Fourteen labour reporting pieces were produced for Media Works. All of them critically engage with labour issues and many of them focus on work in the media sector. Check out these great audio documentaries, long-form articles and graphic journalism pieces below:

Trans Labour Rights in Broadcasting

NCRA Station: CFUV, Victoria

Produced, researched, edited by Liz McArthur

Does gender impact the professional life of people working within the media in Victoria? Through interviews with two transgender broadcasters, we will look at what it means to transition in the public eye and how gender does or does not affect the professional life of two people working in campus/community and commercial radio. A human rights expert, Women’s Collective Coordinator, and MP Randall Garrison also talk about their work in connection with transgender labour rights.

Speaking the Unspoken

NCRA Station: CKUT, Montreal

Produced by Tiffany Lam and Carolin Huang. Music editing by Jacob Spitzer.

Speaking the Unspoken aims to critically examine McGill University’s celebrated employment practices. It focuses mainly on issues of employment “casualization” and racial discrimination. Though human rights complaints, union strikes, and disputes over McGill’s employment practices have been recurrent, many individual employees are concerned that voicing their experiences may result in repercussions due to their employment precarity. This documentary thus seeks to challenge McGill’s monopoly over what can be seen and heard about the institution’s practices, reclaiming the conversation on employment discrimination that has been strained, at best. In circulating these discussions with employees, union members and community organizers, we hope that this project will incite more conversations and actions to address the systemic issues in employment at McGill.

Living Wages and Equity in British Columbia

NCRA Station: CJSF, Burnaby

Obediya W. Jones-Darrell, Madeline Taylor and Maegan Thomas

We began our project interested in what members of the leadership of community radio in Canada knew and thought about the idea of a living wage. We were also interested in contextualizing wage and labour practices in community radio in the wider community (grassroots or volunteer driven) media labour landscape. To do this we spoke to station staff across the country, leaders of other community media organizations, and researchers of various labour areas, from various critical points of view. In that process, what drew our attention were the voices speaking to what wage based equity strategies do not address, and what they may exacerbate. These voices are calling for a conversation and we tried our best here to hear and engage. So this is not so much a document of explanation. It is a document of where this team of producers are at this point in time in our thinking and knowledge about the living wage and labour equity in the context of the NCRA.

We’d like to note creating this document taught us invaluable lessons about nearly every level of community media production practice. We look forward to continuing these lessons and conversations in more depth. Thank you to Media Works for this opportunity, and thank you so much for listening.

The Growth of Feminism in Local 832

NCRA Station: CKUW, Winnipeg

Written and produced by Scott Price. Production help from Kent Davies.

This radio documentary looks at the growth of feminism in United Food and Commercial Workers local 832.When one looks at United Food and Commercial Workers local 832 today you will see a large amount of women involved in the local. From rank and file members, union reps, the executive board and the union executive itself. While today we may take this for granted this was not always the case. Starting in the late 1970s feminist activists started to push and change the situation for women in UFCW local 832. What was going on in UFCW local 832 mirrors what was happening in the union movement across Canada. It was through feminist activists struggles both within the workplace and within unions that brought about significant change that we can see today. The documentary is based on work that has been ongoing at the Oral History Center at the University of Winnipeg on UFCW local 832.

Starting Up

NCRA Station: The Scope, Toronto

Produced and edited by Arman Aghbali. Supervised by Elissa Matthews

Starting Up examines the world of early startups as they edge their way from obscurity to supremacy. The documentary follows Rachel Pautler and her team at Suncayr, alongside Sami Dalati and Anna Hu at Brizi, each with a unique idea and potential. Together they describe the life of a startup founder, including the long hours, the personal sacrifice and sheer dedication needed to be successful.

But the doc goes beyond startups and explores our cultural fascination with tech innovation and entrepreneurship. Experts explain why startups have become a sort of talisman for Canadian politicians, and how students came to clamour for entrepreneurial programs at universities. Plus how do we address an industry that lacks diversity and people willing to fund these early companies, the latter of which has led many a founder to move south of the border.

Starting Up finds the spot in between the startup lifestyle and why we want to have it.

Journalism and the Golden Age of Multitasking

CUP Paper: The Lambda, Sudbury

Kayla Perry

From print publications moving to primarily online content, to publications’ staff being laid off in numbers too big to bear, journalism is changing: in an industry once loaded with fact checkers, multiple levels of editors and design teams, the average journalist has gone from one person, sitting at a desk with a telephone and a typewriter, to an all-talented media guru, who must possesses the ability to not only conduct interviews and write articles, but also take photos, shoot video, edit footage, fact-check, proof read, and layout their articles, all while maintaining a strong social media presence. In “The Golden age of journalism, and its replacement by the golden age of multitasking,” Canadian University Press freelancer Kayla Perry speaks to the evolution of journalism. After speaking with two former full-time journalists, Perry discusses the trials and tribulations of modern-day journalism, and the many ways in which the industry has changed.

New Ways to the Newsroom

CUP Paper: The Fulcrum, Ottawa

Sabrina Nemis

The quarter life crisis is real. Students graduate from university and find themselves with little practical experience to make them employable. Naysayers tell them there aren’t any jobs in journalism anyway. Can a student journalist successfully make the leap from campus publication to professional media?

Speaking with young media workers who have already made the transition, “New ways to the newsroom” looks at how students can make the best use of their time in the student media before graduation.

When Numbers Speak, He Listens

CUP Paper: The Meliorist, Lethbridge

Ryan Macfarlane

This article explores the rules that govern “sessional lecturers” at the University of Lethbridge, a university located in the small town of Lethbridge in southern Alberta. Sessional lecturers, also often called “adjuct” or “contract” professors, made the headlines in 2014 when CBC aired its radio documentary “Class Struggle,” which explored the often perilous working conditions faced by many sessional lecturers. Concerned that something similar may be occurring at the U of L, faculty brought the documentary up at a meeting of the general faculties, only to learn that the U of L had, some years prior, already drafted a sessional lecturers handbook. Ryan interviews Dr. Christopher J. Nicol, who was part of the negotiating team involved in drafting the handbook, about a range of topics, including how universities help shape their academic culture through their policies.”

Unpaid and Unreported:  The structural violence in media internships

CUP Paper: The Strand, Toronto

Amanda Aziz

For an industry with too much demand than a supply, to get a position, one must obtain experience. To obtain experience, one should work. To work in an industry like journalism, one is discretely encouraged to work unpaid. In a field with openings for entry-level positions calling for a minimum of 2-5 years of experience, employers put unpaid internships on a high pedestal, despite issues with legality. Unfortunately, this value of unpaid internships marginalizes those who cannot afford such an experience, due to facing competition with prospective workers who can afford to work unpaid, making it an act of structural violence. Yet, with the lack of reporting and research on this systemic inequality comes the lack of policy changes to prevent employers offering unpaid internships. When the diversity of the employees is at risk, this culture of silence of unpaid work in the media is in desperate need of exposure.”

Map: Toronto Resources for Emerging Media Workers

Jennifer Johnston, Toronto

This map is for the purpose of assisting those desiring a career in print publishing (i.e. journalists, authors, graphic designers, layout designers, printers and editors) find assistance with embarking on their media careers.  It may be perceived that this is a small industry with little opportunity. I hope this map proves otherwise.

Canadian journalism schools and the internship issue . . . Work for pay or pay to work?

Sara Tatelman, Toronto

April 2014 was indeed the cruelest month for student media interns in Ontario. The Ministry of Labour shut down unpaid internships at Toronto Life and The Walrus at the end of March, citing violations of the provincial Employment Standards Act. Within the next few weeks, magazines across the province, from Chatelaine to Canadian Geographic, had followed suit. On one hand, this is fantastic news––all workers should be fairly compensated. But some interns, those receiving school credits, retained their lowly positions and lowlier pay. The Employment Standards Act states that this exception should “encourage employers to provide students … with practical training to complement their classroom learning.” Fair enough, but for the most part, these students are still paying tuition. And so instead of only working for free, they are paying for the privilege.

(Dis)liking Digital Copyright Demands

Errol Salamon, Toronto

Freelance journalists in Canada have been using digital communications along with traditional communication to collectively organize against rights-grabbing contracts. Under these contracts, freelancers would have to waive their moral rights and grant their employers full copyright across all of their brands, in all languages, on all platforms, for eternity. In 2013, L’Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec and the Canadian Media Guild formed a national coalition with other writers’ organizations and initiated a social media campaign against a TC Media contract. These struggles over freelancers’ digital rights can be traced to the mid-1990s: When print publications began to electronically reproduce, transfer, and sell thousands of freelancers’ articles without their permission or paying them extra, the writers filed several class-action lawsuits. These lawsuits led to rights-grabbing contracts, the collective organization of freelancers into and alongside trade unions, and online platforms such as StoryBoard.ca, which enable freelancers to publically air their grievances.

Diversity in the Media: The unpaid labour story

Maggie Reid, Toronto

This article explores the role played by campus and community media training in leading to stable journalism work in a time where the field is becoming an increasingly professionalized and precarious career path.

By interviewing two aspiring media workers, who have gained the bulk of their experience in community media, this piece examines the type of media making that is promoted and encouraged at the campus/community level as well as how they feel their experience has been viewed by prospective employers. Are campus and community media organizations able to serve the function of breaking down barriers to the accessibility of the media labour market?

The rise of precarious and unpaid labour coupled with the need for post-secondary education for employment in the media industries has led to many problems surrounding equity and diversity in the journalism fields. Who can afford to work for free? Often those that can work for free are in positions of privilege or have support systems available to them. What is the significance of certain voices being left out?

Unpaid Internships: A moral dilemma for journalism students and the media community

Zoe Melnyk, Toronto

This article looks at the struggles students are facing with trying to find work experience but being forced into unpaid internships and the injustice of working for no pay. This article is an in-depth look at first year students in the fields of Journalism, Radio and Television Arts, and Film and the pressures these students face to find internships and develop “work experience”.

The students share their experiences with their unpaid internships. They also go into detail about the amount of work and hours put into the job without receiving any kind of financial benefit.

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