On January 19th, newsroom employees at the Los Angeles Times voted 248 to 44 to unionize. Now, national media are looking into newsroom fears: management is setting up a secret, non-union “shadow” news operation that will apparrenty report to the business side, not the editorial side.
In a January 26 article, HuffPost described “an atmosphere of intense secrecy, distrust and anxiety” in the newsroom.
As one anonymous newsroom employee told HuffPost, “The newsroom has basically become a large-scale intelligence operation to figure out what the fk our managers are up to.” Staffers say they are being stonewalled when trying to get information from top management. Says HuffPost, “Staffers fear that tronc (the uncapitalized name of the old Tribune Co., owner of the Times and San Diego Union-Tribune) is building a shadow national newsroom — non-union, of course — that would duplicate not only parts of the L.A. Times union staff but that of other tronc properties as well, making the union employees expendable.”
A new management team is being assembled and most of the new managers haven’t been announced to the staff. And they have been hired under a company different from the one that hires current staffers. Current staffers are hired by Los Angeles Times Communications LLC. The new secret managers are hired under a newly named Los Angeles Times Network LLC. Other media such as the Washington Post and Nieman Labs are reporting on the tumult at the newspaper.
I got this information from the 919 Report,a publication for former and present Union-Tribune staffers.