SPJ Florida stands with newsroom unions
In an age where staffs are dwindling but journalists’ responsibilities are growing, Florida is seeing a new burst in newsrooms vying for labor protections. So we’re saying something about it. Again.
In the two months of 2020, four newsroom guilds — representing The Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News, The Orlando Sentinel and El Sentinel, The Naples Daily News, Ft. Myers News-Press, The Banner for Bonita Springs and the Marco Eagle — have emerged, bringing the statewide tally to eight. In 2015, there were none.
SPJ Florida’s board unanimously voted to voice our support to our state’s new and existing newsroom guilds and to urge newsroom managers to voluntarily recognize the new unions.
“As journalists and as a group whose literal mission is to protect the free press, we don’t have the option to stay silent anymore,” SPJ Florida President Emily Bloch said. “We hope our unwavering support sets a precedent for other SPJ chapters across the country as well as for SPJ national to stand with these newsroom guilds.”
Read SPJ Florida’s full letter of support here:
Full letter text:
Feb. 26, 2020
This month, journalists across Florida publications announced their intent to unionize:
The Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News.
The Orlando Sentinel and El Sentinel.
The Naples Daily News, Ft. Myers News-Press, The Banner for Bonita Springs and the Marco Eagle.
They follow in the footsteps of Miami New Times — which announced unionizing efforts in January — The Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald newsroom’s newly established One Herald Guild and the already existing unions representing the Lakeland Ledger, Sarasota Herald Tribune and The Florida Times-Union.
The Society of Professional Journalists Pro Chapter congratulates these new additions, but recognizes that they still have a long way to go.
That’s why we are writing another letter supporting all Florida newsrooms’ unionizing efforts and urging the leadership at each publication to voluntarily recognize the unions.
The SPJ Florida board of directors first voiced support for a unionization effort in October, when journalists at The Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald took the same steps these new guilds are taking now. The Herald’s staff faced staunch opposition from the publication’s leadership, but carried out a successful election that gave birth to the One Herald Guild. Still, Herald leadership continues to withhold union representation from three employees. We’ve reached out to managers repeatedly, urging leaders to give newsroom employees the protections and legal rights they deserve.
Now, their peers across the state are looking for the same opportunities, and we unanimously stand with them.
It is unusual for a chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to vocally support unions, but leadership of the Florida chapter feels that it’s our duty to protect and support local journalists who want a seat at the table.
As newspapers continue to shrink, as journalists’ responsibilities shift and as it gets harder and harder to keep our communities informed, it becomes even more important for the journalists who are on the ground doing the work each day to have a voice. Especially when their asks are for things like editorial integrity, accountability, diversity, job security and fair pay. We believe that’s why in the last four years, we’ve seen Florida’s unionized newsroom count jump from zero to now eight, representing over a dozen publications.
We find it troubling that in a climate where newsrooms are getting smaller and circulation is dropping, publishers are willing to spend money on legal fees rather than voluntarily recognizing these unions from the start.
Again, we call on leadership at Gannett, Tribune Publishing and Voice Media Group to voluntarily recognize these unions. In the absence of that, we call on leaders to leave space for a fair and open election, absent of misinformation and scare tactics.
We at SPJ Florida will continue to support the journalists around the state. We hope that the leaders of these publications will do the same for their own staff.
President, SPJ Florida Pro Chapter
The Society of Professional Journalists Florida Pro Chapter Board
Emily Bloch, president
Cassidy Alexander, vice president
Lulu Ramadan, VP of programming
Michele Boyet, VP of membership
Brendon Lies, secretary
Christopher Persaud, treasurer
Christiana Lilly, past president
Kristen Grau, student rep
For more on SPJ Florida’s work with newsroom unions, visit spjflorida.com/unions