New Media Unions : Organizing Digital Journalists book cover
1st Edition

New Media Unions
Organizing Digital Journalists

ISBN 9781138327115
Published March 25, 2020 by Routledge
118 Pages

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Book Description

Investigating the wave of unionization that has seen over 60 digital and legacy media outlets unionize since 2015, this book explores how a flash of organizing by digital-first journalists has become a full-blown movement to unionize journalism, particularly in the United States.

Through in-depth interviews with journalists and organizers, New Media Unions maps the process of labor organizing, foregrounding journalists’ voices and documenting a historic and ongoing moment in the digital media industry. Cohen and de Peuter examine what motivates union drives, then follow journalists through the making of a union from scratch. They explore how journalists strategically self-organize, apply their communication skills to alternative ends, generate affective bonds of solidarity, and build power to confront anti-union campaigns and bargain first contracts, winning significant gains and drafting a new labor code for journalism in a digital age. This book demonstrates that if journalism is to have a future, it must be organized.

New Media Unions provides a counter-perspective on an industry in flux, whose protagonists—young journalists facing precarious futures—are using collective organizing to articulate a bottom-up vision for journalism’s future. This is a valuable resource for academics and researchers interested in political economy, journalism studies, and labor studies.

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Table of Contents

Successful union drives and union affiliation, May 2015November 2019.  Introduction.  1: Motivation.  2: Activation.  3: Mobilization.  4: Recognition.  5: Negotiation.  6: Transformation.

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Nicole S. Cohen is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. She teaches in the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, and in the Faculty of Information. She is the author of Writers’ Rights: Freelance Journalism in a Digital Age (2016).

Greig de Peuter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. He is the co-author, with Nick Dyer-Witheford, of Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games (2009).


"Cohen and de Peuter have written a timely and invaluable book based on meticulous research and trenchant analysis. The recent surge of labor organizing within media institutions deserves far more attention and this pioneering work promises to become a field-defining text in journalism studies and political economy. Underscoring the vital need for unionizing journalists, this book should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the central role of class politics and increasing precarity within the rapidly changing media landscape. - Victor Pickard, author of Journalism Without Democracy: Confronting the Misinformation Society

"At once informative and inspiring, New Media Unions is a remarkable book about dramatic recent changes in both the virtual networks and class relations of North America. Cohen and de Peuter show how unionization has seized the imagination of young journalists in digital newsrooms across North America. Rigorously researched and analytically sharp, yet eminently readable, New Media Unions challenges every preconception about individualistic digital culture, depoliticized millennials and the futility of workplace organizing:   it shows the path to a workers’ Internet." - Nick Dyer-Witheford, author of Cyber-Proletariat: Global Labour in the Digital Vortex

"I would recommend this as a must-read for all  students  of  media  and  communication,  journalists,  and  media workers  at  all  levels  and  stages  of  the  information  economy. And for  all  of  us  who  are  involved in  media  labour  research,  this  book also  signals  new  vistas  for  us  to  explore,  fuels  us  with  hope  and most importantly, encourages us to act." - Kailash Koushik, Artha-Journal of Social Sciences