Newsletter: Stand with student journalists on World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day couldn’t come at a more poignant time. This week, amid growing unrest on college campuses over the Israel-Gaza war, courageous student journalists across the continent worked tirelessly under precarious conditions to deliver accurate reporting to their communities and the entire nation at large.

We called on law enforcement and university administrations to respect and honor the First Amendment rights of all journalists, student or otherwise. We all have a duty of care towards student journalists to ensure our right to a free press and safeguard the future of America’s journalists.

And of course we continue to stand with other media unions worldwide to condemn the killing of journalists and media workers in Gaza. More than 100 workers have been killed since October, the deadliest time for journalists in decades.

A world without journalism is a world without truth. We will always fight for the safety and freedom of all journalists.

While Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reporters returned to work last month, they have not stopped picketing for a fair contract and calling out Gannett for its greed and mismanagement. Democrat & Chronicle reporters were on the verge of a contract before Gannett pulled yet another dirty trick out of its book: a bait and switch in which they walked back prior agreements and tried to sneak in wholesale revisions.

Yesterday, after Gannett held its Q1 earnings call, the Newspaper Guild of Rochester called out the company for creating a business model built on breaking its promises to workers.

On the earnings call, Gannett Chief Content Officer Kristen Roberts stated: “Our local markets have focused on being local…That’s going to expand in a lot of areas over the year.” But in reality, Gannett journalists know full well that the company refuses to pay journalists a living wage, leading to an exodus of talented staff and shrinking newsrooms.

In California, state lawmakers have unveiled a new bill that would dramatically improve the capacity of local newsrooms to deliver news that preserves democracy and informs communities.

Senate Bill 1327, sponsored by California Sen. Steve Glazer, would implement a Data Extraction Mitigation Fee on massive tech platforms that have displaced tens of thousands of local journalism jobs across the U.S. The platform fee would generate revenues for a refundable employee hiring and retention tax credit that’s designed to preserve and create journalism jobs in local newsrooms across California.

“California’s journalists are struggling,” said Matt Pearce, President of Media Guild of the West TNG-CWA Local 39213, in a statement. “Big Tech monopolies destroyed the local newsrooms that used to support tens of thousands of journalism jobs in communities across America. California lawmakers can rise to the challenge by supporting both this bill and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks’ California Journalism Preservation Act, and lawmakers in other states should follow their example.”

NewsGuild-CWA has joined more than 40 journalism organizations and advocates in a letter organized by the Society of Professional Journalists to demand Texas authorities drop charges against photojournalist Carlos Sanchez.

On April 24, while covering protests at the University of Texas Austin, Sanchez was slammed to the ground by a law enforcement officer and charged with criminal trespassing. He has since been released and faces misdemeanor charges.

The statement reads: “We, organizations that collectively represent and advocate on behalf of thousands of journalists, strongly urge the county attorney to decline prosecution of these charges and denounce authorities’ handling and escalation of the underlying incident. In addition to preventing a journalist from reporting the news as it was happening, their actions exert a chilling effect on reporters covering protests and law enforcement’s response to them, both during and beyond the current wave of campus demonstrations.”

The statement is also being sent to the Travis County Attorney, the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

The Executive Board of IAPE Local 1096 has voted to authorize a strike vote at Dow Jones & Company. The vote will be the first of its kind in the union’s 87 year history.

The strike vote comes after the contact between the union and company expired on April 1, 2024 after a series of negotiated extensions. IAPE is seeking significant wage increases retroactive to July 1, 2023, a strict cap on increases to monthly healthcare premiums and better job security protections—including against advances in artificial intelligence—as well as derivative rights for any employee aiming to license material they created as the basis for a book, film, television series, podcast, or other similar publication.

Dow Jones has proposed annual pay raises at sub-inflation rates and the flexibility to increase healthcare premiums for employees with dependents by as much as 30%. Management has rejected all other remaining union proposals.

If approved by IAPE members, a Dow Jones & Company walkout would be the 30th strike by NewsGuild-CWA members in 2024.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalists remain on strike as they await news of an injunction in federal court by the NLRB against Post-Gazette management for numerous unfair labor practice violations.

After 18 months on strike, Post-Gazette workers are closer than ever to winning. Supporters should continue to donate to the strikers and subscribe to their strike publication, the Pittsburgh Union Progress.

Speaking of strike publications, the Long Beach Watchdog – the strike publication for laid off and striking Long Beach Media Guild members is celebrating its one month anniversary.

According to Guild members, in its first month they produced over 80 original stories and newsletters — including news, reviews, columns and photo galleries — which were read 111,400 times by over 63,500 new readers.

In late March, Long Beach Journalism Initiative CEO Melissa Evans laid off 60% of the staff, decimating Long Beach’s largest newsroom. The layoffs came just days after staff had voiced their intention to unionize.

Support laid off and striking workers of the as they fight illegal and retaliatory layoffs; subscribe to the Watchdog today.

In a win for the Washington Post Guild, the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild Local 32305 reached an agreement with the Washington Post to reinstate the suspension of reporter Paul Farhi and the week’s pay he was docked has been restored under an agreement between the Guild and the Post.

Farhi was suspended in March 2022 without discussion or chance of appeal. The Guild took the Post to court after its last contract expired and negotiations began on a new deal. The Guild lost suit at trial and appealed. The Post has now agreed to settle the case, ending the pending appeal. D.C. court has approved the settlement.

As Farhi succinctly put it: “Pro tip: Join (or start) a union in your workplace. It’s the best way to guarantee your workplace rights.”

In solidarity,

Jon Schleuss
President, The NewsGuild-CWA