Worcester Newspaper Guild Letter

Glad to see that the Worcester Newspaper Guild took my advice and wrote their own letter to the New York Times Company.

(Next time, you can send me the press releases in addition to the larger media outlets.  I personally think the T&G should become employee-owned.)

Update — as T notes in the comments, Lee Hammel spoke with Emily Rooney today (mp3), starting at the 19:30ish mark. 

Some quotes:

“We were unhappy to read about it, given what we’ve been offered over the last four years” [regarding bonuses at NYT Co., 20:45ish]

“We’ve been in negotiations — the contract expired in 2007, and we’ve been in negotiations ever since, and they have been very steadfast in saying that they will not give us any pay raises.  But on top of that, … they’re stripping away many other rights that we had and many other benefits, or they want to do that, and that’s why we’re in negotiations.”

Regarding health benefits: “They want to take away the clause that says ‘substantially equivalent,’ so that they could give us virtually any health plan at all.  There would be no limit on what they could take away.  Similarly, they … could charge us as much as they want for those benefits.”

Rooney asks what the T&G newsroom could do if Sulzberger and Robinson gave them $1mil of their bonuses.   Hammel notes that the bonus means that Sulzberger essentially doubled his salary, and that that bonus could have paid for approximately 75 employees at NYT Co.

Regarding cutbacks at the paper: “We’ve had to make some very, very difficult choices … there’s been a tremendous loss of space; there’s not as much space to write stories…the stories are shorter and there’s fewer of them.”

“There are fewer things we can do, there’s fewer things we have space to do, and there are fewer people to do them.”

Rooney asks about the Telegram’s plans to charge for some online content.  He didn’t know enough of the details to be able to comment.

Rooney: “Is it still valuable, to be a newspaper guy?”  (after a brief dismissal of news that one can glean from the web)

Hammel: “It’s the best job in the world.  I love it, and I’ve done it for 38 years.  …If you don’t have the space to run your stuff, and you don’t have enough people to go out and gather it, it’s hard.”

There was an interesting discussion of the NYT Co.’s opinion of their guild around the 26 minute mark. 

Good for you, Lee!  Call me when your paper is interested in enlisting citizen journalists for news gathering!