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KING5 camera crews ratify contract preserving jobs

The following is from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE):

KING5-studioSEATTLE (Dec. 13, 2016) — With newsrooms shrinking around the country, and TV news crews being asked to do far more with far less staff, there was good news for the camera crews at KING5 in Seattle. Last week they finally ratified their most recent contract preserving the present number of photojournalists will remain in place for a minimum of three years. This follows a contentious year-long campaign with staffers making a public issue of the professionalism needed for responsible TV news reporting.

The KING5 news station photographers ratified a new union contract on Dec. 8 that guarantees professional quality video in the midst of seminal changes in the television industry brought about by social media and smart phones. The company secured the right to put video from other sources on the air, but there must be a full complement of fully qualified photojournalists on staff. The collective bargaining agreement provides that the present number of union photojournalists will remain in place at least for the next three years. Tegna, Inc., formerly Gannett, and formerly connected to USA Today, bought KING5 along with 25 other stations from Belo Broadcasting in 2013.

“Both sides came away winners in this contract,” said IATSE Local 600 business representative Dave Twedell, who conducted negotiations for the union. “The company will be able to take full advantage of the myriad sources of video available today, while our members – and the KING5 viewers – can count on maintaining a critical mass of professionals to report on matters of vital concern to the Seattle area. It provides the best of both worlds – traditional journalistic standards continuing while the immediacy and range of alternative sources such as amateurs with smart phones are added to the newscast. Rather than replacing professional journalists with amateurs, KING5 will be able to add extra content from the new world of digital video.”

The union has been making a public issue of professionalism in TV news reporting, and the Seattle City Council passed a resolution, backed by Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, last June addressing the need for professional quality news to serve the public in times of flood, fire, ice, earthquake or civil unrest.

“They are being forced to defend the public in general and our right to locally-produced news with social value, such as essential emergency communications,” Sawant said in June.

The worst of amateur news reared its ugly head when a man using the Fresco News app captured a woman being beaten by a man in front of a group of bystanders doing nothing on video instead of calling for help.

Negotiations for new contracts are continuing between IATSE Local 600 and KGW in Portland, and between IBEW Local 46 at KING5. Twedell said, “I look forward to successful win-win negotiations for both bargaining units.”

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