Guild Reporter

Guild Campaign Seeks New Owners for Digital First Papers

Wanted: New Owners. That's the headline today as The Newspaper Guild-CWA reaches out to potential investors for Digital First newspapers through a new campaign. Guild members are urged to help spread the word through tweets, Facebook and other social media. This morning, "Newspaper Guild-represented staff at major newspapers including the Denver Post, San Jose Mercury News and St. Paul Pioneer Press are publishing ads online and in print seeking local, community-minded buyers for their newsrooms. 'Dear deep-pocketed, local community benefactor,' one such ad begins, 'A longtime newspaper, with more than 100 years of history and multiple Pulitzer Prizes, is looking for an owner who cares about Denver, Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Empire. The current owner, a hedge fund out of New York City, refuses to open its purse strings and reward employees with much-needed raises.'

Wyoming, Iowa Court Rulings are First Amendment Victories

State courts in Iowa and Wyoming this month have upheld the media’s right to open court proceedings and to photograph court cases. The rulings, though local in scope, are major First Amendment victories for journalists and media organizations. In Wyoming, the state Supreme Court overturned a lower court judge's decision to close his courtroom and seal the file in a sexual assault case. In Iowa, a judge reversed another judge's ruling that threatened a photojournalist and his newspaper with contempt of court if they published pictures from a sexual abuse hearing involving a local mayor.

James Risen Wins Guild's Herbert Block Freedom Award

The Newspaper Guild-CWA is proud to announce that the Herbert Block Freedom Award will be presented to embattled New York Times reporter James Risen, who has risked his own freedom to protect the principles that are essential for a truly free press. James Risen did what great journalists do,” TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said. “He dug for information, developed sources who trusted him and ultimately exposed some of the hard truths behind the war on terrorism. Without jeopardizing national security, he told Americans what their government wouldn’t. That is his job, the job of all journalists. And we are all better for it.”

Journalists' Letter to Obama Criticizes Lack of Transparency

Journalism and open government groups, including The Newspaper Guild-CWA, are accusing the Obama administration of failing to uphold the president’s stated commitment to “an unprecedented level of openness in government and transparency.” In a July letter to Obama, the organizations reminded him of his inaugural pledge “to bring a new era of openness” to federal government. Instead, the letter says, the administration has “engaged in a form of censorship by attempting to control what the public is allowed to see and hear.”

New 'Right to Report' Blog Key to First Amendment Project

Retired New York Times reporter and former Guild officer Lena Williams (pictured) introduces the "Right to Report" blog, a key part of the national Guild's campaign to fight the growing threats to First Amendment rights. Whether dealing with local police, state legislatures, federal agencies or any other government office, journalists -- and citizens, who have all the same rights -- are being denied access to public records and meetings, and are being harassed and even arrested for taking photos in public. At the federal level, journalists have been threatened with prison for refusing to reveal sources, while would-be whistle-blowers clam up for fear of going to jail themselves. “Right to Report is about tracking the erosion of free-press rights, and building the strongest, most effective coalition we can to fight back," Newspaper Guild President Bernie Lunzer said. “We will make it clear that no matter how divided Americans may be politically, when it comes to the First Amendment, we speak with one voice.”

Life-Changing CPI/ABC Black Lung Series Wins Broun Award

A powerful series exposing a coal industry conspiracy that schemed to deny even meager benefits to miners suffering black lung disease has won the prestigious Heywood Broun Award, presented annually by The Newspaper Guild-CWA. The award for “Breathless and Burdened: Dying from Black Lung Disease, Buried by Law and Medicine,” which includes a $5,000 check, is shared by journalists from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and ABC News. A pair of Sacramento Bee reporters and a trio of journalists at the Washington Post were chosen as Broun Substantial Distinction winners. Each team of winners will receive $1,000.  “We believe our winner truly reflects the Guild founder’s commitment to championing the underdog against the powerful, the uncaring, the corrupt,” the judges said, stressing how impressed they were overall by the quality of entries."It was inspiring to review so many examples of journalistic excellence in service to – in Broun’s words – 'the ordinary run of people.'" The awards will be presented in October. Photo: From left, judges Jim Steele, Lena Williams, Betsy Wade and panel chair Jeff Miller.

Congress Must Protect 1st Amendment by Passing Shield Law

A federal shield law is needed now more than ever, but a bill to pass one, the Free Flow of Information Act, has been withering in Congress since 2007. But the Guild, SPJ and dozens of other organizations are turning up the heat, as journalists are being subpoened and even threatened with jail for doing their jobs, most notably New York Times reporter and Guild member James Risen. Part of the problem in passing a bill is defining who exactly is a journalist. No one questions that Risen is. But do freelancers and bloggers get the same protections? Right now it's a legal quagmire. Illustration courtesy of

NY Times' Risen Vows to Continue Fight to Protect Source

Lena Williams, a retired New York Times reporter and Guild leader who will be helping the Guild cover press freedom issues, follows up on the news yesterday that the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Times' reporter James Risen. The appeal sought to stop the federal government from forcing Risen to reveal a source. Risen faces jail if he refuses, which he says he will continue to do. Having exhausted his legal appeals, the Justice Department is now Risen’s court of last resort., Williams writes. The hope is that the DOJ will listen to the judicial reasoning of Judge Roger Gregory who disagreed with the Fourth Circuit on Risen’s case, writing: “The majority exalts the interests of the government, while unduly trampling those of the press, and in doing so, severely impinges on the press and the free flow of information in our society.”

Busy Multi-Council Meeting Keeps Members on Their Toes

Sixty-two Guild members from across the country, from union veterans to and brand-new local officers, convened in Orlando last weekend for a busy agenda of workshops and presentations, from training on bargaining under the Affordable Care Act to a discussions about activism as Guild members, stopping  workplace bullying, growing the Guild and much more. Based on his own and members' reviews, "I think it was a huge success," Guild President Bernie Lunzer said.