The NUJ has condemned the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the deaths of 82 journalists and media staff in 2017. Tony Sheldon from the continental European council proposed Motion 153 and said that so far this year the death toll has been 17. Our colleagues would not be forgotten, he told delegates.

DM 2018The motion was agreed and instructed the union to continue to work with the IFJ and others to campaign against the harassment and murder of journalists, and to co-ordinate a campaign at branch level to mark the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists on 2 November.

Motion 155 was proposed by first-time delegate Katrin McGauran, left, from the Netherlands branch. She outlined the plans of the Dutch government to follow other European countries and introduce a law allowing security services to conduct mass electronic surveillance. This would expose the personal data of the population without any exceptions, and would also jeopardise the protection of journalistic sources.

Delegates agreed the motion which instructed the union to support bodies such as the IFJ, Amnesty International and our Dutch sister union, the Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten (NVJ), in opposing these measures.

Read more at the main NUJ site: #DM18: International solidarity

 

Jean WesoNUJ Netherlands branch member Jens Anders Wejsmark Sørensen was born in Copenhagen and grew up in Copenhagen and Paris. He has lived and worked in the Netherlands since 2009. In April, Jens published his first book, a thriller called The Amsterdam Sniper, under the pen-name Jean Weso. He sat down with the Branch for a short but friendly interrogation regarding his new life of crime.

To start, what is your professional background?

I’m a trained journalist from the Danish School of Media and Journalism. After working for several years in Denmark and England as an editor, I became an independent contractor in 2005, working as a journalist, correspondent and creative agent. Since moving to Amsterdam, I’ve worked as a foreign correspondent covering events in text, sound, photo and video. I’ve also specialised in online presentation and communication – both as a webeditor and webmaster.

I had been thinking about turning to fiction writing for many years, and in 2017 I finally decided: now or never. The comparatively low threshold to entry offered by self-publishing was an important factor for me.

In recent years Scandinavian crime fiction has become very popular worldwide. Do you identify with this genre?

Being Danish, a nordic noire dimension to my work is inevitable. But in terms of major influences, the British crime fiction tradition is for me more important. I’m a big fan of Colin Dexter (Inspector Morse), Ian Rankin (Inspector John Rebus) and also the South African author Deon Meyer (Inspector Benny Greissel). As I write in English, I can hardly consider myself a true “Scandinavian” noire author.

jean weso Your book is set in Amsterdam.

Yes! This beautiful city provides an excellent backdrop for my stories. In The Amsterdam Sniper, I make great use of the interior and exterior of the many beautiful churches here. For my next work, Amsterdam Strangler, I’m situating events in the many great parks we have.

What does your workflow look like?

I set myself a goal of writing 1,700-1,800 words a day. When I’ve finished the first draft, I send it to four alpha readers, from whom I get many excellent suggestions. I then rewrite the manuscript, adding and removing bits, strengthening the narrative where needed. The second version goes to my copyeditor. As we all known proofreading your own text is virtually impossible. You really need an extra set of eyes at this point. Also, I recommend using a professional illustrator for the jacket. Don’t judge a book by its cover, but...

Writing fiction has a steep learning curve. There’s a lot of research involved and considerable concentration required when you spread yourself over several hundred pages. I’ve decided to dedicate myself to this; I’m not doing it on the side.

You've gone the self-publishing route. Tell us about that.

The Amsterdam Sniper is available via the self-publishing facilities of Amazon, under my own imprint, Jaws Media, both as a Kindle eBook as well as a print-on-demand paperback. It’s important to have your book out on as many platforms as possible, so I’m now looking into producing an audio version as well.

In addition, I’ve had a hundred copies printed here in the Netherlands. These I’m placing at booksellers like the American Book Center and Waterstones in Amsterdam along with the bookstores at Schiphol.

One important lesson I’m learning is that you need to keep the momentum up. My second book will be out in August, and my third (Amsterdam Stalker) in November.

See further

 

Journalists and civil liberties groups have denounced UK government plans to replace the Official Secrets Act with an Espionage Act which would increase the potential penalty for journalists receiving leaked official documents from two to 14 years in jail.

Such documents could include for the first time sensitive information about the economy such as a report on the economic consequences of Brexit.

Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said: “The proposed changes are frightening and have no place in a democracy, which relies on having mechanisms to hold the powerful to account.”

Read more: Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals


NUJ Netherlands is supporting a crowdfunding campaign to bring aid to journalists in Caribbean countries affected by Hurricane Irma. It focuses primarily on journalists in the Dutch territory of St. Maarten which was hit hardest by the hurricane. The initiative is part of a wider effort launched by the Association of Caribbean Mediaworkers (ACM).

Marvin Hokstam, editor of Amsterdam’s AFRO magazine said: “There are fellow journalists I know back home in St. Maarten who have lost everything. They’re doing what journalists do best, placing the story first, but of course, as we often also do, without thinking of themselves”.

See: Caribbean Journalist Relief
 

This weekend thousands of Poles took to the streets to oppose their government's plans to restrict media access to parliament.

The delightfully Orwellian irony is that the plans being proposed by a governing party which calls itself the Law and Justice party (PiS) appear to be contrary to the Polish constitution, which grants access to parliament.

Under the proposals only five selected Polish TV stations will be allowed to record or broadcast parliamentary sessions. The new rules will also limit the number of journalists allowed in the building to a maximum of two accredited parliamentary reporters for each media outlet.

As Poland's human rights ombudsman Adam Bodnar pointed out: "The role of journalists is not only to follow computer screens, but also to seize the opportunity to talk to politicians and to do real-time checks of what's going on".

Read more: Polish government to restrict journalists’ access to parliament

 

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