Media Briefing: Publishers and media unions are still haggling over office-return plans heading into the summer

On this week’s Media Briefing, senior media reporter Sara Guaglione stories on how unions at some main media corporations are pushing again towards publishers’ return to workplace mandates, with The New York Occasions Guild seemingly netting a victory on Wednesday.

Returning to the negotiating desk

The important thing hits:

  • Media unions at The New York Occasions, Hearst, NBC Information and Dotdash Meredith proceed to push for work-from-home flexibility and towards return-to-office mandates.
  • The unions declare administration wants to barter the phrases of those insurance policies earlier than they are often enacted.
  • These publishers reiterated their dedication to the well being and security of their workers, and lots of claimed that perceived return to workplace mandates will not be the case.

The New York Occasions notified workers yesterday that its necessary workplace return set for June had been placed on pause. The announcement might be seen as a (short-term) victory for the Occasions’ union, which is among the many media unions which are pushing again towards media corporations’ return to workplace mandates. And it appears to be at one other turning level for New York Metropolis: well being officers there established a “excessive Covid alert” for the world on Tuesday, however didn’t go as far as put one other masks mandate in place.

The unions, that are represented by the NewsGuild of New York and the Writers Guild of America, East, declare that administration at these publishers should first negotiate the phrases of a compulsory return to workplace coverage with the unions earlier than they are often applied. Administration at these corporations, however, reiterated their dedication to workers’ well being and security and work flexibility.

Again in January, Digiday reported on the return to in-person work shaping as much as be the newest battleground for media unions. 4 months later, this nonetheless appears to be the case at various unions, as members proceed to barter on points akin to RTO mandates and increasing work-from-home flexibility, and corporations urge workers to return again into the workplace this summer time.

The New York Occasions

Like the opposite media unions, The New York Occasions Guild, which is affiliated with the NewsGuild, took to Twitter to push again towards The Occasions’ necessary return to workplace set for June 6. The union carried out a social media marketing campaign towards this determination, with members tweeting the identical message on April 21: “The @nytimes is pressuring us to return to the workplace in June. However RTO have to be agreed on with @NYTimesGuild as a part of our contract. I hope administration involves the desk immediately able to pretty negotiate on all the problems that matter to us, together with wages, advantages and RTO.”

On Wednesday afternoon, The Occasions despatched a word to employees asserting a pause to its return to workplace plan, attributable to “the town’s steerage and the recommendation of our well being specialists,” in line with a replica of the memo {that a} Occasions spokesperson shared with Digiday. The corporate additionally mentioned it’s “now strongly recommending that workers put on masks in frequent areas,” akin to elevators, assembly rooms, restrooms, and pantries and in “different areas the place social distancing shouldn’t be doable.”

Negotiations between the union and administration are ongoing, a spokesperson for NewsGuild of New York mentioned.


Hearst requires workers to return into the workplace two days every week (both on Monday and Tuesday or Wednesday and Thursday, relying on assigned groups.) Managers are accountable for making certain workers are coming into the workplace on their designated days. Nevertheless, Hearst Union, which is affiliated with WGA, East and represents Hearst Magazines’ editorial, video, design, photograph and social employees, remains to be bargaining with the publishers on RTO phrases, in line with a Hearst Union member.

Hearst and Hearst Union are “haggling over a couple of vital gadgets in our RTO proposal, together with the phrases of severance for individuals who can’t be vaccinated for medical causes, work-from-home flexibility, COVID testing and monitoring parameters, and alternate technique of becoming a member of in-office conferences,” the union member mentioned.

Hearst Union tweeted on May 12 that it had made progress on the bargaining desk. The union received “in writing” that administration will present hand sanitizer and masks within the workplace, mentioned a member of Hearst Union, who mentioned lots of the dispensers weren’t working and masks have been troublesome to seek out. (A Hearst Magazines spokesperson mentioned hand sanitizers and masks have been accessible on the workplace since July 2020.) 

“Our constructing inhabitants is totally vaccinated and thru all of our return to workplace planning, the protection and well-being of our workers has remained our high precedence,” the spokesperson mentioned. 

NBC Information

Unions just like the NBC Guild, which is affiliated with the NewsGuild of New York and represents digital information workers at NBC Information, have made some progress of their requires continued work flexibility. 

NBCU Information Group members are at the moment in a position to enter the workplace voluntarily, an NBC Information spokesperson mentioned. In a network-wide city corridor to all workers in January, Cesar Conde, chairman of the NBCUniversal Information Group (which incorporates NBC Information), reiterated that the plan was to proceed to permit workers to return into the workplace voluntarily and that ultimately, the corporate would transition to a hybrid, versatile working surroundings, in line with remarks shared with Digiday.

Nevertheless, the NBC Guild tweeted on April 26 that NBC Information administration had requested two groups within the streaming division to be again within the workplace the primary week of Could, which was confirmed by an NBC Guild member. The union shared its stance on Twitter: “We urge @NBCNews to retract any RTO mandates, cease pressuring workers to return, reiterate a dedication to its bargaining obligations, and have interaction in good religion on the bargaining desk with a substantive counter proposal on distant work.” A day later, administration walked again its request for these two groups to work from the workplace, the NBC Guild member mentioned.

When contacted for remark, an NBC Information spokesperson mentioned: “We stay dedicated to a versatile and hybrid office. There’s not, and has by no means been, a mandate or necessary return to the workplace.”

Negotiations are ongoing round a return to workplace plan for union members, the NBC Guild member mentioned. “We wish to see a plan for a way this can work, however we haven’t seen it but. [Management] hasn’t given us a plan but — they’ve solely described it in unfastened phrases,” they mentioned.

Dotdash Meredith

At Dotdash Meredith, there’s a disagreement between the union and administration on the flexibleness of the corporate’s work-from-home coverage. In an e mail despatched to Dotdash Meredith workers on March 23 — a replica of which was shared with Digiday — CEO Neil Vogel wrote, “The default variety of days to be within the workplace is three days every week. These will be days of your selecting. That is NOT an edict that applies to everybody — people and teams could have totally different preparations.” 

However the Dotdash Meredith Union claims firm administration imposed a return-to-office plan with out reaching an settlement with the union. A Dotdash Meredith spokesperson declined to touch upon the report concerning the flexibleness and enforcement of its return to workplace coverage. Whereas the workplace return insurance policies are versatile, it’s as much as particular person managers to set expectations for workers’ in-office attendance, a Dotdash Meredith worker mentioned.

“I’m in a privileged place the place the steerage is imprecise sufficient that a minimum of my understanding is I can get away with not being there three days every week… [My boss] is offering some leeway for me and others on the workforce,” the worker mentioned. — Sara Guaglione

What we’ve heard

“Our tech purchasers proceed to be challenged by provide chain constraints. CPG and retail are battling comparable challenges whereas additionally navigating rising inflation. Consequently, some advertisers are pulling again or delaying spending. Additional, these market-wide points are dampening the standard seasonal carry in pricing we might count on from Q1 to Q2, presenting some headwinds to programmatic promoting income.”

BuzzFeed CFO Felicia DellaFortuna in the course of the firm’s Q1 2022 earnings name on Could 16

Manufacturers aren’t essentially prioritizing livestream buying, however the outcomes from the experiments they’ve performed point out openings for publishers to not solely increase manufacturers’ shoppable audiences but additionally assist manufacturers to handle the operation of stay streams and keep away from model security pitfalls.

“From a monetary perspective, because it’s fairly new, it’s not a high precedence. However I believe while you add all of it up, and also you have a look at the worth that it brings to create a neighborhood and a way of belief and an emotional connection, it’s very excessive up on the listing for us,” mentioned Janna Ronert, founding father of IMAGE Skincare, which has been producing shoppable stay streams for its merchandise about as soon as every week for the previous 18 months.

IMAGE Skincare’s stay streams have all been hosted by means of Bambuser, a stay stream buying vendor, and printed on the corporate’s web site. Whereas this has labored in getting round 1,000 viewers on common, in line with Ronert, working with a writer is enticing if it will probably assist the model to extend its potential viewers dimension in addition to to get new expertise, like celebrities or make-up artists, in entrance of the digicam.

Working with publishers on stay stream buying campaigns can also be interesting to manufacturers that don’t have the time or employees to determine the operations of a stay stream, however do wish to get into this style of commerce, in line with Seth Hargrave, CEO of media shopping for company Media Two Interactive.

Model security is a priority amongst manufacturers eyeing stay buying. Through the Digiday Commerce Week City Corridor on Tuesday — carried out underneath Chatham Home Rule so Digiday may share what was mentioned whereas sustaining the executives’ anonymity — an attendee mentioned that they had examined livestream buying twice by means of commerce platforms and had model questions of safety in every occasion. In a single case, an influencer didn’t converse precisely concerning the attendee’s merchandise, and within the different, the model internet hosting the stay stream didn’t align with the attendee’s model values.

Having the authority and editorial oversight that comes from a publishers’ stay stream buying product “would assist offload the manufacturing and provide a greater manufacturing worth,” mentioned the participant, and so long as “who’s watching it [is a] proper match, it appears like a improbable alternative.” — Kayleigh Barber

Numbers to know

>14 million: Variety of energetic digital subscriptions throughout The New York Occasions, The Wall Road Journal and The Washington Submit.

100,000: Quantity of people that signed up for a Vogue e mail publication within the week following its Met Gala protection.

$300 million: How a lot cash Recurrent Ventures has raised in its newest funding spherical.

What we’ve coated

BuzzFeed Inc. income up by 26% regardless of hits to commerce enterprise, expects comparable momentum in Q2:

  • BuzzFeed’s promoting and content material income elevated yr over yr within the first quarter of 2022, however its commerce income dropped.
  • The corporate expects Q2 income to high $100 million, however its programmatic advert income will face some headwinds.

Learn extra about BuzzFeed’s Q1 2022 earnings report right here.

Inside Hearst UK’s multi-pronged method to third-party cookie replacements:

  • Hearst UK has examined cookie options starting from 50,000-person viewers panels to newer choices like clear rooms and information matching.
  • The writer’s head of business technique and perception Faye Turner and head of digital Ryan Buckley have been the friends on this week’s Digiday Podcast.

Hearken to the newest Digiday Podcast episode right here.

How the layoffs at Upcomer present the challenges of public possession in esports media:

  • A yr after buying dormant esports media outlet Upcomer, Fanatic Gaming laid off the majority of its editorial employees.
  • The father or mother firm’s executives repeatedly reset the publication’s targets, requiring Upcomer employees to hit metrics that they felt have been almost unimaginable.

Learn extra about esports media layoffs right here.

Podcast manufacturing corporations and platforms pitch numerous audiences and advert focusing on enhancements at IAB’s Podcast Upfront:

  • The IAB forecasted podcast advert income to surpass $2 billion in 2022.
  • The podcast business is totally embracing dynamically-inserted adverts.

Learn extra about IAB’s Podcast Upfront right here.

What we’re studying

Candle Media’s ATTN: grab:
Former Disney executives Kevin Mayer’s and Tom Staggs’ media firm Candle Media has agreed to pay $150 million to accumulate digital video writer ATTN:, in line with Axios.

Newsroom leaders’ silence stance on Roe v. Wade:
Information retailers together with Axios, NPR and Vox requested their journalists to not share their private opinions on abortion following Politico’s report on a Supreme Court docket draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, in line with Self-importance Truthful.

Bloomberg’s latest subscriber count:
Bloomberg Media now has 380,000 subscribers, in line with Adweek. That determine is up from 370,000 subscribers in March, and roughly two-thirds of Bloomberg’s subscribers pay full worth for a subscription.

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