Journalists Fight System That Requires Them To Write 2.5 Stories A Day

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 02: A vending machine sells Chicago Sun-Times newspapers on a street corner in the Loop on December 2,
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 02: A vending machine sells Chicago Sun-Times newspapers on a street corner in the Loop on December 2, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Guild member are expected to vote today on an agreement reached between Wrapports, publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and other Chicago-area newspapers, and the Chicago Newspaper Guild for a new three-year contract. Reports suggest the new contract could lead to the company rehiring 4 of the 28 people who were laid-off last spring when the company eliminated the photography staffs at all of the newspapers, opting to rely on freelance photographers, reporters, and other sources for the images used in the publications. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Chicago Newspaper Guild is fighting a quota system that requires Pioneer Press reporters to write at least 2.5 stories each day, or risk losing their jobs.

The Guild has filed a complaint calling the quota "unfair" and said it was imposing on "journalistic integrity." It is the latest in the ongoing battle between Sun-Times Media and its journalists.

The Guild's Ralph Zahorik wrote Tuesday that staffers are working under "a confusing but strict quota" that puts writers' careers on the line.

“They’re being warned if they don’t produce the 2.5 minimum, they could lose their jobs,” he wrote in a post on the Chicago Newspaper Guild's site.

The Guild is now demanding that the media group drop the rule and "immediately cease and desist from issuing further discipline based on a story quota."

Zahorik said that reporters began to be notified about the quota last winter, and that he knows of some reporters who have been pulled into "disciplinary meetings" after not meeting the mark. One reporter was issued a "final warning." According to Chicago Newspaper Guild Executive Director Craig Rosenbaum, "perhaps half" of all Pioneer reporters aren't making the quota, and others are working “off the clock” to produce enough material. Rosenbaum worries that this demand could take away from reporters focusing on larger, news-worthy stories.

“Our reporters are professional, award-winning journalists,” he said. “They should be focusing on substantive, hard-hitting news, not fluff.”

The Guild claimed that if nothing is done, the complaint will be heard by a federal official.

(h/t: Poynter)

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