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Washington Post honchos sound much like execs at other publications when they talk about the platform of the future: the Web! But that doesn’t mean that paper is committed to investing in this dynamic medium, to judge from a recent circular issued by the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.
The guild, which represents newsroom and business employees at the Post, has been busy this month negotiating pay for the paper’s Web producers. For more than a decade, these producers have operated out of an Arlington office building and have not had union representation. In a long-anticipated print-Web merger, the producers are moving across the river and into the guild-represented Post newsroom.
If salary is a good way of assessing a Post employee’s value to the organization, Web producers are below the level of a news intern, according to the guild. Management has proposed a starting salary of $40,000 for these folks, which is $4,416 less than a news intern. After some tough talk at the table, the guild able to get the minimum up to $42,000.
The guild scoffs at even that pay level, noting that the list of responsibilities for Web producers is vast: “Producers are expected to, among other things, update and maintain editorial content; assist in developing and producing monthly feature packages and tools; create new content for the website, including live streams of breaking news events and updating existing content; work with web publishing systems; and gather, write and edit news stories for text, photographic and video presentation. Producers are also expected to stay abreast of breaking news and help mobilize coverage where necessary; seek to enhance online pages with photographs, multimedia and other tools; and think creatively about element highlights.”
A guild statement on the matter noted that the New York Times had agreed to “increase the minimum salaries of the Times’ originally web-based Producers to equal the minimum rate of Times’ Reporters.” And it pledged to “strive for salary equity at The Post for as long as it takes.”