The future is union: Digital journalists pushback against employment insecurity
Dr. Penny O’Donnell (University of Sydney)
MECO Seminar Room S226
John Woolley Building A20 (Off Manning Road)
University of Sydney
While scholarship on the digital transformation of journalism has increased significantly in recent years, digital journalists' efforts to unionise for improved working conditions and a voice in the workplace have received scant attention. Yet, with problems of 'churnalism' and fake news on the rise, it becomes important to study digital journalists' pushback against employment insecurity and other threats to journalistic autonomy and editorial standards.
This paper draws on three case studies of journalists organising in Australia, Ireland and the United States to examine what digital journalists want from unionisation and what they have achieved so far. It finds decent pay and working conditions are one priority, but so too is strong occupational representation to balance employer prerogative, and guarantee digital journalists get a say in the future of journalism. The paper argues union revitalisation emerges as an important variable in achieving unionised digital workplaces.
Penny O’Donnell is Senior Lecturer in International Media and Journalism at the University of Sydney. Her research interests include work futures in global journalism, comparative media research, and digital transformation of the Australian media landscape. She is a Chief Investigator on the New Beats Project, an ARC-funded study of the aftermath of job loss and re-employment in Australian journalism (LP140100341 and DP150102675). Internationalisation of the project now includes Canadian, Indonesian, and Dutch case studies. Recent publications from the project appear in Journalism Studies, Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, Journalism Practice, and Australian Journalism Review.