Philly.com

Philly contract deal: company hikes health payments, gets concessions on layoffs and raises

A tentative contract for Philadelphia’s major newspapers includes greater healthcare contributions by management but concessions on whether it must heed traditional seniority rules when it comes to layoffs.

The deal does not include any raise in basic wages. It was bargained shortly before a Saturday deadline. Details were discussed in several sessions with Newspaper Guild members on Monday.

In all, about 500 Guild members are covered by two separate contracts: one covering workers at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, while the other covers about 50 people at Philly.com

The two most heated issues were health care contributions and use of seniority in layoffs.

With layoffs, management will be able to exempt certain individuals “deemed to be essential to the company’s operations” from seniority-driven layoffs. Read more

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Tentative deal in Philly on one of two labor pacts

A tentative deal has been reached on one contract in ongoing newspaper negotiations in Philadelphia.

Both sides confirmed Friday that they have essentially completed the smaller of two related contracts. It involves about 50 Newspaper Guild members at Philly.com.

The larger of the two contracts involves 400 members at the Inquirer and Daily News.

“We are pleased to share that, as a result of approximately eight hours of negotiations yesterday with a federal mediator, representatives of the Company and the Guild signed a tentative agreement for Philly.com,” said Keith Black, vice-president of human resources for the employer, Philadelphia Media Network.

Bill Ross, executive director for the union, also confirmed via email what he underscored is a “tentative” deal, while saying there were still matters to be finalized, notably on healthcare. Read more

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Talk of Philly newspaper strike, unionizing move at Gawker, big window onto media labor relations

Members of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia rally  outside the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News building in 2006. Union members  will vote Wednesday on whether to give leaders the right to call a walkout. (AP Photo/George Widman)

Members of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia rally outside the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News building in 2006. Union members will vote Wednesday on whether to give leaders the right to call a walkout. (AP Photo/George Widman)


Union members in Philadelphia will vote Wednesday evening on whether to give leaders the right to call a walkout and potentially trigger an American labor relations rarity: a big city newspaper strike.

In fact, you’re far more likely to ever see a lunar eclipse than a newspaper strike. We at least tend to get an eclipse or two every year. Guess when the last big newspaper strike was?

The contract between the Philadelphia Media Network and the Newspaper Guild expired May 23 but is extended to June 27 by mutual agreement. Read more

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Union at Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com to take strike vote

The Philadelphia branch of the Newspaper Guild on Thursday set a strike authorization vote next week for its 500 members at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com.

A June 3 vote comes amid ongoing bargaining on a new contract to replace the one that expired earlier in the month. It’s now been extended to June 27 by mutual agreement of the union and management.

The primary issues include health care contributions by employees and the role of seniority in potential layoffs. Talks resume Friday.

In a Thursday letter to members, the leadership of Local 38010 of the Newspaper Guild indicated the secret-ballot vote would start in late afternoon and that the union bargaining committee will be present “to answer any question before you cast this important vote.”

A strike authorization is not tantamount to a walkout. Read more

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Philly.com got 555 comments on an article about changes to comments

All was quiet in the comments section for a few hours on Monday after a piece about changes to Philly.com’s comments process went up on the site. And that made Erica Palan a little nervous. But the quiet didn’t last for too long.

By Tuesday afternoon, there were 555 comments in that article’s comments section.

Palan, audience engagement manager for Philly.com, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, answered questions via email about a video included in the article with staff reading angry comments, changes to the comments process and why the site is keeping its comments up. First, here’s the video:

KH: What made you guys decide to do the video?

We actually filmed and edited the video more than a month ago. Several people had approached me about the idea and we’d been joking about doing this for a few months. Read more

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‘Tweet your story four times’ and other advice from Philly.com’s Erica Palan and Diana Lind

Melody Kramer spoke with Philly.com’s Erica Palan on Tuesday about how Palan works with her coworkers on social. Included in that conversation was the mention of a recent workshop for staff at Philly.com, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News called “How to get your story read.”

After Tuesday’s story, people asked Palan to see the presentation for themselves. She has posted them here, and the presentation she created along with Diana Lind, director of digital audience development, is full of tips including why you need to get the headline right and how to get your story out on social media.

The purpose of the conversation was to help explain the elements of shareable content, Lind said in an email, and to show “how an article’s framing can have a strong impact on whether or not it gets shared, and therefore read.”

Their most popular content is breaking news and sports, Lind said, by far, “so the presentation didn’t focus on those subjects. Read more

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Drew Katz, Lewis Katz

Lewis Katz planned ‘a new level of ambition’ for Philly papers

Lewis Katz, who just last week won an auction for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, died Saturday in a plane crash in Massachusetts. Some updates:

  • Katz had attended a fundraiser Saturday for the Concord River Institute at the Concord, Massachusetts, home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Dan Adams, Jeremy C. Fox and Martin Finucane report for The Boston Globe. He brought three friends with him: Anne Leeds, Marcella Dalsey and Susan K. Asbell. All died in the crash, as well as three crew members who haven’t yet been identified, the Globe reports.
Katz, right, with his son Drew in November 2013. Drew Katz will take his father’s place in the ownership structure of the Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com.

  • Philly.com has more about Katz’s friends: Dalsey worked with a number of Katz-associated nonprofit initiatives and operated an ice cream parlor in Haddonfield, New Jersey.
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Media can’t attend Philadelphia Inquirer auction

The Philadelphia Inquirer | Big Trial

Next Tuesday, the owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com will meet in a courtroom to determine which of them will get to keep the properties. The auction will be closed to the public and representatives of the media, David Sell reports in the Inquirer:

“Having considered the parties’ submissions, I conclude that the auction should be conducted confidentially and that the auction should be closed to everyone but the participants and the trustee,” Delaware Court of Chancery Vice Chancellor Donald F. Parsons Jr. wrote in a letter accompanying his order.

Parsons did order that the winning bidder and eventual sale price of the publishing assets be released. One group of the current owners, as well as the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, asked for an open auction, Ralph Cipriano reports for Big Trial. Read more

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Woman’s 35 years of TV news tapes bound for preservation

Fast Company | Philly.com

For 35 years, Marion Stokes taped the news.

And, eventually, you’ll be able to find what she spent a good deal of her life preserving online, according to a story Thursday by Sarah Kessler in Fast Company.

Kessler writes that Stokes, who died in 2012 at 83, was a former Philadelphia librarian and civil rights activist who began taping the news when big events happened, “and when cable transformed it into a 24-hour affair, she began recording MSNBC, Fox, CNN, CSNBC, and CSPAN around the clock by running as many as eight television recorders at a time.”

Stokes’ 40,000 VHS tapes will go into the Internet Archive, Kessler writes, a nonprofit online library that first started in 1996. Its offering, so far, includes a Sept. Read more

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Potential new buyer for Philly papers emerges

Philly.com | The Washington Post | Philadelphia Magazine

There’s a potential buyer for the embattled Philly.com, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, according to a report out yesterday from Philly.com.

“The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia declined to reveal the potential buyer, but said the party is interested in purchasing the entire company or a majority stake from parent company Interstate General Media, whose owners include wealthy New Jersey businessman Lewis Katz and powerful South Jersey Democrat George Norcross,” the reports reads.

The news follow a suit and countersuit filed by Katz and Norcross and a tangle of other developments, including the firing of editor Bill Marimow. And it comes as the papers appear to be on the edge of profitability again. Yesterday, Joel Mathis wrote in Philadelphia Magazine that rumors of profitability had been brewing for a while, but “confirmation of a sorts emerged Tuesday, as part of an explanation from Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild, as to why the guild had publicized its bid to buy out one or all of IGM’s warring owners.” Read more

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