Wednesday, 23 September 2020 08:24

WIRED staff on strike due to unionisation delay, claims senior editor

WIRED staff on strike due to unionisation delay, claims senior editor Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Journalists at the well-known American technology news website WIRED have walked off the job to protest against the delay by its owner, publishing giant Condé Nast, in allowing staff to form a union.

Senior editor Anthony Lydgate said in a tweet thread that he was joining his colleagues from Tuesday onwards, pointing out that the company had been notified five months ago about the plans to form a union with the NewsGuild of New York.

"It’s been a hard, helter-skelter time for pretty much everyone on Earth," he wrote. "But in those five months we’ve continued to do the quality work WIRED is known for.

"We’ve put out four issues of the magazine. We’ve published ~1,800 articles online. We’ve given our readers rock-solid reporting, helpful product reviews, gorgeous art and photography, immersive long-form features, and a zillion tweets’ worth of other great stuff."

Condé Nast own both print and digital publications. Among the former are Allure, Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveller, GQ, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue and WIRED.

Digital publications are Ars Technica, Backchannel, Epicurious, Glamour, Pitchfork, them. and Teen Vogue.

In May, Condé Nast said it would lay off about 200 workers due to the effect of the pandemic.

Lydgate said the sticking point was that the management was claiming those who worked on reviews and audience development were not editorial employees.

He dismissed this view. "The members of the reviews team work with editors. They uphold the same editorial standards as the rest of us. They write most of our product coverage. And they do it extremely well: In the past five months, more than half of our most popular articles have been reviews," he said.

"The same is true of our colleagues in audience development: They collaborate hand in glove with our writers and editors. But Condé insists that all they do is promote other people’s stories."

Lydgate said during those five months, the company and its lawyers had "delayed and prevaricated and offered excuses and half-truths. They’ve repeatedly canceled meetings and made untenable, insulting attempts to splinter our union".

iTWire has contacted Condé Nast for its take on the issue.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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