I was wandering the web and stumbled across a copy of the Star-Advertiser’s current contract with the newspaper guild that runs through August 2016. Guild members are now represented by the Pacific Media Workers Guild (TNG-CWA Local 39521), based in San Francisco.
Since the Hawaii Newspaper Guild was merged with the Pacific Media Workers Guild, there’s no public reporting of the number of guild members at individual newspapers or the total number in the state.
Previously, the Hawaii Newspaper Guild filed a separate LM-2 report with the U.S. Department of Labor itemizing the number of members at each of the newspapers where it had contracts.
Now, however, Guild members in Hawaii are somewhere among the 1,354 members of the combined multi-state local reported in the union’s latest LM-2 report. Search for File # 36746 in the Department of Labor’s Online Public Disclosure Room.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Times is joining the ranks of newspapers erecting pay walls. According to a column over the weekend by executive editor David Boardman, the pay wall will go up in mid-March.
The reasons for this development are simple: The economics of the news business, and of the newspaper industry in particular, have changed dramatically over the past decade. More people than ever are reading our content in print and digital formats, but our primary source of revenue — advertising — is declining locally and nationally and no longer supports our costs to the degree it once did.
Since its launch in 1996, access to Seattletimes.com has been free. We have charged our readers only for distribution of the printed newspaper, and at a price that only partially covered the costs of the ink, paper, trucks and carriers.
The expenses of the newsroom — reporters, editors, photographers, columnists, graphic artists, page designers, researchers, bloggers, digital producers — and of all of the supporting departments necessary to operate this place (Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, etc.), were covered by advertising revenue.
The math no longer adds up. We need to evolve in the way we do business, just as we have in the way we deliver our content to you.
If you happen to blog or aspire to your own blog, or perhaps if publishing economics just interests you, check out the recent podcast of NPR’s Planet Money, “Can Andrew Sullivan Make It On His Own?”
It’s pretty sobering.