*More info here
In Milwaukee, the Journal Sentinel no longer covers suburban news, opting instead to let it's weekly newspaper divisions of Journal Communications, staffed by journalists making half what journalist at the JS make, provide service to the communities. The Milwaukee Newspaper Guild is helping the group organize themselves as a Community Newspapers (CNI) unit of the local.
We are impressed with the group's determination. Take a look at their blog. The following is a snip of a recent post:
We have the backing of dozens of people who know where we are because they’ve been there. Those 150 people from Local 51, the Milwaukee Newspaper Guild, know how much we love what we do - the freedom to write, polish, create and photograph that next great idea. They know if we didn’t have families, we would do it for free, but they also know that wouldn’t be a great idea… because what we do and how we do it is of great value to people.No. You shouldn't be taken advantage of. Dignity and fairness for all is what the Guild is all about and it doesn't matter whether you work at a small weekly, a national daily or some place in between. Nor does it matter if you are just starting a career, at your pinnacle or heading into the sunset of a long, successful career. What DOES matter is that you are properly and proportionately compensated, fairly treated and provided with equal opportunities for advancement. And let's not forget your right to have a voice and have it be heard! (end of post)
We also have the backing of the entire News Guild Union and the Communication Workers of America … and that my friends, is a great place to be.
Sometimes us creative types think we operate better in isolation. We aren’t known to do battle with our employer, except of course when it comes to our craft. Many of us have probably never asked for a pay raise, thought of asking for time-and-a-half after working an eight-hour day, or thought there was a need for a pay classification. And I’m sure the notion of turning in three stories before we went on vacation or even better yet, (I’ve personally done this) writing on our vacations, didn’t cause us much concern.
But now the dynamic is different… it’s different because I now feel the sting of being told I don’t contribute to generating revenue, that those red marks on a piece of paper some how dictate that I should continue the status quo while being spoon fed fear. Being a writer has often been called an affliction, a disease, and an incurable one at that, but does it mean that we need to be taken advantage of?