Guild continues push for quality journalism, seeks more protections for staffers’ material

The News Media Guild continued its push for quality journalism, proposing language that ensures union-covered staffers the right to view edits of material before it’s published.

“Staffers now have the right to withhold bylines from stories,” Guild President Martha Waggoner said. “We want something that improves the report by requiring that staffers read some edits before they hit the wire.”

The Guild proposed Thursday language that would require that substantive changes in material be brought to the staffer’s attention before publication and that staffers not have to prepare material that distorts facts. The Guild proposal also requires that the employee be consulted before material is corrected or retracted.

Waggoner went through several examples that staffers provided: a former reporter who was told inaccurate material would be left out of his story, who then found the sentence back in the story the next morning; numerous tales of editing errors inserted into stories written by national business writers; and staffers in one region told to read the edited versions of their stories on the wire.

Also Thursday, bargainer John Braunreiter asked AP if stores copies of phone calls now that most offices have phone systems that use Voice Over Internet Protocol. The AP said it would look into the question. The company said it doesn’t monitor phone calls.

The company is unable to meet next week and offered to meet on seven days in September; the union agreed to meet on six. Bargaining resumes Sept. 9 when the Guild’s health-care consultant, Sam Camens, will be at the table.

The other negotiating dates are September: Sept. 10, Sept. 18-19 and Sept. 25-26.

The contract expires Saturday, but its terms and conditions remain in effect unless one side gives 14-days notice. That has not happened.