A lesson in practical journalism and the benefits of new journalists belonging to a union were the focus of a give-and-take session between St. Louis Media Guild President Jeff Gordon and Labor Tribune Publisher Ed Finkelstein speaking to junior and senior journalists-in-training recently at a Journalism Professional Development evening class at Webster University.
“A union is there to protect your job, ensure fair treatment,” Gordon stressed, although he did not pull any punches, explaining to the students that professional journalism is having its issues these days with shrinking newsrooms in newspapers, TV and radio stations.
But, Gordon stressed, America’s democracy cannot exist without freedom of the press and the diligence of trained, experienced reporters letting the public know about their community and its elected officials.
Gordon and Finkelstein both emphasized the value of having a strong union like the United Media Guild, part of the Communications Workers of America, backing up professional journalists, allowing them the freedom to do their jobs fairly and effectively.
Leading the class is Professor Don Corrigan, a 40-year journalist, teacher and author of seven books, who teaches media law and environmental journalism in Webster’s Communications and Journalism Department.
Corrigan is editor-in- chief for the Times Newspaper group, a series of neighborhood newspapers he helped launch 1978, that includes the Webster-Kirkwood Times, South County Times and West End Word.
“I’m encouraged by the students tenacity to want to be good journalists,” he said. “It’s important to the survival of democracy.”