Sun, 10/23/2016 - 23:30

Posted by H.G. Watson on January 13, 2016

By H.G. Watson, Associate Editor

On Jan. 13, Nova Scotians found themselves staring at a paper without bylines for the second day in a row.

On Jan. 12, members of the Halifax Typographical Union removed their bylines from The Chronicle Herald in protest of a management's decision to file a notice that would give them the option to lock out staff with two days' notice. Frank Campbell, the paper’s Truro bureau chief and vice-president of the HTU, told J-Source staffers have the right to remove their bylines as per their contract.

The two parties have been locked in a labour dispute over a new contract the union says would cut a third of newsroom positions, decrease wages and increase the number of hours staff work.

In response, the paper’s management removed all of the names of the reporters and photographers from the paper on Jan. 13. Campbell said they found out the night before from one of their managers. The union’s understanding is that bylines will be withdrawn indefinitely.

“We’ve done it on occasion as a protest of some sort, but haven’t seen it from the company before,” said Campbell. “From my recollection at least.”

Mark Lever, president and CEO of The Halifax Herald Ltd., and Nancy Cook, vice-president of administration, did not return J-Source’s calls and email request for comment.

CBC News reportedly obtained an email from Brian Ward, vice-president of news, offering four-month contracts for freelancers to work during a potential lock-out. Their work would be published “without bylines,” according to the email.

Publishing stories without bylines didn’t stop staff from identifying their own work on Twitter. Using the hashtag #iwrotethis, many of the reporters named themselves as a counter-protest.

“I think it’s effective, getting their names out there,” said Campbell. 

J-Source and ProjetJ are publications of the Canadian Journalism Project, a venture among post-secondary journalism schools and programs across Canada, led by Ryerson University, Université Laval and Carleton University and supported by a group of donors.