Friday, January 26, 2007

Reaching Out

Hey Guys,

I've been a little incommunicado as of late since my computer decided it wanted to die again... my apologies, but I did want to make you aware of another union movement afoot across town. After the morale-killing dismissal of Dean Baquet and a string of confusing moves by Tribune, the Guild has reached out to the newsroom at the LA Times in an attempt to offer them some support. Our local's providing assistance and advice and it appears that there's growing interest from the folks at the Times. Though the company has fought off union organizing attempts in the past, the Teamsters recently won a victory in the press room and the Guild has had productive talks with staffers.

If you want to read one endorsement, I see Jamie Court, the consumer activist who blogs for the Huffington Post, has taken note. (As a note of disclosure, I've quoted Court in his role with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer rights in the past when I covered business, but have not spoken to him about this, or anything else, for quite some time)

I'll leave the particulars to the Guild experts (, but I did want to add my own quick perspective. As we've seen at the Daily News (and I'm sure it's similar at much larger places like the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, all Guild papers), a union doesn't instantly resolve all the issues, but it can be tremendously helpful. We still have our share of struggles, but at the very least, we've got a voice in the debate in how the newsroom changes. When the layoff notices hang over our heads or the corporate office begins rumbling with ideas that could hurt us, it's the contract that protects us and the relationship that helps us all. I hope that the workers at the Times will find a similar experience and if they've got questions on how things work here, encourage them to get in touch with us.

Thanks for listening and best of luck to everyone.


Monday, January 15, 2007

A Brief Note and a Few Quick Things

Hey Guys,

Just wanted to shoot a couple quick union-related things your way on this fine Monday evening. There's no unifying theme, so I'll keep it brief.

First all, I wanted to pass along the news that we'll soon be getting DSL service in both City Hall and the County office. Working together with management, we were finally able to convince the company to rewire those remaining two bureaus so we can finally all get on the new system. This'll make working from those locations light years easier, not just for the folks who use them every day, but all of us who occasionally pass through. Thanks are in order for Kerry, Rick and Troy, who helped us make our case and finally got it nailed down.

I guess the thing that's worth noting for that and for other things that we all deal with daily, is not to accept the status quo. In a similar note, I just got sent to Vegas to cover a convention along with Brad Greenberg and Hans Gutknecht for three days. It never occurred to me to ask to go, but I've got a forward-thinking editor who was able to make the case we should send someone. And we were able to talk our way into adding on another reporter and photographer, which I initially thought would be too expensive. The only thing that mattered to Melissa when we pitched it was that we'd get good quality work out of the trip, which I think we definitely did.

So that's a little convoluted, but the point is: don't always assume that we can't get things fixed or do things differently. I fall into that trap, too, but we've gotta get out of that old Daily News mentality. We're always going to have to fight for resources and things will never be as good as we want them-- that's why this union exists-- but it's also not as bleak as we sometimes think it is. Whenever you see a way to improve things, speak up and we'll work our way to where we need to be.

Ok, one final thing, the ever popular shout-out, before I sign off. I know I've highlighted Greg Hernandez's work before, but his unflagging efforts in the last few weeks deserve more notice. Not only is he continuing to kick ass online, with his inexhaustable appetite for blogging, both on Out in Hollywood and On The Red Carpet, but he wrote a fantastic piece on coming out in Hollywood ( last week. That's exactly what we're gonna have to do to stay afloat in the future-- we've got to come up with innovative product for the Web but still present compelling product for the print edition, too. Keep rockin', Herny, and well done.

That'll do it for tonight-- thanks again to all of you and let's hang out soon.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Thoughts for the New Year

Hey Guys,

Another year has come and gone and here we are with the calendar spread out blank once again. I just wanted to steal a quick moment to let you know what's going on on the union front and thank you once again for all your hard work. We definitely went through our share of challenges in 2006, but as always, you guys stepped up and made it through in fine form.

This is a lousy time in the newspaper business, without question. Whether it was layoffs, corporate disarray or consolidation, it felt like just one long stream of bad news in our industry last year. Given that this job isn't easy even during happier times, it's all the more remarkable that y'all have kept at it throughout. Though our resources are strapped and our newshole keeps shrinking, we still manage to put out a damn good paper every day.

With that in mind, I want to thank the people who'll never get enough praise for the work they do. I use this blog to shine the light on reporters and photographers sometimes-- never enough, but I try to highlight good work by our members when I get a chance-- but I never can thank the workhorses of this paper enough. So rather than highlight particular pieces of work, let me just take this time to say thanks to the copy editors, designers, web folks and everyone else who slaves to get this content out every day. You're the ones who give up your nights, weekends and holidays to keep us in business and we all owe you, so thank you, not only to our members, but to everyone who puts in that laudable effort.

As we step into 2007, I'm sure we'll face more challenges and good times as well, but I have a good feeling about where we're headed. Whether it's adapting to new technology, as a number have you have done with blogs, videos and podcasts, or finding new ways to streamline the work, you guys keep fighting to keep us alive. Though this can be a frightening period at times as newspapers struggle to adapt to a changing market, you guys keep looking for ways to survive. Hopefully, we'll be the ones to figure out how to change and stay essential-- and I think that we will.

With that in mind, our union has been changing and staying proactive, as well. In this past year, we've added new members, branched into different parts of the newsroom, certified a new steward and cultivated a stronger relationship with management. When times were bad, especially during the layoff worries during the fall, we were able to find ways to help our members and minimize the damage to editorial. And when things were looking up, we've looked for ways to prepare for the road ahead. As a result of our discussions with management, we've been able to get new equipment and training for the staff.

And in 2007, we'll be continuing to reach out. In a few weeks, we'll be meeting with our counterparts at other papers throughout the state to discuss ways to work together more closely in this ever-shrinking biz. We'll keep looking for ways to better represent you at the Daily News and will be on the lookout for ways to keep evolving. Your suggestions are always welcome and appreciated.

So that's my soapbox for one evening. Thanks again for everything and best of luck to everyone in the year ahead.