Where have all the bylines gone?
On Tuesday, the guild staff members of the Delaware County Daily Times are participating in a one-day byline strike — in print and online — to call attention to measures Digital First Media has taken to create its regional production hub in Norristown.
This action coincides with the release of the redesigned Daily Times print edition.
The Times’ new, modern look belies the strong-arm tactics of Digital First’s management, which has forced our co-workers to make the unenviable choice between unemployment and relocating to an office more than 20 miles away, where they work under a weaker collective bargaining agreement and have lost hard-earned benefits.
Initially, Digital First staffed the new Norristown operation with eight guild employees from the company’s suburban Philadelphia cluster of newspapers — seven of those people hired worked for the Delaware County Daily Times.
Still, the cluster’s management refused a request to relocate the hub to the Times’ office, where our guild members would remain part of the Daily Times contract. And since those first job offers were made, two staff members have reconsidered and opted for unemployment.
Most Daily Times readers would not recognize the names of our coworkers who are impacted by these changes, but they have been invaluable members of our news organization. They are copy editors and page designers representing decades of priceless experience. Some have been with the newspaper for nearly 30 years, surviving the company’s multiple incarnations and bankruptcies.
Their loss is a loss for the Times’ staff and our readers.
The editors remaining at our newsroom are equally dedicated, though smaller in number. How that will impact what the Daily Times produces online and in print remains to be seen. On the eve of the first redesigned edition these editors had received just a minimum of guidance from management regarding how their daily jobs would be impacted by these major changes. The best advice offered so far is that we will have to do more with less.
The Times staff will continue to push forward and provide its readers with the news affecting Delaware County. But while much attention is being paid to the newspaper’s new look, we also want the public to know the sacrifices that have been made behind the scenes to get there.
Delaware County Daily Times