announced by the current Tanaisté was due to publish its report this month (September). The programme for government agreed between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens promised a broader commission. What has been announced falls far short of what has been promised. As for the commitment to social dialogue contained in the programme for government that concept has been completely ignored by the manner in which Ms Martin has declined to respond to representations from the NUJ and other bodies on this issue.”
Editorial advisory note: Below is the announcement from the Government regarding the composition of the Commission and the terms of reference.