Archive | June, 2012

Los Links: At Least You’re Not A Lumberjack

15 Jun

I’m starting a new feature on the site: Los Links, a (probably) weekly collection of stories about goings-on in the brave new media world. If you run across something that you think should be included, post it in the comments or shoot me an email.

Why Your News Organization’s Social Media Policy May Be Illegal
In the context of the recent brouhaha about Colorado Springs Gazette journalist Barrett Tryon being ordered by management, citing the company’s social media policy, to remove a post from his personal Facebook page, Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman writes such actions have drawn the attention of the National Labor Relations Board. He writes the NLRB has found provisions of employer social media policies to be unlawful in six recent cases, labeling such restrictions “an ‘overly broad’ gag order on workers’ rights.”

The NLRB seems particularly concerned with any restriction that might impair employees’ rights to discuss employment terms and conditions publicly or with each other. The guiding law here is Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which gives workers the rights to organize, unionize and bargain collectively.

Note: The Denver Post’s social media policy can be found in the Ethics Policy document on the intranet.

The Importance of Trustworthiness
In the American Journalism Review, Carl Sessions Stepp writes that while newspaper executives make a convincing case that readers see content as a “real-time work-in-progress that can be instantly corrected and updated,” those executives should be mindful that cutting copy editors could also damage a newspaper’s reputation as more mistakes get through.

The more alarming risk is that the cumulative cutbacks undercut the all-important trustworthiness, a nearly unique selling point. Instead of the recognized, essential site for reliable material, a news operation becomes just one among many semi-satisfactory options.

Why Newspapers Were Doomed All Along
Justin Fox, editor of the Harvard Business Review Group, writes that we’re witnessing the death spiral of many metro dailies that react to lost revenue by cutting back on news-gathering resources and raising prices, making them less attractive to readers. He writes the post-World War II business model was: establish monopoly, milk monopoly.

But the sustainable online business model for serious local reporting has yet to be discovered. … If former monopoly newspapers are to succeed in remaining part of that (sustainable media) mix, they’ll probably need owners who don’t really care about making money. That is, they’ll effectively become non-profits.

The 10 Worst Jobs of 2012
And by the way, according to CareerCast, newspaper reporter is now one of the 10 worst jobs around, coming in at No. 196 out of 200. What’s number 200? Lumberjack.

Non-newsroom Bargaining: Session 13

14 Jun

DENVER NEWSPAPER GUILD and Denver Post representatives met  May 24.

The union presented a counter-proposal concerning District Managers and Assistant District Managers including a four-day, 36-hour work week, the implementation of a time-tracking system to assure employees are paid for all hours worked and no layoffs in the department for the life of the agreement.

Management countered with a 10 percent reduction in hourly pay but no reduced hours, no time clock and a 10 cent per mile reduction in mileage reimbursement. The union then proposed to reduce pay to amounts agreed to in 2009 equaling a 7.5 percent cut for District Managers and a 6.75% cut for Assistant District Managers, a time clock, no layoffs and a 10 cent mileage reduction. The issue was set aside to be discussed at a later date.

Management responded to the union’s last proposal concerning the customer service call center. Management explained the savings the Post could achieve by outsourcing call center work to Honduras was greater than the amount estimated by the union. The union committee accepted management’s number and asked to discuss how to achieve the difference. Management then explained that they do not believe components of the union’s proposal, specifically the merger of inbound and outbound staff and functions, would work. The session ended without any resolution of the issue.

The next bargaining session has not been scheduled.

Kathy Rudolph
Sam Johnson
Maureen Shively
Michelle Miller
Tom Peterson
Laurie Faliano
Paulette Shrefler
Tony Mulligan

Newsroom Bargaining: An Update

4 Jun

I apologize for not being more timely with these updates. I have spoken with all members who have inquired about bargaining developments, but I should have posted the following updates sooner. Please feel free to contact myself or any member of the bargaining team if you have questions. And feel free to post your comments below.

— Thomas McKay


REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GUILD newsroom unit and management met May 8,  9 and 24.

The May 8 and 9 sessions were spent discussing items that had already been identified. These included the company’s topics:

  • Freezing our local pension plan.
  • Elimination of the 401(k) match.
  • Modifying layoff language to something other than straight seniority in job title.
  • Creating a performance-appraisal system.
  • The new Assistant Editor position.

Issues brought forth by the Guild included:

  • YourHub wage increases and use of YourHub staffers for The Denver Post.
  • Adding Viva Colorado staffers to the newsroom unit.
  • Guild membership as a condition of employment.
  • Allowing funeral leave to be taken later than one week after a death. Under our current contract, all funeral leave must be taken within seven days of a death.
  • Purchase and/or reimbursement of newly required equipment — primarily smart phones and data plans.
  • Paid parking for employees on the breaking news team.

A subcommittee was set up to discuss in detail a possible performance-appraisal system. Before the May 24 bargaining session, the subcommittee met twice.

Most of the May 24 bargaining session was taken up by a report from the subcommittee and subsequent discussion regarding performance appraisals.

The subcommittee met again on May 30.

We have not set a date for our next bargaining session.

Thomas McKay
Sara Burnett
Kieran Nicholson
Jim Ludvik
Kyle Wagner
Kevin Hamm
Tony Mulligan