Barbara Rodriguez and Amy Finklelstein attended the Kiplinger Fellowship

Barbara Rodriguez: Contract allowed me to participate in Kiplinger fellowship

By Barbara Rodriguez
Des Moines, Iowa, AP bureau

A few months ago I traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to complete a weeklong, intensive training as a Kiplinger Fellow at Ohio State University. It was a wonderful learning experience, and to no surprise, the News Media Guild played a role.

When I learned I was selected to be one of 25 fellows, my first thought was excitement. My second was confusion and dread over whether I would have to use my accrued vacation time to attend the fellowship.

It’s moments like this where I’m grateful the News Media Guild is in my life. Thanks to the language in our contract, I realized I was automatically granted leave from work to participate in the fellowship. No vacation time needed!

The Guild is online savvy, too. Our contract is conveniently posted on the website, so I was able to download it quickly and do a search on the issue.

Guild member Amy Finkelstein, based in Chicago, was also selected as a fellow this year. Thanks in part to the union, we were able to step away from the day-to-day grind of work at our respective newsrooms to focus on learning, sharing and collaborating. We were able to focus on ourselves.

The Kiplinger Fellowship was one of the best learning opportunities of my career. In a short period the fellows were immersed into training on a range of topics including spreadsheets, data visualization and social media digging tools.

It’s been months since the fellowship wrapped up, but I feel like it was an investment that continues to pay a metaphorical dividend. The fellows keep in touch online and routinely share news about projects they’re working on. It’s a community that will stay with me forever.

I feel so fortunate that the News Media Guild worked hard to include such training opportunities in our contract. I know several of my colleagues have utilized these benefits in the past; I hope they continue to do so. Know your contract!