When the truth makes you a target.

When people are asked to think about high risk occupations they often don’t give a thought to journalism.

Soldier might be the top one, but of course combat troops often have a journalist along for company.


Last year I attended a one day conference in Belfast around the issue of safety for journalists.

This event was sponsored by the Northern Ireland NUJ branches and the Sunday World.

The conference was held, in part, to mark the 10th anniversary of the murder of journalist Martin O’Hagen by loyalist gunmen in Portadown.

Martin was a constant thorn in the side of Loyalism as he exposed them for what they were, a criminal enterprise first and last.

A minutes silence was held to honour his memory, a decade on his killers have still not been brought to justice.

There were many veteran journalists at the conference, and these reporters had spent decades covering the Northern conflict. They all agreed that the professional training was seriously lacking in addressing the issue of coping with trauma and health and safety issues.

It was agreed in the plenary that the NUJ had a pivotal role to play to pushing the training establishments to teaching coping strategies to student journalists.

I am aware that in recent years threats have been made to several journalists in Scotland.

The anonymity of the internet allows actionable bile to spew forth, and the main offenders are the quintessentially British people who trashed Manchester in 2008.


Although I questioned the rationale of the SNP’s new legislation governing behaviour at football matches, I do agree with the sections covering the policing of the internet.


I am glad to report that the NUJ leading from the front in protecting its members in Scotland.

A free press is a sine qua none of democracy, and it is correct that the Scottish government is lobbied on these matters.


I know of a recent threat to a journalist based in Glasgow which emanated from the dignified end of the city. The guy has a young family and he was extremely shaken by the experience.

His “crime” was to report the truth and do his job.

Once more the NUJ at workplace and national level were not found wanting. Thankfully Strathclyde’s finest are all over this one.

As the death of Rangers approaches, I suspect that there will be more of this hateful nonsense.

Just as when the light blues are playing in Europe I know what side I’m on.

I support the police.

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