Thursday, June 28, 2007

Blue flu at WSJ today**

Reporters were sick this morning. The WSJ union said in a statement:

Wall Street Journal reporters across the country chose not to show up to work this morning.

We did so for two reasons.

First, The Wall Street Journal’s long tradition of independence, which has been the hallmark of our news coverage for decades, is threatened today. We, along with hundreds of other Dow Jones employees represented by the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees, want to demonstrate our conviction that the Journal’s editorial integrity depends on an owner committed to journalistic independence.

Second, by our absence from newsrooms around the country, we are reminding Dow Jones management that the quality of its publications depends on a top-quality professional time and staff. Dow Jones currently is in contract negotiations with its primary union, seeking severe cutbacks in our health benefits and limits on our pay. It is beyond debate that the professionals who create The Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones publications every day deserve a fair contract that rewards their achievements. At a time when Dow Jones is finding the resources to award golden parachutes to 135 top executives, it should not be seeking to eviscerate employees’ health benefits and impose salary adjustments that amount to a pay cut.

We put the reputation of The Wall Street Journal and the needs of its readers first. That’s why we will be back at our desks this afternoon, producing the day’s news reports. But we hope this demonstration will remind those entrusted with the future of Dow Jones that our publications’ integrity must be protected, and sustained, from top to bottom.'s Paul R. La Monica doesn't think the action will make a difference, "... after taking a quick look at the WSJ’s Web site on Thursday morning, it didn’t appear that there was any indication that people weren’t working. Breaking stories were covered by writers there and not just wire stories".

We think the action by WSJ's unionized reporters sends a powerful message: The staff is willing to take action in full demonstration of their convictions. United, they can and will make a difference in the future of the company in which they too have so much invested. And united, they will continue to demand a fair contract.

We do agree with La Monica's conclusion:
The WSJ’s strength is its brand and that comes from its reporting and editing talent. So if Murdoch succeeds in winning control of Dow Jones, he’s really going to have to extend an olive branch to the union, stat, or he may quickly find that he just threw $5 billion of his shareholders’ money down the drain.
*Will Murdoch walk? "They can't sell their company and still control it — that's not how it works..." An exclusive interview with Murdoch: Time

**Bill Moyers on Murdoch: YouTube

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