Florida Times-Union employees hold rally, call for better pay amid cuts by parent company Gannett

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Employees at the Florida Times-Union spoke out Friday about their pay and cuts in newsroom staff which they said impacts all local news.

You normally don’t see reporters and others that work in the Florida Times-Union, which is owned by Gannett, in front of cameras. That changed Friday when they held a rally near Jacksonville City Hall. The employees who attended said the reason they are speaking out is pay and what they say is the lack of pay raises.

Everyone at the rally Friday is a member of the Times-Union Guild, part of the Communications Workers of America Union (CWA). Times-Union reporter David Bauerlein spoke for the group.

“We’re asking for Gannett to support local journalism, to invest in our newsroom and invest in the local journalists who are doing the work. That means paying journalists who have been faced with year-after-year increases in the cost of living, no wage increases in 2018, it makes it much harder for us to get by to do the job we love and continue doing the job we’d love,” Bauerlein said.

Bauerlein said in 2019 the newsroom had 63 employees. Now that number is down to 22. Those left are now fighting for a fair contract.

Al Tompkins, who is retiring from the Poynter Institute, a journalistic research center, said newspapers are not alone. All forms of local media, including broadcast stations like News4JAX, are undergoing changes.

“Unfortunately, newspapers, in most cases, waited way too long to start thinking about transitioning into something new. And so they cut staff in order to try to, you know, keep their margins up and keep their people employed. And they did that at the expense of enterprise,” Tompkins said.

News4JAX wanted to talk to management at the Times-Union but there was no comment from the local office.

Many blame the loss of local papers on the internet and the fact that papers are now out of style with younger audiences. News4JAX spoke to people and most said they get all their news online.

“It’s more convenient, but it’s a little bit sad. I mean, that’s a lot of people’s jobs,” Jacksonville resident Samantha Emamdie said.

News4JAX also reached out to Gannett but it didn’t immediately respond.

Former T-U reporter Andrew Patazi who has now started his own online news service The Tributary after he left said it’s vital to keep the staff in place.

“It’s true that it’s not the same way it was back in the day where there were a few news outlets everybody turned. People get their news from a lot of places, but still, the newspaper is the backbone of the community,” Pantazi said.

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