Our Mission Statement
We are the journalists of the Georgia Gannett NewsGuild, composed of two newsrooms — the Savannah Morning News and Athens Banner-Herald. We cover every beat from crime to football to food, but Gannett’s gutting of newsrooms has weakened our ability to adequately cover our communities. So, we are unionizing.
Across the state, journalists and photojournalists have covered hoax school shooting threats, the College Football National Championship and federal raids on lowcountry churches, often working together across newsrooms. We have been tear gassed at rallies, worked through a global pandemic, and done award-winning projects with out-dated gear. We do the job anyway because we are passionate about our communities — we want to hold the powerful accountable, inform participants in our democracy, and lift the voices of the diverse and underrepresented.
This mission, however, has been made difficult to impossible. Unionizing, acting together as a collective to move our vision forward, is the only way for us to address the issues wrought by corporate mismanagement.
In October 2022, Gannett laid off 400 employees, six of whom came from Georgia newsrooms. During the holidays, Gannett paused 401(K) matching, rolled out a mandatory five-day unpaid leave and implemented an indefinite hiring freeze. These cuts come after years of unequal pay, unrealistic workloads, and diminishing morale within our newsrooms.
This has a tangible effect on the community; less time to work on important stories and fewer resources lets basic reporting slip through the cracks. In Savannah, coverage of the beleaguered public school district has suffered because Gannett will not fill the vacant education reporter position, which has sat empty for eight months. When the Athens Banner-Herald moved out of their purpose-built newsroom after 30 years, readers and the community were not informed. Even the day-to-day coverage of government, education and sports has been cut back as we lose reporters to attrition and layoffs. While we are continuously told by Gannett's decision makers that the company values journalism, their cuts, layoffs and lack of cost-living-of raises speaks to the contrary.
We want to retain journalists in our newsroom and the industry, allow our reporters to one day buy homes, and see a return to our papers’ standing as journalistic juggernauts within our respective communities. Through increased investment in our newsrooms, we will be able to focus on why we are really here: to tell stories, uproot corruption, and make the places we live better for everyone.
We consider a union an investment in our newsroom and community. Better pay, better working conditions and a seat at the table through a union will improve not only our lives but our communities as well. We are asking for Gannett to formally recognize our union, but if it does not, we will vote and we will win.
Savannah Morning News - Georgia Gannett NewsGuild
Athens Banner Herald - Georgia Gannett NewsGuild
Andrew N. Shearer