Best Of The Web
“When we look back on the horrible summer of 2019, we might find that what seemed to be a minor event at the time turned out to be a watershed. On June 6, more than 300 workers at Vox Media staged a walkout in protest of management’s refusal to accede to their contract demands. The firehose of content on Vox’s websites—which include Eater, The Verge, SB Nation, and flagship Vox.com—dried up. The Vox walkout marked the culmination of a broader unionization drive in the news business, as workforces have mobilized at old-school daily rags and brand-new digital operations alike, in search of better pay, better benefits, and some measure of security in the unstable, revenue-challenged news business.
Vox’s workers won that battle, when management finally agreed to hammer out a collective-bargaining contract after 29 straight hours of negotiation. But that victory added up to more than generous new salary increases and severance provisions. It was, just as important, an occasion for solidarity across the media industry: Other union shops—within the Writers Guild of America and NewsGuild, the two big journalism unions—and freelancers closed ranks to prevent Vox management from paying freelancers to populate their now-stagnant platforms. Here was a new phenomenon, with expansive implications for the industry as a whole: a worker movement that spanned different companies and individual unions and included freelance journalists.
When we talk about the future of journalism these days we typically discuss different corporate models of content provision; be it The New York Times and its paywall; The Washington Post and its plutocratic benefactor; The Atlantic and its roster of TED Talk–like panels bankrolled by corporate sponsors like ExxonMobil; or Vice, The Outline, BuzzFeed, and the venture capital lined up behind them. By now, the media man loudly declaring that he will be the one to come up with a model to save journalism—whether it be Josh Topolsky or Chris Hughes or Jeff Bezos—has become a cliché. But none of these models has yet proven to be sustainable in the long term or applicable industry-wide. And none addresses the real reason the news industry has been in precipitous decline, losing 23 percent of its workforce between 2008 and 2017.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"During the debate on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal in the United Kingdom’s Parliament on Saturday—which ended, as these things often have, with a vote calling for another delay—Johnson exposed the most basic blindness of Brexit..."
"Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, wants to change his story about Ukraine. On Thursday, at a press briefing, Mulvaney confirmed that when President Donald Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine in July, one reason was that..."
"I travelled with Bedouin in the Western Desert of Egypt. When we got a puncture, they used tape and an old inner tube to suck air from three tyres to inflate a fourth. It was the cook who suggested the idea; maybe he was used to making food..."
"The ultrasound technician places the wand on my daughter’s lower abdomen and moves it slowly across taut skin glistening with gel. I’ve been holding my breath since being ushered into the dimly lit cubicle to witness a sonogram that will..."
"Even many Democrats are criticizing Senator Elizabeth Warren for refusing to admit, in plain words, that her Medicare for All plan will require taxes to increase. They’re right to complain. The point could hardly be simpler: All presidential..."
"How do you update Watchmen for 2019? That might sound like a question with an obvious answer: You just do Watchmen. After all, the graphic novel, which has been consistently in print since its 12-volume run ended in 1987, is pretty terrific..."
"The climactic face-off of the 2019 Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg took place on a wide, sunny plaza, between a statue dedicated to the millions of anonymous miners who had toiled under inhuman..."
"Mark Zuckerberg has rarely been so compelling. Facing increased scrutiny — especially after leaked audio of an internal meeting in which Zuckerberg called Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) an existential threat — the Facebook CEO outlined his..."