It only seemed like yesterday, but the NUJ - National Union of Journalists accepted me Julian Bray as a member over 40 years ago, and have now awarded me Life Membership (shome mistake!) I've seen a revolution in news gathering during that time and well remember the look of horror and disbelief when I produced the very first laptop computer (a Tandy (Radio Shack) 100!) specially adapted for modem telephone transmission to telex lines, in Fleet Street, London, El Vinos' Wine Bar. The wine-bar owner Christopher Mitchell, tut tutted, and his bar manager, the late genial Geofffrey Van-Hay just raised his elegant nose and glided away..
In those early days large Imperial typewriters were physically chained to desks (stopped them being thrown at people), well oiled, under the table, journalists could dictate telephone copy to a battery of hard bitten copytakers who would make a highly reasonable story out the most garbled drunken rubbish... These days journalists are under the electronic thumb, a few drinks and what goes into the computer will also come out. Rubbish in, rubbish out... The same went for radio, midget EMI wire recorders (the size of a suitcase) gave way to the Uher Report, still heavy but could be carried on a shoulder strap, recording on reel to reel 1/4 inch 20 minutes on a reel of tape. Now I have a digital recorder the size of a cigarette packet and can happily waffle on for 50 hours or so before the SD card says its full or just had enough!
The union has been good to me and countless others, with information and practical help when its needed. The legal services team have also assisted from time to time and in recent years older journalists are encouraged to cross train and upgrade with a series of NUJ created training packages. Unions often get knocked and seem to be represented on TV by loudmouth dyed-in -the wool union 1930's throwbacks but in many cases the good work gets overlooked. Thanks NUJ the honour is much appreciated...here's to the next forty years...
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