Four NewsGuild representatives talked unions and journalism at the Excellence in Journalism conference.
Regional vice presidents John Hill and Kevin Flowers were joined by International Chair Martha Waggoner and Lou Grieco, Detroit’s administrative officer, at EIJ15, hosted by the Society for Professional Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Radio and Television Digital News Association. EIJ15 was held Sept. 18-20 in Orlando, Fla.
Their participation was part of a concerted effort to publicize TNG and its efforts to organize digital journalists. Locals within TNG have recently organized the staff of Al-Jazeera and The Guardian US, and TNG recently received $500,000 from a CWA fund to continue organizing digital journalists.
“The News Guild needs to have a presence at events such as the SPJ conference, point blank,” Flowers said. “Being there and interacting with folks gives us a chance to explain what we are about, why we do what we do and why worker’s rights are so important in an industry that has seen major contraction at both union and nonunion shops. And with their platforms expanding, digital workers need to know who we are and what we can provide for them in terms of workplace rights and protections.”
Young reporters attend Excellence in Journalism conference
With so few union members in the country now, fewer and fewer young people know about the benefits of unions, said Waggoner,, who is also president of the News Media Guild. “These interactions might be the first time that some young journalists have talked with union members so we’re starting on the ground floor,” she said. “It’s imperative that TNG attends these events to get our message out in person.”
The four used a game called “Name that Journalist” to attract the attention of delegates in the exhibit hall. Participants got to enter a drawing for an iPad Air just for playing and got a second chance if they ID’d four journalists correctly.
Among the faces on the game were Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady who was a Guild member, and Heywood Broun, the Guild’s founder.
The game, developed Chicago staffer Beth Kramer and several students for TNG’s table at Netroots Nation, attracted people to TNG’s table and gave the four representatives a chance to discuss unions with the delegates.
Mark Davis, a reporter in Las Vegas, won the drawing for the iPad Air.
This was the fifth time this year that TNG sponsored a table at an event. Kramer and Executive Vice President Marian Needham represented the Guild at Netroots Nation in Phoenix while regional VP Mike Cabantuan attended the conference of Asian American Journalists Association with Don Villar of NABET. Also, Tyler Paxton, a staffer at Pacific Media Workers, attended the conference for NLGJA, the association of LBGT journalists, and ONA15, the meeting of the Online News Association. Ekevara Kitpowsong, the online news director at The Guardian Newspaper, a college newspaper, who is active in the Pacific Media Workers Guild.