Labor journalists to look behind the scenes before G-20

Two weeks before the G-20 summit opens in Pittsburgh to discuss the global economic crisis, labor journalists from across the country will be in the Steel City to document what’s really going on with workers without the hype.

More than 100 labor journalists are expected to form a team to create a 48-hour media center Sept. 10-12 to serve as the nerve center of a special project. The project will focus on Pittsburgh’s workers, their organizing and bargaining campaigns, their victories and how their stories illustrate the deep economic shifts sweeping the nation and the world.

The effort by the journalists will be made during the biennial convention of the International labor Communications Association, the group to which the participating labor newspapers, including the Peoples Weekly World, belong.

After a full day of training and a morning of briefings by Pittsburgh activists, the journalists will form teams and fan out over the city to cover workers’ stories.

When they return, they will use the media center to write and post stories, blogs, photo galleries and other media.

ILCA President Steve Stallone says the convention’s slogan, “The Power of Labor Journalists United,” demonstrates the collective power of the labor media when it works together to tell workers’ stories.

“ILCA’s Labor Media Center project will not only show how we can use technology to tell workers’ stories ourselves,” said Stallone, “but also demonstrate the collective power of labor media to both the journalist participants and other unionists. We are the largest alternative media in North America and we need to start having the influence commensurate with that.”

The ILCA organized its first Media Center at the group’s October 2007 convention in New Orleans. There the labor journalists saw firsthand the devastation and impact of Hurricane Katrina on the lives of workers. Their work in articles and pictures disputed the popular media impression that the city had “come back” and made it clear that right-wing social and economic policies were behind the continuing disaster.

Some high-profile newsmakers and speakers will be with the labor journalists when they gather in Pittsburgh. Among those who will address the reporters are United Steel Workers President Leo Gerard and American Prospect editor and Washington Post columnist Harold Myerson.

The journalists plan to honor the best among themselves with a 2009 Labor Media Contest Awards ceremony. The top prize, the Max Steinbock Award, will go to Dania Rajendra, an assistant editor for the Clarion, the publication of the Professional Staff Congress at City University of New York /American Federation of Teachers Local 2334, for her story, “At CUNY, Adjunct Health Care is Broken.”

In her article Rajendra tells the story of six CUNY adjunct workers whose health was jeopardized because of arbitrary decisions by the health care provider and the college based on the bottom line at the expense of the workers.

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