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    19 November, 2006

    Burberry Demonstration and Citizen Journalism

    I left my home in Llwynypia about 5.45 yesterday morning to drive to Treorchy. It had been pouring with rain overnight but I managed to miss the showers. Mervyn Burnett from the GMB was already there. He had prepared 'GMB 'goody bags' for everyone the night before and handed those out. There were a lot of familiar faces on the coach, including GMB officers Clive James and Gareth Morgans, both from the Rhondda.

    BBC News Online had asked me to get some pictures of people leaving the factory and send them in. They used the picture below of placards being loaded onto the coaches in their online bulletins for most of the day, before replacing it later with a picture from the demonstration. Nick Palit from BBC Wales accompanied us, as did a BBC documentary maker Nick Green.

    We set off just before 7.00. As we joined the motorway near Cardiff we hit snow and ice on the road. We could see the west-bound carriage-way had been closed off because of an accident. There were several police cars, ambulances and a fire engine. We made slower going than we expected until the Bridge. I was listening to Radio Wales on my phone, but unfortunately lost the connection around Bristol just as their interview with Rhondda MP Chris Bryant started. We stopped at Reading Services, eventually reaching Park Lane where the coaches dropped us off about 11.15. For some time we were stuck in traffic outside the Burberry store in Knightsbridge!

    We marched to the Burberry store in New Bond St, where we were greeted by Chris and by GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny and GMB Regional Secretary for Wales and the South West Alan Garley. One group then went off to the Regent Street shop. We handed out leaflets to shoppers and had a lot of sympathy and support. One guy told us he wouldn't buy Burberry again and as he went down the street we saw him throw his Burberry cap away! An ITV camera and a Press Association photographer met us, as did agency camera people and photographers. I again sent BBC News Online some pictures of us outside the Burberry store direct from my phone and they used the one below in their later report.

    (Though they seem to have replaced it now with one of their own.)

    This was the first time I had supplied photographs from my phone direct to a news organisation for them to use instantaneously. Obviously I have sent out photographs taken with a cameraphone before, but that has been later after uploading to my computer. It is interesting to see how the technology now allows us to ensure immediate coverage. The email capability on the most modern phones, and the quality of the cameras and lenses they now utilise, makes a big difference. Someone asked me whether we were not letting the broadcasters and news organisations off the hook. I think it is OK if what we are doing is supplementing their resources with our own materials. In this case,. for example, we were supplying additional material to the BBC and they had sent their own reporter along anyway. I would draw the line if we were being asked to do their job for them: carrying their cameras and filming on their behalf for them, for example!

    Rhondda TV
    The Labour Party

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

    Author's editorial policy: This blog does not publish anonymous comments, unless they are really witty and I like them. If you have something to say, then have the courage of your convictions and use your name or an identifiable alias. Even then I reserve the right not to publish comments that are malicious, defamatory, stupid, pointlessly cynical or boring. Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the National Assembly for Wales, any constituent part or connected body.