Unionized Journalism

I suppose the news of the week has been all about the recent Winnipeg Free Press layoffs. We’ve heard it all haven’t we?

We’ve heard that the WFP’s union system is flawed, the paper should be preparing for the multimedia future and keeping their younger “with-it” journalists over the aging ones.

We’ve heard that news papers are dying and this is the beginning of the ends.

What do we believe? What do we make of this?

I hate to say it, but a union is a union, and without some serious work, I doubt we will ever see the seniority thing change. And it makes sense that it doesn’t.

Journalism is a strange profession. One that is in the middle of an amazing shift. We’re at the point where journalism is experiencing growing pains. It is becoming something new, but the fact of the matter is, there are a lot of reporters out there who want to do it the way they did back in their hay-day. They want to write one story a day, hand it in a four and be done.

The fact of the matter is, that isn’t the case anymore. A print journalist is obsolete. We are multimedia journalists now. Print, video, audio, we do it all. And the folks at Red River College are teaching us quite well at it.

But those at the helm – those with seniority – are the ones with the reins and they don’t know how to drive the sled. Don’t get me wrong, they understand where to go and what needs to be done, but after twenty plus years in the news room doing things their own way, it’s hard to change. I know that twenty years from now when journalism is taking a new shift I won’t know how to keep up with it. I’ll still want to Tweet my stories out there, but Twitter will be obsolete. I won’t understand how the new social media trends are working. It can be a hard place to find yourself in.

It would be an adjustment. Just like how it is today for some journalists. Some have taken onto the new ways of how journalism is working, while others haven’t. It’s resulted in this mixed breed of journalism that can confuse a lot of people. 

Now, the unions? Like I mentioned earlier, while it may work for some types of work environments, like a public works job, it doesn’t fit what we do.

Just because you’ve been a journalist for twenty years doesn’t mean you should have job security. In fact, I think it means you should be wary. You should be trying to keep up with the young guns and learn something new. If you can’t evolve with the new, then you should be history.

It’s a rough life, but it’s the type of one that journalists have gotten themselves into.


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