We, the journalists of the Naples Daily News, The News-Press, The Banner and the Marco Eagle, are unionizing. We want a seat at the table and a stable work environment where outstanding journalism matters most.
For more than a century, our newspapers have served as a vital source of information to readers in Southwest Florida.
We have covered devastating storms, floods and fires. We have reported on the area’s growth and development boom and the associated environmental ramifications. We have investigated injustice, fraud and abuse of power.
We believe in the power of local journalism, and we want to preserve the legacies of our newsrooms. We want to help our communities thrive, and we believe strong journalism is essential to a healthy democracy.
Newspapers have reached a critical juncture as financial pressures and corporate mergers have decimated the staff of local newsrooms, including ours. A merger between our parent company, Gannett, and GateHouse Media will continue to gut our newsrooms. Even before the merger, we faced stagnant salaries, increased workloads, rising costs for health insurance, inadequate compensation for mileage and, most critically, the inability to retain many of our most talented peers.
This has taken a toll on our working conditions. We have lost skilled journalists, and in many cases their positions have not been filled. That makes it difficult for us to maintain the level and quality of coverage our communities deserve.
But we also feel hope.
From newcomers to veterans who have seen this region grow for decades, we share a passion for storytelling, for holding those in power accountable, and for celebrating our communities. Together, we will accomplish what we are unable to do apart.
The Southwest Florida News Guild is being born from these conditions. Gannett has made bargaining as individual employees ineffective, which makes bargaining as a unit imperative. Collectively, we can fight for better pay, improved benefits and a diversity in our newsrooms that better reflects the communities we serve.
Make no mistake: Business challenges over which we have no control will continue. However, we need and deserve conditions that allow us to dedicate ourselves fully to quality work and effective journalism.
We ask Gannett to voluntarily recognize the Southwest Florida News Guild so we can build a long and productive relationship. If Gannett chooses not to, the journalists of the Southwest Florida News Guild will remain united and undeterred.
We will organize. We will vote. We will create a better future for Southwest Florida journalism.
Omar Rodríguez Ortiz