In case you missed it, read The Price of a Pulitzer.
Now more than ever, the right to report facts and to tell the truth matters. News matters.
We call on all Americans to join us in fighting attempts by government and other powerful institutions to undermine freedom of the press.
Please consider signing the petition here, sponsored by the NewsGuild and National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, sectors of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
“When I miss a meeting, these days most often due to a threadbare staff, officials literally say ‘The Mercury’s not here, what should we get done?’” —Evan Brandt, reporter at the Pottstown (Pa.) Mercury
November will mark the 20 years since Evan Brandt came to Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
It was November, 1997 when he was hired as a reporter for The Mercury, the smallest circulation daily ever to win two Pulitzer Prizes.
Both Pulitzers were awarded long before Brandt arrived in this economically hobbled rust belt town on the banks of the Schuylkill River, but it does indicate the quality and initiative of the newsroom he joined — at least at the time.
By JULIE REYNOLDS
In my first week at a new reporting job in 2004, I received a shock while covering a city council meeting in Pacific Grove, California. The city was unveiling a proposed low-income housing plan. The stunning part came when I realized I actually qualified under the salary my newspaper was paying me. I, a college-educated professional working full time, was officially “low income.”
Things haven’t gotten any better for my colleagues in the news business.
A new report by an online rental listing service says that as journalists’ wages have fallen, rents have “increased steadily.” The report, published in the “Rentonomics” section of ApartmentList.com, looked at 10 years of Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census data, from 2005-2015.
“We found that rents increased more than journalist salaries in nearly 80% of the largest U.S. metros,” Andrew Woo said in an emailed statement.
The report also notes that across the U.S., “journalist salaries fell 7 percent while rents rose 9 percent. Rents rose faster than incomes in nearly 80 percent of the metros we studied.”
This is why we Digital First Media workers are organizing to fight for a living wage, and why we united last week with news workers at GateHouse Media in a national day of action marking World Press Freedom Day. Together, these news chains represent a large swath of American’s small and medium-sized towns and cities.
As the Rentonomics report points out, journalist wages have not stagnated in the last 10 years — they’ve gone down. I suspect this is because more seasoned reporters have been laid off and replaced with younger, lower paid workers. Workloads have doubled and tripled during this time as the hedge fund owners of these two national newspaper chains continue to gut their newsrooms in search of ever more profits.
There is no press freedom if no one can afford to do the job of reporting. Please join with us and sign our petition to protect the right of journalists to report the news in your community, as well as your right to be informed.
Sign the petition at RightToReport.com.
To read the Rentonomics report and use their interactive map, click here.
NewsGuild units representing 1,500 news workers across the country marked May 3, World Press Freedom Day, with coordinated actions between Digital First Media and Gatehouse Media union members. The actions, which included rallies and displaying desk tent signs and banners, aimed to raise awareness of the growing threat that “vulture” hedge funds pose for the nation’s community newspapers. Union leaders say the newspaper owners’ excessive profiteering threatens journalism at a critical time of politicized attacks on the news media.
NEWS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 28, 2017
CONTACT: BERNIE LUNZER
PRESIDENT, THE NEWSGUILD-CWA
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 28, 2017) — A broad coalition of 1,500 unionized news workers will conduct a joint day of action on May 3 — World Press Freedom Day — as part of a national campaign to protest the corporate-led assault on quality journalism.
The coordinated effort by NewsGuild members will span 29 newspapers owned by GateHouse Media and Digital First Media. It will support the fight for quality journalism at those papers and highlight the damage wrought by draconian cuts in their newsrooms and other departments. Continue reading “Guild workers at Digital First Media and GateHouse Media stand together against profiteering owners on World Press Freedom Day, May 3”
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA — Digital First Media, owner of the Bay Area News Group, plans to move copy desk work to Southern California, triggering 20 more layoffs from a shrunken roster of 92 Guild-represented employees in the East Bay.
The announcement came only a week after the East Bay news staff was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “relentless” breaking news coverage of the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland.
By JULIE REYNOLDS
When Alden Global Capital became the primary equity holder in Digital First Media, no one knew what it would mean for a large newspaper chain to be run by a hedge fund.
More than five years later, the results have been devastating.
Financial managers at Alden Global Capital didn’t need to go far when searching for a place to park a few hundred million dollars of pension funds held on behalf of news workers at The Mercury News and Denver Post.
In fact, the fund managers decided the best choice was right in front of them: They invested the San Jose and Denver pension dollars in high-risk hedge funds controlled by their own company.
DENVER — Employees at one of the nation’s biggest news organizations have joined to fight Wall Street’s ongoing attack on quality journalism.
Digital First Media is the second-largest chain of newspapers and online news sites in the country, and 12 union-represented DFM newspapers began bargaining for a wage increase on March 9.