A big victory for Idaho readers, Idaho NewsGuild. Pageview quotas are not allowed.

We have big news to share in our fight to #ProtectIdahoNews. 

McClatchy can not force mandatory pageview quotas on Idaho Statesman journalists, Region 27 of the NLRB recently determined. 

The NLRB found merit to our Unfair Labor Practice charge. We alleged McClatchy, the owner of the Idaho Statesman, violated our protections under federal labor law as a newly formed union by unilaterally changing our annual performance reviews.

McClatchy wanted to make pageviews and other digital metric quotas a mandatory part of those reviews. Our performance reviews are used to determine raises and, the company has suggested, our place in line for layoffs. This was brand new to the Idaho Statesman.

We protested internally for months, warning McClatchy this was a clear and simple violation of its legal duty to bargain with our union. The company refused to listen to its employees and plowed ahead. So we called in the big guns, which quickly ruled in our favor. 

So, what does this mean? It means Idaho Statesman journalists no longer have to fear losing their job for missing an arbitrary quota they had no role in setting. It means they don’t have to cede their news judgement to please Facebook’s and Google’s algorithms. 

But most importantly, it means readers will get their information from journalists chasing news, not clicks. 

Our most impactful stories — the ones that hold leaders accountable and help you lead a better life — are rarely the ones with the most pageviews. McClatchy’s plan would have led us to deemphasize or abandon those stories in favor of the day’s viral headline.

Valuable insights can be gleaned from measuring readership. We are not burying our heads in the sand and will use them when appropriate. But this illegal change threatened our credibility and our relationship with readers, who made it clear they wanted no part in this. 

We owe a heartfelt thank you to all the readers who stood with us in this fight. Your support has meant more than you can know. It can be scary to take on a national corporation. But you showed we are not alone in the fight to #ProtectIdahoNews.

Journalism can not be reduced to clicks. Tell McClatchy to live up to its promise.

Despite ours and our readers’ protests, the owner of the Idaho Statesman continues to ram through mandatory pageview quotas for its journalists.

Apparently it hasn’t received the message. So join us in collectively telling McClatchy this is wrong. You can send an email directly to McClatchy leadership by filling out the form below.

McClatchy promised for years it would not judge employees on pageviews. It said they were just goals to strive for. It said it was no big deal if you missed them.

But it has broken that promise.

In our most recent round of performance reviews, management inserted pageview quotas and other digital metrics into goals supposedly set by employees. There was no discussion, and no conversation about their weight.

Under past practice, success on these reviews dictates our salaries. Pageview quotas have never been a required part of these reviews.

And in current contract negotiations, McClatchy revealed plans to use annual reviews – which it says must include pageviews – to determine layoffs.

Employees have zero input on these arbitrary quotas. It’s unclear how McClatchy sets them. It can’t clearly explain how they help our bottom line. And they create perverse incentives for our coverage, incentives that defy everything McClatchy publicly claims to stand for.

McClatchy tried this at the Sacramento Bee. It relented after national blowback and does not require them.

So why require them here? Are Idaho journalists lesser than Sacramento ones? Do Idaho readers deserve less than those in California?

The Idaho NewsGuild has filed an Unfair Labor Practice against McClatchy and the Idaho Statesman over these quotas. These mandatory quotas are a violation of our status quo protections under federal labor law.

Let us be clear: We are not against measuring digital readership. It can be an effective tool to expand our audience and provide meaningful feedback.

But it can not capture the work and value of a journalist. Period.

Judging journalists by pageviews rewards controversy over clarity. It rewards quantity over quality. It rewards outrage over solutions.

It’s bad for the Idaho Statesman. It’s bad for our readers. It’s bad for Idaho.

Please join us in telling McClatchy to keep these mandatory quotas out of Idaho.