organize your workplace.
The nature of new media has bridged the gap between journalists and readers they serve; or at least made that gap smaller. Readers have hundreds of outlets to choose from and will come across dozens of stories spread out over their timeline. Yet, despite working in this era of mass proliferation and accessibility, journalists find themselves in a more precarious time than ever before. Every month, a colleague will announce abruptly that they have been laid off, or an entire newsroom will announce that their workplace no longer exists.
MTV News, Gawker, Gothamist/DNAInfo, LA Weekly — are all gone or decimated.
The response each time is the same. We do our best to help our friends out; send them job postings, open up our inboxes to their pitches and recommend them to others. But other than that, in those moments, it feels like there is very little we can do. There is an overwhelming, even if momentary, sense of powerlessness.
Hold that thought.
Another thing about new media is this tendency to group outlets as having certain traits; some outlets are good and woke, other outlets are bad and problematic. VICE is like this, Teen Vogue is like that, BuzzFeed is like this, Vox is like that. There is some truth to this; outlets do have styles and make editorial decisions that reflect on the whole organization. But by in large, writers and editors of different styles and beliefs can be found at a single outlet. Thus, there may be an outlet you absolutely despise, but find yourself sharing a piece one day and saying “oh wow, X actually posted this”.
While writers and editors vary, management everywhere are the same. Management is bad. They may be nice, but they are ultimately bad. Their interests are not the same as those of the workers who work for them. It does not matter if they publish a lot of progressive content, or have a salad bar and bean bag couches at work — they will not protect journalists from job losses. A benevolent boss is still a boss.
But there is something we can do. We are not as powerless as the industry may make us feel at times. We have collective power in our workplaces and we can harness it in defense of good working conditions. Now, more than ever, workers in both new and traditional media, must unionize.
In a time where “fake news” is becoming a common refrain from those in power; it is integral that the jobs of journalists, writers and others in media are protected, not just for our own sake, but for a society where truth is spoken to power. Democracy dies in darkness yes, but you can’t keep the lights on, if you can’t afford to do so.
Organize your workplace today.
Solidarity with La Times Guild and Vox Union.