Thursday, January 14, 2016

Learn, dammit

Maybe the media people will learn something from their experience with the difficulties of organizing in "the new economy" that they can extrapolate out beyond their own profession when writing about labor issues in the future. Because, lord knows, most of them haven't the faintest clue at present.
Recent entrants to the journalism profession tend to be more educated and come from comfortable backgrounds, says Freddy Kunkle, the co-chair of The Washington Post’s Guild unit. All Washington Post reporters are covered by the Guild contract, but Kunkle has been frustrated by the low number of new recruits from the paper’s year-long hiring spree who have joined the union as dues-paying members. He thinks part of the reason has to do with a weakened connection to the middle class.

“They tend to think that because of their education and their talent, they don’t need [a union],” Kunkle says. “What they’re doing is not coal mining: It’s not dangerous; it’s not dirty. What are they going to get out of it?” One data point: When The Washington Post Co. acquired Slate, which was founded and largely staffed by techno-savvy Ivy Leaguers, there was no discussion of its employees joining the Guild.

Slate, of course, is also one of the Internet’s first major Web magazines. And the class transition is perhaps especially true of Internet-only media, says Choire Sicha, who was an editor at Gawker and co-founded The Awl.

“If you look at the big ones, like BuzzFeed or Vox, the young workers are in general SO homogenous, and SO unprepared for anything like union organizing,” Sicha says in an e-mail. “They all went to good schools, and very few of them seem to have any experience with labor in the real workforce. And they’re all young and haven’t started worrying about their future yet. (Surprise: they don’t really have one!)”
Of maybe the boss won't let them learn anything because.. you know.. it's hard to organize.

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