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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Negotiating gap

The Herald has done a marvelous job covering the story the New York Times doesn't want to talk about, the tabloid's tendency to tweak the Globe at every opportunity got in the way today -- and pointed out the inherent problem with a bargaining team top-heavy in non-journalists.

I suspect reporter Beth Daley, the one journalist said to be on the negotiating team, was as uncomfortable as anyone with the decision by Boston Newspaper Guild President Dan Totten to invite legislators to today's noon rally at Faneuil Hall.

While it's a great ploy for plumbers, carpenters and other trades, the invitation represents a cardinal breach in the wall between reporter and source, something a newspaper advertising sales rep should get but obviously did not.

With a week to go before the New York Times' hardball deadline, now is not the best time to create any cracks in the solidarity wall. And offering politicians or other non-friends an opportunity to take shots at the newspaper's journalistic ethics, not matter how far removed journalism is from the battle, is unwise.

A lot of the talk centered around the concessions being sought focus on the lifetime job guarantees. It has been reported those guarantees are more important to backshop staff than to journalists. But the bottom line is they are worthless if there is no newspaper to write, edit, sell ads for or deliver.

I can't make it to today's rally, but have signed the Guild's "Save the Globe" petition. I would suggest union leaders with an advertising background also take heed and listen to WBUR's John Carroll. The real constituency they need is not the folks reporters work with. It's their own business-to-business base.

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