In warning about crossing lines, Robberson does just that.

Oct 27, 2017 by

 

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.”

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TNG-CWA calls on St. Louis police to stop arresting working journalists

Oct 5, 2017 by

The mayor and acting police commissioner of St. Louis must be held accountable for the arrest of journalists covering public protests in the city, The NewsGuild-CWA declared at a meeting of its Executive Council on Oct. 5.

“The mayor and acting police commissioner must stop the practice of arresting of journalists who are doing their job — informing the people,” said Bernie Lunzer, president of NewsGuild-CWA, the parent union of the United Media Guild.

Five journalists were arrested on Oct. 3 while covering a protest of the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley, who shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. This was one of the many protests that have occurred since a judge found Stockley, a white patrolman, not guilty of the murder of Smith, who was black.

The Young Turks political reporter Jordan Chariton and his cameraman Ty Bayliss were detained overnight, as was NewsGuild member Al Neal, a reporter for People’s World. Independent journalist Jon Ziegler and freelance photographer Daniel Shular were also held along with a legal observer, Steven Hoffman. They were among the 143 persons arrested at the protest.

Several times police also threatened to arrest UMG member Robert Cohen, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer — despite the fact he remained behind police lines and away from the protest that briefly blocked Interstate 64.

Two journalists were arrested while reporting on protests on Sept. 17: UMG member Michael Faulk, a Post-Dispatch reporter, and Scott Olson, a Getty photographer.

Additionally, Post-Dispatch photographer and UMG member Christian Gooden was pepper-sprayed by police on Sept. 29 while covering protests — despite moving away from police and turning his back to them as they sprayed protesters.

Gooden was pepper-sprayed after chronicling a single protester being subdued with a taser and arrested.

“The police were aware of my presence did not react negatively as I photographed the arrestee, his arresting officers and the taser cords they pulled out of him,” Gooden reported to the UMG. “Soon thereafter, dozens of protesters convened at the police line to decry his arrest and the use of a taser. At this moment, police sprayed everyone in front of the police line in a sweeping motion.

“I stepped away until I thought they were done. When I turned back to approach the line, I saw a second spraying by police toward the protesters, who were still coming to see what was going on with the arrests. I turned away hoping to avoid a spray and calculated that my turned back would bear no threat.

“That’s when I felt a cool, wet stream of the pepper spray dousing the base of my head. As I felt the stream, it seemed as though the officer tried to maneuver the spray around my head to get to my eyes. Keeping pace with the spray, I turned my head to keep square with the stream and keep it out of my eyes.”

Gooden estimated that the spraying lasted 5 or 6 seconds.

“Mayor Lyda Krewson and acting Police Commissioner Lawrence O’Toole must put a stop to the arrest of journalists, legal observers and others without cause,” Lunzer said.

“Journalists play a special role – as do the police,” he said. “If police are to be respected, they must respect others.”

The ongoing problems in St. Louis are, sadly, not unusual. This is why NewsGuild-CWA has embarked on its multi-faceted “Right to Report” project. 

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