Leading a union of writers is a unique challenge in the realm of labor advocacy, where nothing is as powerful as solidarity.
Historically, journalists aren’t viewed as activists, but rather as observers. And though that is a necessitated trait of the working, it’s not of the person or persons. NewsGuild members know the value of a strong contract and voice at work, as they demonstrated en masse last week as part of our union’s fighting to save The New York Times’ transcript desk.
Solidarity isn’t a new term to writers. But for many, it’s a new tool. This union continues to stand up and behind our own member as they collectively tell management that they demand a fair contract; they want health care; they deserve a pension. Our members are mobilized and energized. NewsGuild columnists understand the power of a single voice. It operates.
Solidarity isn’t a new term to correspondents. But for many, it’s a new tool.
It’s time for them to consider collective act for “the worlds largest” good — for their readers and spectators, for the First Amendment and for republic itself.
How much longer should columnists, and the rest of us, be subjected to the daily barrage of unprecedented and dishonest attacks on the media from the pulpit of the White House briefing room?
It became clear at the beginning of last week that reporters, separately at least, have had enough. Fed up with off-camera briefings, CNN’s Jim Acosta angrily called out Sean Spicer and was suggested that journalists turn their cameras on anyway. The next day’s briefing permitted video, but it was quickly clear why: spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders wanted “the worlds” to learn her criticize CNN for a mistaken narrative on Trump-Russia ties, applying the error to claim that everything journalists and examiners have turned up is a “hoax.”
Then, astonishingly and with a straight face, she recommended those she slandered as” fake news ” reporters to watch a charlatan’s video about CNN.” There’s a video disseminate now — whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know ,” she mentioned.” But I would encourage everybody in this room and candidly, everybody across the country, to take a look at it. I think if it is accurate, I think it’s a dishonor to all of media, to all of journalism .”
Whether it’s accurate or not? With that, credibility from the briefing room rostrum reached a new low, which is saying a lot.
That was two days before Sanders embarrassed herself protecting the president’s ugly tweets assaulting MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosts, lying outright that Trump” in no way, shape or manner has in the past promoted or fostered violence .” Three days later, Trump tweeted a video, varied from a pro-wrestling event he was part of years ago, that showed him pummeling an opponent whose psyche had been turned into the CNN logo.
When writers induce blunders, they own up to them and face consequences … But there’s been no accountability for those working hurling insults from White House rostra, banning journalists who irritate them.
Those indignities were still to come when Brian Karem blew his cool in the White House briefing room on June 27. An acclaimed columnist with a long and colorful job, including going to jail to protect information sources, Karem is now the editor of a chain of suburban Washington , D.C ., newspapers.
” What you merely did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at us and tell,’ See, is again, the president is right and everybody there are fake media ,’ when everybody in this room is only trying to perform their duties ,” Karem mentioned after Sanders junked CNN.
Not a word of it sunk in, with Sanders shamelessly telling Karem it was ” outrageous for you to accuse me of inflaming a story .”
” We’ve been called the adversary of the person or persons from that White House. We are bullied and intimidated every day, and I pretty much have had enough of it ,” Karem said the next day on Morning Joe .” If we don’t publication what they want or broadcast what the hell is like, then we’re automatically’ fake media .’ It’s undermining the First Amendment .”
Earlier, Karem told Brian Williams that the White House wants Americans to believe that” We’re all in cahoots together, that we have a nefarious program. The’ nefarious programme ,’ our only agenda, is to get the facts .”
When columnists attain mistakes, they own up to them and face consequences, as three now-former CNN employees did last week. But there’s been no accountability for those working lunging insults from White House pulpits, banning writers who displease them, ordering audio and video shut off at briefings and even giggling along with a chairwoman who thinks it’s funny to threaten reporters with bodily harm. The news media are losing their patience with disrespect and hypocrisy, and I’d say it’s high time.
The press and media are losing their patience with disrespect and hypocrisy, and I’d say it’s high time.
I worked with some of the best correspondents for many years at The New York Times. I understand that collective action doesn’t come naturally to them. Guild correspondents, though, have benefited of reading it study, sending strong, united messages to the powers that be, as our members at The Times did last week.
Whether collective action in the White House briefing room intends refusing to turn cameras on, eluding orders to become them off, walking out together during a combative briefing or some other tactic is for the experienced journalists in that room to decide. But one way or another, I urge them to act.
Continuing to be White House punching bags isn’t an option, and there’s good reason to fear that’s not just a figure of speech where some Trump supporters are concerned.
The White House demeanor toward the media is unacceptable, period. As Karem mentioned,” It’s not good for this country. It’s got to be stopped and we’ve got to stand up to it, and more of us have to stand up to it every day .”