Sunday 1 May 2016

Don't Mourn - Organise!

Remember the anarchist martyrs of 1886 after whom we commemorate International Workers' Day! With the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) marking 1,189 journalists killed since 1992 and with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) noting "a climate of fear and tension combined with increasing control over newsrooms by governments and private-sector interests," the slogan "Don't Mourn - Organise!" - drawn from the final letter of militant song-writer Joe Hill of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) to labour organiser Big Bill Haywood just prior to his 1915 execution in a statist frame-up - has never been more relevant.

I worked as a shop steward in the old South African Union of Journalists (SAUJ) for a decade, over 1993-2003, then in 2010, with the SAUJ five years defunct, after two years of very wide consultation and preparation, I launched the Professional Journalists' Association of South Africa (ProJourn), to defend the rights, and improve the working conditions and safety of working journalists, to uplift journalists from previously disadvantaged communities, and to maintain high journalistic standards, and protect our democracy. ProJourn was founded on an anarchist constitution as a directly-democratic worker-driven organisation and represented the country's newsrooms before the Press Freedom Commission. Today, six years after its founding, ProJourn has more than 4,000 supporters of all colours as shown by its FB Page and Group, it provides members with Press Cards and discounted training, represents journalists' interests to government and the media industry in the Alliance of Language & Media Practitioners (LAMP), and runs The Ulu Club for Southern African Conflict Journalists, and the South African Cities of Refuge Project.