The Newspaper Guild officially joins Huffington Post strike

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Since the last update we sent to you (March 6th) there have been significant new developments in our declared “strike” of unpaid, not employed, non-union writers against the Huffington Post. The Newspaper Guild, representing 26,000 writers and journalists across the country, officially entered into the strike action on March 17th. See links below for our original strike statement and that of The Newspaper Guild. Guild President Bernie Lunzer has called on Huffington to meet with Guild representatives.

Last week it was reported, on the heels of the Guild’s declaration, that the presidents of the AFL-CIO and the United Steelworkers had been drawn into the fray, but are yet to declare a public position that would reconcile the fact that they have for some time placed written statements on the Huffington Post with the Guild’s position. The AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka last posted there on March 4th; the United Steelworker’s Leo Gerard on March 11th. We will watch with interest to see if the nation’s major labor unions join forces with their natural allies.

Separately, it was also reported that the new AOL / Huffington Post had laid off 900 workers, but that the company was also beginning to distinguish between “professional journalism” and “adhoc blogging.” A company spokesman stated, “We stand squarely behind The Newspaper Guild’s mission of ensuring that media professionals receive fair compensation.”

The Guardian once again asked me to write a column explaining these latest developments, a link to which is also included below, along with a pair of radio and TV news interviews that provided an opportunity to explain the basis for the strike.

What has become clear as this particular story has unfolded is that it exposed the fact that the writing and journalism fields have undergone vast changes in recent years that has resulted in a crisis. One half of that crisis is that much of what now passes as professional writing is not; the other half is that many who once made a dignified living as respected professionals no longer are able to do so.

I believe that there is a path out of what has become an unfortunate quagmire that the example of the Huffington Post action has shined important illumination on; the hypocrisy of Huffington is only the tip of a much larger iceberg.

– Bill Lasarow
Publisher and Co-Editor

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