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For Some Businesses, Success Includes Treating Workers Well

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 5:14pm
Alana SemuelsNovember 26, 2014The Atlantic

A business strategy that calls for treating workers well. Imagine! A story in The Atlantic about such a strategy -- perhaps not yet a trend -- starts with an anecdote near and dear to CWA members who working call centers. "Call centers are not, typically, very happy places—especially around the holidays. Workers have quotas to make, and often sit in bleak cubicles, headsets on, plowing through calls from stressed shoppers... But the employees in this call center in Vermont are rosy-cheeked and—can it be?—smiling. They field calls about misplaced packages and gluten-free dough, while surrounded by orange and red Thanksgiving decorations and a wall lined with baking gear that they’re allowed to borrow. They still have quotas—10 calls per hour, per agent—but they know they won’t get fired if they spend 45 minutes talking to a woman with cancer about baking, as one agent recently did." That's the King Arthur Flour call center (pictured). Could others follow suit?

Crowdfunding Effort Seeks to 'Expose Corruption' in Media

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 10:09am
ExposeCorruption.orgNovember 25, 2014IndeGoGo

Buckle up -- a smug crowdfunding campaign aims to "pursue adversarial investigative journalism against the media industry." "America is home to an industry that is wholly unregulated and under no oversight. No one holds their employees accountable. Its corrupt practices ruin lives. It holds its own customers in contempt. It claims to police itself: an assertion we would laugh at if it came from any other sector. That industry is the American media... What if an organization existed that turned a cynical questioning eye at those corrupt journalists? What if it was funded by us - regular people who rely on an honest and impartial media to tell us the truth? What if we held them to account for their hypocrisies? What if we could turn the tables? What if they couldn’t get away with abandoning ethics for political agendas?"

Media Subpoenas Are a Bigger Problem Than You Thought

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 3:56pm
Bruce BrownNovember 24, 2014Columbia Journalism Review

While James Risen still faces the prospect of jail for refusing to testify against an alleged source, he's far from the only reporter dealing with federal subpoenas. Another case, which CJR calls "but a piece in the onslaught of press subpoenas that have defined the Obama administration," involves a journalist who reported in 2009 on the federal government probing links between Somali Muslims in Minneapolis and Al Qaeda. Mike Levine, then a FOX News reporter, reported about grand jury indictments in the investigation while they were still sealed. By early in 2011, the Justice Department had subpoenaed Levine, saying that it needed to know the identity of the law enforcement sources cited in his article. Levine moved to quash the subpoena, saying he promised his sources confidentiality. And the government sought to enforce it, saying that federal laws may have been broken. All sound familiar?

Billionaire: Rich Have Eroded Workers' Right to Overtime Pay

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 12:24pm
Nick HanauerNovember 24, 2014Politico Magazine

Billionaire Nick Hanauer is sick and tired of the rich taking advantage of workers and eroding the middle class that is needed to create and sustain a strong economy. "It is my sense, based on my conversations with government officials, that the administration is buying the line from corporate lobbyists who are arguing that (overtime) rule changes would devastate their bottom lines, forcing them to lay off workers. You know, the old trickle-down gambit—if workers earn more money, it would be bad for business, the economy and workers. The Obama team, in other words, is buying into the same discredited theories used to erode the threshold in the first place. Officials will very likely raise the overtime threshold just enough to say they’re doing something, without actually doing much of anything for the middle class or our demand-starved economy at all."

Network Anchors Have Met Secretly with Cop Darren Wilson

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:16am
Erik WempleNovember 24, 2014The Washington Post

Credit CNN’s Brian Stelter with a very big scoop. On today’s “Reliable Sources” media-news program, Stelter reported that “high-profile news anchors” have spoken in “secret locations” with Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The sessions have been off-the-record and, the way Stelter tells it, they’ve been auditions for one of the biggest exclusives of this century — namely, the sit-down talk with the elusive officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9.

Carr: Calling Out Cosby's Media Enablers, Including Myself

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 10:51am
David CarrNovember 24, 2014The New York Times

Amid the public revulsion at the news that Bill Cosby, a trailblazing black entertainer, allegedly victimized women in serial fashion throughout his career, the response from those in the know has been: What took so long? What took so long is that those in the know kept it mostly to themselves. No one wanted to disturb the Natural Order of Things, which was that Mr. Cosby was beloved; he was as generous and paternal as his public image; and that his approach to life and work represented a bracing corrective to the coarse, self-defeating urban black ethos. Only the first of those things was actually true.

Wyoming Battle: Right to Privacy vs. Public's Right to Know

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 10:58am
Corey HutchinsNovember 21, 2014Columbia Journalism Review

The nation’s least populous state may become the next battleground pitting a citizen’s right to privacy against the public right to access information. At issue is a debate over whether to amend the Wyoming state constitution. The new language would provide that “the right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest." “I’m worried that a constitutional right to privacy may result in a lot of … documents being locked up,” said Jim Angell, director of the state press association. “Everybody has a right to privacy, right? And what about crime reports involving public officials? Will they ever see the light of day? There’s a constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy — I see a lot of trips to court over this.”

Third Owner in 16 Months for Guild Members in Worcester

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 9:18am
StaffNovember 21, 2014Woscester Telegram & Gazette

The Guild-represented Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, Mass., is becoming part of the Gatehouse family, the third owner of the paper in 16 months. The paper is one of 36 owned by Halifax Media Group that is being sold to the parent company of Gatehouse. Boston billionaire John W. Henry bought the T&G from the New York Times Co. in August 2013 as part of a $70 million deal that included The Boston Globe.Henry retained the Globe, but sold the T&G in May to Halifax. At the time of the purchase, Halifax Media, founded in 2010 by three private equity firms, said it acquired the T&G because it has a bright future and significant value.

Despite Fat Buyout Offer, Layoffs Likely at New York Times

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 8:59am
James WestNovember 21, 2014Mother Jones

The New York Times indicated Thursday that it's getting close to a round of forced layoffs of its journalists. The newsroom-wide email sent Thursday morning, obtained by Mother Jones, details responses to employee questions about a scheduled buyout program from Janet Elder, a deputy executive editor at the company. The email states that, "the most frequently asked question is about scale and whether or not there will be enough buyouts to avoid layoffs. Given that the buyout window is still open, it's hard to have an absolute answer to that question just yet. Early efforts to handicap the outcome regrettably point to having to do some layoffs."

2012 Broun Winner Rod Nordland Lands 'Major' Book Deal

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:30am
Kara Bloomgarden-SmokeNovember 20, 2014The New York Times

Rod Nordland, Kabul bureau chief for The New York Times and winner of the Guild's 2012 Heywood Broun Award, has signed what is reported to be a "major dead" with HarperCollins imprint Ecco to expand on a series of stories he wrote last year. The book, tentatively titled The Lovers and slated for publication next October, grew out his coverage of a Romeo and Juliet-type tale of a young Afghan couple from different ethnic sects, struggling to stay together despite the danger and threat of death that their union poses. “She is his Juliet and he is her Romeo, and her family has threatened to kill them both,” Mr. Nordland wrote in one of his stories about star-crossed lovers Zakia, 18, and Mohammad Ali, 21. Photo: Nordland accepting the Broun award in 2013.

New Tumblr Blog Outs Public Officials Who Refuse Comment

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:15am
StaffNovember 20, 2014Center for Public Integrity/Tumblr

A pair of Center for Public Integrity staffers posts to Tumblr that, "We’ve noticed that lately, whether it’s an investigative, nonprofit newsroom like us, an international outlet like the New York Times, or newer media like Politico or BuzzFeed — when journalists call, officials are choosing to comment less for on stories on the record." Responses include:  “The official did not return request for comment.” “The agency declined to comment for this story.” “They did not respond to several emails and phone calls requesting comment.” "No matter the wording, each of these statements means the same thing — we don’t want to publicly answer questions. This Tumblr is our way of shining a light on just how often that happens."

Why Screwing Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 10:33am
Kevin DrumNovember 20, 2014Mother Jones

As labor unions have declined in numbers, so have labor voices in the media. Pew Research found that labor leaders were only 2 percent of the sources for economic stories today. It wasn't always this way. Union leaders like John L. Lewis, George Meany, and Walter Reuther were routine sources for reporters from the '30s through the '70s. And why not? They made news. The contracts they signed were templates for entire industries. They had the power to bring commerce to a halt. They raised living standards for millions, they made and broke presidents, and they formed the backbone of one of America's two great political parties. They did far more than that, though. As historian Kim Phillips-Fein puts it, "The strength of unions in postwar America had a profound impact on all people who worked for a living, even those who did not belong to a union themselves."

Featured Title: How Screwing Labor Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class

Uber Uses 'God View' Tool to Track BuzzFeed News Reporter

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 2:55pm
Johana Bhulyan & Charlie WarzelNovember 19, 2014BuzzFeed

Uber has stepped in it again. After apologizing for one executive's comments threatening to smear reporters who write critical stories about the transportation company, Uber now acknowledges that it is investigating another executive for tracking a BuzzFeed News reporter without her permission. Tracking customers is easy using an internal company tool called “God View" (see illustration), two former Uber employees told BuzzFeed. They said God View, which shows the location of Uber vehicles and customers who have requested a car, was widely available to corporate employees. Drivers, who operate as contractors, do not have access to God View.

Featured Title: Uber Admits Using 'God View' Tool to Track Reporter's Movements

DC Labor: NewsGuild Fires Up Picket at Washington Post

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 2:43pm
Chris Garlock & Robert StruckmanNovember 19, 2014DCLabor.org

“We really should have brought a fire barrel,” laughed NoVA president Dan Duncan as dozens of Washington Post staffers, fellow Guild members and supporters tramped in a tight noontime picket line Tuesday bundled up in winter coats, hats and scarves against the biting cold. “The louder we chant the warmer we’ll be!” shouted Guild Bargaining Committee member Tim Smith as colorful balloons bobbed in the icy wind on 15th Street. “Negotiations are in a really really tough place,” Guild Co-Chair Frederick Kunkle told Union City. Post management “has dumped a lot of terrible take-backs on the table,” including freezing pensions and attacks on retirement benefits and job security. “We’re just going to keep mobilizing to make this be a place where we can take a stand for treating workers fairly.”

Cold Temps Don't Chill Energetic Picket Outside WashPost

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 3:20pm
StaffNovember 18, 2014NewsGuild-CWA

On a sunny but chilly and windy lunch hour, dozens of Guild members at the Washington Post and supporters sent another clear message to owner Jeff Bezos and the paper's bargaining team: Post employees are united and prepared to fight all threats to their retirement security, as well as other unfair and unreasonable company demands. Tuesday's rally was the second major demonstration in less than a month in front of the Post building in downtown Washington. A brass band accompanied workers as they chanted and marched in solidarity. See more photos on the Guild's Facebook page


Uber Executive Suggests Digging Up Dirt on Journalists

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:04am
Ben SmithNovember 18, 2014Buzzfeed

A senior executive at Uber suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company. The executive, Emil Michael, made the comments in a conversation he later said he believed was off the record. In a statement through Uber Monday evening, he said he regretted them and that they didn’t reflect his or the company’s views.

Chicago Guild Stands with Former S-T Reporter McKinney

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 4:17pm
David PollardNovember 17, 2014Chicago Newspaper Guild

Chicago Guild President David Pollard weighs in on the controversial departure of veteran Chicago Sun-Times political reporter Dave McKinney. "He did his job well, reporting on the good, the bad and the ugly in Springfield politics," Pollard writes in an open letter to members. "But as the recent Illinois gubernatorial campaign heated up, some politicos in that race didn’t like what they were reading under his byline. There were no inaccuracies in his reporting, but still their influence made its way to his superiors at the Sun-Times who wanted him not to pursue these kinds of stories regarding this candidate during the gubernatorial race."

Chicago Guild Stands with Former S-T Reporter McKinney

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 4:17pm
David PollardNovember 17, 2014Chicago Newspaper Guild

Chicago Guild President David Pollard weighs in on the controversial departure of veteran Chicago Sun-Times political reporter Dave McKinney. "He did his job well, reporting on the good, the bad and the ugly in Springfield politics," Pollard writes in an open letter to members. "But as the recent Illinois gubernatorial campaign heated up, some politicos in that race didn’t like what they were reading under his byline. There were no inaccuracies in his reporting, but still their influence made its way to his superiors at the Sun-Times who wanted him not to pursue these kinds of stories regarding this candidate during the gubernatorial race."

Reuters Dodges the Issues in Talks with New York Guild

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 4:08pm
StaffNovember 17, 2014The Newspaper Guild of New York

In a late October meeting with the Guild Bargaining Committee (pictured during a break in talks), Reuters representatives "had almost nothing to say about the issues we’ve told them are of paramount concern – job security, medical benefits and restoring differentials. The meeting confirmed what we already knew from their proposals: management has little regard for Guild members," the local reports. For instance, "On the vitally important topic of job security, management had no response to the Guild’s efforts to learn exactly how much the company relies on stringers and contract workers. In our previous session, the Guild spent a significant amount of time discussing management’s extensive use of “permalancers,” stringers and subcontractors, a practice that undercuts the integrity of our work. It transfers work from Guild members to people who are paid less, get none of our contract’s benefits and protections, and have no real connection to the company. It is critical to protecting our employment security, and it may be a violation of the law."

Featured Title: Reuters Response to NY Guild Boils Down to 'No Comment'

Thousands Rally in Quebec to Support CBC & Radio Canada

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 3:59pm
StaffNovember 17, 2014Canadian Media Guild

The Canadian Media Guild describes "an incredible afternoon Sunday," Nov. 16, as members joined with thousands of Radio-Canada/CBC supporters marching through the streets of Montreal and other cities to demand increased support for public broadcasting. Good union jobs and quality programming have been lost due to severe cuts, and more cuts loom. Photo: Guild members in Ottawa joined an Ottawa/Gatineau contingent organized by a new citizens group “CBC I care” at the Montréal rally.

Featured Title: CMG Members, Supporters Rally to Save Public Broadcasting