How unions are fighting to defend print media

The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the massive change the printed media was already facing and with it a massive reduction of needed advertising streams.

Press

Two international unions have launched a campaign today to save print journalism and to defend jobs in the news and media industries.

The International Federation of Journalists and Union Network International (which represents print, packaging and publishing unions worldwide) have announced a campaign to win government support for the printed media through emergency rescue packages covering journalism, publishing, printing and distribution as well as introducing a digital services tax on tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook who have soaked up much needed advertising revenue from traditional media outlets and dedicated news websites.

The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the massive change the printed media was already facing and with it a massive reduction of needed advertising streams.

Revenue for 2020 is already down 20% and much of this money is taken away from content providers and has been siphoned by the big tech companies – who are the new media barons.

In 2018, Google earned $4.7 billion income from news with none of the massive profits were shared with the journalists, editors and content providers who produce it.

“The current global health crisis is significantly increasing the great difficulties facing the print media sector,” Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary warns.

“Governments need to react urgently. The sector is a public good and a crucial pillar of our democracies. Governments are well aware of this.

“Print and media unions say they want national governments to step in to protect print and media jobs and to safeguard a print media industry that stands for quality, solidarity, labour rights and fundamental freedoms.

“The health of our democracies rests on holding people in power accountable, and journalists are the ones who, more often than not, shine a spotlight on political and corporate power abuses of the public trust,” says Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union.

“Print media plays a huge part in disseminating this information and supporting the online components of journalism.”

Unless action is taken, thousands of media outlets including newspapers, magazines, news websites and other content providers risk being closed down and thousands of jobs risk being lost due to the consolidation in the media sector and loss of advertising income.

Louisa Bull Unite’s National Officer for the print, paper, media, packaging and IT sector said that Unite are fully supporting the campaign. She said: “In the UK we are facing major job losses. These are decent jobs with a dedicated and skilled workforce. Some members have already taken pay cuts to keep companies going, but free newspapers, regional and specialist titles are in danger of closing and further consolidation is more than likely.”

Nicola Konstantinou, Head of UNI’s Graphical & Packaging sector, says, “Print media is a social good, and its media supply chain is long and includes millions of people – journalists, editors, printers, designers, photographers, delivery workers, postal workers, and booksellers.

“These businesses – and the people who work for them—are put at a disadvantage by the unfair tax avoidance stealing of ad income by major tech companies. We are asking governments to intervene to make sure that the people who produce and distribute the news we depend on get a fair share.”

Tony Burke is Unite Assistant General Secretary and the TUC General Council’s Lead on Employment and Union Rights.

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