3.26.21 — The Buffalo News/Lee Enterprises this week rejected two proposals from the Buffalo Newspaper Guild that would require the company to end its deceptive online practices. The proposals would require Lee to clearly label sponsored online content and to clearly identify stories that are written by local staff journalists.
In both cases, the company said the Guild has no jurisdiction over the company’s online products and therefore has no input over ending practices that the Guild has argued are unethical, deceptive to readers, and harmful to The Buffalo News’ brand and credibility.
“We were hopeful that News management would agree with us that ethics and integrity in journalism matters, but it doesn’t look that way,” said Guild president Sandy Tan. “Let’s just add this to the pile of reasons why digital jurisdiction is so important. If the company isn’t going to care about deceiving and insulting readers, then at least the Guild will.”
The News/Lee also rejected the Guild’s proposal to eliminate the language barring Guild jurisdiction over online work because, according to management, things work fine now and “we don’t see a need to change it.”
This dismissal of proposals that clearly matter to our members is troubling, and the bargaining team has no intention of letting these issues die.
The company has complained that it has not received as many counterproposals as it would like, to which the bargaining team responded that the company is asking for huge concessions that eliminate entire departments and take aim at the Guild’s core principles.
We will not be rushed. The Guild offered another counterproposal on a work-from-home policy and continues to discuss and shape other proposals and counterproposals for future consideration.
But despite the company asking for the Guild to cough up the moon, it has offered nothing of substance to our Guild members in return.
Given the company’s position, the Guild asks all members to remain engaged and take an active part in mobilization efforts.