RUTY KOROTAEV | J-Source
[~] Digital media organizations aren’t easy places to work in — very long hours, unexpected layoffs and consistently inconsistent policies have led workers at many online media outlets across Canada and the United States to unionize.
Though no publication is immune to these issues in today’s news climate, digital-first news organizations have taken a particularly hard hit in the first few months of 2019.
According to the Cut, roughly 2,100 media workers in the United States lost their jobs in the first month of this year. Verizon, the parent company of HuffPost, AOL and Yahoo News, cut seven per cent of their workforce, translating to roughly 800 media jobs, and Gannett — the largest newspaper chain in the United States — cut dozens of newspaper jobs across the country.
As a response to this turbulence within the industry, an increasing number of journalists at digital news outlets turned to unionization in order to protect their jobs and establish workers’ rights. Journalists at BuzzFeed News were among the latest to take that decision, announcing on Feb. 12 that their newsroom teams in Canada, the United States and Germany would be joining unions.
On March 26, the Canadian Media Guild [CWA Canada Local 30213] was certified to represent the six staff at BuzzFeed Canada’s Toronto newsroom. The team had its initial bargaining meeting with management on June 11 and they are working to set future dates, BuzzFeed’s breaking news reporter Jane Lytvynenko told J-Source.
“We got the lay of the land and laid out some of the things we’re looking for,” she said. “From our end, management seems to be very invested in coming to an agreement with us, so I would say meeting one went well.”
However, other BuzzFeed newsrooms have not fared as well so far.
According to tweets posted April 3 by BuzzFeed News employees in the United States, they have run into a number of difficulties, as company executives are reportedly engaged in “clear union-busting” by refusing to attend negotiation meetings.