The journalists’ strike

We should not hang our dirty linen in public, but recent developments in the press dictate that we disregard this saying. In the past two days, newspapers were not published, the radio played only music and television channels broadcast no news, as the journalists’ union went on a 48-hour strike, demanding wage increases. Regardless of whether one agrees with the demands, one should be aware of the present predicament which can neither be ignored nor overlooked. It’s widely admitted that the overall economic environment is not favorable and this is mirrored in the drop in advertising revenue. Newspaper advertising, for example, has shrunk by 25-30 percent. Furthermore, the majority of media sustained losses last year and the data so far indicates that the crisis will deepen. Many of these have heavy debts and the banks have threatened to cut funding. In the present economic downturn, there is the serious risk of bankruptcy, causing a precipitous increase in the already high jobless rate and part-time employment in the ranks of journalists. Many publishing companies are unable or unwilling to meet their collective labor agreements. But, some media owners offer their staff more than what is mandated in collective bargaining agreements. Moreover, it is no secret that in the various media there are significant differences in terms of income and extras. At a newspaper, for example, one can easily discern up to 10 income-levels which correspond to different requirements, obligations and responsibilities. It’s obvious that these complex conditions cannot be met by one collective demand for an increase in nominal incomes, or by demands for a subsidy for using a computer, which seems anachronistic in the technological age. The journalists’ union leader is making a grave mistake, for he makes comprehensive demands without a qualified approach toward the different media. Today, such a sweeping approach, reminiscent of unionist practices of the 1960s, gains nothing, instead, it generates pointless confrontation that may well do more harm than good. One would think that in the light of the present economic crisis for the media, there would be attempts at communication and dialogue, and evaluation of the unusual conditions. Instead, what one sees are warlike cries and tension which can only cause damage.

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