EVERYBODY’S favourite loyalist was making headlines again when the National Union of Journalists approved and then denied his application for membership.

 During a debate with the Irish News’ Allison Morris on Tuesday’s Nolan show, Bryson said he’s not a journalist or a blogger but rather a political activist and a public platform contributor. That’s all well and good but it certainly doesn’t warrant the protection of a professional union. Has the NUJ become so desperate for fees that they’re letting all sorts of ‘randomers’ in?


 Me personally, I wouldn’t apply to join because I think it’s an insult to those employed as journalists. I’m a blogger with a journalism certificate, Jamie Bryson isn’t even that.  His work on NAMA certainly changed the public’s view of him and he remains a person of public interest, but should he or I qualify for privileges awarded by a union of journalists? No. Because we don’t jeopardise our personal safety on behalf of the public and we aren’t paid by a newspaper.

 

I qualified in 2010. Over two years, I studied under Maurice Neill who was a journalist with the Belfast Telegraph, Dr John Coulter formerly of the BBC, David Armstrong from the Portadown Times and John Hunter a retired barrister who specialised in Media Law and Ethics. All these tutors had their own methods of teaching but demanded the highest standard of writing.

 

I then gained a wealth of experience in the Andersonstown News under the guidance of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, Robin Livingstone and Anthony Neeson. They made it clear from day dot to only write something if I could prove in court that it’s correct.

 

This was probably the most exciting period of my life but also the most terrifying. It taught me that journalism is dog eat dog, it’s not a job for the thin-skinned and editors and subs will not be backwards in coming forwards in telling you your story is shite and needs rewritten.

 

The general public is even harsher in their hassles. Unless you have worked in a newsroom, you will be unaware of the amount of wingnuts that ring in or call in to waste your time with issues and gripes they think are of public interest. Half of the working week is taken up by people with an organ to grind, trying to convince you to be their monkey.

 

Bloggers or self satisfying digital hacks (kill me now Zzzzzz) who haven’t worked in a newsroom will have escaped all of this. They’re their own boss. They answer to only themselves and any critical messages can be forwarded to the spam folder instantly without the public seeing them. If the public didn’t see it, then it didn’t happen. Whereas, in the right to reply Letters to the Editor page, journalists will be ripped to shreds in the interests of fairness.

 

Journalists need to have strengths in writing features, news and the dreaded advertorial. Bloggers can pick and choose. We decide which events we want to go to and usually we stick to the safe areas where the risk of public disorder is low.

 

Major events such as contentious parades are what separate the real journalists from the bloggers. Take the recent Ardoyne Twelfth feeder parade for example. The paid journalists were up with the birds and reporting on Twitter from the side-lines at dawn. Me and the other local bloggers were in our scratchers scrolling through the hashtag and chirping in with titbits and unhelpful comments. We weren’t putting ourselves in any danger and had no need for protective headgear.  

 

Bloggers are seen as creepy internet parasites that lurk in dark rooms issuing any opinion or allegation without question. It’s the underbelly of journalism, the lowest of the low. No wonder they don’t want us in their union.

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