Newspaper Guild of Rochester Local 17

We are the union that represents the reporters, photographers, digital producers and other newsroom employees for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Official statement on D&C layoffs

September 19, 2017 - The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle laid off three newsroom employees today, part of a series of cuts at Gannett news properties across the country. As the union that that represents them, Newspaper Guild Local 17, we feel obligated to speak out.

Our newsroom has been decimated by layoffs and buyouts in the last six years, with the number of Guild-represented employees cut by more than half.

In 2011, there were 86 people under our banner in the newsroom. Nearly half of them were reporters. There were a dozen photographers. Copy editors, headline writers and graphic designers – the finishing team you might say – rounded out the rest. After today, there are approximately 32 Guild-represented journalists working in our newsroom.

Some of those positions were lost to advances in technology and changes in the way newspapers deliver their product. But the end result has been fewer people gathering news and ensuring the stories we tell in words and photographs and videos are as polished and complete as they can be and live up to the quality that our longtime readers had come to expect of the D&C.

It's sad to see good friends and talented colleagues shown the door, but the bigger loss is to the community we serve.

These dramatic reductions in staffing have had a clear impact on the depth and breadth of our coverage and impacted the quantity and quality of the journalism we’ve been able to produce. Now more than ever, we need those journalists to shine a light on wrongdoing, hold public officials accountable, and chronicle the life of this community.

We believe that the local D&C management team is passionate about the work we do and our community, but we don’t believe the leaders of Gannett have a similar commitment to Rochester.

Frank Gannett founded his publishing company here in 1923, and Rochester remained the company’s headquarters for more than sixty years. It was here that Mr. Gannett established the high journalistic standards that helped his company become the largest newspaper publisher in the United States.

There are plenty of challenges in today’s news business, but the greatest threat to local journalism is corporate leaders who have no strategies to address those challenges other than an endless cycle of layoffs.

As a union of fewer than three dozen journalists, we have no clout, no power to wield against a corporate giant like Gannett. The only thing we can do is speak out and make sure our community knows what's happening.

We will continue to cover our region the best we know how to with the staff we have left, and we urge the members of our community to let Gannett’s leadership know they don't like what's being done to Rochester, either.

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What we do

Article I of The Newspaper Guild's constitution establishes our mission. It says"The purpose of The Newspaper Guild shall be to:

Advance the economic interests and to improve the working conditions of its members

Guarantee, as far as it is able, equal employment and advancement opportunity in the newspaper industry and constant honesty in news, editorials, advertising, and business practices

Raise the standards of journalism and ethics of the industry

Foster friendly cooperation with all other workers

Promote industrial unionism in the jurisdiction of the Guild