The Front Page: Netflix doesn’t care

It’s Friday, May 6th.

Just six months after its launch, Netflix’s Tudum has laid off at least 10 writers and editors, most of them women of color. 

Former employees say the company wooed writers with promises of “new opportunities and a diverse team” plus generous pay. At the end of last month, they were reportedly offered just two weeks severance.

Behind assurances that Tudum would be an important part of Netflix’s brand, employees told BuzzFeed News that a consistent lack of communication and direction emerged after writers signed contracts. Moreover, the commitment to editorial independence crumbled when employees pitched “content that might touch on racial or cultural flashpoints.”

Despite the shameful situation Netflix created, some have decided to place blame on those who were laid off rather than the company, suggesting that journalists who worked at Tudum should have expected the decision and/or are less deserving of sympathy. As Maya Kosoff writes:

“If you’ve never had to consider finding a job outside of the bounds of whatever it is you deem to be “acceptable” digital media work, then congrats to you on your incredible luck in digital media. Your peers are not all so privileged.”

The layoffs — and the ensuing discourse — are unfortunately not unique. In recent years, when other outlets mistreat employees or shut down completely, responsibility sometimes falls on those who have been wronged because the newsrooms’ editorial standards — often focused on prioritizing underrepresented people and issues — are deemed less “serious” than that of a legacy newspaper. 

Corporations rarely feel pressure to improve when condescension is directed at an individual — especially one who no longer has ties to the company and may not have the resources to challenge an institution’s wrongdoing. Rather, by practicing solidarity, there is a chance that outrage will be appropriately leveraged for action.

Supporting democracy is about more than a slogan

Our Democracy Correspondent will look at how some U.S. newsrooms aren’t taking threats to democracy and rising authoritarianism seriously — and what we can do to push back. But we’re a small newsroom with a small budget. Will you help us raise $20,000 so we can expand our pro-democracy coverage?

— Holly Rosewood


FEEDBACK

A Bit More Media

Q&A: Jon Schleuss Last week, we spoke to NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss about the News Leaders Association’s annual diversity survey, and an open letter to the Pulitzer Prizes. After disappointing survey response rates, Schleuss and letter signatories hope a commitment from the Pulitzers will result in more consistent newsroom data.

Black Women Photographers — In a conversation with Carlett Spike for Quill, Polly Irungu shares why she created Black Women Photographers, a global community with more than 1,000 active members: “There was a dire need for us to be seen, for us to be hired, for us to be paid equally.” Read the full interview here.

The power of photos — Aarohi Sheth has advice for student newsrooms that want to build trust with their communities: Prioritize ethics in photography. For The Lead, Sheth writes that photojournalists run the risk of telling exploitative stories when they don’t take time to acknowledge power structures or spend time in communities they cover — not just while on deadline. 

Leadership vs. management — “Why is management the only way for a journalist to explore and grow their leadership skills?” It’s not — and shouldn’t be the norm — P. Kim Bui writes in Sincerely, Leaders of Color. Instead, employers should support journalists by providing leadership training (and appropriate compensation) separate from people management.

Network for Long COVID Justice — In hopes of “shift[ing] media narratives to better address equity issues,” the Network for Long COVID Justice is tracking media outlets’ COVID coverage to highlight successes and shortfalls on a monthly basis. In many cases, journalists still understate the severity of the disease, further isolating (and potentially endangering) vulnerable populations.

McClatchy salaries? — Despite evidence that posting salary information can help close wage gaps, McClatchy still refuses to do so. In a conversation with the Idaho NewsGuild, a McClatchy lawyer claims posting salaries would hurt the company “from a competitive standpoint,” and that they don’t want to participate in the practice unless it’s required by law.


 WHAT’S HAPPENING? 

Stay Up To Date 

3 days until … The National Association of Science Writers’ Source Diversity Tracking Workshop. This two-hour virtual event is $25 for non-members.

4 days until … Connecting Housing Justice, Health and Journalism. Journalists as well as media health experts join this meeting from the Council of Community Housing Organizations in San Francisco.

14 days until … My First FOIA: Open records are for everyone. This webinar, hosted by the National Press Club, is designed for both journalists and members of the general public.

What else should we feature? You tell us. Send an email to [email protected].


AND FINALLY 

A few more resources

Looking for a job? Here are a few places to look: INN | ONA | JournalismJobs.com | 10 Jobs and a Dog | NABJ | AAJA | NAHJ | NLGJA | @WritersofColor | MEO Jobs | Freelance Journalist Rates | Source Jobs | 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 Pacific America | NAHJ Cultural Competence HandbookSPJ Race & Gender Hotline | AMEJA Media Resource Guide

Want to get in touch? Email us at [email protected].

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If you like what you read, we could use your support. Your contribution will go directly to our writers, editors, and any fees required for us to operate. 

Thanks for reading. We’ll have more for you soon. 
This issue is by Holly Rosewood with editing by Gabe Schneider.

Help us hold legacy media accountable

The daily news cycle fails to paint a picture of continued threats to our democracy. Will you help us reach our $20,000 stretch goal so we can expand our pro-democracy coverage?

Democracy isn’t up for debate

Our Democracy Correspondent will look at how some newsrooms aren’t taking threats to voting rights and authoritarianism seriously. Will you help us reach our $20,000 stretch goal so we can expand our pro-democracy reporting?

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