Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unions and total internet privacy, or a newspaper - take your pick

Apparently you can either have unionized labor or a newspaper, but you can't have both. The NYT reports:

No one knows which will be the first big city without a large paper, but there are candidates all across the country. The Hearst Corporation, which owns The Post-Intelligencer, has also threatened to close The San Francisco Chronicle, which lost more than $1 million a week last year, unless it can wring significant savings from the operation.

In a tentative deal reached Tuesday night, the California Media Workers Guild agreed to less vacation time, longer workweeks and more flexibility for The Chronicle to make layoffs without regard to seniority. Union officials say they have been told to expect the elimination of at least 150 guild jobs, almost one-third of the total, and management is still trying to negotiate concessions from the Teamsters union.

Advance Publications said last fall that it might shut down The Star-Ledger, the dominant paper in New Jersey, but a set of cutbacks and union concessions kept the paper alive in much-downsized form.

With all the hand-wringing on the left about the demise of journalism and the abhorrent suggestion that the government subsidize the news, it's amazing that I haven't heard once the suggestion that perhaps newspapers ought to be immune from laws compelling employers to accept unionized employees any more than a free market in labor would demand. In that ridiculous HuffPo piece by Monroe Price, he digs so deep that he suggests that "[making] subscribing to a newspaper tax-deductible" is a serious way to get people to abandon free online media.

Also: it's funny that none of these people bemoaning the death of the media don't see the connection between targeted advertising initiatives like this one by Google and the continued health of online media, which relies heavily on ad revenue. It's an uncomfortable fact for those who like the idea of the internet as a one-way street, but the truth is: what's good for advertisers is good for consumers, in that without the ad revenues, there's nothing to consume.

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