The newspaper industry has morphed and evolved over the past decade. What was once a physical copy picked up at a new stand, is now a twitter link to be read on a mobile device or desktop.
The problem with the ever evolving news industry is that many people work within it, and their jobs are constantly at risk. NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss joined AWF Union Podcast to discuss why newsrooms are being downsized and how workers are taking back power.
Why are newspapers downsizing?
Schleuss said newspapers throughout the country are downsizing at rapid speed. The internet allows people to get news and information at their fingertips, eliminating the need for many corner news stands. This has also translated into finding new ways to turn a profit on the news.
Hedge funds and other corporations have begun buying up local papers, with the goal of strip-mining them and restructuring the newsroom in order to turn a larger profit. They do this by gutting newsrooms and cutting costs that make it difficult for the paper to operate.
He said this becomes an issue because people will struggle to get quality, local news. When people are uninformed about the happenings in their town, they are less likely to be educated on the issues directly affecting them.
Why are newsrooms organizing with the NewsGuild?
Schleuss said newsrooms are organizing at great speed and with an exceptionally high success rate. The reporters and other workers are fed up with the treatment from hedge funds and others buying papers.
Wages in the news industry have become stagnant, with many dedicated workers barely making a living wage and in constant fear of being strip-mined. He said raising newsroom wages has been a driving factor in many of the organizing drives.
Additionally, the lack of diversity in newsrooms has encouraged some to band together. He said a newsroom that does not accurately represent the population of the area they report on cannot effectively tell stories.
Despite the struggle of organizing in the middle of a pandemic, he said the NewsGuild is doing well. Each year since 2018, the NewsGuild has managed to organize over 1,000 workers.