Union: Three Sticking Points in Inquirer/Newspaper Guild Negotiations

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The company that owns Philly’s biggest daily newspapers is seeking a mediator to help resolve contract negotiations with the union that represents most of its journalists.

Howard Gensler and Bill Ross, president and executive director of the Newspaper Guild, said in a Tuesday memorandum to their constituents that negotiations with Interstate General Media — the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — were foundering over several issues: Read more »

The Death of the Professional Critic in Philadelphia

Illustration by Matt Chase

Illustration by Matt Chase

When I and my fellow boomers get together in our dad and mom jeans and yak about the good old days when we were growing up, I find myself at a distinct disadvantage. While I share a common cultural heritage with most of my cohort, there is one gaping hole. I never watched a lot of the television shows they watched, because those shows were what my mom called “vulgar.”

The Carol Burnett Show, Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies — all were forbidden. The Wonderful World of Disney, Bonanza, Flipper? Allowed. I know that the concept of a parent exercising such bald veto power over Petticoat Junction — or anything on a screen — is unthinkable to contemporary mothers and fathers. I’m not asking for their pity. I’m merely explaining why I grew up imbued with a sense that some items on the cultural table are more worthy than others. Read more »

Newspaper Guild Digs In on Seniority Issues

We told you Wednesday that contract talks had reportedly stalemated between Interstate General Media and the union that represents the journalists at the Inquirer and Daily News — apparently over issues related to the “last in, first out” seniority system that protects long-tenured (but expensive) employees from being laid off against their will.

Wednesday night, members of the Newspaper Guild’s negotiating committee emailed member journalists with an update on negotiations, re-emphasizing that they don’t plan to bend on that particular matter. “Seniority … is not for sale,” they wrote.

Full memo after the jump:
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Journalists “Not Willing to Budge” in Newspaper Labor Stalemate

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Labor negotiations between the journalists union and the company that owns Philly’s two largest daily newspapers have taken a “grim turn,” the union announced this week.

Talks have faltered, union officials say, over Interstate General Media’s attempt to weaken “last in, first out” seniority rules for laying off reporters during times of financial crisis at the newspapers. The result? The company has reportedly withdrawn its pay-and-benefits proposals it had hoped would govern the next contract.
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Kane Lawyer: Inky Reporters Are “Wrong Target”

Kathleen Kane’s lawyer on Tuesday said that two reporters from the Inquirer should not be subpoenaed by investigators trying to determine who leaked information from grand jury proceedings suggesting that charges had been recommended against her.

The Inquirer revealed the existence of the subpoena on Monday. Tuesday, Lanny Davis said the leak should be investigated — but not by targeting journalists.
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Inky Reporters Subpoenaed by Grand Jury

Looks like we’re about to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

We noted last week that when the Inquirer reported that a grand jury had recommended charges against Attorney General Kathleen Kane for leaking information from an earlier grand jury case, the paper itself relied on information leaked from a grand jury. Kane’s attorney, Lanny Davis, made the same point.

So it’s probably inevitable that Inky reporters Craig R. McCoy and Angela Couloumbis have now been subpoenaed to appear before a statewide grand jury investigating who leaked that story to them.

The Inquirer, however, says it will protect its sources.
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At Daily News, New Fears About the Future

They're owned by the same company, but rivals just the same.

They’re owned by the same company, but rivals just the same.

An apparent hiring freeze and the exodus of several high-profile staffers to the Inquirer has left Daily News staffers feeling stretched thin and wondering — again — what the future holds for their long-beleaguered newspaper.

Interstate General Media, which owns both newspapers and Philly.com, has been restructuring operations ever since Gerry Lenfest took over as owner and publisher last year: The photo staffs of the two newspapers were combined this month — managed out of the Inky newsroom — and Philly.com has been hard at work building up its roster of talent while supplanting the old newspaper websites.

But this week’s announcement that political columnist Chris Brennan is moving to the Inquirer after 15 years at the tabloid appears to have unleashed fears among staffers that the Daily News is being left to wither slowly on the vine. And those frustrations are peaking while IGM and the Newspaper Guild — which represents employees of all three newsrooms — negotiate a new bargaining agreement to replace the contract that expires February 8th. 

“I think it’s fair to say the Daily News won’t be hiring anybody in the short run. Hopefully that will change,” said Howard Gensler, the Daily News gossip columnist and president of the guild. “The belief is that the Daily News has too many employees.”

But, he added: “I haven’t gotten any evidence from the company they don’t want there to be a Daily News.”

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DN’s Chris Brennan Moves to Inky

Capping off a day of local media moves, the Daily News‘ Chris Brennan — one of the city’s foremost political reporters — revealed today he’s moving over to the Inquirer after 15 years at the tabloid.

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