Star union memo: Byline strike
No bylines in Wednesday’s paper
Send a message
to the company
— and to your anxious colleagues
At the core of the company’s layoff plans for the newsroom is the notion that underpaid, non-Star people can do as good a job at editing, design, page layout and many other functions as our industry-leading professionals who put out our paper every day. We couldn’t disagree more, and we’re sure you all agree.
For Wednesday’s newspaper – the printed paper, that is, not the website – we are asking all reporters and photographers to exercise their unfettered contractual right to withdraw their bylines. We are asking columnists — who are in a different and awkward position, because byline withdrawal from a column means no column, therefore a refusal to work — to write about why editing and page design and the good ol’ “legacy product” of the paper itself is still vital to our community, etc.
Some say byline withdrawals is a clumsy union tool, in that it doesn’t accomplish a whole lot in the practical world, as most readers and advertisers may not notice. We actually agree with part of that. But in this case, we need to do something to send a powerful message to the publisher and the board – which is meeting here today, and will be in town tomorrow for Torstar’s 4th quarter results – that we all stand by our targeted colleagues. We also need to send those colleagues — including our other friends targeted for layoff, in the library, the art department, among the editorial assistant ranks, even the student radio roomers who the company also plans to shed – that we value their work and stand with them.
So: For writers, photographers and other “content creators,” please add the note “no byline in newspaper Wednesday” on all files for tomorrow’s paper. If you have already filed something that is intended for use Wednesday or could be pulled up and used tomorrow, please send a note to your desk editors saying your want your byline/credit line withdrawn from that day’s paper. For columnists, please tell your editors you are swapping out any previously filed Wednesday column with a new one — or simply file as scheduled about our struggle. For deskers, please check with any and all reporters, columnists, photographers etc if you see anything that doesn’t include a byline request. A verbal or email request from the writer or creator is sufficient to remove their credit line from the print package.
We’ll be around throughout the day for your questions, to provide any needed guidance, to help discuss this with any individuals, and to help deskers check with all “journalists” and columnists to make sure our no-byline/pointed columns get through to tomorrow’s newspaper.
Thanks for all this. Meanwhile, work continues on many fronts to reverse as much of the company’s short-sighted agenda, while still respecting its need to remain a viable business.
— Dan Smith, editorial steward, on behalf of your newsroom Guild stewards