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The Journalist Union Movement


Journalists unionizing may not be the working-class revolt that those who fantasize about the revolution desire. After all, they aren’t working class in a traditional sense. But like graduate students and other professionals, they are at this point perhaps more likely to unionize than working class people. We can discuss the problems with the working class being too frightened to vote yes on a union, but what we cannot do is say that the union effort among journalists has been anything less than remarkable and laudable.

By the numbers: In 2020, more than 1,800 journalists across unions from the NewsGuild and the Writers Guild (of America) unionized, according to data from the leaders of both groups. That’s up from roughly 1,500 the year prior.

In 2020, Schleuss said the NewsGuild saw unionization efforts from more than 30 outlets, compared to 18 in 2019 and 20 in 2019.

In 2021, more than 200 journalists have already unionized with the NewsGuild and hundreds more are pending.

Driving the news: Insider became the latest digital media company to organize when its U.S. editorial staff said it was forming a union with the NewsGuild of New York on Monday.

In a video tweeted by the union, journalists at Insider say they’ve voted to unionize to “secure what we’ve built and strengthen it.”

Last week, The New York Times’ 650 tech workers also formed a union. Other major outlets to unionize in the past few months include Bustle Digital Group, NowThis and Wired, in addition to dozens of other local outlets.

What to watch: In the past few years, more local newsrooms have pushed to unionize in response to hedge fund and private equity takeover threats.

Schleuss says that more than 40 different newsrooms within Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper company, have unionized, as well as more than a dozen from McClatchy, which sold to a hedge fund last year.

Workers are workers no matter what their education or cultural values that too often some with a real axe to grind say make journalists not “real workers.” Well, a union is a union and we need to build worker power throughout the economy. Very much including in our highly exploited journalist classes.

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