PHOTO: Toronto Star reporters stage a byline strike
Inattentive readers may not necessarily notice, but today’s Toronto Star is full of articles without bylines. (Meaning, rather than the name of the writer, most articles are instead attributed to the generic “Star staff.”)
The lack of author names isn’t an oversight; it’s a what’s known as a byline strike, an organized protest staged by the Star’s union, Unifor Local 87-M. It’s intended as a show of solidarity against a slew of cost-cutting measures at the paper, chiefly the introduction of new “digital reporter” jobs that pay, according to J-Source, about $200 less per week than entry-level jobs at the Star’s print edition. In a memo released yesterday, the union’s leadership calls the move “a direct assault on our contract, union seniority and every assumption we’ve been working under for a decade-plus.” Also at issue are the recent layoffs of 11 page editors.
The strike is timed to coincide with the annual general meeting of the Star’s parent company, Torstar, which just announced a 6.6 per cent drop in quarterly revenue compared to last year. Despite the drop in income, though, the company managed to turn a $7.1 million profit, and its decision to sell off Harlequin is expected to help it wipe out its debt.
The Star’s bylines will be back tomorrow, and it will be back to newspaper business as usual: continual decline.