One week after the inappropriate firing of our editor, Christina Lords, we resumed negotiating our first contract with McClatchy. We are eternally thankful for all of your support. But we will still need it in the coming fight.
Last week, McClatchy finally agreed to hire four open reporter positions in our newsroom. While it’s no replacement for the unjust loss of an editor trusted by the community and our newsroom — especially during a pandemic — we know Boise needs more journalism, not less.
We’re still angry that the decisions of out-of-state executives took a champion of local news from our newsroom. But now we’re coming to the bargaining table with renewed resolve to fight to protect local news in Idaho.
We’re fighting to ensure our journalists have the equipment necessary to do our jobs safely. We’re fighting to ensure we have the resources to hold the powerful accountable and produce exemplary journalism that helps our community navigate the difficulties of the pandemic.
Mainly, we’re fighting for a fair contract that will allow us to retain talented journalists who know Idaho well — and who care about producing the quality journalism that Boise deserves.
The Idaho NewsGuild is endlessly grateful to the Idahoans and journalists across the U.S. who bravely spoke out last week. You showed McClatchy that Idahoans care about quality local news. Interference that threatens the Idaho Statesman’s ability to provide that isn’t welcome.
McClatchy fired Christina Lords, the Idaho Statesman’s top editor, Monday after she publicly advocated for more resources for the newsroom — a newsroom decimated under McClatchy leadership.
With the email form below, you can tell the Idaho Statesman’s corporate parent company that was wrong and that she must be reinstated. It will go to McClatchy’s CEO, its vice president of news and the Northwest regional editor.
The Idaho NewsGuild submitted the following letter to McClatchy leadership Monday afternoon, asking for Lords’ immediate reinstatement:
To Tony Hunter, McClatchy CEO; Kristin Roberts, Vice President of McClatchy News; and Stephanie Pedersen, Northwest Regional Editor:
The journalists of the Idaho NewsGuild are writing to formally protest the abrupt and inappropriate firing of editor Christina Lords.
Lords was fired Monday, Jan. 25, after publicly advocating for resources for her employees. In a Jan. 22 tweet, Lords described her frustration in being unable to secure access to Microsoft Excel for a new investigative journalist, while asking the community to subscribe to and support the Idaho Statesman.
Lords later deleted the tweet, but was terminated effective Monday. In a newsroom meeting, McClatchy executives refused to answer basic questions about Lords’ firing and the policies that informed the decision.
To fire an editor for advocating for resources and encouraging people to subscribe is a remarkably disappointing decision by McClatchy management. This is a devastating blow to the morale of a newsroom that is already chronically understaffed. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are struggling due to McClatchy’s refusal to fill open positions and provide necessary resources. How many more people is the Idaho Statesman willing to lose before McClatchy stops undermining our journalism?
Lords was a driving force behind several Statesman projects that received national acclaim, changed laws and won numerous awards. She has advocated for employees to pursue fellowships and investigative projects. She championed McClatchy’s push to grow subscribers, drive page views and increase revenue for the company. She is a fifth-generation Idahoan who is highly respected in our community.
This is unacceptable and has a chilling effect on McClatchy journalists who advocate for themselves, their newsrooms and their community. We call on the company to immediately reinstate Lords with full pay and benefits, that she receive a formal apology from McClatchy leadership and that the company review its social media and disciplinary policies.
The journalists of the Idaho Statesman spoke with a unanimous voice Wednesday, voting 18-0 to to form a union.
The Idaho News Guild represents all non-managernewsroom employees at the Idaho Statesman, including news and sports reporters, social media editors, a photographer, a columnist and clerks. The union will immediately begin to fight for fair wages, job security and improved benefits.
“We are fighting to preserve local news in Idaho,” union member Kate Talerico said. “We look forward to working with management toward a fair contract that ensures a strong future for the Statesman’s essential journalism.”
The election caps a two-month process to formalize the newsroom’s union. The Idaho News Guild first announced its intention to form a union on March 2 with unanimous support. The McClatchy Co., the Statesman’s parent company, refused to voluntarily recognize the union, creating the drawn-out process that saw two delays because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The journalists of the Idaho Statesman announced plans Monday to unionize as the Idaho News Guild.
All of the Statesman’s eligible newsroom employees signed onto a mission statement signaling our intent to form a union. Organizers for the union presented that mission statement to Rusty Dodge, the Statesman’s publisher, and asked for voluntary recognition of the union from the McClatchy Co., the Statesman’s parent company.
If McClatchy does not voluntarily recognize the union, organizers are prepared to send cards to the National Labor Relations Board. In that case, the NLRB will hold a union election for eligible Idaho Statesman employees. That vote would take place in the next several weeks.
The union will be made up of 16 journalists, including news and sports reporters, a photographer, columnist and news clerk.
Workers at the Idaho Statesman are part of a wave in recent union organizing. The NewsGuild has organized newsrooms across the country, adding nearly 3,000 journalists to its ranks in the past two years. The NewsGuild already represents approximately 150 McClatchy employees at six publications, including the Miami Herald, the Sacramento Bee and the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The Statesman’s journalists are forming a union with the goal to preserve Idaho news, ensure their ability to tell the community’s stories and give staff a seat at the table.
In recent years, corporate decisions have left the Statesman’s journalists with more responsibilities and fewer resources. Rampant turnover, pay disparities and rising healthcare costs have destabilized the newsroom. The staff has repeatedly faced layoffs, unpaid furloughs and consolidation. The newsroom today is about one-third the size it was in 2011 — and about half the size it was just three years ago.
“No one can predict the future,” said Michael Lycklama, a sports writer who has worked at the Statesman since 2014. “But one thing is certain. Without a strong union representing our newsroom, the Idaho Statesman will be weaker and less able to serve our community the news it deserves.”
The Statesman’s union will advocate for a more stable newsroom — one that fosters professional and personal development. Journalists are pushing for pay equity, improved healthcare benefits and compensation that rewards experience. We know that our editors and managers want this for us, too.
“The journalists here at the Idaho Statesman are proud of our work, but we’ve long been demoralized by a series of unpaid furloughs, layoffs, stagnant pay and worsening benefits,” said reporter John Sowell, who has worked at the Statesman since 2013. “Getting summoned to the editor’s office or to an unscheduled staff meeting makes me wonder whether I’m getting laid off.”
Reporter Ruth Brown has been at the Statesman for three years and supports the Idaho News Guild.
“Our newsroom works every day to deliver news that is vital to our community, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Brown said. “Forming a union is the best way to strengthen our newsroom by giving our journalists a voice.”
Reporters are available for interviews by emailing email@example.com.
We, the journalists of the Idaho Statesman, are coming together to form a union with the goal to preserve Idaho news, tell the stories of our communities and give our staff a seat at the table.
The Idaho Statesman is a vital institution. We’ve been serving our readers since before Idaho became a state, and we will continue to serve them as our state grows.
When Idaho troops deployed to Iraq, we were there. When wildfires erupted across the state, we were there. When Boise State became a national football powerhouse, we were there. We take enormous pride in our role as a connector and watchdog for our community.
But in recent years, corporate decisions have left our journalists with more responsibilities and fewer resources. Rampant turnover, pay disparities and rising healthcare costs have destabilized our newsroom. We have repeatedly faced layoffs, unpaid furloughs and consolidation. Our newsroom today is about one-third the size it was in 2011 — and half the size it was just three years ago.
To protect the Idaho Statesman and its mission, we must protect the journalists who shape it every day. We must ensure the reporters who cover our community can afford to make it their home.
We believe in a newsroom that fosters professional and personal development. We believe in a career that can support a family. We believe in a newsroom that values employees’ skills and their depth of knowledge. We believe in retaining talent and rewarding professional achievement.
A union is necessary to sustain a strong, vibrant Idaho Statesman for years to come. We are asking the Statesman’s parent company, McClatchy, to recognize the NewsGuild-CWA as our representative.
We have given a voice to the Treasure Valley community. We deserve a voice, too.
Signed, Nicole Blanchard Ruth Brown Ximena Bustillo Ron Counts Michael Deeds Audrey Dutton Nicole Foy Gage Hanson Hayley Harding Michelle Jenkins Michael Lycklama Darin Oswald Rachel Roberts Cynthia Sewell John Sowell Kate Talerico