Artists and the Chronicle Herald
The unionized reporters and editors of the Chronicle Herald have been on strike since January 23rd, and there is no end in sight. The Herald has consistently refused to bargain in good faith, rejecting every proposal put forward by the union. Instead, publisher Mark Lever has stated that the paper needs to “move on,” which is barely-disguised code for the employer’s desire to break the union.
Sure, the newspaper industry is changing, but the Herald is attempting to place all of the burden for meeting those challenges (and answering for the mistakes management have made) upon the workers. That’s just not right.
The unionized reporters have since created their own free, on-line news outlet called Local XPress. The reportage and commentary that you’ll find there is thoughtful and professional, which stands in marked contrast to what you’ll find from the scab staff now being employed by the Chronicle Herald.
This dispute puts artists in a bit of a difficult place.
On the one hand, we all need to find an audience for our work, and the Chronicle Herald still has the biggest print media reach in the province.
On the other hand, however, the real arts reporters on strike – Stephen Cooke, Andrea Nemetz, Elissa Barnard – are good, hard-working people whom most of us have come to know and respect over the years. At one time or another, almost all artists in Nova Scotia have benefited from their hard work and good reportage, whether directly or indirectly.
Finally, there’s the longstanding tradition of artists standing together, and standing with others who are fighting against bullies. The Chronicle Herald is the clear bully here, trying to bust a legally constituted union (and employing some pretty heavy-handed tactics to achieve that aim).
As artists, we have a moral responsibility when a dispute like this happens to stand with the folks in the trenches.
At the end of the day, that means sacrificing our own interests for the greater good.
It means standing with the real reporters, who have for years stood with us.
It means not talking to the Herald.
Ron and I have already made that commitment with respect to the screening of our feature film Exit Thread at the Atlantic Film Festival later this month. We won’t talk to anyone from the Herald, even though that means reaching fewer people than we would otherwise.
Young actor and playwright Taylor Olson (pictured above) is another artist who has come out in support of the striking reporters. He currently has a play called “Heavy” running at the Atlantic Fringe Festival, and he debated with himself whether or not to answer questions from a scab writer at the Chronicle Herald who wanted to write a review. Here is what Taylor wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday:
Last night I had to make a decision, that wasn’t very hard, but an important one, I think. A young writer for the Chronicle Herald wanted to write a review of Heavy: Atlantic Fringe Festival 2016. and of course, as a Haligonian, union member, and human, I, hopefully politely (because honestly they were just a young writer trying to find work in Halifax), said no. I’m saying this just because I know the lack of reviews has been hurting summer theatre attendance this last summer (which blows), and I feel like it gives me a good excuse to plug my show again (because attendance the first couple shows has been a little low-ish) without seeming as overly self indulgent, but also because I think it’s important to stand with the workers who have gotten screwed over here.
As we all celebrate Labour Day weekend, I urge our colleagues in the arts in Nova Scotia follow Olson’s example and deprive the Herald of the one thing that allows them to keep hammering the striking reporters and editors – our cooperation.
We have the stories.
We must demand that the paper bring back the real reporters if they want to tell them.
Paul Andrew Kimball
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8 thoughts on “Artists and the Chronicle Herald”
You are the strangest Progressive Conservative I have ever heard. In a good way!
I can’t help wondering if the professional journalists at The Herald are not being made to pay for the lack of vision shown by management some years back by substantially upgrading/modernizing their print operation. (Of course, they were not the only paper to fail to test the wind). The pity is that the biggest asset of any news organization are their journalists, and they have been seriously damaged with consequent compromise of the paper’s ultimate product. Newspapers everywhere are stuck between a financial rock and a hard place – I get that – but I sense that Lever also is motivated by ideological imperatives here to bust the union, which to their exceptional credit have held out for what, 10 months now? That cannot have been easy, and it says a lot about the striking journalists.
If it survives at all, it looks to me like the CH may devolve to another ad-supported freebie, the way the Daily News became Metro. I wonder what the path is for the Daily Xpress to assume the role of NS paper of record, even if strictly online? After all, they seem to have the brain trust, and isn’t that what what readers are ultimately buying in news/current affairs analysis?
Thank you for your words and support.
AGREED! I wrote a song with Randy Jones(editor on strike) about it….called “Just Another Day”.
Very well said! Many non-profit groups feel the same way too. Without advertising budgets, we rely on publicity to promote our events. However, we don’t want to speak to scab reporters working for Herald management while the REAL Herald reporters are on a legal strike. Without the Herald, we have to work harder to get our events noticed through social media and other media channels.
The unfortunate thing is that the general newspaper reading public don’t understand why the best local artists aren’t getting coverage, and why they have all but disappeared from the hard copy written word.
The unfortunate thing is that most readers of the provincial printed newspaper don’t understand why the best local artists have all but disappeared from their source of information. Cruel punishment for all the artists. There has to be a better way of expressing the artists’ support of the great newswriters out on strike. Silence is not one of them. Their absence from the Chronicle Herald pages is not understood.
We’re hardly silent – we have LocalXPress, The Coast, the CBC (and other networks), our social media, etc. We can get the word out without crossing a picket line. And if that encourages people to not buy the Herald because they no longer get value for their money, perfect. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that will drive them to treat the real reporters fairly.