Unionized PressProgress Journalists Ratify New Collective Agreement Formally Protecting Editorial Independence

‘This collective agreement gives PressProgress stronger editorial independence than what you’d find at many traditional newspapers or corporate media outlets’

Unionized reporters and editors at PressProgress have ratified a new collective agreement that gives its team of journalists stronger editorial protections than those found at many legacy media outlets in Canada.

The new collective agreement, which includes wage increases and improvements to working conditions and workplace culture on issues of equity, diversity and work-life balance, also includes legally-binding provisions designed to protect the “editorial integrity and independence of PressProgress.”

PressProgress is editorially independent and free to make story decisions without interference from any other division of the organization,” the new collective agreement states. “The Employer will make every effort to protect the editorial integrity and independence of PressProgress reporters and editors and will ensure that all editorial control is exerted from within the division.”

Rumneek Johal, PressProgress’ Associate Editor, says this shows PressProgress is growing stronger as it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

“Being able to enshrine principles like editorial independence among other things in our collective agreement demonstrates that as always – PressProgress’ journalism has and will continue to stand on its own as we continue to grow as a publication,” Johal says.

While PressProgress has always produced its journalism independently from external interests, including corporations, governments or political parties, the new collective agreement now gives that policy the full weight of the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

The collective agreement provides further commitments that the employer will:

  • Defend the work of PressProgress’ journalists and protect the identities of its sources
  • Never force journalists to create editorial content that involves approvals from non-editorial third parties, such as advertorials or sponsored content
  • Respect the right of journalists to withhold their byline for any reason

PressProgress builds on precedents set by other Canadian digital media organizations, including Canadaland, National Observer, Vice Media and others who previously negotiated editorial protections into their collective agreements.

Luke LeBrun, the Editor of PressProgress and a member of the union’s negotiating committee, adds that it’s important journalists at smaller, independent digital outlets use their agency within their workplaces to advocate for higher standards and better working conditions.

“People graduating journalism schools in the future probably aren’t going to work at big corporate media outlets, they’re going to be working at smaller digital outlets like PressProgress,” LeBrun says. “We all have a duty to ensure these new workplaces and new models of journalism are held to a higher standard than what came before.”

“This collective agreement gives PressProgress stronger editorial independence than what you’d find at many traditional newspapers or corporate media outlets in Canada,” LeBrun points out.

PressProgress follows an internal set of Journalistic Standards and is held accountable by the National NewsMedia Council, a self-regulatory body that adjudicates complaints about issues of accuracy, journalistic standards and ethics.

PressProgress’ journalists are unionized members of UFCW 1006-A.


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