New Media Unions: Organizing Digital Journalists, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

New Media Unions

Organizing Digital Journalists, 1st Edition

By Nicole S. Cohen, Greig de Peuter


128 pages

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Hardback: 9781138327115
pub: 2020-04-01
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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.


"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

Table of Contents

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

About the Authors

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 (McGill-Queen’s University Press).

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 (University of Minnesota Press).

About the Series


Studies in Digital Journalism

The Disruptions: Studies in Digital Journalism series features ground breaking short form publications which engage with cutting edge technological and critical developments and debates in contemporary digital journalism theory and practice. Titles in the series explore emerging hot topics, present detailed case studies and offer new assessments of theoretical and conceptual innovations in relation to subjects including digital journalism ethics, robot news, data journalism, web metrics and online surveillance. Titles respond quickly to the latest developments in the field and showcase the work of best new and established critical thinkers in this vibrant and emerging area.


For more information on submitting a proposal for the series, please contact Bob Franklin at [email protected]

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies