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Petition drives — should journalists sign?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by I Should Coco, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Quick question: Should people who work in newsrooms feel free to sign petitions on public issues?

    This is a hot topic in our shop as several elected officials in our city face a recall election if enough signatures can be gathered by the time limit.

    It came up at the news meeting yesterday, and while several people said we shouldn't sign the petition because we'd be taking a public stand on a controversial topic, others said it was our right to voice an opinion on something happening in our city. Especially for those of us whose names aren't in bylines, like the copy desk.

    Personally, I'm against the recall and wouldn't sign the petition regardless of where I worked. But I agree that since the signatures are going to be scrutinized, newsroom members should NOT sign the petition, because it would look like we're taking a side. And if reporters shouldn't sign, then the desk and editors shouldn't, either.

    What say you, SportsJournalists.com?
  2. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    I agree with your assessment.
  3. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Let's not rehash the ugliness.

  4. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    But I thought that's what we do.
  5. Matt Stephens

    Matt Stephens Well-Known Member

    I don't think so. Some people are so passionate about their cause, they'll stand at the mall for hours to get rejected time and time again, but still get a few signatures, and I can respect them for that. But I'm always going to be one of those people who says "no thanks."

    Heck, the great thing about not really caring about the clipboard person's cause is that I always have an excuse to use: "Sorry, I work at the newspaper. I'm not supposed be a part of the petitions."
  6. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Ah, here we go again. I wouldn't have a problem with it. IF

    * The paper doesn't endorse any political candidates.

    * Upper newsroom management doesn't participate in any civic organizations

    * The newspaper doesn't sponsor anything. Or if they do, then they don't write about it.

    * The newspaper doesn't partner up with a charity. Or if they do, then they don't write about it.

    * If employees are banned from attending political events, then they are also banned from attending sporting events and other major recreation events that do not involve family members. If we're going to go to extremes, we might as well go all the way.


    * The paper could take each employee's circumstances into account, and just not allow certain activities if that is a legitimate part of their regular beat. If it's not a part of their beat, then they're allowed, as long as they're not claiming to represent the paper.

    But of course, it's now been proven, Gannett just wants to be hypocritical.
  7. BurnsWhenIPee

    BurnsWhenIPee Well-Known Member

    If you want to sign one, sign it. But if you agreed to a company ethics policy that says you cannot sign it, be ready to walk away from your job in exchange.

    No matter how many want to paint it as a free speech issue, it's not. It's no more a free speech situation than me thinking I have the right to stand up in the middle of my office and shout obscenities at the top of my lungs without repercussions.

    And Gannett isn't the only one, Baron ...

  8. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    My bad on the d_b ... but I was on vacation when that came up, so never saw the thread.
  9. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Sign your executive editor's name.
  10. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Baron: I agree with your points about ownership's lack of objectivity (especially at my paper, which is owned by a very wealthy businessman who hosts fundraisers for GOP candidates)

    However, I'm not sure I agree with the above. If a reporter who covers city hall can't sign the recall petition, the desk shouldn't either. Even if no one knows the names of copy editors.

    Petitions (and maybe the caucus process) are different than voting, because they're public events. Vote for whomever you want as a newsroom employee, but attending political rallies and publicly supporting a controversial cause crosses a line for me -- even if it's not my beat.

    Just my 2 cents ...
  11. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    You're a member of the community. If you have an opinion express it.
  12. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    If you have a contract or union agreement that says you can, have at it.

    If you are an at-will employee who can be fired for any reason down to what color socks you wore this morning, probably better not.
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