FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 22, 2017
WASHINGTON — Employees at one of the nation’s biggest news organizations are launching a campaign to fight Wall Street’s ongoing attack on quality journalism — a fight likely to intensify under the new Trump administration.
Members of The NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America announced today a new phase of the #NEWSMATTERS campaign at Digital First Media (DFM), the second-largest chain of newspapers and online news sites in the country.
The campaign is aimed at resisting the slash-and-burn, asset-stripping strategy of Alden Global Capital, the secretive New York hedge fund that owns DFM.
“Our message to Alden and other hedge funds that own newspapers is simple: Quality journalism is essential, and Wall Street profiteering at the expense of our members must end,” said Bernie Lunzer, president of The NewsGuild-CWA and a former employee of the DFM-owned St. Paul Pioneer Press.
“Our country’s vibrancy and health depends on the outstanding work of our members at newspapers around the country,” said Sara Steffens, secretary-treasurer of the CWA and a former newspaper reporter at the DFM-owned Contra Costa Times. “Owners have an obligation, now more than ever, to invest in that work to protect the rights of individual citizens and to insure our leaders are accountable to the people.”
A year ago, the first round of the #NEWSMATTERS campaign galvanized editorial and other media workers around the country, including workers at outlets beyond those owned by DFM. The effort resulted in modest pay increases after years of cuts in pay and benefits at the dozen newspapers owned by DFM.
The company owns 57 daily newspapers and 100 weeklies or shoppers across the United States.
About 920 CWA-represented employees work at the following DFM newspapers: The Denver Post (CO), The Mercury News (CA), East Bay Times (CA), Monterey Herald (CA), St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), Macomb Daily and The Daily Tribune (MI), Kingston Daily Freeman (NY), Pottstown Mercury (PA), Norristown Times-Herald (PA), The Delaware County Times (PA), and The Trentonian (NJ).
Staffing levels at those newspapers continue to shrink. Although the entire news industry continues to seek a sustainable business strategy, hedge fund Alden Global Capital has made it clear that high profits come first as it guts newsroom staffs, closes newspapers, and sells off real estate to enrich its investors.
The immediate goal of the NewsGuild’s campaign is to reach fair contract terms for union members and their families, including compensation gains to counter the company’s latest benefit cuts.
Organizers hope to build a durable defense of media workers standing together against the expected attacks of the Trump administration and its Wall Street backers. During the campaign, the president-elect and allies repeatedly mocked journalists, traded in fake news, and showed contempt for the First Amendment.