The International Partnership Mission on safety and protection of journalists and press freedom in Ukraine, currently in Kiev, strongly condemns the violence that today claimed the life of Vesticorrespondent Vyacheslav Veremyi and left at least 27 journalists injured.
The delegation of national and international freedom of expression and media support groups, which includes Reporters Without Borders, calls on the Ukrainian authorities to allow an immediate, independent, and transparent investigation and to bring those responsible to justice.
« Over 167 journalists have been injured since the beginning of the political crisis in Ukraine in late November 2013. Many of these journalists were deliberately targeted and none of their cases have been properly investigated. This state of impunity is unacceptable and fuels more violence. We call on all parties to facilitate de-escalation of the situation and show respect for the work and the physical integrity of media personnel, and we remind the Ukrainian authorities of their responsibility to ensure journalists’ safety. We call on the international community to use all leverage possible to facilitate these aims », said the mission members.
33-year-old journalist Vyacheslav Veremyi died of gunshot wounds in a Kiev hospital today, in the early morning. He was dragged out of his taxi by unknown assailants in the city centre, while returning home from Maidan Square. The journalist was violently beaten up, and according to witness accounts, he was shot in the stomach after he showed his press card.
At least 27 journalists were injured while covering the violent clashes in Kiev on 18 and 19 February. Most of them were attacked by members of the « Berkut » special forces and unidentified assailants.
The International Partnership Mission is also very concerned by censorship attempts such as the blocking of Channel 5 broadcasts across the country since 18 February.
The International Partnership Mission on safety and protection of journalists and press freedom in Ukraine includes representatives of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTU), the Ukrainian Association of Press Publishers, the European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ/IFJ), International Media Support (IMS), Open Society Foundation, WAN/IFRA, Article19, Reporters Without Borders and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The delegation’s 19-20 February 2014 visit to Kiev aims to gather first-hand information about current press freedom violations in Ukraine, to show solidarity with journalists at risk, and to coordinate further responses.
The more investigative reporters sacked, the less incentive the rest have to probe.
Postmedia’s decision to torch its parliamentary bureau last week will inevitably compromise the newspaper chain’s ability to produce investigative public affairs reporting.
There will be fewer hands to file access to information requests, fewer eyes to read public records and fewer minds to think of questions that aren’t being asked.
That’s a blow to Canada’s democracy, given that Postmedia publishes the National Post, the Canada.com website and nine newspapers in major cities across the country.
Indeed, CTV Power Play host Don Martin has already eloquently made a similar point.
But I also wonder whether the now endemic level of such layoffs in the industry could compromise the willingness of still employed journalists to do critical investigative work without fear or favour.
Let me explain. In my experience, it’s not uncommon for reporters to end up working for or trying to influence the officials and institutions they once covered. For example, journalists on the politics beat have been known to eventually become government staffers and lobbyists.
So it’s reasonable to assume that, given the instability of the news industry, some journalists may increasingly come to see the subjects of their stories as potential employers. In doing so, those same journalists may come to wonder how their coverage will affect their chances of being hired if they are downsized.
True, most institutions and officials understand that journalists have to report on news releases and news events. They may even understand that journalists need to ask tough questions as part of that coverage. But how do those institutions and officials feel when a journalist initiates a story rather than
responds to what others are publicly doing and saying?
Do those institutions and officials think the journalist is just doing their job (true) or do they think the journalist is just making trouble (false)?
A changing job description?
In attempting to answer those questions, it’s worth remembering that as the news media’s ability to produce such investigative journalism declines, so too may the frequency of such reports. Hard-hitting reporting will likely become even more of an outlier on the nation’s news pages and broadcasts than it already is.
As a result of this rarity, some institutions and officials may increasingly come to see investigative reporting as not part of a journalist’s job — in practice, if not principle.
So how willing would those institutions and officials be to hire someone who has, in their opinion, just been making trouble? How many journalists — who are working under the threat of unemployment — are asking that same question?
And how might that affect the news media’s willingness to investigate the powerful, rather than just repeating what the powerful have to say?
Of course, I don’t necessarily have the answers to any of these questions — or the many others that may arise if journalists increasingly start thinking about their job futures rather than their present jobs. Moreover, it’s important to remember there are many reporters for whom the public trust will always come before any personal considerations.
But as the number of people guarding the bulwark of liberty continues to forcibly decline, these are important questions worth asking.
By Kathleen Kuehn
Last March, an editor from The Atlantic approached freelance journalist Nate Thayer about repurposing an article he’d published elsewhere for the news magazine’s website. Unfortunately, the editor informed him, freelance funds had run out. In lieu of payment, the opportunity would offer Thayer “exposure” to The Atlantic’s 13 million monthly readers.
Outraged by the proposition that a 25-year professional veteran journalist with decades of experience as a foreign correspondent would write for nothing, Thayer refused the offer, then publicly posted the email exchange on his blog, which quickly went viral. The post received over 100,000 hits on its first day and inspired thousands of online discussions, blogs and tweets about the politics of writing for free in the age of digital culture. While some criticized Thayer’s handling of the offer, much of the discourse supported his concerns about the relationship between working for “exposure” and the decline of paid writing and professional journalism.
Perhaps indicative of just how common the practice of writing for free has become, an overwhelming number of sympathizers related their own stories about being solicited for and/or accepting unpaid work. Others questioned the value of such opportunities; those who had learned their lesson from doing so encouraged the rebuttal that “people die from exposure.” (Some defended The Atlantic’s practice, including contributors, Alexis C. Madrigal and Ta-Nehisi Coates and Slate’s Matthew Yglesias).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the commentary blamed the digital army of amateur bloggers and citizen journalists for collectively devaluing the written word by saturating the market with free content. Many argued that if more professional writers would heed Thayer’s “just say no” approach, then perhaps the demand for quality content would eventually tip the scales away from the oversupply of (presumably lower-quality) amateurism back in favour of those professionally trained in the craft.
Rather than considering whether or not these so-called amateurs are “ruining journalism,” I’m interested in understanding why so many people willingly work for free in the first place—a question that, surprisingly, rarely enters the debate.
Based on research I conducted with T.C. Corrigan on bloggers and online consumer reviewers, we found that many people voluntarily invest their time, energy and creativity into unpaid writing not just for fun or to build social networks (although those remain key motivators) but as a potential stepping-stone for securing future work. We call this motivation “hope labour”: un- or under-compensated work, often performed in exchange for experience and exposure in the hopes that future work will follow.
Hope labour motivates the willingness to write for free. In many ways, it’s a no-brainer: the seduction of unpaid work as a future-oriented investment offsets the risks and anxieties associated with a precarious labour market. Transformations in the global economy since the 1970s (including massive economic restructuring, globalization, technological innovation and the subsequent reorganization of labour) have replaced stable, long-term contracts with a landscape of temporary and contingent work. Un- and under-employment are on the rise; over 40 per cent of American workers now classify themselves as “free agents,” and half of all surveyed new university undergraduates believe self-employment is more secure than a full-time job—even as they leave university with unprecedented student loan debt and repayment rates.
For many aspiring writers, hope is the operative term when it comes to justifying unpaid work. Philosophers who have written about hope have long claimed that the human condition is a work-in-progress that involves the projection of the present into the future of a better or different state of being. Importantly, hope labourers draw on some condition of the past or present—some experience, event or idea—when they project their desires into the future. From this standpoint, it makes sense, for instance, that the exposure gained upon moving from one’s personal blog to an unpaid gig at someone else’s blog is regarded as immaterial currency to be potentially cashed in down the line. And we can’t fault people for this; everyone wants a job they love. The problem is that making a living at something you love in precarious times is hardly a matter of choice. We lack agency, so we hope.
Within this context, hope labour is an increasingly central and rational motivation for accepting unpaid gigs; and importantly, it’s been largely normalized by some of the very institutions we might have previously expected would challenge its more exploitative dynamics. Media, education and politics are all complicit in normalizing hope labour opportunities. Newsrooms effectively downsize by obtaining cheap content via user contributions, social media or crowdsourcing campaigns, and do so under the premise that this is the only financially viable way of preserving the fourth estate in an era where no one wants to pay for content (the conversation rarely suggests that perhaps the commercial news model no longer meets contemporary economic or cultural demands).
The media also support hope labour narratives in the regular circulation of success stories about individuals who have parlayed their 15 minutes of fame into high-profile permanent gigs, suggesting this is evidence that working-for-exposure is a proof-positive means of achieving stability in unstable times. See, for example, The Atlantic’s decision to hire Northwestern graduate Robinson Meyer because of “how good he was on Twitter.” Three years, 21,549 tweets and one Atlantic internship (presumably unpaid) later, Meyer proved he had “the right instincts” for audience engagement, satisfying editorial needs not just for good writers (no longer enough to meet the timely and niche-based demands of today’s production schedules), but “good readers and connectors.” (Incidentally, Meyer landed the job just months after editors refused to pay Thayer for one story.)
As its own form of unpaid work, social media platforms like Twitter now compete with formal education as a training ground for aspiring writers. As Meyer’s hiring editor noted: “I know a lot more about Rob from his Twitter usage than I could ever locate on his college transcript or resume.” In keeping up with rapidly changing times, tertiary institutions are moving away from the traditional liberal arts model of intellectual exploration towards building “practical knowledge” that also supports the free labour economy. One needs to look no further than the extent to which colleges, universities and even some high schools have rolled out unpaid internship programs, often mandatory and unregulated, at unprecedented rates in the past decade. As of 2008, 80 per cent of U.S. universities offer courses on “entrepreneurship,” while new majors in social media teach students how to better brand their digital selves. Indeed, the institutions that would likely have the greatest ability to disrupt the normalization of hope labour are those most likely to rely upon, or promote, hope labour arrangements.
To criticize those who accept unpaid writing gigs fails to acknowledge the larger economic realities that aspiring writers must navigate in making themselves employable. To blame the hopeful for the state of the writing industries does little but lock aspiring writers into a double bind. On the one hand, free writing (supposedly) diminishes the trade as it paradoxically undermines the very profession many of these same people hope to enter. Yet at the same time, working for exposure is precisely what traditional social institutions now promote as the primary means of making it in an otherwise precarious economy. Generating self-exposure or building one’s “soft assets” (skills, knowledge, digital literacy) through unpaid writing reflects dominant Western beliefs concerning individual self-reliance and entrepreneurialism; it’s about getting a leg up in a competitive market by using the tools available to “make do” in a world where no one owes you anything.
Admittedly, the antagonism between professionals and amateurs around the devaluation of culture is not new, nor is the solicitation of free labour specific to professional writers. But while there are no easy answers to resolving the contradictions of accepting free labour, blaming “amateurs” for trying to make themselves employable fails to account for the reasons they accept unpaid work in the first place.
As experience and exposure are now their own form of currency, accepting unpaid work is thus a logical, rational investment in one’s own professional aspirations. At minimum, it also explains why The Atlantic—and so many publications like it—can obtain stories without paying for them, even as writers like Thayer publicly protest the grounds on which such offers exist.
Kathleen Kuehn is a lecturer in media studies at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Her teaching and research interests focus on digital media, cultural production and critical studies of consumer culture. Her work has been published in academic journals such as Political Economy of Communication, International Journal of Communication, Communication, Culture & Critique, Electronic Journal of Communication, Journal of Information Ethics and Democratic Communiqué.
Dear Local President,
I am pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the John Belcarz and Dan Zeidler post-secondary education/training memorial scholarships. Two scholarships of $1,000 each are available.
The accompanying attachments contain a poster and application form in both English and French (also available on our website: http://www.cwa-scacanada.ca. Please circulate this information to your members.
Director, CWA/SCA Canada
Glacier’s Kamloops paper shut down despite company profit margins above 30 per cent.
Vancouver-based Glacier Media, which recently gave notice it will close the long-publishing Kamloops Daily News, enjoys profit margins above 30 per cent, according to financial reports available on its website. It also reportedly pays its top executives millions of dollars a year and pays its directors $1,000 for each meeting they attend.
Glacier, which publishes 37 newspapers in B.C., including six other dailies, served the required 60-days notice of closure under Section 54 of the B.C. Labour Code, according to Unifor Local 2000, which represents about 45 of its workers.
In a front-page story, the Daily News blamed its demise on financial pressures. “The reason for the closure is economic — revenues have declined and The Daily News has been unable to reduce expenses sufficiently to continue as a viable operation.” Daily News publisher Tim Shoults attributed the pending closure to a persistent inability to make ends meet.
“We have struggled for the last several years, worked tirelessly and taken many difficult steps along the way which were designed to ensure our future,” he was quoted as saying in the article. “Unfortunately the realities of our industry, our local advertising market and our labour situation were too great for us to overcome.”
Unifor Local 2000 president Mike Bocking declined comment, saying the union is currently in talks with the company on behalf of its members. A source at the Kamloops Daily News told The Tyee that the newspaper could be closed as early as this week after an agreement is reached with the union on severance pay for terminated workers. Shoults did not respond to a voicemail request for comment.
Move to monopolies
Its latest quarterly report, however, shows that Glacier posted earnings of $66 million on revenues of $219.5 million through the first nine months of 2013, for a profit margin of 30.1 per cent. That was down from earnings of $70.7 million on revenues of $219.9 million in the same period during 2012, for a profit margin of 32.2 percent.
In November, Glacier announced a program of “Value Enhancement Initiatives” designed to “enhance its operations and financial position.” Among the listed measures were real estate sales and the sale of non-core assets, including two money-losing community newspapers. “Given the softness currently being experienced in the Company’s community media operations, a variety of significant cost reduction measures have and are being implemented to reduce overall operating costs.” Included in the cost-cutting measures,according to the Vancouver Sun, has been the contracting out of advertising production to companies in India and the Philippines for several of its newspapers, including the Kamloops Daily News.
In 2010, Glacier sold 11 of its newspapers to Victoria-based Black Press, including the Nelson Daily News and Prince Rupert Daily News, which competed with Black Press newspapers in those markets and were immediately closed, giving Black Press two lucrative local monopolies. Late last year, Glacier also sold Black Press its Abbotsford/Mission Times, which competed with the Black Press-owned Abbotsford News. Black Press promptly closed its new acquisition, giving it another monopoly.
The pending closure of Glacier’s Kamloops Daily News, which began life in 1931 as the Kamloops Shopper, continues the trend toward consolidation and monopoly in B.C.’s community newspaper industry. The competing Kamloops This Week, which now enjoys a monopoly, announced plans to increase its publication frequency to three times a week in the wake of the Daily News closure. Kamloops This Week is owned by Kelowna-based Aberdeen Publishing, a small chain that owns about a dozen community newspapers, including in Prince George and Fort St. John, where Glacier publishes dailies. It is operated by the low-profile Bob Doull.
Glacier has grown rapidly to rank as one of Canada’s largest publishers of small and medium-sized newspapers. In addition to B.C., where it also owns Business in Vancouver, the Vancouver Courier and the suburban Now newspapers, Glacier also owns newspapers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. It began life as a bottled water company in 1988 before moving into the newspaper business a decade later.
Glacier grew in 2000, when it bought several newspapers, including the Kamloops Daily News and Prince George Citizen from Conrad Black, who had acquired them a few years earlier in his takeover of Southam Inc., Canada’s largest newspaper publisher. Glacier grew considerably in 2006 by buying another 25 newspapers and 73 magazines from Black’s imploding company Hollinger International.
It grew again in 2011 by purchasing 23 newspapers from Postmedia Network (the latest incarnation of Southam) for $86.4 million, including the Victoria Times Colonist. Glacier is controlled by Vancouver real estate magnate Sam Grippo and operated by CEO Jonathon Kennedy, a former investment banker and Harvard MBA.
According to the B.C. Reporter, a blog on community journalism in Western Canada that was discontinued in March, Glacier’s top three executives were compensated with salaries and fees exceeding $2 million each in 2009. According to the blog, which cited figures gleaned from the company’s 2010 annual report, the company’s directors were also each paid $1,000 for every meeting they attended. Neither Kennedy nor Orest Smysnuik, Glacier’s chief financial officer, returned calls after more than 24 hours.
The Kamloops Daily News is closing due to declining revenues and high costs, but the industry says this does not signal distress in the daily newspaper business as a whole.
“This is the first major market paid daily that we’ve seen close in recent memory,” Newspapers Canada president and CEO John Hinds said.
By Martin O’Hanlon
CWA Canada Director
I’m going to make a bold prediction for 2014: the tide will finally begin to turn.
It will turn for newspapers, which have been through the worst and will begin to see revenues climb again.
It will turn for the Harper government (it already has really) which has been attacking labour, the CBC, and many other progressive voices in Canada.
And most importantly, it will turn for economic inequality, which has become the biggest threat to this country’s future.
By noon on Jan. 2, each of Canada’s top-paid CEO’s had earned as much money in 2014 as the average Canadian worker will make all year.
I don’t begrudge a CEO, or anyone else, a big paycheque. But it is fundamentally unfair – not to mention bad for the economy and society – for companies to pay those big salaries and rake in huge profits when they don’t pay their workers a decent wage.
It angers me when Postmedia cuts hundreds of jobs and insists that it can’t give workers a raise, and then increases its CEO pay by a whopping 50%, to $1.7 million.
More importantly, it angers the majority of Canadians, who have an innate sense of what’s fair.
As 2014 dawns, ordinary people are finally realizing that there are fewer and fewer decent-paying jobs out there – the jobs that built this country.
Many young people are realizing that they may never be able to have that white picket fence. And many parents realize that their children don’t have the opportunity they had.
People are realizing that our political and financial system overwhelmingly favours big companies and the rich, and they see it for what it is: injustice.
It’s vital now that we in the labour movement show Canadians that we all share the same core values and that we are the only ones standing up for the Middle Class.
We have to build a movement, and that means working with other progressives, whether it’s community organizations, social groups, student activists, environmentalists, religious leaders – anyone with whom we can find a common interest.
The Canadian Labour Congress, to which we at CWA Canada belong, is attempting to do just that with its “Fairness Works” campaign. (Please visit:fairnessworks.ca)
The campaign aims to engage millions of union members in conversations about how unions have improved their lives – and share their stories with Canadians to help build a united movement for social justice.
And that’s where each of us has to play a part in 2014.
I am asking each of you – every member of CWA Canada – to commit to doing just one thing this year for the common good.
It could be talking to a fellow worker, especially a younger one, about getting involved in the union. It might be posting about social/economic justice issues on Facebook, volunteering to do something for your Local, telling friends about the good the union does, donating to a cause – whatever.
One person and one act at a time, working together, we can make a difference.
Let’s each do our part to protect quality jobs, defend quality journalism, improve wages, grow our union – and make Canada a better place.
Fairness works. Let’s fight the good fight together!
Source of Article: thetyee.ca
Five-year deals show scrounging for nickels and security is new reality.
These are strange days, indeed, for public sector unions. Big developments, not always happy ones, are everywhere. Yet the dearth of labour reporters and the collective yawns from editors and the public alike have combined to shine relatively little light on groundbreaking events that would have dominated front pages not so long ago when unions were considered important.
These days, it’s all business, all the time. Employees struggling collectively to improve their lot in life, or even just to hang on to what they have, is so last century. Cue the top 10, top 50, top 100 lists of corporations and their powerful executives. Cue the latest real estate blip. Cue record bank profits. Now that’s news!
In beautiful British Columbia, a series of astonishing tentative agreements were signed earlier this month covering more than 50,000 government employees, to scant fanfare. They are like no contracts in the history of public sector bargaining in this province. Snore. Few, apart from the Vancouver Sun, seemed to notice or care. But let this aging, ex-labour reporter hack drone on about why they are significant.
Sure to be benchmarks
The new deals are a virtually unheard of five years in length. In return for all that labour peace, union members will receive a grand pay hike of barely one per cent a year. Such are the tenor of the times, however, that one radio host nevertheless referred to them as “significant wage increases.”
Even more unusual, negotiations were concluded four months (!) before existing contracts were due to expire. That is certainly a first. Think of the savings on strike ballots….
And finally, there is the fascinating, added fillip of a bizarre, economic growth booster. The clause holds out the promise of top-up wage increases should the B.C. economy suddenly roar to life, responding, no doubt, to Christy Clark’s unwavering belief: If you close your eyes, click your heels and wish real hard, dreams can come true.
(I would have declared such a clause unprecedented, but a quick rummage through my personal archives confirmed my hazy recollection of a similar pig-in-a-poke deal in a BCGEU contract from 1982. Called an “economy recovery formula”, it provided points for increases in productivity, government revenue and inflation. There were also points if unemployment went down. Enough points would trigger a mid-contract raise. The end result, after all the fancy pencil-work, was a big fat doughnut for the union.)
These contracts are in addition to an earlier, tentative landmark agreement involving 17,000 members of the Health Sciences Association, one of the province’s three major health unions. Terms are similar.
These lengthy, ultra-modest settlements, covering a quarter of the provincial public sector, will inevitably serve as benchmarks for other negotiations. Even though the more militant BC Nurses Union and the ever-tough BC Teachers Federation have yet to begin bargaining, the contracts, if approved, are a big coup for a government obsessed with keeping costs low.
Still, it’s not hard to understand why union negotiators in B.C. opted for these long, cheap deals. They represent security. There are no rollbacks. Elsewhere, public sector unions are under heavy attack, their benefits and pensions a target for many governments. It’s in keeping with the race-to-the-bottom attitude that seems to believe forcing wages and pensions lower will somehow boost the economy. Hello? Scrounging for pennies, er nickels, is the new reality. Look around.
Public workers targeted across Canada
In oil-rich Alberta, where public sector strikes are already illegal, the government has moved to strip the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees of its right to binding arbitration as well. Even more draconian is a provision making union leaders liable for large fines if they even call for a strike.
This throwback to the reactionary, anti-union days of W.A.C. Bennett in British Columbia 50 years ago is brought to you by Premier Alison Redford. Yes, the same Alison Redford who once worked with Nelson Mandela to improve human rights in Africa. “He taught me that the best advice comes from people who have been working in the trenches,” said Redford, on the great man’s death. Hmm….
And in Ottawa, Treasury Board President Tony Clement continues on his merry, anti-union way, with barely a squeak of public concern. At a recent meeting with Clement, Robyn Benson, head of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, asked for union consultation on the government’s plans to gut their bargaining rights. She also requested the minister stop calling them “union bosses,” a pejorative term belying the fact labour leaders are democratically elected and responsible to their membership. Afterwards, Tony Clement, who supports right-to-work laws, tweeted that Benson wanted “co-governance with Parliament. Takes ‘union boss’ to a whole new level.” Thanks, Tony.
He is sponsoring legislation giving the government power to decide who can and can’t go on strike. It would also compel arbitrators to bring in wage settlements based on the government’s “ability to pay.” So much for free collective bargaining, even for mild, federal unions who hardly ever go on strike.
The media has tended to characterize this as “a battle” with labour. It’s hardly a battle when one side has all the guns and ammunition and the other side little more than the right to say “We object,” as their forces are mowed down.
Welcome to the new reality. It’s a funny old world.
Black Press Media has shut down the Abbotsford/Mission Times, a little more than a month after purchasing the B.C. paper from Glacier Media. The company also took down the newspaper’s website and closed its Twitter account.
When asked why the company was shutting down a newspaper it considered a worthy purchase in October, Rick O’Connor, president and CEO of Black Media, told J-Source the newspaper was losing “too much revenue” and not making enough money on advertisements.
“The losses were far greater than we had expected,” he said. “We’re not miracle workers … there is only so much we can do.”
O’Connor said most of the Times staff took the severance package offered by Glacier Media, leaving only four of the original 13 staff. “You can’t do the same work when a significant majority is gone.” Black Press will discuss future options for the remaining staff within the company.
As part of the sale from Glacier Media, Black Press also purchased the Chilliwack Times, which O’Connor said continues to operate for now alongside its competitor, Chilliwack Progress. He would not, however, comment on its financial viability.
“It was our belief that it didn’t make sense for readers to receive two community newspapers in the Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack markets on the same publishing days with tremendous duplication of content,” said Randy Blair, president of the Black Press Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island divisions, in a statement. ”In light of this, Black Press has harmonized publication days in the Chilliwack market so that the Chilliwack Times and the Chilliwack Progress will publish on different days.”
Black Press also owns the Abbotsford News, which will continue to publish.