Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Are you toiling in your newsroom?

Editor of the Las Vegas Sun and new member of the New Tribune board, Brian Greenspun said in yesterday's LAT opinion piece that he believes "in the vitality and the vital nature of America's newsrooms and the people who toil in them."

Great for the most part. But does he really believe dedicated, hard-working and talented journalists toil in America's newsrooms? According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary definition, toil means "laborious efforts", "a long strenuous fatiguing labor" or implies "prolonged and fatiguing labor".

Well, maybe journalists must "toil" in Mr. Greenspun's newsroom. However, it's a well documented fact that "long strenuous fatiguing labor" contributes to burnout, stress, illness, and other negative effects on workers and their productivity.

For those of us in unionized newsrooms, we don't "toil" at our work. Sure, we willingly put our hearts and souls into what we do. We believe passionately in what we do. But to define it as toil? struggle? battle?

Where journalists are organized, though most work very hard and oft times choose to work long hours, their collectively-bargained terms and conditions of employment require a workplace quality of life that provides safeguards against burnout and similar negative effects of overwork , thus ensuring "the (continued) vitality" in and of the newsroom and quality journalism employees (and owners) can be proud of.

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