Stephen Holder, president of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, has worked for The Indianapolis Star for nearly five years. He reports on Colts football.
1) Why are you in the union?
We as journalists do important work by informing the public and holding our leaders to account. But that work seems to be declining in importance to the companies that own newspapers/media outlets, exceeded by the pursuit of profits and satisfying Wall Street. Organizing helps ensure that we have protections in place that enable us to continue to carry out those critical duties despite today’s realities.
2) What could newsroom management do to be more friendly to journalists?
I think the goal should be to overcommunicate. These are difficult times in the publishing/media industry, and people are perpetually nervous about their jobs and futures. This should be something that I hope management will continue to be sensitive to. It would be a boost for morale and, perhaps, help the overall product we produce.
3) What should they stop doing?
I think the newsroom would benefit from more consistency in people’s roles. Obviously, there are always going to be departures, but there have been so many changes in duties — particularly when it comes to which editors staffers report to — that it’s hard to imagine it doesn’t have some negative effects.
4) Name one journalist who inspires you to do your job every day.
The work that Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has done covering Africa and the developing world is nothing short of amazing — and unbelievably important.
5) What is one piece of career advice you’d give to a young journalist just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to defend your work or your reporting, so long as you can back up what you said or wrote with a supporting fact. We can and should be critical and raise questions where appropriate. Just make sure you do so with a factual basis.