Our union has no problem with a newspaper columnist expressing an opinion, for that is the purpose of an editorial section. But Tod Robberson’s decision to run a recent column criticizing colleagues for their use of social media brings up several other matters — ones he either failed to consider or ones he willfully ignored:
First, is this how we now resolve potential policy issues that arise between management and workers, by running columns in the newspaper?
Since Mr. Robberson did not see fit to contact the union which represents workers he criticized, then please allow our union similar space to rebut the assertions he made, without any real evidence, that some of our behavior violated established Post-Dispatch policies.
Or should we assume that from now on, the effective, decades-old method of labor and management sitting down at a table to iron out differences has given way to management, by Robberson fiat, that alleges wrongdoing and policy violations and then flies directly into the face of the objectivity he purports to cherish by not allowing the people we represent to respond in their own defense?
Also, our union has faithfully instructed its members that while we may at times have problems with management policies and practices, we should never resort to “denigrating the product.” But how are we supposed to adhere to that policy, or why should we, when it’s clear that Mr. Robberson sees it altogether fitting to denigrate the journalists who cover, report, write, photograph and edit that product?
Mr. Robberson, by his use of the phrase “reporters and photographers” omits the non-union employees using social media and singles out Guild members in his screed. We find this troubling and wonder just how deliberate his choice of words are.
Mr. Robberson has warned us about crossing lines by crossing lines himself, and applies a double standard in delivering his sermon about journalistic standards.
In his column, Mr. Robberson declares that he is from the “country of Journalism.” We hope that sometime in the near future, he also opts to reside in the “state of Fairness.”