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1960s Reporter: Tension Between Cops, Media is Worse Now

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:35pm
Lena WilliamsDecember 17, 2014NewsGuild-CWA   A veteran reporter who covered civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s says the tense relationships then between police and journalists are even worse today.   “Tension between police and journalists is nothing new,” said Paul Delaney, who reported on the civil rights movement for the Dayton Daily News, the Washington Star and The New York Times. “I think the tension has been heightened nowadays because you have eyes everywhere and many of those eyes aren’t journalists who aren’t guided by ethics or editors.   “That, and a 24-7 news cycle, really has antagonized relations between media and police.”       That’s been evident in Ferguson, Mo., and other cities where large protests continue over police violence and fatal shootings of black men – and children – mainly by white officers. Officers have assaulted, threatened and tear-gassed members of the media, even appearing to target journalists in some cases.   For protesters, police departments have made those age-old conflicts worse with their new toys, courtesy of the federal government -- stockpiles of military gear, weaponry and vehicles, even tanks.          Both protesters and journalists are exercising their First Amendment rights – freedom to assemble, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.          Many civic leaders, even police officials, have assured their communities after such unrest that they respect the peoples’ right to assemble and demonstrate, lawfully.          But little is being said about the First Amendment rights of journalists and the people – effectively everyone -- who depend on the media to be their eyes and ears.          That is why The Newspaper Guild and other media organizations are raising the issue directly with city and police leaders.          Just last week, Dec. 9, the Guild President Bernie Lunzer sent a letter to Berkeley’s mayor and police chief about officers’ behavior toward media during demonstrations in their protest-famous city.          “We are writing to express our outrage and disgust over the treatment of reporters and photographers covering this weekend's protests in Berkeley,” the letter stated, describing reports of journalists “pushed and even struck by law enforcement officers.”   Lunzer offered to pull together Bay Area media groups that the Guild has worked with on these issues – notably two years ago in Oakland after Occupy protests -- to meet with Berkeley officials to discuss ways to avoid such conflicts in the future.   POLICE can’t say they don’t get good press. Local newspapers and TV stations eagerly feature dramatic feats of heroism, crime detection, big arrests and public service.   But journalists are increasingly probing departments about poor police training, inefficiencies and corruption, and officers who are hostile and insensitive to the people they are sworn to protect. And police don’t like that at all.   Too bad. Police have enormous, life-altering and life-taking powers, and when they are misused, when the protectors become people to be afraid of, those stories must be told. The journalists who tell them are doing their job as watchdogs, acting in the public’s interest.   In that sense, both police and journalists are public servants. But typically there’s only one situation in which police show that kind of respect to journalists: When they need the public’s help to identify a crime suspect or spot a specific vehicle.   When journalists come knocking, or when they’re simply trying to do their jobs at a public rally, that respect isn’t reciprocated.   You’ll hear police chiefs say the right things – that reporters have a legal right to cover news events without police interference, as long as they aren’t breaking laws or interfering with officers.          BUT therein lies the conflict. Police and the media don’t have the same definitions for “interference” and “law-breaking” when it comes journalists exercising their rights.   During 2012’s Occupy Wall Street in New York City, 26 journalists were arrested. And many more reported hostile treatment, allegations that journalists were being roughed up and harassed by police as officers evicted protesters from a park.   Media groups collectively sent a sternly worded letter to New York City officials, describing the police actions as “more hostile to the press than (at) any other event in recent memory.” The actions were “inappropriate, if not unconstitutional.”   Above all, they were unwarranted, journalists said.   “We have never argued, for example, that the press or news photographers should be able to trample all over a crime scene, get so close they are in the way of arresting people, or get in the way of police going after a suspected criminal, compromising the ability of the police to do their jobs,” David Diaz, then a New York Press Club officer, told the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in a piece published in February 2012.   Delaney, who served as deputy national editor at The New York Times in the mid-1980s, remembers several times when journalists covering protests were harassed, beaten, arrested and intimidated by police. Among those he cited.
  • The 1965 Selma to Montgomery, Ala. voting rights march, in which reporters covering the event and the mass arrests of protesters were tear-gassed, shoved and threatened with jail.
  • In February 1965, two UPI photographers were badly beaten by a white mob during protests in Marion, Ala. as state troopers looked on and did nothing.
  • The anti-war protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 when police attacked reporters as well as demonstrators with billy clubs and tear gas. Journalists, innocent bystanders and even doctors offering medical help were severely beaten by police. Throughout the convention, the press was viewed as the enemy.
  • The longest jail stay in American history, seven months, for a journalist refusing to comply with a subpoena. A federal judge sent San Francisco freelancer Josh Wolf to jail for refusing to turn over to prosecutors an unaired videotape that might have shown evidence of police car arson during a 2005 protest. (The Guild honored Wolf in 2006 with the Herbert Block Freedom Award.)
  A press pass has never been carte blanche for reporters but in the not-so-distant past, police seemed more willing to give credentialed members of the media that access it needed to cover a crime or major event, like today’s many protests.   “Most police recognized the importance of the press pass,” Delaney said. “As a police reporter in New Orleans, I was given access to crime scenes, shootouts and protests. Back in the day, there was a recognition that the press had the right to be there to represent the public.”   Journalists know all too well that times and technology have changed, that the proliferation of cell phones and viral videos posted by “citizen journalists” has made it difficult for both police and media.   But police need to figure out – for their sake, for ours and for the public’s -- how to provide, and respect, access for credentialed journalists, including freelancers working for news organizations.   Media organizations, including the Guild, are making genuine offers to help law enforcement make those determinations and establish policies for better police-media relations.   It’s time for America’s police departments to take us up on it.

IAPE: Please Help Us Help Family of Missing WSJ Reporter

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:24am
StaffDecember 17, 2014IAPE-CWA

It's been nearly a year since Wall Street Journal reporter and IAPE-CWA member David Bird vanished Jan. 11 while walking in his neighborhood. His anguished wife and two children had been surviving on Bird's salary for seven months, but are in great need of help, now, IAPE leaders say. "To its credit, Dow Jones kept David on the payroll through the end of July. However, effective August 1, David’s status was changed to unpaid leave of absence. This means that David’s wife Nancy, a stay-at-home wife and mother caring for their two children, has no income with which to provide for her family. Imagine the anguish she faces each and every day – not knowing where her husband is or what happened to him AND wondering how she will manage her financial hardship. [The company is maintaining the family’s health-care benefits.]" This month, the IAPE Board voted to donate $10,000 to the Bird Family Trust and approved a matching-gift program, doubling any IAPE members' gifts up to a total of $10,000. In a message to members, the Board said, ""As we all enjoy this holiday season, please remember David Bird and his family. If you can, please send a contribution to them."

Featured Title: IAPE Seeks Donations to Aid Missing WSJ Reporter's Family

Past Oregonian Editor Tells J-Grads to Reinvent Journalism

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:43am
StaffDecember 17, 2014ASU News

Former Oregonian Editor Peter Bhatia, a visiting professor at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, told December graduates that they are the new pioneers: “While so many in my generation wring their hands about what has been lost, you are ready to jump in with both feet, to define how future generations will be informed, and, again, to do it in the right way, moved with the values we hold so dear at Cronkite,” he said. “I am completely confident you will find the way because you are not wed to a traditional past. You are the new wave of content creators, born in a remarkable age of discovery.”

For Jack Wallace, Life Centered on God, Family and Union

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 3:47pm
Paul GoliasDecember 16, 2014Citizens Voice

Jack Wallace, a fiery union activist and long-time president of the Wilkes-Barre Newspaper Guild, died last week at age 83. A reporter for almost four decades, Wallace covered a Wyoming Valley landscape in which he played a major role as a no-holds-barred labor leader. He unabashedly proclaimed that his life was centered on God, family and his union, in that order -- but sometimes, it seemed like the union was in the lead position. Wallace lead three newspaper strikes and was a tough negotiator. Compromise often meant standing firm until management gave in. Wallace was “a devoted journalist who was a firm advocate for newspaper workers. He improved the lives of many people," said Fred Ney, Guild unit chairman at the former Sunday Independent.

Featured Title: Legendary Wilkes-Barre Guild Leader Jack Wallace Dies at 83

Deep Freeze: Northeast Locals Battle Chill -- Indoors and Out

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 1:11pm
Janelle HartmanDecember 16, 2014NewsGuild-CWA


Guild protests in Manchester, top, and Albany.


SHOVELING  the massive November snowfall in upstate New York and New England hasn’t been the only heavy lifting lately for Guild locals in the region.

Grueling talks for raises, job security and other conditions of fair contracts continue with newspaper management in Buffalo, Albany, Manchester and Providence.

In Albany, it’s been more than seven years without raises; in Buffalo, five years. And Manchester is where Union Leader bosses began talks by seeking a retroactive pay cut, despite members giving back roughly 15 percent of their wages the past five years. Now the company is offering measly bonuses if they’ll make a deal with the devil:

“We hope you are as offended as we are at the company’s tasteless, tactless attempt to get you to accept a horrible deal that will hurt you for years to come by dangling a (very) little cash in front of you right at holiday time. It’s shameful,” the bargaining team recently told members.

At the Providence Journal, the battle is more focused on job security as the new owner—another arm of Gatehouse—outsources advertising, design and copy desk jobs.

The good news is that fed-up members throughout the region are fighting back, from displaying their solidarity—everything from desk tents to pickets—to enlisting the community in their battles.

Albany Times Union members launched a public campaign after the local made a “reasonable settlement offer” in July. The “last straw” came a few weeks later when Publisher George Hearst “showed up with his own ‘proposal’: Employees would give up the right to any say in who gets laid off and what work gets outsourced” in return for a pair of $500 bonuses—one back-dated to 2010. “No, we didn’t get the date wrong,” O’Brien continued, “The publisher walked in the door, said his overwhelmingly rejected offer from 2009 still stands. He did not propose any raises.” The local’s latest actions include a pitch-perfect Christmas card being sent to area leaders (see photo), protesting outside a Hearst-sponsored charity fundraiser and leafleting at Albany performances of “Newsies!” the musical that “tells the story of newsboys organizing a strike against Publisher Hearst! How little the family has changed,” O’Brien said.

Contract talks began at the Buffalo News in May, and barely six months later the company wants to shut them down with a “package proposal” offering no raises or signing bonuses, and an expiration date of next July 31. In a memo to members, the Guild bargaining team says bluntly that the package “stinks.” While they understand the financial realities of the newspaper industry today, and have told the company as much, there’s a reality for workers, too—living paycheck to paycheck while inflation makes that harder each year. The Guild and its members have done their part: “We’ve assisted with a downsizing of The News that has left every department with razor thin staffs,” the bargaining team reminds members.

We’ve repeatedly agreed to redesigns of health insurance to control costs.” The Guild responded to the paper’s “package” offer with a proposal for a two-year contact with 3 percent raises both years. Local President Henry Davis said members have begun to “escalate the number and intensity of actions” recently to demonstrate their solidarity, including balloons throughout the building that say, “5 Years is Too Long,” desk tents advocating raises and wall calendars logging the years without any wage increases. Photo: Snow-weary Buffalo members (see Tammy Turnbull, left) enjoy a sub sandwich feast, sent by the Maine Guild. Earlier, the Albany Guild sent pizza.

Manchester members meeting in mid-November unanimously passed a resolution telling management, “We remain committed to reaching a fair agreement in good faith. We don’t believe, as the publisher has declared, that we have ever been at an impasse nor that this current situation should take years to resolve, but rather could end quickly if the company was more flexible, allowing everyone to devote all their efforts toward making the newspaper the best it can be.” The next day, the company made its “bonus” offer. As odious as that offer is, the bargaining team points out that it’s the company’s first offer since April, and came after members spoke up collectively. They’re also making their voices heard in the community, picketing and leafleting outside company-sponsored events, including gubernatorial election debates. The Guild has asked the company for new dates to bargain and has no intention of giving in to the company’s trickery with its new proposal. “Like a three-card monte dealer, the publisher has just shifted the retrogressions around, while trying to dazzle and distract you with something shiny,” said the bargaining team. “We’re not fooled, nor will we be bullied by the thinly veiled company ‘request’ that we bring this bad deal to a vote.”

Guild members in Providence are fighting further job cuts, largely due to outsourcing under new owner LMG/Gatehouse. The local is asking community leaders to write letters to company officials, urging them to support not only good jobs but the community’s prized newspaper, “a great Rhode Island institution.” Members staged a rally in Providence in late October, the same day as Guild units at other Gatehouse papers where deep cuts are hurting workers and journalism. Providence also marked “Our Piece of the Pie Day” Nov. 18, a signal to management on a bargaining day that the Guild is united. From rhubarb to pumpkin to lemon crunch and apple, pies were all over the building. “We will continue to fight until they realize outsourcing up to 40 of our design/editing jobs in early 2015 and crippling the Providence Journal by overworking our remaining staff isn’t good for the staff, the paper, our readers or Rhode Island,” local leaders said.

For the embattled locals above, the Pittsburgh Guild at the Post-Gazette offers good reason for hope. After eight-plus years without raises, the paper’s 10-member Unity Council reached a four-year agreement in September, back-dated to April 1, 2013.

“Because of an aggressive mobilization campaign and tough bargaining, the 500 union members who remain (after the buyout of about 100 production employees) will receive money in this contract—and not concessions—for the first time since January 2006,” Pittsburgh Guild President Michael Fuoco said.

Fuoco said Guild members “overwhelmingly ratified” the contract, and morale has improved.

“We feel we’ve broken the mindset that the purpose of a contract is to give the company more and more,” he said. “Members see this as a transitional contract, one that bridges those of increasing concessions to those that rightfully restore benefits to Guild members who are working harder than ever in print and digital.”


A Veteran Reporter Walks: How the S-T Failed Dave McKinney

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:58pm
Lena WilliamsDecember 16, 2014NewsGuild-CWA


For nearly 20 years, Chicago Newspaper Guild member Dave McKinney tirelessly gave his all as a political reporter for the Sun-Times.

As the paper’s Springfield bureau chief, McKinney covered the state capital and its politicos without fear or favor, maintaining a delicate balance of objectivity and integrity in his work.

But McKinney reluctantly resigned from his job Oct. 22 after his bosses sided with the state’s Republican candidate for governor, instead of him, in a dispute over his political coverage.

“We reporters have a healthy suspicion of both parties and candidates,” McKinney wrote in his letter of resignation. “It’s our job. It’s regrettable that this issue has emerged in the homestretch of an important election in Illinois, but respectfully, this isn’t about either candidate or election. It’s about readers and their trust in us. So my decision could not wait. I hate to leave, but I must.”

His resignation and the events leading to it shocked and angered many fellow journalists, as well as the larger Chicago community. Individual journalists and organizations, including the Guild, media companies and ordinary citizens demanded an explanation. More than 500 people signed a Chicago Guild petition supporting McKinney and calling on Sun-Times management to “come clean” about what happened.

This much is known.

The campaign for Bruce Rauner, now Illinois’ governor-elect, tried to block a story by McKinney and two reporters for NBC5 in Chicago involving a lawsuit alleging that Rauner made threats against a former female CEO at an outsourcing company he helped launch.

The campaign’s tactics in attempting to keep the story buried included a claim that McKinney, a newlywed, had a conflict of interest: His wife’s political consulting firm represents Democrats, including the incumbent governor, Pat Quinn, whom Rauner ultimately beat.

Columnist Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business described—and debunked—the alleged conflict:

“When Mr. McKinney got engaged last winter, he approached his editor, Mr. Kirk, and informed that (the firm) Adelstein/Liston had agreed to insulate his wife from any involvement with Mr. Quinn or clients such as the Democratic Governors Association, which is spending millions on anti-Rauner ads this fall. The arrangement was in writing, involved establishing a separate corporate subsidiary, and was so detailed that it will prevent Ms. Liston from earning her share of profits on the DGA ads, Adelstein/Liston principal Eric Adelstein told me. Equally significant, he continued, “The paper said ‘great.’ They signed off on it.”

Hinz went on to write that “such political cross-pollination is not unusual in Chicago… For good or bad, the media culture has accepted such arrangements — provided there really is a wall — on the grounds that everyone has a right to make a living.”

In his resignation letter to Michael Ferro, chairman of the Sun-Times, McKinney explained that the story, backed by editors, sworn testimony and interviews, and approved by the legal departments at both the Sun-Times and NBC5, was posted online simultaneously with the Oct. 7 broadcast on NBC5.

“It was a Sun-Times story done in the finest traditions of the paper,” wrote McKinney.

Sun-Times Publisher and Editor Jim Kirk initially told the Rauner campaign that “this assault” on McKinney’s integrity “bordered on defamation” and represented “a low point in the campaign.” Kirk also called the campaign’s tactics “spurious” and “sexist.”

But two days later, McKinney was yanked from his beat in the middle of reporting a story. He was told to go on leave for almost a week, what he called “a kind of house arrest” that was “pure hell.”

Kirk told him that his bosses were considering taking him away from the political and Springfield beats permanently. He was offered other jobs at the paper, which he considered demotions. His unexplained absence from his beat led colleagues to assume he had been suspended or fired.

Only after McKinney retained a well-known lawyer did the company back off its plans to reassign him, offering full reinstatement without condition.

But his first day back, he was asked to forego a byline on another story about Rauner. McKinney protested and won, but then things took a bizarre turn.

The Sun-Times reversed a three-year policy against political endorsements and backed Rauner, who had been an investor in Sun-Times media until 2012.

McKinney was in an untenable, humiliating position.

Should he stay on the job, knowing his editors had failed him? Or swallow his pride and live to fight another day?

McKinney chose honorably. He left.

In his letter, he said his departure has had a “chilling effect” in the newsroom. “While I don’t speak for my colleagues, I’m aware that many share my concern,” he wrote. “I’m convinced this newspaper no longer has the backs of reporters like me.”

Update, Dec. 4: McKinney tells the Guild. “I’m out aggressively looking for work. It’s a tough job climate, but I expect to land on my feet soon. I expect to stay in journalism, because that’s where my heart is. I have no regrets about anything I’ve done.” He adds, “I’m thankful for all the efforts that Guild members across the country have made and the support they’ve given me.”

Retired New York Times reporter Lena Williams is covering, and commenting on, press freedom issues for the Guild at www.RightToReport.org

Patch Reporter Won't Have to Reveal Source, Court Rules

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:28pm
Lauren TrautDecember 16, 2014Patch.com/Illinois

Patch editor Joe Hosey will not have to reveal an anonymous source, an appellate court ruled on Monday, and with that his legal battle of more than a year came to an end. Third District Appellate Court judges earlier this month heard arguments on whether Joseph Hosey should be required to divulge the source from whom he received investigative reports that described in detail various aspects of a grisly Joliet double murder in January 2013. Will County Judge Gerald Kinney in September 2013 found Hosey in “minor direct criminal contempt” for withholding the information. Hosey faced jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. There is not sufficient reason for Hosey to disclose his source, the appellate court ruled, in turn negating Kinney’s ruling. “Because the identity of Hosey’s source cannot be said to [be] relevant to a fact of consequence to the first degree murder allegations, we hold that the circuit court erred when it granted the motion for divestiture.”

Despite Buyouts, New York Times to Lay Off 21 from Guild

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:30am
StaffDecember 16, 2014The Newspaper Guild of New York

Despite having announced its target of reducing newsroom staff by 100 – and accepting the buyout applications of 57 Guild members and nearly 30 excluded employees – The Times told the Guild on Monday that it would lay off another 21 Guild-represented employees this week. Management's decision to exceed its announced goal of 100 newsroom job cuts comes after it turned down the buyout requests of threeGuild-represented employees, hired numerous new employees over past six months and made no effort to retrain long-term employees. Since the Guild and The Times settled the current contract in November 2012, union membership has increased by 100. Management is expected to deliver the layoff news to targeted employees on Tuesday and Wednesday.

CMG Hires Campaign Coordinator in Fight to Save CBC

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 4:04pm
Carmel Smyth, PresidentDecember 15, 2014Canadian Media Guildad

Canadian Media Guild members are so committed to saving the invaluable services -- and family-wage jobs -- of public broadcasting in Canada that the union has hired a longtime Canadian Broadcasting Corp. producer as a campaign coordinator. Kam Rao (pictured) will "strategize, mobilize and otherwise make CBC/Radio-Canada a priority in the 2015 federal election. Our goal? To make Canadians love CBC/Radio Canada as much as we do," writes CMG President Carmel Smyth. For those wondering why CMG and not the CBC itself is investing in a campaign to fight the government funding cuts, Smyth says. "Perhaps because the CBC president and board won’t criticize the same politicians who appoint them. But regardless, someone should be promoting the great work CBC does, and CMG has stepped up." 

Featured Title: CMG Hires Campaign Coordinator in Fight to Save Canada's CBC

Can Sony Sue Media Outlets that Publish Stolen Documents?

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 1:37pm
Eugene VolokhDecember 15, 2014The Washington Post

David Boies, representing Sony, has written a letter to various media outlets, demanding that they not publish or otherwise use the stolen Sony documents, and threatening lawsuits if the information in the documents is indeed “used or disseminated by [the receipients] in any manner.” Does Sony have a legal leg to stand on? Probably not, at least as to most of the information that media outlets would want to publish. There are two relevant precedents, which aren’t squarely on point, but which are pretty close.

Turkish Leaders Crack Down on Media in Political Fight

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:08am
Daren Butler & Humeyra PamukDecember 15, 2014Reuters

Turkish police raided media outlets close to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric on Sunday and detained 24 people in operations against what President Tayyip Erdogan calls a terrorist network conspiring to topple him. The raids on Zaman daily and Samanyolu television marked an escalation of Erdogan's battle with ex-ally Fetullah Gulen, with whom he has been in open conflict since a graft investigation targeting Erdogan's inner circle emerged a year ago. In scenes broadcast live on Turkish TV channels, top-selling Zaman's editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanli smiled and studied police documents before being led through the newspaper's headquarters to applause from staff crowded onto balconies "Let those who have committed a crime be scared," he said before police struggled to escort him through the crowds to a waiting car. "We are not scared." Several hundred people chanted "The free press cannot be silenced" and "Turkey is proud of you".

Victory for James Risen: DOJ Won't Force Reporter to Testify

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 9:44am
Sari HorwitzDecember 15, 2014The Washington Post

Attorney General Eric Holder has decided he will not force New York Times reporter James Risen to reveal his confidential source in a high-profile leak investigation that has pitted the Obama administration against the press for years, according to a person familiar with the decision. A federal judge had set a Tuesday deadline for the Justice Department to say whether it intended to compel Risen to identify his source in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official who was accused of leaking classified information. With that deadline approaching, Holder has told prosecutors that while they may still request a subpoena of Risen, the journalist cannot be required to reveal any information about the identity of his source. Separately, Holder also has withdrawn his initial approval to subpoena a CBS producer to appear as a witness in a terrorism trial in New York after learning that the journalist would contest the effort to secure his testimony. Photo: Risen speaks after being presented the Guild's Herbert Block Freedom Award in October.

Albany Guild Sends Out Hundreds of Creative Holiday Cards

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 9:23am
LeadershipDecember 15, 2014Albany Newspaper Guild

The Hearst noel is not a cheery one, reports Albany Newspaper Gulid leadership. It’s been more than 7 years since most Times Union employees received raises. The union has repeatedly offered concessions to try to reach an agreement, to no avail. The company insists any contract include giving up any say at all in who gets laid off or what jobs get oursourced. In return, the company isn’t even offering a raise, just a flat, one-time $1,000 bonus. "The Guild hasn’t given up. We are drafting a new proposal, but we think the company needs to hear from the public as well as our members. So the union sent the Christmas card (pictured) to hundreds of local leaders."


Featured Title: Albany Holiday Card Sends Strong Message to Area Leaders

Guild Celebrates NLRB Ruling on Workers' Email Rights

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 4:44pm
StaffDecember 11, 2014TNG-CWA

TNG-CWA members at Purple Communications rally in fight for fair contract.



The Newspaper Guild-CWA hails a National Labor Relations Board decision today that makes clear the right of workers to use their work email accounts during non-work hours to discuss workplace issues.


The case involves Guild-represented American Sign Language interpreters at Purple Communications. The decision overturns a previous email case that also involved Guild members, those at The Register Guard in Eugene, Ore.


“With this decision, the NLRB has taken a major step forward to make sure workers’ rights to organize are protected in the 21st century workplace,” Guild President Bernie Lunzer said.


The Board ruled that employees are presumptively entitled to use their work email outside of work to talk to each other about workplace issues, unless an employer can show special circumstances to justify restrictions on that use. “We believe the board has set a high bar for the company to prohibit email usage,” Lunzer said.


Specifically, the Board held that “employee use of email for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must presumptively be permitted by employers who have chosen to give employees access to their email systems.”


In its decision, the NLRB recognized that email has become a critical means of communication about work-related and other issues. Email has become a "natural gathering place" for many workers, much in the same way the worksite cafeteria is or once was. The NLRB has taken seriously the need to "adapt the (National Labor Relations) Act to the changing patterns of industrial life," especially in light of the pervasiveness of email and the growing use of telework.


Today’s decision overturns the earlier Register Guard case, which denied workers access to the company email system specifically for union or collective purposes. Lunzer said that case effectively “undervalued” employees’ legal right to communicate with each other at the workplace and the need to properly balance employer interests with workers’ rights in changing workplaces.


The Board has remanded the specific unfair labor practice question at Purple Communications to an administrative law judge to hear any evidence from the employer that rebuts the presumption that employees had a right to use email for organizing activity.



Conservative Billionaire Might Revive Rocky Mountain News

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 8:57pm
StaffDecember 10, 2014Denver Business Journal

Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz is exploring the possibility of reviving the Rocky Mountain News, the Denver daily newspaper that shut down in 2009 after nearly 150 years of publication, the Denver Business Journal has learned. But one news-industry analyst suggests that Anschutz's real goal may be to buy The Denver Post and is floating the idea of bringing back its longtime competitor as a negotiating tactic. Anschutz has prepared a prototype newspaper and is conducting market research to assess the feasibility of publishing the newspaper once again, almost six years after E.W. Scripps Corp. closed the venerable tabloid.

FBI Won't Rule Out Impersonating Reporters Again Someday

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 8:55pm
AP December 10, 2014The Washington Post

FBI Director James Comey left open the possibility Tuesday that an agent might again pose as a journalist as part of an investigation, though he said such a tactic ought to be rare and “done carefully with significant supervision, if it’s going to be done.” Comey told reporters at a roundtable discussion that he was “not willing to say never” when asked if the FBI would swear off future use of the tactic in response to an Associated Press demand last month. The AP sought assurances from the Justice Department and the FBI that impersonation would not be used again following revelations that an agent in Seattle posed as an AP journalist in 2007 during an investigation into bomb threats at a high school. “I’m not willing to say never,” Comey said.

Guild Seeks Dialogue with Berkeley Leaders Over Journalists' Treatment at Protests

Tue, 12/09/2014 - 3:02pm
Bernie LunzerDecember 9, 2014TNG-CWA

Guild President Bernie Lunzer has sent a letter to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Police Chief Michael Meehan expressing "outrage and disgust over the treatment of reporters and photographers covering (last) weekend's protests in Berkeley." Lunzer describes reporters of journalists "pushed and even struck by law enforcement officers" even as at least one reporter was showing a press badge. Lunzer offered to pull together Bay Area media groups with which the Guild has worked on these issues, to meet with Berkeley officials to discuss the relationship between police and media.

Labor Reporter Steven Greenhouse Takes NY Times Buyout

Wed, 12/03/2014 - 9:52am
Kevin RoderickDecember 3, 2014LA Observed

Nationally respected labor reporter Steven Greenhouse if one of 57 Guild members at The New York Times who have been approved to take the paper's generous buyout offer. As LA Observed puts it, "With Steven Greenhouse's exit from the beat, there can't be too many reporters still covering labor full-time at major American media outlets. And none with his reach.." Greenhouse tells colleagues he plans to write and book and continue to pursue labor stories and "other matters."

New Media/Gatehouse Keeps Buying and Slashing

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 11:24am
Jeff GordonDecember 2, 2014United Media Guild

The vulture capitalists at New Media Investment Group/GateHouse Media are at again. The same folks who built the GateHouse Media empire — before running it into bankruptcy and blowing through $1 billion in debt — are building an even bigger media empire. In their latest move, the company bought the Halifax Media Group for $280 million. The Guild-represented Worcester Telegram & Gazette, in particular, will be a huge addition for the company, helping it control much of Massachusetts outside of Boston. Although Halifax has been a relentless cost-cutter, this acquisition could cost even more journalists their jobs due to inevitable consolidation. We’re advising the folks working at Halifax properties to be wary of the happy-talk from GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis. Such as, "Your reputation for journalistic excellence is inspiring to us... We look forward to partnering with you to leverage our respective strengths, so that together, we may continue our commitment to community news and service." Photo: October rally in Springfield, Ill.

Featured Title: Gatehouse Strategy: Buying Papers, Slashing Jobs & Morale

Major News Groups Fighting Gag Order in Coal Mining Deaths

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 4:35pm
Emily AtkinDecember 1, 2014ThinkProgress

Right now, the criminal indictment of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship (pictured) — charged with responsibility for the deaths of 29 coal miners in an April 2010 mine explosion — is not available to the public. The families of the explosion’s victims, and the parties to the lawsuit, are not allowed to speak to the press. Court personnel are banned from making any statements to the media about what’s going on with the case. But five prominent news organizations, including the Guild-represented Wall Street Journal and AP, are challenging Judge Berger’s decision in court, saying the gag order unreasonably prevents the news media from reporting on a case too important to be ignored. “A reporter’s First Amendment right to publish is meaningless if it is prevented from gathering news in the first place,” the legal challenge from the Journal, AP, National Public Radio, The Charleston Gazette, and the Friends of Public Broadcasting, reads. “In this case, the court’s gag order prevents the news media intervenors and other members of the press from court records and those most knowledgeable about it, the participants and those affected by the underlying events.”