To cement their credentials as card-carrying liberals – not that there was much doubt – the reporters in the newsroom of the Florida Times-Union now are looking to join a union.
Their complaint is that they are not making enough money. Oh, and they lack “dignity.”
Of course, there is another route if they wanted more money: they could put out a better product. More people would buy it, the company would earn more, and could pay higher salaries.
Instead, they obviously think that they can bully the company into paying them more than they are worth by threatening strikes, slowdowns and the rest that comes along with unions.
About 73 percent of the newsroom personnel are joining the move, according to the Daily Record, (which rapidly is surpassing the Times-Union). The percentage of liberal reporters, photographers and editors likely is even higher.
For most of its 150-year existence the paper was conservative. That means the editorials were conservative. The newsroom has been moving from center to left over the past 50 years.
That would not be important if they observed Job No. 1, which is to report objectively.
About 15 years ago, the paper did a 180 – so fast it gave readers whiplash. The paper has had an increasingly liberal stance since then and the news stories often read like editorials as well.
When I was editorial page editor, I often had to react to slanted, inaccurate stories by finding the facts and writing clarifying editorials. (I compared my job to the guy who follows the elephants in the circus parade.)
For example, some editor decided they needed a “story” explaining tort lawsuits. A reporter was sent out to find facts that would fit the story. He did. When I pointed out that the story was not accurate, the reporter was fired, which was the wrong remedy. The editor should have been fired.
Since its heyday, the paper’s circulation has plummeted by about two-thirds and the number of newsroom employees is down to about 40. Morris Communications, owners since 1983, sold out to Gatehouse Media last year. The paper no longer is printed locally, and plans to move out of the building it has been in since 1967.
Unions essentially run many of the larger papers in other cities. That partly accounts for the declining circulation everywhere.
“It is the men and women of the newsroom who make this newspaper so special, yet our current and past owners have actively harmed the newsroom. Our objective is to preserve a level of dignity for those who work to produce a newspaper that has value,” the statement by the union organizers said.
Exactly how that dignity would be achieved by becoming Teamsters with typewriters was not explained. Nor did it explain how the owners harmed the paper.
It seems likely the greatest harm was done by hiring liberal reporters and editors, who now want to run the show.