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WASHINGTON, May 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — News workers have declared Friday, May 6, the first “News Matters Day” as part of a nationwide campaign defending quality journalism from Wall Street attack.
The campaign focuses on one of the biggest newspaper chains, Digital First Media, where the #NewsMatters hashtag appears on leaflets, T-shirts, and desk tents of workers represented by The NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America.
Alden Global Capital, a shadowy Wall Street hedge fund, has taken control of DFM, stripping assets, firing staff, and cutting news coverage. Most recently, Alden announced large newsroom reductions at the Denver Post and in the San Francisco Bay Area after paying $49.8 million for the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
DFM workers who remain are fighting back – even at the risk that their own jobs might be on the line next.
Bernie Lunzer, president of TNG-CWA, said the #NewsMatters campaign goes beyond any contract dispute at a single company.
“The time-honored values of journalism, our tradition of public service and ability to do our jobs to the best of our ability — all that is threatened when financial speculators take over newspapers,” Lunzer said. “It’s inspiring to see these Digital First workers take the lead on this. News matters to everybody.”
The first #NewsMatters Day includes a show of solidarity inside the 13 union-represented DFM workplaces. A full-blown labor dispute could develop if the main issues — pay and job security — aren’t resolved. In April, members of CWA went out on strike over similar issues at Verizon, the telecommunications giant in New York.
“Our brothers and sisters at Digital First Media are rising up to say that enough is enough. Our 700,000 CWA members stand united with them, and we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to support them in this critical fight for quality journalism,” said Sara Steffens, secretary-treasurer of CWA and a former reporter for the Contra Costa Times, one of several DFM daily newspapers in the San Francisco Bay area recently consolidated in a cost-cutting move that could eliminate more than 40 jobs.
The NewsGuild-CWA represents 1,000 Guild workers at the Denver Post, San Jose Mercury News, East Bay Times, Monterey Herald, St. Paul Pioneer Press, The Macomb Daily and the Daily Tribune, Kingston Freeman, Pottstown Mercury, The Delaware County Times, The Trentonian, Norristown Times-Herald, and the Long Beach Press-Telegram.