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A banner showing the logos of the Baltimore Sun Guild, The Chicago Tribune Guild, Suburban Chicago Tribune Guild, Chesapeake News Guild, Daily News Union, Design Production Studio Guild, Gary News Guild, Hartford Courant Guild, The Morning Call GuildFair Pay In Tribune Workplaces

Contents

Key Findings 
Equity and Inclusion
Overworked and Underpaid
Our Demands 
How We Created This Report 
Appendix

Introduction

NewsGuild members conducted a pay equity study in more than a dozen unionized workplaces that exposed disparities in the earnings of women and media workers of color.

The study of 384 members’ wages, based on anonymized data obtained from Tribune by the NewsGuild and survey responses, reveals average pay is significantly higher at the Baltimore Sun, where members have benefited from collective bargaining for decades, compared with those that unionized more recently and have not reached contracts. 

Members of each union except for the Daily News also responded to questions about workload, work hours and perceptions of pay equity. The responses show that the higher a member’s pay, the likelier they are to plan to stay in their job, demonstrating that fair pay reduces turnover and helps retain experienced and knowledgeable workers.

The NewsGuild executed the study to identify bargaining targets and to identify areas in which Tribune can make improvements that would demonstrate its expressed commitment to race and gender equity.

Key findings:

  • Median pay for Black women is 22.5% less than that of white men across the company.
  • Median pay for women is about $8,355 less than for male colleagues across the company’s unionized workplaces. (See Table 1.)
  • Although women on average have eight fewer years of service than men, the gender pay gap is apparent when comparing members with similar tenure and is generally most pronounced among employees hired in the last 10 years. The pay gap is less apparent when controlled for overall journalism experience. (See Table 2.)
  • White members have a higher median pay than nonwhite colleagues, earning about $4,530 more than Hispanic or Latino members, $7,740 more than Black members and $7,510 more than Asian members. (See Table 3.)
  • About 80% of full-time employees included in the study are white. On average, white members have more experience, but there are too few employees of color to make comparisons controlled for service or experience. (See Table 4.)
  • Pay is stagnant among members hired by Tribune, with most surveyed responding that they have not received a raise since 2019 or earlier. (See Table 15.)
  • More than two-thirds of members said they are under-compensated for their work. (See Table 6)
  • Women were more likely to say they are underpaid. (See Table 7)
  • About a third of members said they work unpaid overtime most weeks and nearly 15% said that happens every week. (See Table 8)
  • In some workplaces, more than one-third of members said they work overtime most weeks. (See Table 9)
  • Nearly a quarter of members said they regularly have trouble completing all of the work that is assigned to them in a 40-hour week. (See Table 10)
  • Women reported they are assigned more work than men. (See Table 11)
  • Nonwhite members reported they are assigned more work than white colleagues. (See Table 12)
  • More than a third of members believe they are affected by a pay disparity in their workplace. (See Table 13)
  • Around 20% of members, including full-time and part-time employees, said they’ve worked a second job in the last two years. (See Table 14)
  • Men and white members were more likely to have received a raise, but 88% of members said they haven’t seen a raise in years, even though a majority have asked for one. (See tables 15 and 16)
  • The average pay of people who said they intend to stay with the company for the foreseeable future or retire in their current job was significantly higher than those who did not, though those members also had greater tenure. (See table 17)

Empty sentiments on equity and inclusion

This analysis shows Tribune’s commitment to racial and gender equity is lacking even as it espouses the importance of diversity in our workplaces and in our coverage of our communities. Tribune has for years allowed compensation disparities between white journalists and BIPOC journalists, as well as men and women in all of our workplaces across the country. We believe that Tribune’s effort to recognize the viewpoints of all of its employees and community stakeholders is admirable, but it is an empty gesture when it continues to allow quantifiable inequalities to exist between its members.

The company launched a diversity and inclusion initiative in 2018, acknowledging that it is an “integral business strategy” for improving the way it recruits and retains talent, builds audiences and increases revenue. It brought together leaders throughout the company to design a diversity recruitment strategy.

It also started a series of monthly communications on diversity and inclusion, and established employee resource groups for employees of color, LGBTQ+ employees and women to discuss and confront issues relevant to them in the workplace.

After the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and killing of Breonna Taylor in 2020 sparked nationwide protests highlighting racism, police brutality and the need for equality, Tribune employees received emails from then-Chief Executive Officer Terry Jimenez acknowledging the pain many, particularly Black employees, were feeling. In Guild-led efforts, many workplaces formed local committees to address issues of racial equity in our coverage of the news.

That summer, while many of the company’s journalists were furloughed, the company also placed full-page ads stating that “the issues of race, police brutality and equality will continue to be at the forefront of our minds and our coverage.”

In August 2020, employees received an email from Vice President of Human Resources Jean Nechvatal marking Women’s Equality Day, encouraging them to learn more about the work of activists including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Harriet Tubman and Mary Church Terrell in the fight for suffrage. 

In fall 2020, the company required employees to attend mandatory diversity and inclusion training on the awareness and prevention of unconscious bias and fostering an inclusive work environment. 

Other nods to diversity included emails marking National Hispanic Heritage Month and offering support for Asian American and Pacific Islander employees as violence against members of those groups spiked and panel discussions on best practices for ensuring diverse coverage and about the racial reckoning following Floyd’s murder.

Through all of this, Tribune has paid women and journalists of color thousands less on average than their white male colleagues.

In contract bargaining for the majority of TNG/CWA units represented in this study, the Guild asked Tribune to commit to take action to improve diversity and show its work.

The Guild asked Tribune to agree to report annually on its performance in hiring and retaining diverse employees and annually complete the American Society of News Editors report on diversity in the newsroom.

We also asked Tribune to actively recruit from underrepresented groups such as people of African American and Hispanic descent, Native Americans, Alaska Natives and women for all union-eligible positions. We asked the company to commit to a goal of having 35% of its workforce made up of people from minority groups.

To accomplish this, we’ve asked Tribune to agree to recruit minority candidates by posting job and internship opportunities on the websites of the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association, Association of LGBTQ Journalists, The Maynard Institute and the Journalism Diversity Project.

We’ve asked Tribune to strive to build relationships to recruit alumni of historically Black colleges and universities and other institutions with minorities well-represented in the student body.

And the Guild has asked Tribune to agree to have workplace managers meet with union members on a regular basis to discuss diversity and inclusion in each workplace.

The company tentatively agreed to meet with union members to talk about diversity in its workplaces but would only commit that recommendations developed in these meetings would be “considered by newsroom management” while refusing any measurable goals.

Likewise, company bargainers refused to agree to recruit from organizations representing BIPOC journalists, instead allowing only that management would “look for appropriate opportunities to encourage employees from traditionally underrepresented groups” to apply for workplace bargaining unit positions.

In a cynical attempt to flip the script, a company representative repeatedly told one bargaining committee that the Guild’s commitment to fair and orderly reductions in force, requiring layoffs in reverse order of seniority, is an anti-diversity policy. By requiring the company to lay off its newest employees first, it would harm the company’s efforts to improve diversity, the representative said, ignoring the fact that these deficits have existed for decades.

Overworked and underpaid

Since 2018, Tribune has carried out round after round of buyouts, reducing workplaces that were already shadows of their former selves to skeleton crews. Guild members have felt the pinch as they strive to cover essential news for their communities.

As part of the survey of members’ working conditions, we asked people to describe how their jobs have changed as Tribune drastically reduced its overall workforce. These are some of the responses:

I'm taking up more responsibilities that were previously done by people who left and their spots never filled, plus the duties I was doing before they left.” 

— Jacqui Wedewer, former Tribune Content Guild member

“I first asked for a raise in 2019 when I was given more areas to cover. I was told that although my beat was now larger, I wasn't actually expected to work more and therefore I didn't qualify for a raise. I was also told the new union meant no raises could be given now. When I questioned a male colleague recently being promoted and getting a raise they said that was a separate issue. In February 2020 I was promoted to a role previously held by a senior reporter. I was told the company was working on a title change and pay raise, but I didn't receive the promotion until more than a year later in May 2021.” 

— Christina Tatu, former Morning Call Guild member

“I went six-and-a-half years between pay increases … I cannot overstate how extremely demoralizing it was to be repeatedly turned down for even a modest raise when I continued to improve in my work and pick up new skills. A normal person would not stand for this type of treatment. I fully believe that management takes advantage of the fact that journalists like me are so passionate about their work that we’ll put up with this.” 

— Pamela Wood, Baltimore Sun Guild

“In October 2019, I was told I was on track for a raise, but my bosses wanted to give it a few more months to make certain my work was consistently excellent. I was invited to revisit it in early 2020. When I did, it was shortly after Alden became the majority shareholder and buyouts were being offered and I was told no one was getting a raise. When I asked again last fall, I was told simply ‘no.’ After nine years of no raises, and a permanent 2% pay cut on top of one week's furlough in 2020, my paycheck had become too small to cover my monthly expenses. I had to go on the federal government's mortgage forbearance program for six months in 2020 and cease making mortgage payments altogether while I arranged for a low-interest refinance."

— Mary Carole McCauley, Baltimore Sun Guild

We asked our members what else was on their minds, and it’s clear many are aware of the pay inequities that exist in our workplaces.These are some of the responses:

“Several times in my three-and-a-half years working in Tribune Publishing, I’ve become aware that I, a man, am paid more than women with similar experiences working in near-identical roles. In these instances I have tried to help my female colleagues bargain for equal pay, but that shouldn’t be part of my job and definitely shouldn’t be part of theirs. Tribune should pay all it’s employees fairly. We shouldn’t even have to ask.” 

— Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant Guild

“It seems pretty obvious that the younger you are, the more likely you are to be underpaid. And this needs to be addressed.” 

— Wendy Fox Weber, Suburban Chicago Tribune Guild

“I believe the pay grades should reflect the increases in costs of living, especially in places like Orlando, where the cost of living is rising rapidly. My rent increased last year to nearly half of my take-home pay.” 

— Katie Rice, Orlando Sentinel Guild

Our demands

We’re calling on Tribune to create a more equitable work environment for all — one that doesn't discriminate on the basis of race or gender.

We ask the company to take concrete and measurable steps to address the lack of diversity in our workplaces and make good on its talk about its commitment to diversity and inclusion. These include tracking and reporting on the state of diversity at its workplaces, concerted efforts to recruit and hire diverse candidates and working with Guild members on issues of diversity and inclusion at each workplace.

We also expect that when the subject of wages is on the bargaining table, Tribune will bargain in good faith and accept the Guild’s proposals for a pay scale that puts all unionized employees on equal footing with regard to the type of work they do and their experience in their fields.

How we created this report

This study combines both pay data provided by Tribune Publishing and a survey of members conducted by the unions in more than a dozen unionized workplaces across the company. The Chicago Tribune and newsrooms represented under Gary and Pioneer Press are the only unionized newsrooms not represented in the data.

We obtained data for 384 employees represented by units through information requests to the company by individual units. Because this study is focused specifically on full-time editorial employees, most of the pay data represented in this study does not include part-time or non-editorial employees.

Most of the data is current as of March 1, 2021, to include raises, hires and separations before Alden Global Capital acquired the company, and it doesn’t represent the most recent round of buyouts in June 2021. Individual units updated their most recent information requests from the company with raises and separations their units had been informed of. One full-time editorial employee whose unit did not have salary information for yet is not included.

Each unit was responsible for handling raw pay data. Survey responses were compiled by a handful of members of the joint unit task force, and individual units were given access to survey responses by their members. Units determined their own data handling processes to manually merge the two data sets.

No file with names and salaries for all units exists, and no names attached to salaries were shared beyond units. Units provided an anonymized data file to the joint team, which was handled by former Tidewater Guild member Ellery Jones and Morning Call Guild member Peter Hall, along with NewsGuild staff members Malcolm Emerich and Hil O’Connell, who were the only people with access and who joined them into a cross-unit anonymized file and analyzed data. Pay data was analyzed using Google Sheets and JASP open-source statistical software.

For full-time employees, pay data was annualized assuming a 2,080-hour work year. Because job titles varied greatly between units, employees were grouped into five broad categories (editorial assistant, non-editorial, production/web, reporter and visual journalist) by representatives of individual units based on their knowledge of their co-workers’ job responsibilities.

About 73% of members represented by the joint units filled out the survey. We believe the results of the survey to fairly and accurately reflect the situation of the workplaces at large. A majority of Guild-represented employees in every workplace filled out the survey.

This is reflected in the demographics of survey respondents as well. About 45% of respondents were women, compared to 42% of the workplaces. About 81% were white, compared to 78% of the workplaces. About 50% were categorized as reporters, compared to 46% of the workplaces.

Individual unit data files were shared via email with Jones, who used Excel to combine and standardize the files. Full-time editorial pay data was additionally analyzed using Google Sheets.

Appendix

1. Median full-time editorial employee pay by gender, average experience in journalism

Gender

Median yearly pay

Years of experience in journalism/media
(rounded to nearest whole number)

Breakdown of employees

Female

$47,347.60

13.7

40.6%

Male

$55,702.40

21.6

58.9%

Other

$44,252.00

9.5

0.5%

Grand total

$52,998.40

18.1

100%

 Return to key findings

2. Median full-time employee pay by experience in journalism/media and gender

 

Total years of experience in journalism/media (rounded to nearest whole number)

Female median yearly pay

Male median yearly pay

Grand total

0-4

$42,016.00

$40,310.40

$40,508.00

5-9

$46,508.80

$47,507.20

$47,008.00

10-14

$49,000.02

$47,819.20

$47,992.80

15-20

$48,006.40

$55,993.60

$54,999.98

> 20

$64,750.40

$61,199.63

$62,215.12

Grand total

$47,008.00

$54,999.78

$51,001.60

Return to Key Findings

3. Median full-time editorial employee pay by race, average experience in journalism

 

Race

Median yearly pay

Average total years of experience in journalism/media (rounded to nearest whole number)

Percent of employees with data

Asian

$46,485.92

16.0

2.6%

Black

$46,259.20

13.9

8.1%

Hispanic or Latino

$49,462.40

15.2

7.6%

Other

White

$53,996.80

18.9

80.4%

Grand total

$51,001.60

18.0

100%

 Return to Key Findings

4. Responses by race

 

Race

Percentage of responses

Percentage of employees

Asian

3%

2%

Black

8%

11%

Hispanic or Latino

8%

7%

Other

1%

1%

White

80%

78%

Grand total

100%

100%

Return to Key Findings

5. Median full-time editorial pay by years with company as of March 1, 2021

 

Years with company

Median yearly pay

Number of employees

0-1

$46,009.60

72

2-3

$47,008.00

79

4-5

$47,985.60

49

6-7

$54,999.89

30

8-10

$60,000.00

31

>10

$65,062.40

111

Grand total

$52,998.40

372

 Return to Key Findings

6. Do you feel your pay adequately reflects the work you're doing?

 

Responses

Percentage of responses

Pay adequately reflects work

9.49%

Pay somewhat reflects work

23.05%

Pay undercompensates work

67.46%

Grand total

100%

 Return to Key Findings

7. Do you feel your pay adequately reflects the work you're doing, by gender

 

Gender

Pay adequately reflects work

Pay somewhat reflects work

Pay undercompensates work

Female

7.52%

18.05%

74.44%

Male

11.25%

27.50%

61.25%

Grand total

9.49%

23.05%

67.46%

  Return to Key Findings

8. How often do you work more than 40 hours a week?

 

Responses

Percentage of responses

A few times each quarter

38.64%

Every week

14.92%

I never have

5.42%

Most weeks

31.86%

Once or twice a year

9.15%

Grand total

100%

 Return to Key Findings

9. How often do you work more than 40 hours a week, by unit

 

Unit

A few times each quarter

Every week

I never have

Most weeks

Once or twice a year

Baltimore Sun Guild

43%

17%

4%

28%

9%

Chesapeake News Guild

35%

9%

22%

26%

9%

Chicago Suburbs

29%

14%

7%

36%

14%

Daily Meal Guild

25%

0%

25%

25%

25%

Design Production Studio Guild

51%

8%

0%

33%

8%

Hartford Courant Guild

34%

34%

3%

28%

0%

Morning Call Guild

47%

17%

3%

30%

3%

Orlando Sentinel Guild

26%

6%

3%

58%

6%

Tidewater Media Guild

45%

8%

5%

33%

10%

Tribune Content Guild

20%

28%

8%

16%

28%

Grand total

39%

15%

5%

32%

9%

  Return to Key Findings

10. Is it hard to do the work that your boss expects you to do in 40 hours a week?

 

Responses

Percentage of responses

Never

17.63%

Regularly

23.39%

Sometimes

58.98%

Grand total

100%

 Return to Key Findings

11. How many hours do you believe you would need to work in an average week to complete all the work assigned to you, by gender?

 

Gender

Responses (in hours)

Female

44.69

Male

43.32

Grand total

43.96

  Return to Key Findings

12. How many hours do you believe you would need to work in an average week to complete all the work assigned to you, by race?

 

Race

Responses (in hours)

Asian

44.38

Black

44

Hispanic or Latino

45.48

Other

38.25

White

43.89

Grand total

43.96

 Return to Key Findings

13. Do you feel you are affected by a wage gap or disparity in your workplace?

 

Responses

Percentage of responses

No

18.46%

Not sure

43.96%

Yes

37.58%

Grand total

100%

  Return to Key Findings

14. Do you or have you worked a second job at any point since Jan. 1, 2019 (for full-time employees hired before March 1, 2019)?

 

Responses

Percentage of responses

No

80.46%

Yes

19.54%

Grand total

100%

  Return to Key Findings

15. Have you gotten a raise since Jan. 1, 2019, by gender

 

Gender

No

Yes, after I asked for one

Yes, after I used another job offer to negotiate

Yes, but I didn't ask for one

Yes, but I didn't ask for one, No

Female

90.23%

5.26%

0.00%

4.51%

0.00%

Male

86.88%

4.38%

1.25%

6.88%

0.63%

Grand total

88.14%

4.75%

1.02%

5.76%

0.34%

   Return to Key Findings

16. Have you gotten a raise since Jan. 1, 2019, by race

 

Race

No

Yes, after I asked for one

Yes, after I used another job offer to negotiate

Yes, but I didn't ask for one

Yes, but I didn't ask for one, No

Asian

87.50%

0.00%

0.00%

12.50%

0.00%

Black

85.00%

5.00%

0.00%

10.00%

0.00%

Hispanic or Latino

83.33%

4.17%

0.00%

12.50%

0.00%

Other

White

89.12%

4.60%

1.26%

4.60%

0.42%

Grand total

88.14%

4.75%

1.02%

5.76%

0.34%

 Return to Key Findings

17. How long do you plan to stay in your workplace, by average pay

 

Responses

Average of yearly pay 

A year or two 

$47,765.16

For the foreseeable future 

$54,468.40

I hope to retire here 

$61,479.10

I'm actively seeking other opportunities 

$48,564.66

It depends on what other opportunities I encounter 

$49,976.94

Did not respond 

$53,049.37

Grand total 

$52,332.69

 Return to Key Findings