Reporters at the L.B Press-Telegram, Grunion Gazette & 10 Other Papers Plan to Unionize
Updated: Feb 26, 2021
Reporters with the Southern California News Group (SCNG), which owns the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Grunion Gazette, and 11 other daily Los Angeles area newspapers, announced Wednesday their plan to unionize their newsrooms.
Why it matters:
SCNG, owned by New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital, has a reputation for destroying newsrooms by stripping assets and deep cuts to staff. Alden was once called by Vanity Fair the "the grim reaper of American newspaper," who at this time is attempting to buy the Tribune corporation for over $600 million.
The Denver Post staff famously wrote an op-ed saying, "Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn't willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will."
In 2018, Digital First reporters protested outside Alden's New York offices with signs that read "Stop Bleeding Our Newsrooms Dry" in reaction to Digital Media forcing the Denver Post to cut 30 newsroom jobs after years of layoffs and other cost-cutting measures, per NY Post.
Dozens of media companies have unionized over the past 2 years to weather the turbulent economic environment for the content industry, per AXIOS.
The newly formed SCNG Guild represents over 80 journalists from across four counties and approximately three-fourths of the newspapers' non-management editorial employees — including reporters, photographers, designers, copy editors, and online editors. Members have signed authorization cards to submit to the National Labor Relations Board to request a union election.
SCNG wrote on their Twitter page that "Media News Group and Alden Global Capital have cut our newsrooms to the bone. Layoffs and turnover have devastated our workforce. We face historic staffing shortages, and the exodus of journalists with decades of experience has hollowed out our newspapers."
The SCNG includes the Long Beach Press-Telegram and Grunion and the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Press-Enterprise, Daily Breeze, San Bernardino Sun Pasadena Star-News, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Whittier Daily News, and the Redlands Daily Facts. The papers attract an online audience of 17.6 million monthly unique visitors, according to the company, and some 451,000 Sunday print subscribers.
SCNG Guild will be a unit of the West's Media Guild, a local of The NewsGuild-CWA. M.G.W. represents hundreds of journalists at the Los Angeles Times, the Arizona Republic, and other news outlets.
What they're saying:
Hayley Munguia, a reporter for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, said via Twitter that she's been at the company four and a half years, "and my pay rate is exactly the same as the day I started (despite asking, many times, for a raise.) The sad thing is, I know I'm one of the lucky ones because there are so many employees who have been here much longer."
"The Southern California News Group likes to say that 'Local. News. Matters,'" said reporter Josh Cain, SCNG Guild organizing committee member. "But hollowing out our newsrooms with layoffs and attrition does not improve our ability to cover the news. Buying up every local paper in Southern California, cutting its staff to the bone, and covering the same number of communities with even fewer resources does not help our readers. We want to save local news, and organizing will help us do that."