Coronavirus Update: #SaveTheNews
This past Sunday, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s longstanding daily, delivered its last paper as a union publication. Advance Local (a business unit of Advance Publications, which also owns Condé Nast) busted the union and shifted all the jobs from the print publication to its nonunion digital counterpart. Some of the affected journalists were offered non-union positions, but many were not. A release by The Plain Dealer NewsGuild stated starkly: “The unit will be dissolved effective May 17. The Plain Dealer newsroom will no longer exist.”
It’s a devastating blow to the Cleveland community, especially for the Guild-represented workers who collectively invested 80 years in their newsroom with a union that fiercely advocated for its members and for its readership. Of course, Cleveland isn’t alone. In the past few months Oregon’s The Portland Mercury announced it was ceasing print operations temporarily; The Waterbury Record in Vermont printed its last paper; The Daily Clintonian in Indiana was shuttered; and several other outlets cut back or completely eliminated their print publications. At the same time thousands of our colleagues across the nation have faced layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts at digital and print outlets alike. You’ll find a lengthy list of media casualties here and here, including a few from our Local.
Communities across the country are facing a serious threat to vital reporting on local government, culture, and life-saving information during this pandemic and other environmental crises. Jon Schleuss, president of our international union, the NewsGuild-CWA, is calling employers’ use of the pandemic to prioritize profits over news an “extinction level event” for local media and a significant hit to our democracy. Over the past two months, our international union has been at the forefront fighting these frightening developments nationwide, calling on government leaders to act immediately to safeguard our press and protect our media workers. The #SaveTheNews Campaign is a historic step for our union as we advocate for the news media and its workers to be included in the next stimulus package.
Today, our Guild siblings are calling on all of us to help elevate the message that we must save the news. Across Twitter, our union and nonunion colleagues are talking about what happens “without local news,” sharing impactful stories, and highlighting why news outlets provide an essential service and are a necessary watchdog for democracy.
I hope you’ll participate. A simple but still powerful way you can help is by getting the campaign snowballing on social media — on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and more — using #SaveTheNews (tag @NewsGuild and/or @NYGuild) and a straightforward statement in support of the news media, local coverage, or whatever aspect motivates you. Ask your friends and family to do the same!
Here are some other ways to support this social media campaign:
- Highlight the hometown or regional publication that ignited your passion for journalism or gave you your start in the field. Encourage a subscription.
- Tell people (via social media) to visit the Save The News website to learn more about this campaign and how they can get involved.
- Sign the petition calling on congressional leaders to acknowledge that news is essential and it cannot fall victim to this pandemic. Ask others to sign as well.
- Get active with the national campaign! There are two member-led committees driving the #SaveTheNews effort. They could use your insight and assistance. The more people involved the better — reach out to join us!
I know that for some, participating in this campaign publicly might raise concerns about your company’s ethics policy or the appearance of a conflict of interest. There are many ways to exercise your rights as a worker to advocate for yourself and your colleagues, as well as for First Amendment rights and journalistic principles. Any questions or concerns? Reach out to me or your Local Representative.
We must stand united with media workers across the country in committing to deliver the news to our audiences, even when our employers won’t.
We lean on each other. We fight for each other. #SaveTheNews
President | The NewsGuild of New York
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