Union hails Newsquest's "incredibly talented & dedicated reporters" at Gannett AGM
Amy Fenton being interviewed - © Private
17 May 2019
NUJ representatives travelled to Washington DC to call for US media giant Gannett and its shareholders to take into account the views of its 800 employees at Newsquest in the UK.
NUJ Northern and Midlands senior organiser Chris Morley, who is also Newsquest group coordinator for the union, flew over to the US with Newsquest workplace representative Amy Fenton who is chief reporter at The Mail in Cumbria.
Having obtained a small number of Gannett shares, Chris was entitled to attend the firm's shareholders annual meeting in McLean, Virginia, and proxy representation was obtained for Amy.
They were both eligible to ask a question of the Gannett board and speak in front of the company's shareholders, executives and employees.
Chris highlighted the NUJ's concerns over a hostile takeover bid of Gannett by the hedge fund-controlled newspaper company MNG Enterprises.
Gannett shareholders voted to reject MNG Enterprises' board nominees which followed an unsolicited offer to acquire Gannett for $12 a share in January.
MNG's failure to secure seats on Gannett's board reflects a significant setback in its efforts.
Chris Morley warned shareholders against allowing MNG to make "reckless and savage cost-cutting simply for short-term profits" and highlighted the poor pay the company's UK journalists were enduring after years of no cost of living pay rises.
Amy Fenton made an impassioned plea to the audience and explained how she had travelled to Washington to ask shareholders to consider Gannett's "incredibly talented and dedicated reporters" in any decisions they make.
"I've travelled all the way from England to be here today because amid all the uncertainty and confusion facing our industry I wanted to act as a reminder that you have some incredibly talented and dedicated reporters, here and in the UK, who work their socks off, but ultimately we do that because we love the papers we work for and the communities we serve.
"I'm here to ask you to bear in mind those committed journalists when considering any changes to the company."
The NUJ delegation was supported by Bernard Lunzer, president of the American NewsGuild Association, along with Tony Daley from the Communication Workers of America union. Bernard praised Gannett for taking a stand against the MNG nominees and said: "I applaud Gannett for still believing in sustainable journalism...It is a hard task right now. We believe there is a strong future."