Sarasota Herald-Tribune publisher on move to unionize: 'I am very disappointed...'

The Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune is the latest news organization to make a move toward unionization.

Journalists at the Herald-Tribune filed paperwork at the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday demonstrating their interest in being represented by The NewsGuild-CWA, according to a press release. That move triggers a vote in the next 20 to 40 days.

"The Herald-Tribune newsroom takes pride in providing a voice for Sarasota and its neighbors," said Elizabeth Johnson, an investigative reporter and staff member for three years. "Negotiating a good contract will allow us to preserve and continue the quality journalism we've given our community for more than 90 years."

The Herald-Tribune is owned by GateHouse Media, which also owns the Lakeland (Florida) Ledger. Last week, the Ledger became the first newspaper in Florida to unionize.

In the last year, digital news organizations including Gawker Media, Guardian U.S., The Huffington Post and Vice have voted to unionize, as well.

Patrick Dorsey, publisher of the Hearld-Tribune Media Group, isn't happy about the move toward unionization. In an emailed statement, Dorsey said he was "very disappointed some of our newsroom employees decided to go down this road." Here's the full statement:

I firmly believe local journalism is going to continue to need a more creative, flexible and nimble atmosphere to be successful in the future and we have built a talented staff and cutting edge structure that embodies those traits. This has allowed us to perform at one of the highest levels in the industry with numerous state, regional and national awards including being recognized as one of 10 Newspapers That Do It Right by Editor & Publisher in 2015 and as a runner up in 2016, in addition to reaching the pinnacle of success in being awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. We do not agree that more rigid structures, stricter rules and additional limitations on duties are a pathway to future success. The local newspaper industry continues to face difficult headwinds nationwide, and while we have performed better than most, we are not immune to the tough decisions that have to be made on a daily basis to keep our organization strong and properly serve our community. As an industry, and as a local media organization, we are in a turbulent transformation that can be scary to some and requires additional creativity, flexibility and effort to thrive. Adding more rules and restrictions is not part of a recipe for future success. GateHouse has been very supportive of our quest to produce world class journalism and we remain as committed as ever to continue on this endeavor.

Editor's note: This story and headline have been updated to include Dorsey's remarks.


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