Reporters announce conference in Louisville to unionize digital media
A group of reporters associated with the labor movement are organizing a conference in Louisville to discuss how to unionize the digital media industry.
The National Convergence to Organize Digital Media will be held in Louisville, Ky. on Oct. 8–11. It's being held in Louisville in honor of two mid-century Louisville Courier-Journal reporters who supported unionization and were victims of McCarthyism.
POLITICO labor reporter Mike Elk, independent investigative reporter Tim Shorrock, labor lawyer Moshe Marvit, model and labor activist Jennifer Sky, and labor folk musician J.P. Wright are on the planning committee.
The organizers of the conference are hoping to build on the decision last week by Gawker Media's editorial staff to join the Writers Guild of America, East by bringing together reporters from different media companies and holding workshops about unionizing.
"The goal of the convergence is to create an alternative support system that doesn't rely on kissing up to your boss. We wanna build a network of reporters around the country aimed a supporting one another while pushing for a nationwide movement to unionize," Elk told Capital in an email. "There will be training sessions on how to organize as well as just breakout groups so reporters can discuss working conditions and figure out ways to help one another. There will be a lot of talk about mental health and how as reporters overwork and fatigue leads to serious mental health issues. It will also just be a good time."
In addition to discussion of journalism and labor organizing, the event will include a tour of Louisville, bluegrass concerts, and a warehouse party. Attendees will stay in local houses rented through Airbnb.
Here's the full event announcement:
Following the historic victory at Gawker, a group of rank and file reporters, associated with a variety of unions, have called for a convergence of reporters who wants to unionize their industry from October 8th - 11th 2015 at the Carl Braden Memorial Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The planning committee includes veteran labor reporter and long time shop steward Tim Shorrock, author of “Spies for Hire”, POLITICO Labor Reporter Mike Elk, award winning labor reporter & labor lawyer Moshe Marvit, author of “Why Labor Organizing Should Be a Civil Right,” fashion model activist and labor reporter Jennifer Sky, and locomotive engineer turned labor folk musician/reporter JP Wright with more people being added to the committee. The event is being held in Louisville to honor Carl and Anne Braden, reporters at the Louisville Courier-Journal, who were were unjustly fired by the Louisville Courier-Journal during McCarthyism as a result of their trade unionism and advocacy for racial equality.
As a labor reporters, our job is to make the voices of workers heard in the public discourse, but we know that freedom of press exists only if own the press. Under current US labor law, without a union contract, a reporter can be fired for simply disagreeing with their editors about how to cover a story. In wake of the excitement of the Gawker unionization drive, digital media workers across the country have been talking about how they are going to organize and there are drives going on at a number of shop across the country. So many reporters have been told that you can't make money online but now that digital media companies have figured out how to be profitable, digital media reporters are saying no to endless deadlines, 60-70 hour work weeks, low pay, and newsrooms, where you feel like you can never question your editor. Reporters around the country are saying enough is enough, it's time to unionize!
The convergence will feature workshops, break out groups, and just good old BBQing aimed at bringing rank and file reporters from a variety of publications together to have a good time and realize what an even better time we will have when the entire digital media is unionized. The convergence will also feature the Joe Hill Tour, a music festival of labor folk musicians. More details to come on people involved in the convergence, lodging, and groups we hope to attract to the convergence. We want to get a full diversity of folks involved as right now, we are just a bunch of white folks so please email us if you want to get involved with the convergence or simply find out more at: LouisvilleOctober8th@gmail.com