The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia


Dear Guild Members:
It is with a mix of dismay and frustration that I write this 10 days after Inquirer management announced “anomalous activity” that forced the shutdown of some of our systems, prohibited us from working in the office for a week and spawned all sorts of fears about the compromise of employee data, from Social Security and bank account numbers to reporters’ notes and correspondence with sources.
The source of my dismay and frustration is the same as yours: the lack of helpful information from our employer.
Indeed, we had to learn yesterday not from our company but through, a website that covers technology news, that a ransomware gang had claimed responsibility for the cyberattack.
That came hours after the company told us in bargaining that it had no new information for us, including whether it was a ransomware attack, whether the company paid a ransom (BleepingComputer said it did not), or whether employee (and subscriber) data and other information was compromised. Apparently the BleepingComputer piece was news to the company official who had no answers for us in bargaining, further demonstrating how limited the flow of information truly is.
The Company has, however, had the time to send a note to the Guild saying it “takes specific issue with public statements made” by me “that state and/or intimate that the Company’s IT security system is insufficient. … Further, the Company believes that the NewsGuild does not fully grasp the extent to which The Inquirer has gone to protect itself and its employees from such attacks, and so commenting on those efforts — or implying that those efforts were insufficient — is simply inaccurate.”
As I said in response to the Company, its employees are “scared and frustrated about the lack of meaningful communication from the Company. I also pointed out the hypocrisy of a Company who hires people for their ability to ask hard questions in the pursuit of truth yet wants those same employees to “sit quietly without answers to a crisis that impacts each of them.”
It’s unacceptable. One Guild member yesterday said the lack of answers “is more embarrassing than the hack.” Another asked how the Company can expect our loyalty when “they’re not willing to give us an ounce of human decency” in terms of guidance on whether personal data has been compromised, what we should be doing to protect ourselves and what the Company plans to do to help with all that.
The Guild has told the Company it expects at least two years of free credit monitoring if it turns out our data has been compromised. The Company’s response: They didn’t give one.
We, like the journalists so many of us are, will continue to press for answers.
In solidarity,