New J-Source work and labour editor Errol Salamon on the importance of labour reporting.

New J-Source work and labour editor Errol Salamon on the importance of labour reporting.

By Errol Salamon, Work and Labour Editor

Labour reporting about journalism is dead. At least, that’s what some people may think if they scan newsrooms across Canada. By some measures—for instance, employment of full-time labour reporters—the labour beat more broadly has been in decline as far back as the 1960s.

But who cares about union negotiations, work stoppages, and job cuts, anyway? Just make sure I have a job, please, you say!

Yet the working conditions and labour issues in Canadian journalism have broader societal impacts. The lack of labour reporting about journalism can mask the power, control and influence of media owners and management personnel, and the rights of workers who produce the news. Hence, journalism has an important role to play in informing the public about—and providing a platform to discuss the effects of—layoffs, unionization drives, work stoppages, workplace harassment and underpaid internships or freelance positions, among other issues.

The steady flow of stories in J-Source’s Work and Labour section in 2016 alone is a reminder that labour reporting on issues in the news industry is alive and more important than ever.

While newsroom workers at the Halifax Chronicle Herald have been on strike since January 23, I discussed the links between freelancing and gender inequality that were highlighted by the labour dispute.

No, labour reporting is not merely a harbinger of doom. This summer, for example, media unions have taken a leading role to ensure that journalism students get paid internships and valuable workplace training.

Since November 2013, my predecessor, Nicole Cohen, has helped make the Work and Labour section a go-to source for regular news coverage, opinion, and analysis. With Nicole’s undying support, I’m happy that I’ve been able to contribute to the section since January 2014 and help it grow. I’m looking forward to building on this work and keeping the labour reporting alive.

[[{“fid”:”6120″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:””,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:””},”type”:”media”,”link_text”:null,”attributes”:{“height”:637,”width”:418,”style”:”width: 100px; height: 152px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;”,”class”:”media-element file-default”}}]]Errol Salamon is a PhD candidate in communication studies at McGill University. He’s co-editor and contributor to the forthcoming book Journalism in Crisis: Bridging Theory and Practice for Democratic Media Strategies in Canada (University of Toronto Press). His research has also been published in Digital Journalism and tripleC: Communication, Capitalism and Critique. You can find him on Twitter @errolouvrier.