BRUSSELS—A coalition of global unions, representing nearly 21 million workers worldwide, is launching a campaign on Saturday to save print journalism.
UNI Global Union and the International Federation of Journalists are calling on national governments to tax major internet companies and support print media.
IFJ and UNI Global Union announced an effort to push governments to adopt emergency rescue packages for the print media industry as a whole (journalism, publishing, printing, and distribution) as well as introduce a digital services tax on tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook who have diverted advertising revenue from media outlets.
The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated a long-standing decline in media ad income. This year alone, revenue is down 20 percent. Tech companies have siphoned much of this money. For example, in 2018, Google earned $4.7 billion from news—money not shared with the journalists who produced it.
“The current global health crisis is significantly increasing the great difficulties facing the print media sector,” Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary, warns. “Governments need to react urgently. The sector is a public good and a crucial pillar of our democracies. Governments are well aware of this. Indeed, with the COVID crisis, they have identified the sector as essential. Today, they cannot just watch the ship sink from their balconies.”
In light of the severe economic crisis that lies ahead, the unions want national governments to step in to protect media jobs safeguard a print media industry that stands for quality, ethics, solidarity, labor rights, and fundamental freedoms.
“The health of our democracies rests on holding people in power accountable, and journalists are the ones who, more often than not, shine a spotlight on political and corporate power abuses of the public trust,” says Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “Print media plays a huge part in disseminating this information and supporting the online components of journalism.”
Unless action is taken, thousands of media outlets risk being shuttered, and hundreds-of-thousands jobs risk being lost due to the consolidation in the media sector and loss of advertising income.
The IFJ and UNI have adopted a joint appeal addressed to national governments titled “Rescue and future survival package for the print media industry.” Unions who are members of these federations will use these points lobbying for support for the news media.
Nicola Konstantinou, Head of department of the UNI’s Graphical & Packaging sector, says, “Print media is a social good, and its media supply chain is long and includes millions of people—journalists, editors, proof-readers, printers, designers, photographers, but also delivery people, postal workers, and booksellers”.
“These businesses—and the people who work for them—are put at a disadvantage by the unfair tax avoidance stealing of ad income by major tech companies. We are asking governments to intervene to make sure that the people who produce and distribute the news we depend on get a fair share.