Special Sections

Musician Keith Mullins, striking Herald editor
write song for workers everywhere

When Keith Mullins played a recording of Just Another Day during a gig at the Inverary Resort in Baddeck, the song resonated immediately.
"Two or three sets of tables, blue-collar-looking people, asked me 'Where can I get that song?' " the singer-songwriter says by phone from his home in Hunters Mountain, Cape Breton.
Mullins hopes the song, co-written with Randy Jones, an editor and reporter at The Chronicle Herald for 31 years before he was forced out on strike nearly five months ago, will hit a chord with workers everywhere.

2 CWA Canada Locals ratify contracts with pay increases

Two CWA Canada Locals have ratified new contracts that contain salary increases for workers at news operations in Ottawa and Medicine Hat, Alta.
CTV Ottawa unit members of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild (Local 30205) voted this week to accept a five-year deal that gives them a retroactive lump sum payment for 2014 equal to 1.5 per cent of salary and increases of 1.75 per cent for years 2015 through 2018.

Strong majority of VICE Canada workers vote to join Guild

After months of meetings, discussions, card signings and an official vote conducted by the federal labour board, it was confirmed this week that two thirds of VICE Canada workers chose to join the Canadian Media Guild (CMG).
“We are thrilled to welcome employees at VICE Canada” into the Guild, said President Carmel Smyth. “We look forward to working with them and one of Canada’s most innovative and exciting digital media organizations to create a positive workplace now and for the future.”
The new bargaining unit includes all VICE employees across Canada working in editorial, marketing, production and post-production, with the exception of managers and people working in sales.

Halifax journalists urged to stand firm in face of Herald’s ‘insulting’ offer

CWA Canada is urging its striking Halifax newsroom workers to stand firm in the face of an “insulting” contract offer that torpedoed mediation talks on Wednesday.
President Martin O’Hanlon, in a message to the 57 journalists and support staff who were forced out on a defensive strike on Jan. 23 by The Chronicle Herald, said he shares their anger and bitter disappointment.
The Halifax Typographical Union’s bargaining team, he said, did everything it could to break the stalemate and get a deal. It “went well beyond its comfort level” in presenting a “major concessionary offer that addressed the company’s key demands.”
“Any fair-minded employer would have jumped on the offer,” said O’Hanlon. Instead, the Herald’s response was a “worse offer than previously, lowlighted by even more layoffs” which proves “beyond doubt” that CEO Mark Lever is not “interested in an agreement unless the union is emasculated.”

Newsroom strike talks break down

News Release
HALIFAX — Talks between The Chronicle Herald and its striking newsroom workers broke off today when the company tabled a position worse than the one that forced workers to strike in January.
David Wilson, lead negotiator for the union, said the stance taken by Herald is “unworkable and insulting.”
Wilson, a staff representative with CWA Canada, says the Herald’s position is unlike that of any other newspaper company in the country.

CBC, APTN journalists share top labour reporting award

The country’s premier award for reporting on labour issues is being shared this year by journalists at CBC News and the Aboriginal People’s Television Network.
They were among many CWA Canada members who won Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) awards at a weekend ceremony in Edmonton.
Joint winners of the CWA Canada / CAJ Award for Labour Reporting were Melissa Ridgen of APTN Investigates for Hurting for Work and Nick Purdon and Leonardo Palleja of CBC’s The National for Up Close: Prison Guards.

Striking Halifax journalists expand online rival to Chronicle Herald

Newsroom workers in Halifax today relaunched LocalXpress.ca as a full-spectrum online strike newspaper to compete with their employer’s flagship publication.
Members of the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU), who were forced out on a defensive strike on Jan. 23 by The Chronicle Herald, which has not budged from its union-busting contract demands made late last year, have been producing the news site since Jan. 30.
The HTU announced at a press conference and in a news release this morning that Local Xpress will now be offering local, regional and national news, business, entertainment and sports coverage, as well as accepting advertising.

Media/Culture Review: Share your unique perspective by May 20

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly recently launched a comprehensive review of Canada’s media and cultural sectors, saying that “everything is on the table.” This seems to mean reviewing the mandate of all media and national cultural institutions, as well as the legislative and regulatory mechanisms that govern them such as the Broadcasting Act and the CRTC.
The review starts with a survey — Strengthening Canadian Content Creation, Discovery and Export in a Digital World — which is available online until Friday, May 20. | CMG.ca

Guild seeks union certificate
for Vice Canada employees

CWA Canada's largest Local, the Canadian Media Guild, applied today to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for the right to represent employees at Vice Canada.
“A strong majority of employees at Vice across Canada have signed a union card and we are delighted to welcome them into our union,” says Carmel Smyth, national president of the CMG. “We look forward to supporting them to find their collective voice in the workplace and to negotiate the kinds of progressive working conditions and benefits that digital media workers expect in 2016.” | CMG.ca

U.S. Vice writers get a union contract with a big raise

Editorial employees at Vice Media, who unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East last summer, have tentatively agreed on their first union contract. It comes with a big raise.
Many editorial staffers at Vice were notoriously poorly paid for many years, even by the relatively modest standards of online media. In recent years, the company has said that its salaries have improved, though the 70 writers and editors who make up the Vice union were almost certainly at the very lowest end of the company pay scale. (Gawker Media editorial staffers are also members of the WGAE.) Now, they have won a deal that will bring them close to a 30% pay increase over the next three years, as well as a reported $45,000 minimum annual salary for union members. | Gawker.com

Lies and Damned Lies: Mark Lever and the Herald strike

News Release
HALIFAX – We largely ignore the fiction coming out of the Chronicle Herald these days, but the latest outrageous piece of propaganda from company CEO Mark Lever demands a response.
In an April 22 letter to advertisers, Mark had the audacity to claim that the Herald is “doing everything in our power, short of capitulating to the union’s threats and intimidation, to reach a fair and reasonable agreement.”
Let me be blunt: that is a damned lie.

Interning at unionized media companies pays — literally

Summer internship season is about to begin. But decently paid internships, like jobs, are hard to find. Still, internships are often seen as the pathway to a job in journalism. That’s why media unions in Canada have been leading efforts to help emerging journalists find paid placements. What are unions doing to ensure that students get this vital experience and also get paid?
Some unionized media outlets, such as the Canadian Press (CP) and The Globe and Mail, pay summer interns the equivalent of the entry-level employee rates outlined in their collective agreements. Both internship programs, based in Toronto, are still thriving. While The Globe usually hires up to 20 summer interns, CP normally accepts about six applicants.
At other media outlets such as the Victoria Times Colonist, unions have created paid journalism internship programs. The internship program at the Times Colonist was established in 2002 by the Victoria Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild (CWA Canada Local 30223). | TheStoryboard.ca

Canada drops 10 spots on 2016 World Press Freedom Index
after 'dark age' for journalism

A new report from the global press freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Border (RSF), describes the tenure of former prime minister Stephen Harper as a “dark age” for journalism in Canada, citing his hermetically-sealed style of government and the shameful state of our access to information system. The report notes that current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken strongly for media freedom but “only time will tell” if he follows through on his promises.
RSF’s assessment, from its annual World Press Freedom Index released on April 20, highlights how the Canadian public’s right to know was systematically undermined by the previous federal government’s penchant for secrecy and control. | Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression

Why does Black Press buy and then close small B.C. papers?

Eric Plummer, editor of the Alberni Valley Times, remembers the day last September when two representatives from Black Press told him his paper was closing.
“They came in, I think it was like 4:00 or 4:30,” he said. “I don’t think that we’d even finished the paper yet, actually.”
The daily paper, which served the 25,000 people of Alberni Valley on Vancouver Island from 1967 to 2015, was one of 11 British Columbia community newspapers that Black Press bought from Glacier Media in 2014. | J-Source.ca

We spoke to a Chronicle Herald writer about that refugee story

'It made me feel ashamed to be associated with this newspaper'
This past Friday the Chronicle Herald published an article detailing the alleged brutality of refugee children at a local elementary school. It was widely and strongly criticized. By Saturday night the most outrageous passage — which quoted an anonymous source who said a refugee child choked a classmate with a chain while yelling “Muslims rule the world” — was removed without explanation. Yesterday the whole article was pulled and is now replaced with this explanation promising to do better next time.
It’s impossible to ignore how the labour situation at the Herald contributed to all this. The Halifax Typographical Union has been on strike for the last 80 days, while a scattered newsroom of replacement writers and editors puts out the paper. That’s not to say a unionized bullpen of HTU reporters couldn’t publish an article like what came out on Friday, but it seems highly unlikely. | The Coast

CWA Canada condemns Herald refugee story

News Release
HALIFAX – CWA Canada, the national union that represents striking newsroom staff at The Chronicle Herald, is appalled at the paper’s irresponsible and unethical article on refugee children that has incited hatred against Muslim refugees.
The story in the weekend edition, written by an anonymous scab reporter and quoting two anonymous sources, makes allegations of choking and bullying by refugee elementary students.
The paper has since removed the article from its website and admitted that it was “incomplete” and “insufficiently corroborated.” But the Herald has not fully retracted the piece nor apologized for running it.

Enough is enough: Striking journalists
lambaste Herald for racist story

News Release
HALIFAX — It’s time for The Chronicle Herald to put real journalists forced onto the street in a defensive strike back to work.
A story published in the Weekend edition, written by an anonymous reporter and quoting two anonymous sources, incites hatred and promotes discrimination against Muslims and refugees.
The article, citing allegations of choking and bullying by refugee elementary students presumably against non-refugees, was later changed in TheChronicleHerald.ca online version and eventually removed altogether. But the print version of the article retains a place in perpetuity in the province’s newspaper of record.

CMG urges Ontario premier to boost support for TVO, TFO

The Canadian Media Guild (CWA Canada Local 30213) met with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on April 7 to discuss the vital role educational public broadcasters TVO and TFO play in a healthy media environment and to make the case for better support. The CMG, which represents workers at both public broadcasters, emphasized the need for stable jobs for the people who create the innovative, educational and entertaining content. It also urged protections for journalistic integrity and editorial independence.

Postmedia appoints special board to review struggling business

Postmedia Network Canada Corp. has struck a special board committee to oversee a review of its struggling business, as management considers a wide range of options to improve its “capital structure and liquidity.”
The move comes as Postmedia reported a second-quarter loss of $225-million on Thursday, due in large part to a $187-million non-cash impairment to the value of its titles and the company’s goodwill.
In a statement, the company said management will conduct the review, with oversight from the independent committee, and will look at “various options, including non-core asset sales, cost reductions, revenue enhancements and initiatives, refinancing or repayment of debt and the issuance of new debt or equity.” | Globe and Mail

Postmedia bond plunge signals end of Godfrey's U.S. debt 'noose'

Postmedia Network Canada Corp. Chief Executive Officer Paul Godfrey has called his company’s U.S. dollar debt a noose around the newspaper publisher’s neck. Investors are betting he may soon escape it as a restructuring looms.
Postmedia’s $222-million of bonds, which have second place in the company’s capital structure, have fallen to 14 cents on the dollar from more than 71 cents in January, according to data from the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s reporting system. That price suggests the market is bracing for a debt restructuring that could force lenders including Allianz SE and Riverpark Advisors LLC to take substantial writedowns, convert the bonds to equity, or wipe their investment out altogether. | Globe and Mail

Herald demands capitulation before resuming talks

News Release
HALIFAX — Striking newsroom staff at Nova Scotia’s premier daily newspaper are flummoxed by management’s unwillingness to return to the bargaining table.
“The owners and managers of the newspaper appear to be satisfied to undermine the long-standing Chronicle Herald brand by producing an inferior product with replacement workers while keeping real journalists walking the picket line,” said Ingrid Bulmer, president of the Halifax Typographical Union representing the 59 striking reporters, photographers, editors and support workers.

Vice News production order ‘sets dangerous precedent’

CWA Canada and other journalist organizations are expressing alarm at an Ontario Superior Court ruling that would force a Vice News reporter to hand over to the RCMP all communications between him and an ISIS fighter.
“This ruling sets a dangerous precedent and deals a blow to press freedom and the integrity of journalism in Canada,” said their March 31 joint statement to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

Collaboration between employer, workers makes business sense

Firstly, full disclosure: I’m a supporter of organized labour in Nova Scotia, and elsewhere, and was an active member of the union representing journalists on strike at The Chronicle Herald. (I’m a semi-retired freelance reporter who worked at the newspaper from 2000 until 2014.)
This strike was completely avoidable, as management knows. I hope it ends with a fair settlement for my former co-workers and former union colleagues.
Secondly, I am writing this commentary to sincerely recommend that senior executives at The Herald take a brief break from their work-related duties, step away from the feelings of animosity for union members – their own experienced employees – and consider just how counterproductive management’s intractable position is to the health of their business. | LocalXpress.ca

Al Jazeera to slash 500 jobs

Qatar’s Al Jazeera broadcasting network is laying off about 500 employees or more than 10 per cent of its staff, it announced on Sunday reflecting financial pressures on the tiny Gulf state due to low global prices for oil and natural gas.
Most of those affected are based at its Doha headquarters, according to a statement from Al Jazeera, which is controlled by Qatar’s royal family. Before the layoffs, the network had about 4,000 staff, a spokesman said. | The Globe and Mail

CBC looks toward digital future with budget money

The CBC’s president says the public broadcaster will not use its $675-million windfall from Tuesday’s federal budget to restore what it lost through years of cutbacks, and will instead spend on current priorities such as digital platforms, local news bureaus and original programs.
Hubert Lacroix called the new funding promised in the Liberal spending plan a “vote of confidence” in public broadcasting and the corporation’s vision, and a source of much-needed stability. The plan provides the CBC with $75-million this fiscal year and $150-million annually through 2021. | The Globe and Mail

Media unions hail federal budget funds for CBC

The restoration of CBC funding contained in today’s federal budget is being hailed by the Canadian Media Guild and its parent union, CWA Canada, which represents thousands of workers at the public broadcaster.
The CMG said in a news release that the reversal of the severe cuts inflicted by the Harper government is consistent with the Liberal election platform recognizing the CBC as “the anchor of Canada’s cultural and creative industries” and as a “vital national institution that brings Canadians together.”

149-year-old Guelph Mercury to stop print edition

The print edition of the Guelph Mercury, one of Canada’s oldest broadsheet newspapers, will cease to exist after this Friday.
Along with it will go the Guelph Typographical Union — a Local of CWA Canada, the country’s oldest media union — which was founded in 1893.

Feds must take action on Postmedia monopoly: CWA Canada

OTTAWA (Jan. 19, 2016) – CWA Canada, the country's only all-media union, is calling on the federal government to take action before it’s too late to prevent Postmedia from destroying the country’s major daily newspapers.
The union is urging legislation or regulations to limit concentration of media ownership and prevent destructive debt-leveraged takeovers of important national companies.
Postmedia, which holds a near monopoly on English-language newspapers across most of Canada, reported today that it is firing 90 journalists and merging its papers in four markets: Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. The company had already cut more than half its staff and slashed newsroom budgets.

Troubling Postmedia financial news puts journalism at risk: CWA Canada

OTTAWA (Jan. 14, 2016) – CWA Canada, the country's only all-media union, is deeply concerned about the latest financial news involving Postmedia and is urging the company to take “constructive” action before it's too late.
The union is also calling on the federal government to introduce regulations to prevent concentration of media ownership and block destructive debt-leveraged takeovers of important national companies.
Postmedia reported yesterday that it is stepping up cost-cutting efforts as it continues to lose money while trying to pay down a massive debt. The company is now aiming for cost reductions of $80 million by mid-2017, up from its previous goal of $50 million by the end of 2017.

Liberals put halt to controversial finance disclosure rules for unions

Liberals have promised to repeal bill C-377, which passed Senate in June after bitter battle
The federal government has taken its first step towards repealing a controversial law that would have required unions to disclose finite details of their spending.
The government says it is waiving requirements for unions to track every dollar of spending so it could one day be publicly disclosed by the Canada Revenue Agency.
The rules were contained in a Conservative private member's bill passed in June over objections from unions, police associations, the federal privacy commissioner, the Canadian Bar Association and seven provinces who called it unconstitutional and argued it would cost millions for the federal government to enforce. | CBC / The Canadian Press

Vice Canada digital media workers seek unionization

Workers at Vice Canada, one of the country’s biggest digital news operations, have gone public with their unionization drive as they seek to join the Canadian Media Guild (CMG).
In a statement posted today on the CMG website, they are appealing to all who work at the company’s Toronto office — not just editorial staff — to sign a card pledging their support. Their goal is to have as many cards as possible signed by the end of this week. To that end, there will be a meeting at William’s Landing, 120 Lynn Williams St., between 6 and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

Regina man fights for full-time coverage of Saskatchewan legislature

Marc Spooner was shocked when he learned Stefani Langenegger would no longer be covering the Saskatchewan legislature full time.
Langenegger, a CBC reporter on the provincial politics beat, has a reputation as a dogged political reporter.
But earlier this fall, Spooner found out through social media that she wasn’t at the legislature full-time anymore. She had been moved into a different position at the CBC, a fact confirmed by J-Source with John Bertrand, CBC’s senior managing director in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. | J-Source

Support for CBC/Radio-Canada reaffirmed in Throne Speech

Now is the time to turn words into action: CMG

The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) is encouraged to see that the new government has reaffirmed support for CBC/Radio-Canada among its top priorities in today’s Throne Speech. The CMG, the largest union representing CBC/Radio-Canada employees, urges the government to turn words into action by allocating immediate bridge funding to stop the ongoing dismantling of the national public broadcaster. | CMG (CWA Canada Local 30213)

Alain Saulnier slams political meddling at Radio-Canada in new book

When Prince William and his wife, Kate, were visiting Canada in 2011, James Moore, the minister of Canadian Heritage at the time, sent an e-mail to Hubert Lacroix, president of the CBC. Moore had been watching CBC coverage of the royal visit and said, “It’s not a big problem but …”
The minister just wanted to remind Lacroix that the couple should correctly be called the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, not Will and Kate, and that this was a royal tour, not a royal visit, since Prince William is a future king of Canada, not a visitor. According to an alarming new book by former Radio-Canada news director Alain Saulnier, Lacroix quickly passed along the little style reminder to news executives on both the French- and English-language services.
Did Moore seriously have no better way to spend his time than sending the CBC memos on the finer points of royal protocol? The anecdote, from Saulnier’s Losing Our Voice: Radio-Canada Under Siege, which has just been released in English, would be funny were it not just another distressing example of grotesque interference in an arm’s-length agency from Conservative politicians and political staffers – and the Liberals before them. | Kate Taylor / Globe and Mail

PM Trudeau hits reset button
with labour movement

CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon was among a gathering of union leaders who heard from Justin Trudeau this morning that he is hitting the reset button on the federal government’s dealings with the labour movement.
The new Prime Minister said in his speech to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) that he looks forward to working together with labour on a common goal of a better future for families.
It was the first time since 1958 that a sitting prime minister had addressed the CLC. More than 120 labour leaders and representatives are in Ottawa for a meeting of the Canadian Council, a democratically elected group that governs the CLC between its national conventions.

New heritage minister Mélanie Joly says money coming to the arts, CBC

Mélanie Joly, Canada's newly-minted minister of Canadian heritage, wasted no time in assuring arts groups across the country that she's ready to honour Liberal campaign promises to substantially increase federal spending.
Just hours after being sworn in yesterday, Joly outlined priorities that include increasing the budgets of the Canada Council for the Arts and the CBC, as well as planning for the countrywide celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation. | CBC News

Media unions to new heritage minister: We can restore CBC/Radio-Canada

Dear Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage:
As leaders of the unions that represent the employees of CBC/Radio-Canada, we are writing to you as the incoming Minister of Canadian Heritage. Congratulations on your appointment to this important role, which includes defending and enhancing the valuable cultural and economic contribution of the public broadcaster.
We urge you to please act immediately to stop the ongoing dismantling of CBC/Radio-Canada. | Canadian Media Guild

Why CMG has lost confidence in president, board of CBC/Radio-Canada

After eight years of unprecedented downsizing and programming cuts, CBC/Radio Canada’s two largest unions are calling for a change of leadership.
CWA Canada's largest Local, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), and the Syndicat des communications du Radio Canada (SCRC) — which together represent the majority of CBC/Radio-Canada’s workers — have lost confidence in the president and the board of directors, and are calling for their resignations.
CMG leaders and elected volunteers from across the country have repeatedly raised concerns about President Hubert Lacroix’s vision — “Strategy 2020” — which the CMG sees as an ill-defined focus on digital media, with diminished ability to produce local programming, and increase in purchased content. | Canadian Media Guild

Media unions declare non-confidence in CBC leadership, demand resignations

Two media unions that speak for most of CBC/Radio-Canada’s employees have taken the unprecedented step of declaring non-confidence in — and demanding the resignation of — the entire leadership of the public broadcaster.
The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) and Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC) say that president and CEO Hubert Lacroix, along with the 12-member board of directors, all of them Harper government appointees, have “systematically crippled” CBC/Radio-Canada over the last eight years.
Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, welcomed the move by the CMG, its largest Local, which is the main union at the CBC. He had counselled such action six months ago, when Lacroix ignored his letter in which he urged the CEO to defend public broadcasting and call on the federal government to restore the $115-million in budget cuts.

New government should act quickly on independence, funding for CBC

Three unions representing most of the workers at CBC/Radio-Canada, including CWA Canada's largest Local, the Canadian Media Guild, have written to Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau urging him to act quickly on the Liberals' commitment to reverse the $115-million funding cut imposed by the Harper government and to reinvest in the public broadcaster.
They also ask that Division 17 of Bill C-60, which allows political interference in CBC’s day-to-day operations, be repealed immediately and to introduce a non-partisan mechanism for appointing the corporation’s CEO and Board of Directors. | Canadian Media Guild

Postmedia targets cost-cutting as it seeks new revenue streams

With falling revenue driving a $54-million fourth-quarter loss at Canada’s largest newspaper chain, Postmedia Network Canada Corp. is keeping its focus on cost-cutting as it hunts for new avenues to make money.
Losses for the three months ended Aug. 31 exceeded the $49.8-million shortfall recorded in the same quarter last year, driven largely by “derivative financial instruments” as well as a $19.4-million foreign currency loss – more than half the company’s substantial debt is in U.S. dollars.
The results sum up another hard year for Postmedia, and marked the first full quarter of results that included contributions from the Sun newspaper chain, acquired from Quebecor Media in April. The fourth quarter saw print advertising revenue fall 13.7 per cent, which marked a minor improvement from prior quarters when declines were sometimes above 20 per cent. Two other key revenue sources – circulation and digital – also fell by 4.8 per cent and 2.4 per cent, respectively. | Globe and Mail

Conservative endorsements fly in the face of freedom of expression

By Sean Holman, The Unknowable Country
By endorsing the Conservatives for another term in government, some of Canada’s biggest dailies have betrayed both democracy and themselves.
Last week, papers owned by Postmedia Network Inc., the country’s largest English-language daily newspaper publisher, ran editorials with headlines such as “Conservatives are the most prudent choice,” “Let's keep Harper's steady hand on the helm” and “No change is best.”
Those papers were joined by the Globe and Mail, which endorsed the Tories but not Stephen Harper—seemingly and improbably suggesting his party colleagues weren’t, at the very least, responsible for enabling their leader’s baser decisions.
In the main, the pith of those newspapers’ contestable argument is that, according the Vancouver Sun, “The Harper government has kept a steady hand on the economic rudder” and, as such, is “best able to maintain a stable and healthy economy.”
Yet at least some of those editorials also affirmed the Conservatives’ slide into crypto-despotism. | J-source.ca

Andrew Coyne quits as Post editor — and endorses NDP candidate

Andrew Coyne has resigned as editor of editorials and comment for the National Post over a disagreement with Postmedia’s endorsement of the Conservatives, although he’s staying on as a columnist, he announced on Twitter this morning.
In string of tweets, Coyne explained that he disagreed with Postmedia executives over the endorsement, while his former bosses held the view that “the publication of a column by the editorial page editor dissenting from the Post’s endorsement of the Conservatives would have confused readers and embarrassed the paper.” | iPolitics.ca

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Who, or what, is behind Postmedia's editorial endorsements?

So did thoughtful editors at Postmedia's daily newspapers across Canada consider the needs of their communities and then unanimously decide to endorse the Conservatives in election editorials?
Or did CEO Paul Godfrey, a Conservative supporter, issue an edict demanding the corporation's 43 daily newspapers urge their readers to re-elect Stephen Harper?
It matters. And the corporation's newspapers, quick to demand transparency from other institutions, have fallen eerily silent about their endorsement editorials. | theTyee.ca

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Marchers from Montreal to Ottawa demanding better funding for CBC

Radio-Canada’s largest union in Québec and CBC supporters are marching from Montreal to Ottawa this week to demand better funding.
The marchers will be joined by supporters in communities along the way as they share a “charter” describing their vision of a strong national public broadcaster.
Among the demands are increased, stable, multi-annual funding, and accountable, transparent governance, whereby the CBC president and board of directors are not appointed by the PMO, but instead selected through a non-partisan, multi-party process. | Canadian Media Guild

Carmel Smyth: Top 10 reasons
public broadcasting is awesome

I am often asked to speak to groups about the media business and the future of public broadcasting. Recently I was invited by the community group Why Should I Care to talk about the value public broadcasting and the challenges it faces.
Before a full house of many CBC fans, (and a few skeptics), well-known host of TVO’s The Agenda Steve Paikin, and I shared our views on why public broadcasting is as crucial today as ever. | Canadian Media Guild

A-list of Canadian rock stars sign petition, join campaign to support CBC

In late August, Canadian Musician magazine launched a petition and campaign that calls on all members of the Canadian music industry, and music fans in general, to speak up about funding cuts to the CBC.
With more than 6,000 petition supporters to date, the campaign (www.SavetheCBC.com) has been gaining steam and drawn the attention of an impressive list of Canadian artists — including Tegan & Sara, Jann Arden, Sam Roberts Band, Arkells – who have publicly declared their support for the public broadcaster.
The petition states that $115 million funding cut as outlined in the 2012 federal budget greatly jeopardizes the traditional role of the CBC in promoting Canadian music and building the careers of Canadian artists. | Canadian Media Guild

CBC CEO disputes Harper comment over funding

The head of the CBC is hitting back at Conservative Leader Stephen Harper over comments the national broadcaster is floundering because of low ratings rather than a lack of funding.
CEO Hubert Lacroix says the CBC has healthy ratings, but is crippled by a broken funding model.
“It’s not about a lack of audience,” he said after the CBC’s annual general meeting in Winnipeg on Tuesday. “It’s about a broken finance model that doesn’t work, that used to be built on advertising revenues supporting a drop in parliamentary appropriations. In this environment, it doesn’t work anymore.” | Globe and Mail

Call to action for CBC/Radio-Canada on Sept. 29

There are fewer than three weeks left in the federal election campaign, and this is perhaps the most important election yet in terms of the future viability of the CBC as a public broadcaster.
The CBC Board of Directors holds its annual general meeting in Winnipeg on Sept. 29 and 30.
The Canadian Media Guild, CWA Canada's largest Local, which represents thousands of employees at CBC, is calling on all its members to show support for the public broadcaster. | Canadian Media Guild

CBC announces plans to sell off all buildings in midst of election campaign

CBC announced today at a town hall for staff that it is selling all its property across the country, including major production facilities in Montreal and Toronto. These buildings were paid for by Canadians to allow the public broadcaster to produce quality original Canadian programming purely in the public interest. The announcement confirms a trend to strip CBC of that ability.
“The decision to close down production centres is of great concern for our members as it should be for all Canadians, and seriously jeopardizes the CBC’s ability to do meaningful production in the future,” said Marc-Philippe Laurin, CBC Branch President for the Canadian Media Guild (CMG). ‘Our members believe the public broadcaster can’t only be a distributor, it has to also be a producer. This plan threatens the ongoing legacy of award- winning documentaries, drama and other quality production at CBC and Radio Canada.” | Canadian Media Guild

Lacroix: Public broadcasters ‘risk being boiled to death’

President acknowledges for first time that CBC’s very existence at risk due to funding cuts
Eight years into overseeing a massive and unprecedented downsizing of the CBC — the most ruthless in the public broadcaster’s 80-year history, with more than 2,000 or 25 per cent of staff laid off in five years and no end in sight — President Hubert Lacroix now says he should have sounded the alarm earlier.
Lacroix’s sudden admission and defence of the public broadcaster he has made a career of shredding comes not in his own backyard, where CBC supporters have been sounding the alarm for years, but at an international conference on public broadcasting in Germany.
In a prepared speech, Lacroix admitted that public broadcasters “are at fault for not speaking loudly enough about the threats we face” and “like the proverbial frog put in cold water that is slowly heated, we’ve resisted telling people that we risk being boiled to death.”

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Quebec's La Presse to scrap weekday print edition to focus on app

La Presse will scrap its weekday print edition starting Jan. 1, staking its future on its popular tablet app and taking one of the boldest steps yet in the print newspaper industry’s continuing shift to digital publishing.
The Montreal-based daily had signalled since early 2014 that its days on printed paper were numbered. Even so, the move came sooner than some expected – Transcontinental Inc., the company that prints La Presse, only learned of the decision just before it was made public on Wednesday.
Even after the changes take effect, La Presse will continue printing and delivering its Saturday print edition, acknowledging in a statement that reading it “remains a potent, engaging ritual to which many people are profoundly attached.” | Globe and Mail

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Joint Statement: Fix Canada's broken access to information system

The deficit of trust between Canada’s voters and its elected officials has never been higher, largely due to a breakdown in the system of accountability. Key to this is the fact that, after years of neglect, Canada’s access to information system is in crisis. The undersigned organisations are calling on the main political parties in Canada to make concrete commitments to reform Canada’s access to information system.
A strong access to information system is vital to maintaining a healthy democracy. Elections depend on the ability of individuals to understand how government has performed and the background to policy decisions. Journalists and civil society rely on requests for information to monitor public bodies and to uncover malfeasance. Vital oversight functions are curtailed in the absence of an effective right to information system. The current system is failing Canadians. | CJFE

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Canadian newspaper tries radical experiment with iTunes-style micropayments

Despite its name, regular readers of the Winnipeg Free Press can no longer see articles for free.
Paywalls are nothing new in the world of online newspapers, but this summer, the "Freep," as it is affectionately known, introduced a method of charging for online "print" media that everyone thought was dead: micropayments.
After a free trial period of one month, anyone interested in reading the Free Press has two choices. As with other papers, readers can buy a subscription at the standard rates.
Or, they can do something regular daily newspaper readers have never been able to do before. They can pay a one-time fee for the individual article they want to read. | CBC News

Momentum building to unionize
digital newsrooms


Last week, BuzzFeed’s CEO told employees that a union wouldn’t be good for them. We know this because Jonah Peretti’s comments, made at a staff meeting, were reported in Buzzfeed and then in the Guardian.
Six months ago, this wouldn’t have been news. It’s not particularly surprising to hear of an employer telling their employees to avoid unions. And just last winter, the Washington Post published a piece about why digital newsrooms (such as BuzzFeed) don’t organize, based on what appeared to be a lacklustre drive at Politico.
Soon after, however, Gawker employees took the media world by surprise and launched a public union drive that led to a June 4 vote in favour of joining the Writers Guild of America East. They were followed this summer by U.S. workers at Salon, Vice and the Guardian. The latter joined the News Guild, which is affiliated with the same international union as the Canadian Media Guild (and its parent union, CWA Canada). | Canadian Media Guild

CWA Canada appeals to Alberta publisher to bring jobs back from India

CWA Canada President Martin O'Hanlon has appealed in a letter to the publisher of the Medicine Hat News to reverse a decision to outsource jobs to India. The company rejected viable alternatives presented by the union's Local, the Media and Communications Workers of Alberta.

Postmedia's pivotal moment: Cutting $650-million in debt

When Postmedia Network Canada Corp. sealed its $316-million purchase of the bulk of the Sun newspaper chain in April, its chief executive officer cast the deal as a necessary step to scale up and compete in the ever-more-crowded market for digital news. Analysts too hailed the acquisition as a smart move that bought Postmedia breathing room as it tries to cope with a heavy debt load.
But the transaction also set the clock ticking on Postmedia’s future prospects – and perhaps even its survival – as Canada’s largest newspaper publisher. | Globe and Mail

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Black echoes union’s call to Postmedia to boost quality journalism

CWA Canada’s oft-repeated advice to Postmedia to boost its bottom line by offering readers quality journalism is now being parroted by Conrad Black.
The disgraced former media baron and founder of Postmedia’s flagship National Post publicly scolded CEO Paul Godfrey during a conference call Thursday to discuss the company’s latest, dismal quarterly financial results.
“Please build the quality, otherwise you’re going to retreat right into your own end zone,” said Black, an investor. He had previously used his column in the Post to lash out at Postmedia for its “endless and rather undiscriminating cost-cutting” at its newspapers.

Postmedia-owned Sun newspapers now back with The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Sun Media newspapers are once again receiving content from The Canadian Press news service.
CP President Malcolm Kirk called the return of the 33 papers an important milestone for The Canadian Press, the national news agency that operates in both official languages on multiple platforms.
The Sun Media properties were among those recently purchased for $316 million from Quebecor by Postmedia Network Canada Corp. | Times Colonist

Senate is merely home to Stephen Harper's puppets: Tim Harper

Stephen Harper decides if he can’t get an anti-union bill passed under the rules,
his Senators can just break those rules
OTTAWA — How badly does Stephen Harper want anti-union legislation — odious, punitive and almost certainly unconstitutional as it is — passed into law?
On an early summer Friday, while you were longing for your weekend, the Prime Minister’s Office choreographed another headlong behavioural plunge down the mineshaft for your Senate.
It won’t end up with anyone in the prisoner’s docket, it didn’t involve wanton disregard for your tax money or involve sex, a teenager and a power imbalance.
But because this has to do with a law of the land, it was arguably more scandalous than any of the misconduct for which this Senate has become renowned.
This game featured nothing less than a Conservative majority seeking to break Senate rules, then rebuking the Speaker, the hapless PMO-appointed Leo Housakos, after he ruled they were breaking the rules.
The bottom line is that the Conservative majority has bullied itself into a position to pass a law that allows Harper to campaign against those omnipresent “union bosses” and tell Canadians how a former Liberal Senate caucus went to the wall for those bosses on orders from Justin Trudeau. | Toronto Star

Associate Members develop supports
for emerging media workers

The growing precarity of media work and the decline in labour reporting at most media outlets led CWA Canada Associate Members to spend the past six months creating resources and supports for emerging media workers.
As part of the Media Works project, they have produced a handbook and 14 audio documentaries, long-form articles and graphic journalism pieces that critically explore labour issues.

Alberta Local fights plan to ship newspaper jobs to India

CWA Canada members who work as graphic artists at the Medicine Hat News are hoping their union can head off company plans to outsource their jobs to a foreign country.
Mary-Ann Barr, president of the Media and Communications Workers of Alberta, said discussions that are mandated in the collective agreement are already under way, with the objective of getting the company to reverse the decision to move some of the newspaper’s work to India.
“The employees are developing alternate cost-cutting measures that, if accepted by the company, would save jobs in Medicine Hat and invigorate a well-read and well-respected newspaper.”

Why is CBC taking aim at our videographers?


When people tune to the CBC – as they will – for the results from Alberta’s exciting election on Tuesday, they should be aware that nearly every videographer working on the show has a layoff notice in their pocket.
For some reason, CBC management has decided to target the very people who are the front line of news in this next layoff. About 40 of the 241 positions eliminated in this round of layoffs are videographers. And even more strangely, every videographer in Alberta got a pink slip. | Canadian Media Guild

Media union urges CBC chief to ‘be brave, do his duty’ on stable funding

CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon is encouraging the head of the CBC to be “brave” and do his “duty” to speak up and demand sufficient funding to uphold the public broadcaster’s federally legislated mandate.
“You have said you have been advocating for the CBC behind the scenes. If that is true, it has not worked. That is evident in last week’s federal budget which didn’t have a penny for the CBC,” O’Hanlon says in an open letter to Hubert Lacroix.
Instead of calling on the federal government to restore the $115 million it cut, Lacroix has presided over and promoted a five-year plan that includes the “loss of a staggering 1,500 employees” in addition to the 3,000 positions that have been lost since the president and CEO was appointed by the Harper government.

Harper Brings CBC to Heel

Squeezed by the throat, our public broadcaster is beginning to resemble a state-controlled network
The thing about public broadcasters is that governments too often get confused between "publicly-owned" and "state-owned."
Technically, of course, there is no difference. Both are funded with tax dollars.
But the former suggests that citizens get a public good like, say, when they fund public transit or public roads. Public broadcasting should, as a result, serve the public interest. That translates to journalism and programming of social and cultural benefit, with as much good as possible for as many people as possible. | TheTyee.ca

CWA Canada Associate Members launch Media Works

Media Works, a labour rights and reporting project that is the brainchild of CWA Canada Associate Members, will officially launch in Toronto on April 29.
The evening features a moderated discussion, specially commissioned labour reporting articles, audio documentaries, graphic journalism pieces and a freshly minted handbook to help media organizations and creators know their rights and better report on labour issues.
The event is free as are the snacks and drinks to carry everyone through from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Foundery, 376 Bathurst St. in Toronto. You can get tickets at Eventbrite and check out the action on Facebook.

The sounds of silence: Postmedia buys Sun newspaper chain and no one heard a thing

If a newspaper chain falls in the media forest, will anyone hear it?
On March 25, the competition bureau cleared the way for Postmedia to purchase all of Sun Media's print newspapers and digital properties. The $316 million-deal was the biggest media merger in recent history and put one company in charge of 175 Canadian newspapers, including both dailies in major cities such as Edmonton, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver.
Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey gleefully admitted that ten years ago such a merger would not have been allowed and would likely have provoked a public outcry and calls for "another royal commission into the newspaper industry."
This time around, it sparked, well, nothing. | rabble.ca

Union ‘troubled’ by near monopoly as Postmedia cleared to buy Sun Media papers

CWA Canada, the country's only all-media union, remains "hopeful but troubled" in the wake of today's decision by the Competition Bureau approving the Postmedia deal to buy Sun Media's English-language newspapers.
"We hope this means Postmedia will put more money into quality journalism, especially at Sun Media where journalism has been on life support under Quebecor," CWA Canada President Martin O'Hanlon said.
"But we're troubled by the concentration of ownership, with Postmedia now holding a near monopoly on English-language newspapers across most of Canada."

Unions demand Harper apologize for ‘shocking’ CBC/SRC remarks

Six unions are demanding that Stephen Harper apologize for inappropriate remarks targeting thousands of CBC/Radio-Canada employees who they represent.
In an interview Friday with a private Quebec City radio station that aired today, the prime minister said in French that “many” employees of the public broadcaster’s French-language network “detest” conservative values.
Harper’s public accusation is “absurd and unfounded,” the unions — including CWA Canada’s largest Local, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) — said in a joint statement issued today. “Thousands of people work at the CBC/SRC across Canada and their political opinions are as varied and as private as every other Canadian. For the prime minister to single out and disparage a group of workers for not supporting his values is tantamount to schoolyard bullying (and) unbecoming of the office.”

Postmedia announces layoffs, buyouts in national newspaper network

The company that owns the National Post announced a handful of layoffs and voluntary buyouts in its national network of newspapers and websites on Thursday as it continues to cut costs.
Postmedia Network Canada Corp. confirmed that some reporters received pink slips as it centralizes “national content creation” at the National Post.
The company also announced voluntary buyout programs at the Windsor Star, The Ottawa Citizen, and the Montreal Gazette. | Toronto Star

Postmedia and the heavy price it pays to survive

Postmedia’s newspapers, with their depopulated newsrooms, run the risk of becoming irrelevant as a bulwark of democracy as they generate just enough cash to further enrich mostly U.S. absentee owners.


Canada’s free press and the citizens it serves are paying a heavy price to satisfy the short-term profit-seeking of U.S. financiers who now control many of the leading originators of news in Canada’s largest communities.
Postmedia Network Canada Corp., 35-per-cent owned by the Manhattan-based hedge fund GoldenTree Asset Management, Postmedia’s largest shareholder, was already Canada’s biggest newspaper chain when it announced last October it was buying the Sun Media chain of tabloid dailies and more than 150 other titles from Quebecor Media Inc. | Toronto Star

Redoubling our efforts for critical times


We are struggling through a period of intense change in the media business. The ongoing digital transition continues to be challenging and painful for media workers. It has meant job cuts, increasing workloads and dueling demands at work. We are the most multi-skilled generation of media workers ever, yet increasingly confined to desks, surfing, sourcing and repurposing existing content with diminishing time to create original content or to work in the field.
Our work has changed and so have we. We understand even more how much quality journalism matters, and that we have to fight to ensure this work continues to be done. We understand even more that precarious jobs do not support bold journalism, and that we have to fight to make jobs permanent. We’ve understood even more that mentoring matters, and encouraged seasoned veterans to nurture the next generation. | Canadian Media Guild

CBC takes step back from commitment to local news: CMG

Under pressure from federal budget cuts and in the name of a “digital first” strategy, the CBC is planning another round of cuts in local news coverage across Canada next fall.
This continues a process by the Harper government of breaking faith with Canadians who have clearly said they support a stronger public broadcaster and more local and regional news coverage.
These constant changes to news delivery models, broadcasts, the time they are offered and their length, push viewers to pull away from CBC. The new plan also marks a departure from efforts over the last decades to rebuild CBC’s local presence on television. These changes continue the erosion of our public broadcaster as this government just stands by and watches.

CMG proposes non-patronage appointments to CBC board

The Canadian Media Guild, CWA Canada's largest Local, has filed nominations with Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, to support non-patronage appointments to the vacant spot on the CBC Board.
The CMG is proposing award-winning broadcasters Francine Pelletier and Jean-François Lépine to fill the position on the public broadcaster’s Board that is now vacant following the recent resignation of George Cooper of Halifax.

Let’s stop pretending all is OK at CBC — it’s not


One day, in between one major layoff announcement and another terrible revelation in the Jian Ghomeshi case, an email appeared in my inbox declaring the winners of the CBC President’s Awards. It stunned me; it seemed so wrong to pretend things were normal and the annual tradition was going on uninterrupted, while so much at CBC was disintegrating.  I didn’t read on and tried — like many of us — just tried to get through another sorry day at work.
So hats off to the Radio-Canada employees in Sherbrooke, Que., who had the same feeling, but amplified it and acted upon it. They were the winners of a President’s Award for their coverage of the rail disaster at Lac-Mégantic. When CBC President Hubert Lacroix went to deliver it this week, in person, he was rebuffed.  The employees refused the award, citing the cuts.


CBC Sherbrooke journalist refuses President's Award to protest job cuts

A reluctant journalist, Pierre Tousignant (on left in photo) is interviewed by Carol Off, host of CBC Radio One's As It Happens.
A video of the journalists' rebuff of the award is making the rounds of the Internet on the same day that CBC management delivered more lay-off notices to staff.
The Canadian Media Guild expects the total number of jobs cut in 2014 to reach 1,000.

Enabler to a media hatchet job


In early 1995, CBC/Radio-Canada president Tony Manera handed his resignation to prime minister Jean Chrétien, citing the proverbial “personal reasons.” Later, Mr. Manera opened up about the real reason why he suddenly quit his job as chief of the public broadcaster: “I will not preside over the dismantling of the CBC,” he told Macleans.
Just before his resignation, Mr. Manera was given his budgetary marching orders by the recently elected Liberal government: Cut $270-million from your $1.1-billion budget. Mr. Manera refused, putting his loyalty to the institution above the political loyalty expected of him.
Hubert Lacroix, the corporation’s current president, is no Tony Manera. | Globe and Mail

C-377: DÉjÀ vu all over again

An open PMO door for a private anti-union bill

Tim Harper | COMMENT

OTTAWA—Stephen Harper’s backdoor assault on the labour movement, delivered through a private member’s bill from an obscure backbencher, has been rightly labelled hypocritical, punitive and an unprecedented invasion of privacy.
The bill, actually a tax amendment measure known as C-377, has been gutted and rightly been tossed aside as roadkill on the legislative highway.
But it’s back from the dead.
The reason it won’t die is simple — the bill has been orchestrated by Harper’s office and an anti-union lobbyist even if it bears the imprimatur of British Columbia backbencher Russ Hiebert. | Toronto Star

September 2014:

Tories revive union bill that provoked Senate rebellion, move to limit debate

Conservative senators are making a bid to cut short debate on private members' business just as the Senate is about to revive debate on a controversial bill that would force unions to publicly disclose details of their spending.
The timing of the two moves has sparked suspicions that the Harper government wants to whisk bill C-377 through the Senate, avoiding the scrutiny that prompted senators, including 16 Conservatives, to gut the bill the first time it came before the upper house. | The Canadian Press / CBC

November 2012:

Members' dues would fund Harper's back-door attack on labour organizations

An unprecedented attack on trade unions by the Harper government would see members' dues squandered on feeding the maw of a massive public database that would invade the privacy of millions of Canadians and financially cripple some labour organizations.
C-377, a private member's bill sponsored by Conservative MP Russ Hiebert, has already passed second reading and could well become law before the end of the year. It would amend the Income Tax Act to introduce onerous reporting requirements for unions, their pension or trust funds, medical plans and training trusts.

Editor's note: CWA Canada represents journalists and other workers employed at Irving-owned newspapers in New Brunswick, including The Daily Gleaner in Fredericton, the Times-Transcript in Moncton, and the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John.

Jacques Poitras, a veteran CBC
journalist and member of
CWA Canada, is the author of
Irving vs. Irving: Canada's Feuding
Billionaires and the Stories
They Won't Tell.

CBC journalist's book details perils
of media monopoly in New Brunswick

BOOK REVIEW | Erin Steuter

When the largest industrial player in New Brunswick owns the news business, it should be no surprise that journalists are treated like every other worker. Reporters who work for the Irvings are required to file 1,500 words a day, electronically monitored as part of Brunswick News’ paywall and the owners have suggested that newsroom staff wear uniforms, so that just like at Irving gas stations, it could “raise their morale and [make] them feel like a team.”
These are just some of interesting anecdotes in veteran CBC New Brunswick journalist Jacques Poitras’ new book, Irving vs. Irving: Canada’s Feuding Billionaires and the Stories They Won’t Tell (Viking Canada). The book is a lively collection about how the Irvings run their newspapers, the relationships within the Irving family and the working conditions for editors and journalists at the Irving papers. The strength of this book is the author’s extensive interviews with dozens of former Irving journalists and editors, academics, politicians, as well as members of the very private Irving family. | J-Source.ca

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