Friday, October 05, 2007

Time Inc. Can't Force Reporters Write for Web

Time Inc. Can't Force Reporters Write for Web

SEPARATE TASKS: Does The Newspaper Guild's proposed new contract with Time Inc. run counter to the new world order where journalists have to write for both print and the Web? It appears it might. The two parties last week reached a tentative agreement for a three-year contract that includes guaranteed annual pay raises, and changes to severance packages and other benefits to Guild-protected employees. One of the additions is a stipulation that prevents management from demanding that print reporters must write for the Web. The magazines under Guild protection include People, Time, Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Sports Illustrated and Money.

The contract clause comes after Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer and Time managing editor Richard Stengel sent memos to their staffs this summer that said print reporters were required to write for the Web; Stengel wrote at the time that performance evaluations of every Time writer, correspondent and reporter would include Web contributions. Though most reporters these days write for both print and online, The Guild, which does not protect dot-com employees, took issue with Serwer and Stengel's demands.

As part of a settlement between Time Inc. and The Guild on the issue, the new contract says Time Inc. will ensure Web site work will be voluntary for Guild-covered employees, and "there will no negative impact on any employee for not volunteering to do Web site work." It also says the company will "grant Guild coverage to any Web site employee who 'routinely or regularly' performs 'any work or services for any entity covered by the contract,'" and will cover magazine employees who are transferred to the Web sites. Finally, the contract says, "Time Inc. will issue a new memo that supersedes the previous two memos."

Meaning that, if the contract is approved — which The Guild has recommended the latest version to be — Serwer and Stengel's earlier demands would be moot, while reporters should be checking their in-boxes for updated letters from management. — Stephanie D. Smith