The New York Times and its journalist union, the Newspaper Guild of New York, have yet to reach an agreement on a new contract.
The video below, produced by the Guild, features three New York Times Pulitzer Prize winners talking about how great the Times is–and, implicitly, how horrible it will be for everyone if management wins.
One of the journalists, Kevin Sack, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, makes a not-so-vague reference to greener pastures at the Huffington Post, et al., noting that some online publications are now rich enough that they can pay great journalists more than they make at the Times.
The other journalists, Dan Barry and Amy Harmon, talk about the joy of having pensions and getting paid well and working at the company that is the gold standard for journalism.
And the video makes a strong point at the end when it notes that CEO Janet Robinson’s exit package was a startling ~$25 million–and that the total annual cost of what the Guild is asking for for all its New York Times employees is only 80% of that.
Not surprisingly, however, the video does not acknowledge the reality of the New York Times’s situation, which is that the business is shrinking.
Most Americans would love to get paid more and have excellent pensions and benefits.
But most Americans don’t have those things.
So while most Americans can certainly relate to the disgust at egregious compensation awarded to mediocre CEOs, they also likely won’t have much sympathy for the plight of extremely well-educated and talented journalists who, as the video notes, could get paid more to work elsewhere.
UPDATE: After publishing this post, I got a note from Kevin Sack saying that he and his colleagues had not in any way threatened to leave, as my original headline suggested. (I heard Kevin’s words as a veiled threat–or at least the frank “statement of economic reality” that he refers to below–but I’ve toned the headline down accordingly):
As you know, the assertion in your item about our participation in the Guild video is an absurd distortion of both our actual words and our intent. None of us is threatening to quit, to join the Huffington Post or any other outlet, and none of us said as much in the video. Indeed, we participated in the video precisely because we love our jobs, and the Times, and hope to preserve its high quality. Our point was that others among us have left, for financially greener pastures now made available by an increasingly competitive digital marketplace, and that the paper can expect this trend to accelerate if compensation is effectively reduced through a pension freeze. This was not a personalised threat, only a generalized statement of economic reality. In the end, the video expresses our devotion to the Times and our deep desire — even expectation — that the Times will treat us fairly in these contract negotiations. Please feel free to correct the misimpression you have left.
The New York Times
[I don’t know much about the relative positions of the two sides and would love to hear more. Please send info to [email protected]]
SEE ALSO: The Incredible Shrinking New York Times