Meet Arika Herron, education reporter

Arika Herron is an education reporter at The Indianapolis Star and a member of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild. She’ll hit her one-year anniversary at The Star on May 15.

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1) Why are you in the union?

This is my first union experience. I didn’t join right away, but when I saw everything the union did for the newsroom — like advocating for better working conditions and hosting fun events to boost morale — I joined to support those important efforts.

2) What could newsroom management do to be more friendly to journalists?

I know that many newsroom managers don’t have power to do the big stuff — better pay, benefits, hiring more people (which is all super important and would be great but is often out of the hands of editors) — but I actually think little stuff, like regularly recognizing employees for their hard work for a job well done, can go a long way. It takes little time and effort, but is always so appreciated.

3) What should they stop doing?

Newsrooms should stop abusing the mission-driven nature of its reporters, photographers, etc. Most people are in this business because they feel dedicated to the mission of journalism and it’s really easy to take advantage of that by not paying them what they deserve or encouraging them to work crazy hours without proper compensation for that time. That needs to stop.

4) Name one journalist who inspires you to do your job every day.

Nikole Hannah-Jones.

5) What is one piece of career advice you’d give to a young journalist just starting out?

Be honest, unmerciful and don’t work for free.

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Gannett and IndyStar are holding journalists’ pay raises hostage

Gannett and Indianapolis Star management should contribute as much to Guild members’ health care as Gannett does for everyone else.

It’s a fair and simple expectation. Gannett disagrees.

Gannett’s failure to treat its employees with dignity has prevented the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild from signing a bad contract that sticks our members with a terrible deal and higher health care costs.

But it gets worse.

Rather than come to the table with a reasonable proposal, Gannett and Star management this week said they will withhold merit pay increases until a contract is signed. 

Long gone are the days when hard-working Star journalists could expect simple cost-of-living pay increases. Now Gannett is even holding merit pay increases hostage.

Are raises supposed to reward good journalism and hard work? Or are they merely a tool for corporate management to coerce and bully journalists who are toiling in the trenches?

Even as Gannett and Star management stoop to this bullying tactic, CEO Bob Dickey has witnessed pretty comfortable pay increases: $42,000 last year and $100,000 the year before. (In addition to his stock options, of course.)

If you’re sitting outside the newsroom, this news might have your head spinning.

That’s because IndyStar journalists have earned several accolades in the last year. Internally, Dickey bestowed the Star newsroom with an annual award just this month. Star editor Ronnie Ramos even applauded the newsroom for continuing its rich tradition of excellence. 

But that shouldn’t matter. Fairness and righteousness should matter. 

Gannett should cease this act of nonsense and begin treating its Indianapolis journalists with the respect they deserve.

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Meet Vic Ryckaert, breaking news reporter

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Vic Ryckaert joined the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild to show support as the union fights for journalists. Photo by Michelle Pemberton.

In today’s member profile, meet Vic Ryckaert, a breaking news reporter. He’s worked at The Star since 1997.

1) Why are you in the union?

I appreciate the work the Guild does to fight for and protect my rights as an employee here at IndyStar. It’s only right to support that work.

2) What could newsroom management do to be more friendly to journalists?

This is a tough job. I think it would help a great deal if newsrooms would become more friendly to parents with young children. One benefit of morning breaking news is I have a dependable schedule. My colleagues are not so fortunate. They could also increase the mileage reimbursement.

3) What should they stop doing?

Stop the weekend shift rotations. Again, this is something that doesn’t impact me now, but it does matter to many in the newsroom.

4) Name one journalist who inspires you to do your job every day.

David Carr

5) What is one piece of career advice you’d give to a young journalist just starting out?

What we do is important. What we do matters. We do this not for the pay, but for the thrill of breaking then owning a story. There’s really nothing better.

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Meet Emily Hopkins, environment reporter

Emily Hopkins member portrait

Emily Hopkins joined the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild to have a seat at the table as journalists adjust to the changing industry. Photo by Michelle Pemberton.

The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild is running brief profiles of its members. In today’s post: Meet Emily Hopkins, a database reporter covering the environment for The Star.

1) Why are you in the union?

The news business has changed so much in the last couple of decades, and being part of the union makes me feel like I will have a seat at the table rather than just waiting for something to happen.

2) What could newsroom management do to be more friendly to journalists?

Speaking of newsrooms in general, workers should have more of a voice in a company’s direction. We are the closest link that newsrooms have to the communities we cover, and we can contribute valuable ideas for how to capture audience attention and readership.

3) What should they stop doing?

Cutting staff!

4) Name one journalist who inspires you to do your job every day.

Honestly, I am so inspired by so many of my colleagues at the Star. From the team who uncovered the USA Gymnastics scandal to the statehouse reporters to our public safety team to — well I could name just about everyone.

5) What is one piece of career advice you’d give to a young journalist just starting out?

Be nice and be helpful. It costs nothing and people will remember you for your kindness and that time you helped them solve a problem.

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Indy News Guild wants a fair health care contract from Gannett

medical-appointment-doctor-healthcare-40568.jpegOver the past several weeks, Indianapolis Star reporters have drawn national recognition for their work. This well-deserved recognition will have a lasting effect on the newspaper’s profile.

But as management throughout Gannett has praised the tireless work of Star journalists, it has become impossible to ignore that negotiations between Gannett and the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild have completely stalled. 

At the center of the issue: health care for Guild members.

In a prior contract, Guild members negotiated to ditch Gannett’s inadequate health care plan. We found a better deal through the United Furniture Workers Insurance Fund — at no additional cost to Gannett.

Yet that’s no longer good for Gannett. The company no longer wants to support its hard-working employees’ wishes.

If members agreed to switch to Gannett’s health plan, we would pay more for inferior coverage. That’s why we’re fighting.

When our contract expired Dec. 21, the Guild and Gannett agreed to maintain the status quo of last year’s health plan on a monthly basis. The agreement is already affecting Guild members. Some members are paying at least $60 more per month for their health care, as negotiations drag on.

The past several weeks have shown us how much #JournalismMatters. Now it’s time to recognize that the people who make journalism possible matter, too.

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Daniel Bradley is elected vice president of Indianapolis Newspaper Guild

Daniel Bradley

Daniel Bradley was elected vice president of the Indianapolis News Guild.

On January 26, Indianapolis Newspaper Guild members unanimously voted in favor of electing Daniel Bradley as vice president.

He joins Fatima Hussein (president), Stephen Holder (vice president) and Ryan Martin (secretary-treasurer) in serving as officers on behalf of membership. His election fills the vice presidency position made vacant by the departure of Emily Kuzniar to another state.

Daniel started working full-time for The Star in 2006 after a couple years of part-time work in the sports department. Daniel, a graduate of Butler University, worked nights on the sports copy desk until switching to his current position when The Star moved to Circle Centre.

He said he was motivated to become an officer after seeing so many new unions organizing around the country.

“This felt like the right time to step up to being an officer. I had been a Guild steward for a few years, and I always appreciated the work officers did for us in the newsroom through some challenging times,” Daniel said.

Daniel, a lifetime resident of Central Indiana, can be found outside of work at Pacers, Indians and Butler basketball games, or exploring museums and new restaurants.

Thank you, Daniel, for working on behalf of your friends and colleagues.

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Indianapolis Newspaper Guild members support byline strike in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh byline strike

A screenshot of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette digital edition on Jan. 25, 2018, shows that journalists began a byline strike in protest of Block Communications failing to treat its workers with respect.

For 12 years, the journalists working for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have gone without raises. They’ve also been hit with pay cuts while receiving worse health care coverage.

All that, while Toledo-based Block Communications, which owns the Post-Gazette, earns more than $100 million in profits annually.

But that’s not enough. The company is demanding even more concessions in Pittsburgh.

The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild stands with our union brothers and sisters at the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh in calling for a fair contract for workers.

On Thursday, members represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh began participating in a byline strike. They’ve withheld their bylines from the newspaper and website in an effort to highlight the injustices doled out by Block Communications.

The membership also is noting that their last union contract expired in March 2017.

Block Communications, it’s time to return to the negotiations table. Treat your workers with respect.

Journalists deserve better.

 

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