AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler will host a press call Friday with leaders of the WGA East and the NewsGuild-CWA to discuss their efforts at mitigating the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis on their members as newsrooms across the country are facing furloughs, layoffs and budget cuts.
“This is occurring at a time when the country needs the public service of hard-working journalists the most,” the AFL-CIO said in a statement.
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Joining Shuler on the call, which starts at 6:30 a.m. PT, will be WGA East Executive Director Lowell Peterson, NewsGuild president Jon Schleuss, and NewsGuild organizer Nadia Taha. Journalists can take part in the teleconference by RSVPing here.
Earlier this week, more than 1,200 members of the WGA East signed a petition calling on Congress to pass immediate financial relief for news-gathering organizations, many of which have seen advertising revenues plummet by more than 50% during the pandemic.
On Monday, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) sent House leaders a letter saying: “Amid this public health emergency, the American people’s need for reliable sources of information has never been greater. However, even as journalists are working tirelessly to deliver accurate reporting, the news workforce is facing an increasing likelihood of unprecedented layoffs. Absent immediate payroll assistance, many once-profitable media outlets – companies that put journalism first – will go under, and their news professionals will be out of work.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the news industry’s advertising revenues across all formats. Initial reporting estimates a 51% decline in spending on advertisements over March and April,” Clarke added. “This collapse is hitting digital-native outlets hardest, since most do not charge subscription fees and thus are disproportionately dependent on advertising revenue. For the professionals who work in digital newsrooms, federal financial support – whether by grant, loan, or other means – is all that stands between continuing to produce critical journalism and unemployment.”
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