Our joint event with the Manchester and Salford Branch of the National Union of Journalists explored the vibrant radical history of 1907 in the Manchester area.
Our first speaker was John Harding who discussed his latest book Staging Life The Story of the Manchester Playwrights, the story of the wonderful world of Annie Horniman who spent her inherited wealth on setting up and running the Manchester Gaiety Theatre. John showed how the Gaiety Theatre was an important cultural centre for the growing radical movement, attracting writers who would explore controversial issues, including the right wing press, the oppression of women and exploitation of poor people. The Manchester group of playwrights included the journalist Harry Richardson.
Our next speaker, veteran NUJ activist, Tim Gopsill (author of Journalists: 100 years of the NUJ), reminded the audience that Manchester was the birthplace of the NUJ with many leading figures working to set up the union in 1907, including William Newman Watts, Frank Rose and Harry Richardson .He then spoke about the challenges facing the union in a era of declining newspaper sales and the mushrooming of media on the internet.
From the floor Conrad Bower and James Baker of Manchester independent media The Meteor explained how they were going to set up a co-operative to run the publication in 2019. This would ensure that challenging investigative journalism would exist in Manchester, but most importantly it would pay journalists to take up this important work.
Thanks to John and Gina and the wonderful 3MT who provided the venue and wonderful hospitality.
Thanks to Kath Grant and Manchester and Salford NUJ for their support for this meeting.