Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Time to walk the walk

Over a year ago when we set up this blog, we were the only place (outside of Tribune's own web pages) solely dedicated to providing you with information and opinion on the Tribune sale, Sam Zell, employee stock ownership plans and the rash of layoffs that preceded and followed the change in ownership. Pressroom employees at the LAT launched a website and blog back in 2006 as part of their organizing drive, but our focus was and continues to be newsroom employees.

Since Tribune changed hands at the end of 2007, Zell and Co. have been in the headlines on a regular basis, perhaps prompting Kevin Roderick of LAObserved to make this announcement in February: "As of now, Sam Zell has his own category at LA Observed. Signs are it will be a busy one. I get now what New York journos see in the likes of Donald Trump and George Steinbrenner: endless fun copy."

In May, Tell Zell was launched. Penned anonymously by InkStainedRetch (maybe one or many LATers), the blog is "dedicated to the proposition of sifting truth from madness. Of chronicling the evil, threadbare attempts by Zell and Co. to dismantle one of the great American newspapers."

Clearly, Zell and his radio heads enjoy no mercy in LA and it appears now that LAT current and former staffers are finally stepping up and speaking out. However, anonymous protestations alone won't save your paper, your company or your craft.

InkStainedRetch "desperately, urgently believes in journalism, nut grafs and other good stuff" and implores LAT staffers not to go down without a fight. Talking the talk may make you feel better today folks, but what about tomorrow? What about your future? If you truly believe in good journalism then step up and stand together for real change and a say in the future of your newsroom and your paper. 

Last Friday Bay Area journalists voted to unionize. In a final message to their colleagues the day before the vote, the co-chairs of the organizing committee wrote:

We endured plenty to reach this point: The merger nobody wanted; the departure of colleagues unwilling to bank on a shaky paper’s future; the loss of more colleagues through our largest workforce reduction in recent memory; the gnawing fear that what we love about our jobs may inevitably erode, casualties of a broken industry.
We believe that our newsroom employees have much more to offer the paper than the fine journalism they produce, and that only by taking a seat at the table can we truly influence decisions about the direction of our craft and our company. We are a creative asset, and we believe our ideas can be put to more use than they have been.
Indeed, you are the real assets of the company. The road to unionization isn't an easy one, but winning a seat at the table can be worth the journey, as many of these comments attest to. 

Under the leadership of a CEO who thinks nothing of demeaning a newly-appointed female executive and a shock-jock CIO who fires off rambling memos and pronouncements that insult the intelligence and talent of employee-owners, organizing yourselves may be your only shot to push back and help your company chart a course to success.

The opportunity to take back your future awaits you.

No comments: