Fired british journalists launch own weekly newspaper

A british trade union is trying to break into commercial newspaper production with a cooperatively funded weekly designed to challenge a rival regional publication.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has launched a L250,000 ($506,000) expansion program for the Nottingham News, a weekly paper launched last February by a group of journalists after they had been dismissed during a strike with the management of the Nottingham Evening Post. Part of a widespread stoppage by provincial journalist members of the NUJ, the Nottingham Evening Post dispute hit the national headlines when its owner declared that he would never reinstate the 28 news staff dismissed last winter.

So, the dismissed journalists set up a 28- page weekly tabloid, selling the paper at street corners and trying to obtain advertising and reach a circulation of 12,000.

There is a sharp division of opinion in Nottingham about the newspaper dispute. Many people support the anti-union stand taken by the proprietor of the evening paper and say that he was right to dismiss staff for disobedience, but other citizens have backed the dissident journalists by switching Nottingham Evening Post subscriptions to the much smaller weekly Nottingham News.

The NUJ-backed weekly, which costs L2,000 ($4,500) to produce each edition, is said to be heavily subsidized by radical groups. It is reckoned that the new paper will only break even when its circulation reaches 20,000, almost twice its present readership.

The Nottingham News is being registered as a workers' co-operative, and the National Union of Journalists has appealed to the 1 million-strong Trades Union Congress (TUC) for practical support for an alternative labor press. Although a worker-controlled daily paper collapsed in Glasgow fairly recently after a long struggle for survival, the National Union of Journalists appears determined to go on with its venture in Nottingham.

The NUJ has asked all of its members to contribute one day's pay toward the cooperative, and a full response would bring in L100,000 ($225,000). But business consultants have recently warned the journalists' union that the survival of the new paper depends upon much greater capital investment and commercial discipline.

The NUJ is hoping the strong suport the TUC has shown toward British newspaper unions will result in powerful labor support for the new cooperative weekly publication.

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