The Front Page: Dammit, Gannett

It’s Friday, October 8th and you haven’t heard from us in a bit (sorry about that).

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From Iowa to Arizona, Gannett is disappointing its employees and audiences—again.

Late last month, Arizona Republic reporter Michael Braga wrote, in reply to Rebekah Sanders’ tweet about unpaid labor, that exploitation is, more or less, essential to the workplace.

In response, hundreds of journalists, including fellow Gannett employees, shared their own experiences “paying dues” without compensation. (For your own health, don’t bother reading all of the replies.) In response, The NewsGuild has created a survey to track instances of unpaid overtime, reports Poynter. Gannett spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton told Poynter’s Angela Fu that the survey and broader campaign is part of an effort by the union “to share misinformation as it attempts to organize and expand its membership ranks.”

A separate survey, conducted by Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, found that more than half of surveyed employees at small-scale local newspapers—including some under Gannett ownership—work at least 40 hour weeks, while 37% report working 50 to 60 hours. It’s not clear how staffers are compensated for these additional hours. 

Yet, even with reporters working additional hours, it’s near-impossible for these publications to cover communities completely. Elaine Godfrey reports on this trend taking hold in Iowa:

“These days, most of The Hawk Eye’s articles are ripped from other Gannett-owned Iowa publications, such as The Des Moines Register and the Ames Tribune, written for a readership three hours away. The Opinion section, once an arena for local columnists and letter writers to spar over the merits and morals of riverboat gambling and railroad jobs moving to Topeka, is dominated by syndicated national columnists.”

And, for papers lucky enough to have a local, appropriately-staffed newsroom, it’s still likely readers aren’t seeing the whole picture. 82% of the respondents on the Tow Center survey were white and, as Nieman Lab notes, “many respondents thought their newsrooms were doing a poor job of making their staffs more racially diverse.”

Ultimately, Gannett probably won’t back pay employees who’ve worked overtime, but more union shops and selling publications back to local owners could be a step in the right direction.

In case you haven’t noticed, The Objective is back after a three-month break. 
Our newsletters—including this one—are up and running again. Over the coming weeks, we’re going to start publishing again on our new website. You can read more about all of that here

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This issue is by Holly Rosewood with editing by Curtis Yee.


A Bit More Media

“Black Media Needs a New Business Model” — The public unraveling of Ozy Media proves that Black-run media companies need a more secure form of revenue, writes Lauren WilliamsWilliams, CEO and co-founder of Capital B, argues that the nonprofit model is relatively reliable when advertisers are hesitant to invest in Black media unless editorial content is “brand safe.” Related: Read our Q&A: Capital B

A union member walks into a negotiation — After two years, Kate Lindsay now knows that an offer from Rolling Stone wasn’t rescinded because she’s a woman who tried to negotiate salary—instead, it’s because she was a union member. After she followed up, Lindsay found that her membership in Refinery29’s union “set off alarm bells.” Penske Media Corporation, Rolling Stone’s parent company, declined comment to Off The Record’s Julia Black, who reported Lindsay’s story. 

How objectivity fails sexual assault survivors — Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez’ ban on covering sexual assault (and subsequent reversal) only scratches the surface of a necessary industry-wide reformation, writes Carter Sherman. Newsrooms need to understand that there is only one “sides” to sexual assault—it’s inherently bad, and admitting that doesn’t negate objectivity. 

From the archive: Bob Woodward was patronizing — One year ago, for The Objective, Hannah Chin responded to Bob Woodward’s callous exchange with reporters Shira Stein and Karen Ho. Chin writes: “We should question: What power do these journalists hold? With whose values does their work align? Where are their biases, and how do they affect ours?”

We’re all trying to find the guy who did this — According to data compiled by New Yorker archive editor Erin Overbey, the print magazine has never—in its nearly century-long history—published an Asian or Black female Critic at Large. In the past 15 years, despite the ongoing “reckoning” at Condé Nast, “less than 0.01%” of feature and critic pieces have gone through a Black editor.

#SB98 — With the impending October 10 deadline growing near, California journalistsnational press organizations, and other state residents continue to ask Gavin Newsom to sign S.B. 98, a bill that would further protect journalists’ right to attend and cover protests without being detained or arrested. In 2020, Gov. Newsom vetoed a similar version of the bill.

NPR union reaches agreement — SAG-AFTRA and NPR have ratified a new, nationwide collective bargaining agreement. Upon executive committee approval, the contract secures 20 weeks of paid parental leave, intern pay, and raises for over 100 union members, among other improvements. Journalists at unionized public media stations are invited to contact NPR’s SAG-AFTRA members to discuss how these provisions might be added to local contracts.


Stay Up To Date 

5 days until … All Life, Great and Small — Covering Biodiversity and ClimateThe Society of Environmental Journalists and the UN Foundation host free virtual workshops; the third in the series, this session will focus on biodiversity.

5 days until … “Managing Risk, Safety, and Trauma as a Journalist” with Alison Baskerville and Tara Pixley. Sponsored by the ACOS Alliance, this class is part of The Essentials, a series of free, weekly workshops for photojournalists.

6 days until … the Fall National College Media Convention. ($$$) Early bird rates for the three-day conference are available until tomorrow. Pre-convention workshops start Thursday, October 14. 

14 days until … How op-eds can amplify original voices & engage new communitieshosted by the National Press Club Journalism Institute. Attendees will learn about op-ed voice, purpose, and audiences.

15 days until … How to become a star: building your brand from scratchNAHJ members are invited to attend this workshop on resume and cover letter writing led by journalists and recruiters.

*$$$ denotes a paid event. What events should we feature? You tell us. Send an email to


A few more resources

Looking for a job? Here are a few places to look: INN | ONA | | 10 Jobs and a Dog | NABJ | AAJA | NAHJ | NLGJA | @WritersofColor | MEO Jobs | Freelance Journalist Rates | StudyHall XYZ | Opportunities of the Week ($)   

How about a style guide? Trans Journalist Association | Diversity Style Guide | Tribal Nations Media Guide | NABJ Style Guide | Disability Language Style Guide | AAJA Guide to Covering Asian America | NAHJ Cultural Competence Handbook 

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