Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Leaders of union at Casper Star-Tribune express worry about owner Lee Enterprises' commitment to journalism

As union leaders at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming's largest daily, gear up for a new round of contract negotiations, they say they're skeptical of the owner's "commitment to journalism," reports WyoFile, an independent news organization that does in-depth, public-interest reporting.

"Casper News Guild leaders Heather Richards and Seth Klamann said they believe the company is negotiating in good faith," Andrew Graham reports. "But they worry that Lee Enterprises, which owns papers in 20 states and carries hundreds of millions of dollars of debt, doesn’t share their dedication to journalism or to Wyoming. Corporate executives and stockholders are lucratively rewarded, even as communities lose reporters to layoffs."

Lee, which is based in Davenport, Iowa, and owns The Missoulian in Montana, purchased competing paper the Missoula Independent last year and abruptly shuttered the paper yesterday, The Missoulian reports.

Star-Tribune union leaders told Graham they're seeking support from public figures in Casper in hopes of securing a stronger position in negotiations. “We’re just letting them know, this is your paper. This isn’t our paper, this is your paper, and it’s owned by an out-of-state company that’s taking money out your community by laying off reporters … You lose money and simultaneously you lose the institutional knowledge” of the departed journalists.

Publisher Dale Bohren "declined to comment on union negotiations in detail," Graham reports, quoting him: “We are negotiating in good faith. I really don’t have any comment about the union, other than that I have tremendous respect for the work that the newsroom does.”

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