Indianapolis Star "Declaration of Resistance"
Posted in the Indianapolis Forum
#1 Jul 4, 2014
To me, the death of the Indianapolis Star came the day then editor Dennis Ryerson announced that there would no longer be free, anonymous commenting to daily news articles and that from that day forward only Facebook registered and telephone number confirmed commenters could speak. A Tully column that used to attract 200 comments would only get three or four comments under the new registration. Tips disappeared. Real opinion disappeared. Free speech disappeared. The voices of thousands of Indianapolis residents who liked to comment and who liked to read the comments were silenced. Replaced by a few sanitized commenters, with sanitized opinions and Facebook whitewashed accounts. I stopped taking the newspaper. I prefer to give my business to journalists that value free speech and want to hear what the locals have to say. We had a great history of freedom of speech in this country, but we’re losing it fast. We’re being silenced. By Gannett. By the NSA. By Facebook. By a hundred agencies and companies and law enforcement men who chip away at what our freedom of speech used to look like. I’m getting old now. But I remember the way it used to be. Faster and faster we go the way of China, of Iran, of Arab and African and Asian countries where speech is suspect, filtered, and prohibited and where people like bloggers and whistleblowers and free speech advocates are jailed or simply disappear. I will never forgive Gannett for silencing the free voices of the thousands of Indiana citizens who enjoyed commenting to the stories of the day. There won’t be free speech of that kind again until the Gannett paper is replaced by a daily that permits free, anonymous comments. All real journalists believe in unfettered freedom of speech. Indianapolis deserves better than Gannett.
#2 Jul 4, 2014
Employees of the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star have used Independence Day, the day the American colonists declared their independence from Great Britain, to issue a declaration of their own--a Declaration of Resistance--to blast the corporate media giant's treatment of its employees. The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, which represents the workers employed by the Star, declared "that our Workers are, and of Right ought to be, mad as Hell and that we have reached an unfortunate state: We are unwilling to take it anymore."
To express their dissatisfaction, the Declaration says the workers intend to "agitate, decorate, convene, protest, march, align, resist, chant, sing and wear bright and bold colors in a uniform fashion even when such colors are out of season until the Corporation recognizes that its workers are flesh and blood people, that it stops acting like a bully at the table of Negotiations and that it gives us a decent contract."
The Guild's Declaration complains about Gannett's history of layoffs, furloughs, outsourcing and pay cuts as top management "wallowed in bonuses." It laments Gannett's pleas of poverty as its stock prices increased ten-fold, profits remain high and executive compensation and bonuses "remained at obscene levels." The Declaration notes that Gannett recently assured its CEO a payout of $46 million should she lose her job in the event of a sale of the company, while it told employees that its severance program must be cut because it was "too generous and too charitable."
The Declaration goes on to complain that employees are being compelled to use social media, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to "exploit the Worker's connection to the community for the Corporation's benefit," and "to master the technical attributes of every aspect of journalism." The Guild says overworked employees are suffering more "frequent stress-related illnesses and fatigue," while relying on a stingy health care plans with high deductibles.
The Guild accuses Gannett of being "willfully blind" to workplace abuses that have resulted in the loss of some of its "most experienced and talented workers." The Guild asserts that this mass exodus of workers is welcomed by the company as a way of furthering reducing its payroll costs. The Guild ponders if one day visitors to the newsroom will find nothing but an "army of temp workers" described as "mercenaries of the modern era."
I hope the agitating, protesting and resisting part of this Declaration includes a reprieve from certain reporters and columnists feeding the newspaper's readers with endless propaganda from the downtown mafia.
#3 Jul 6, 2014
I couldn't agree more !
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