Rochester Guild Launches Ad Campaign Against 'Democrat and Chronicle'

By: Jennifer Saba The Newspaper Guild of Rochester launched an advertising campaign against the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle with the hopes of ironing out a contract with management and parent company Gannett.

The campaign includes radio spots running on a handful of Rochester stations as well as an online petition urging people to "tell Democrat and Chronicle Publisher Michael Kane to improve his newspaper and settle the longest labor dispute in Rochester, N.Y."

The radio spot asks listeners: "Notice that our only daily newspaper has less news and fewer features?" The voice-over continues that the new contract posited by management wants to strip benefits and job protections from newsroom employees.

"So who is losing? The newspaper's hard workers and its readers." The spot concludes by asking listeners to e-mail Kane and sign the online petition.

The ad campaign cost about five figures confirmed Rochester Guild President Steve Orr.

Democrat and Chronicle spokesperson Thomas P. Flynn said while executives at the paper have received e-mails, they have not been flooded. "There has been no major outpouring from readers or advertisers," he said.

The guild represents about 100 reporters, photographers, copy editors, and designers at the Democrat and Chronicle. Members have been without a contract since 1992 but Orr said that the paper has been honoring most of terms of the expired contract.

The guild and management have been trying to negotiate a successor agreement. In January, management made a final offer, which the guild rejected.

"We generally are trying to educate the public about our situation," Orr said about the campaign. He added he hopes that management would be willing to sit back down at the table.

"We think these folks are treated very well," said Flynn about the contract. "Negotiation is a two-way street."

During contract negotiations, newspaper guilds have turned to advertising to curry favor with readers. The union representing workers at The Wall Street Journal took out a $115,000 ad in The New York Times in January that called into question the paper?s reduced size and Dow Jones' commitment to quality journalism.


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