CANADALAND has obtained the following document, marked as “intended only for members of the Local 87-M bargaining unit at the Globe & Mail” and containing direct passages from a proposal presented to media union Unifor by Globe and Mail management, vetted by Editor-in-Chief David Walmsley. It appears to confirm what was previously reported by J-Source and The Albatross: Globe management wants journalists to generate articles directly paid for and approved by advertisers, or at least is asking for such as a feint in the bargaining process.
Here is the document in its entirety:
Company wants Editorial staff to produce “branded content”
Globe executives want to monetize the integrity and reputations of The Globe and Mail’s journalists – the same award-winning reporters and editors that management proudly (and rightly) claims are vital to the enterprise’s future as a powerful, independent, fearless and profitable news organization.
Under the company proposal, editorial staff would be assigned to write or produce advertiser sponsored “branded content” (i.e. native advertising) that is vetted by the advertiser prior to publication and held out to readers as staff-written content.
That content cannot offend a paying advertiser’s specific opinions and corporate interests or it will be changed.
You can read the company’s own memo (below) of how it claims it can make this work.
But the bottom line seems obvious. Hiring out our journalists to corporate interests compromises the integrity of Globe editorial staff, regardless of whether they continue to work at the Globe or elsewhere.
This proposal was presented to us by editorial management and has been vetted by the Editor-in-Chief.
Here’s the company’s position in its own words.
Negotiations resume June 9.
I am writing in order to clarify the Employer’s latest position with regard to their view on bargaining unit employees engaging in Advertiser-sponsored work.
First, the Employer has stated that protecting The Globe’s brand – its integrity and the integrity of its employees – is the Employer’s primary interest.
As this can be a complicated subject, I will start by defining the different types of work associated with advertisers:
1. Custom Content: This is work that advertisers sponsor but do not direct or approve. Reporters and Editors already work on Custom Content work. Ex. Canada’s Top 100 Employers in the ROB
2. Branded Content: Print and digital content that is approved by the advertiser but is not about the advertiser. Ex. Native Advertising and Dogs Annual Magazine
3. Advertorial: This is work that is always approved by the advertiser and is always about the advertiser.
The Employer proposes the following for bargaining unit production and content creators:
Production Employees – Production Employees will be responsible for editing and posting all of this work so long as the employee finds that there is not a direct conflict of interest apparent in them doing the work. Specifically, a copy editor will not be asked to edit a piece that would create a conflict of interest to their current work. For example, an investment editor would not be asked to edit a piece on the Bank of Montreal.
Content Creators– Content Creators will be asked to engage in Custom Content work (as per current practice). Content Creators will not be asked to engage in Advertorial work. Content Creators may be asked to work on Branded Content, so long as that work does not pose a conflict of interest. The following test will be applied to determine if a conflict of interest exists for a Content Creator:
Step 1: Does the assignment pose a conflict of interest to the Content Creator in regard to the beat that they are currently writing for? If yes, they will not be given the assignment. If no, the Content Creator is responsible for completing the assignment and moves to
Step 2. Step 2: After the advertiser has reviewed it, the Content Creator has a right to pull the assignment if they believe that a conflict of interest exists with regard to changes that the advertiser has made. If there is a conflict of interest, the assignment will be pulled. If not, the assignment will be printed/posted.
It is the Employer’s position that the above test will protect the integrity of The Globe and its employees
This communication is intended only for members of the Local 87-M bargaining unit at the Globe & Mail.