UMG honors Bill McClellan, top activists

Feb 7, 2018 by

Bill McClellan and previous Hughes winner Joel Currier.

Guilder of the Year Joe Holleman addresses his fellow UMG members.

Stanley Jackson accepted the Solidarity Award on behalf of our Fight for 15 unit.

Steward of the year David Blackford.

The United Media Guild honored its top activists and celebrated great journalism at its Local Meeting Feb. 6.

Longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan won the UMG’s Terry Hughes Award, which is judged each year by a panel of former winners of the award.

Ms. Hughes, a columnist for the Post-Dispatch, was 36 when she died of breast cancer on July 22, 1991. Her writing was clear, witty and descriptive, with a flair for portraying society’s underdogs. The same could be said for McClellan’s work.

He sat near Hughes in the Post-Dispatch newspapers and was a great admirer of her work. If she were still alive, McClellan said, “she would have served as a mentor for our young journalists, especially the women.”

McClellan received his award from last year’s winner, Post-Dispatch reporter Joel Currier.

Columnist Joe Holleman, chair of our Post-Dispatch unit, was honored as Guilder of the Year. He has long been a strong advocate for all of our members at the Post, not just those in the newsroom.

David Blackford of the Pekin Daily Times was named Steward of the Year. There have been no shortage of issues to address at that newspaper — it is owned by GateHouse Media, after all — and he has helped us resolve many problems. Blackford noted that as a former UAW member in the auto industry, he learned the value of unionism and the need to step up for co-workers.

Rockford Register Star reporter Kristen Zambo was named Activist of the Year. Like Blackford, she works for GateHouse. Like Pekin, Rockford has had no shortage of problems to address while continuing its fight for a fair first contract. Zambo stepped as acting unit chair after the previous chair, photographer Max Gersh, moved on to a new job in Florida.

Our members of the “Fight for 15” campaign were honored with the Solidarity Award. That is a new UMG unit with members spanning the contiguous United States. The unit’s St. Louis-area steward, Stanley Jackson, took a bow for the group.

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UMG works to distinguish real news from marketing content

Jan 16, 2018 by

Protecting the craft of journalism is one of the United Media Guild’s most important tasks.

We have fought hard to prevent journalists from being assigned to write advertorial copy, particularly for the GateHouse Newspapers chain. A journalist’s job is to report real news and writing advertorial copy would undermine that work.

Recently at the Post-Dispatch the UMG has worked with management to make sure that the real news reported by journalists is clearly delineated from marketing content.

(Sponsored content also appears side-by-side with real news on the site, but it is clearly marked. We would prefer that sponsored content did not exist, but it IS a source of digital revenue).

The “Advancing STL” section on the home page is identified as  “Marketing” and its stories feature the tagline “Produced by our marketing department” over the top of the copy.

We want to thank Post-Dispatch unit chair Joe Holleman for working with management to make certain that the lines between real news and marketing content are not blurred.

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UMG retirees and alumni gather for their annual luncheon

Dec 5, 2017 by

The United Media Guild hosted about 40 retiree members at its annual Retiree/Alumni Luncheon Nov. 28 at Lombardo’s in St. Louis.

It was great to see former UMG business representative Mary Casey and former UMG office at the event, along with many of our former officers — including Tim O’Neil, Denise Fleming, Virginia Hicks Gilbert, Kevin Madden, Theresa Cobb and Ed Cirar.

Semi-retired Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan attended and reminisced with former newsroom colleagues such as Michael Sorkin, Roy Malone, Bill Smith, Barry Gilbert, Alan Fredman and Geoffrey Dubson

Retiree/alumni membership is open to all former UMG members. Contact office Rachel Zaron ( if you are interested.

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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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2017 Labor Day Parade!

Sep 1, 2017 by


Every year the United Media Guild marches with our CWA sisters and brothers.  This year the CWA is second in line!  The line starts on Olive, at 15th St.), travels east to Tucker, turns right and goes to Market and turns right again and goes a couple hundred yards on Market.  That’s it.  It’s less than a mile.

The parade starts at 0900 but you need to get there early in order to get a CWA shirt (all the various unions hand out shirts to their members, usually it’s a common color).   Also, there will be a rally at 19th and Olive at 8:00 a.m. and everyone who is lining up is encouraged to stroll on over to check it out.  With organized labor and the middle class coming under constant attack, there are some wonderful organizations and coalitions doing good work to push back on behalf of working families and this rally promises to highlight some of that work (the rally is expected to run about 40 minutes).

As usual, once the parade is over, everyone gathers near the finish line for some refreshments.  I hope to see you all there!

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