CNET Media Workers Unionize with the WGA East
NEW YORK, NY (May 16, 2023) – CNET writers, editors, video producers and other content creators have unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East for the purpose of collective bargaining. A solid and dedicated majority of these workers signed cards to form a collective bargaining unit. They called on CNET’s parent company, Red Ventures, to voluntarily recognize their union.
CNET has been a trusted source for tech reviews, commerce, news and advice for nearly three decades. The workers there are committed to carrying on this tradition of honest reporting and maintaining the reputation they’ve built with their audience.
In a letter delivered to management today, the approximately 100-member bargaining unit, known as the CNET Media Workers Union, notes the volatility of digital media today, underscoring how a union can advocate for CNET’s longevity while securing industry-standard job protections and benefits for its staff. The letter cites a lack of transparency and accountability from management around key issues – performance evaluations, monetization plans and artificial intelligence – affecting workloads, bylines and careers.
CNET Media Workers Union’s “Why We’re Organizing” reads:
CNET has been a trusted authority for original reporting, helpful explainers and honest advice for nearly 30 years. We – writers, editors, video producers, designers and other content creators – are committed to CNET’s future as a reputable source for tech reviews, news and commerce. That’s why an overwhelming majority of us have formed the CNET Media Workers Union with the Writers Guild of America, East. We are confident that our collective efforts will allow us to better serve our audience and make a more collaborative workplace.
The digital media landscape is transforming rapidly. In this time of instability, our diverse content teams need industry-standard job protections, fair compensation, editorial independence and a voice in the decision-making process, especially as automated technology threatens our jobs and reputations. A union will help us adapt to new business strategies while establishing high journalistic standards and practices.
Since Red Ventures acquired CNET in fall 2020, CNET media workers have been subjected to ongoing restructuring, cost-cutting austerity measures, shifting job roles and promotion freezes. In the past year, three major rounds of layoffs have deeply impacted our reporting and our teams. Red Ventures cut senior editorial positions, eliminated the Roadshow cars section, drastically slashed our video team, gutted our news division and shut down science and culture coverage. These unilateral overhauls created low morale and unease, resulting in a wave of resignations and talent attrition. We face a lack of transparency and accountability from management around performance evaluations, sponsored content and plans for artificial intelligence. We are concerned about the blurring of editorial and monetization strategies.
By unionizing, we’re joining our peers at other digital media sites who have won security and benefits through negotiating unit-wide contracts. We feel that a union is the only way to guarantee job protections, defend editorial integrity and ensure standard cost-of-living raises as well as fair severance packages. A union would give us a voice on new AI and marketing initiatives and allow us to safeguard our workloads, bylines and careers. We look forward to bringing together our largely remote and siloed teams in this effort.
We are a passionate and loyal community of hard workers, and our rights should be enshrined and respected. We ask Red Ventures to recognize our union in a timely manner so we can begin the contract negotiation process.
The CNET Media Workers Union’s letter to management stresses the extreme uncertainty faced by staff since the acquisition of CNET by Red Ventures in 2020. In the last 11 months alone, a series of layoffs and a dramatic restructuring have eliminated key coverage areas and gutted entire teams, removing top-level and long-time editorial positions. CNET media workers have undergone cost-cutting, shifting job roles and promotion freezes. Dozens of staff members have resigned due to low morale and unaddressed grievances.
Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said, “The people who write, edit, and create content for CNET are hard-working professionals who recognize that collective bargaining is an essential part of doing meaningful work and building sustainable careers. We anticipate the Company will honor their workers’ decision to be represented by the WGAE.”
One editor who has been at CNET for 16 years stated in a testimonial collected by the union’s organizing committee: “Having a union at CNET enables us to officially come together as a group and demand the rights we deserve, be treated with respect, do great work and get fairly compensated.”
In addition to CNET, the WGAE’s Online Media Sector includes BDG, Chalkbeat, Committee to Protect Journalists, Fast Company, FT Specialist, Future PLC, Gizmodo Media Group, Hearst Magazines, HuffPost, Inc., Jewish Currents, NowThis, Onion Inc., Refinery29, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Media, The Dodo, The Intercept, Thrillist, VICE, and Vox Media. The Guild represents 7,000 workers in film, television, news, podcasts, and online media.
ABOUT THE WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in film, television, news, podcasts, and online media. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit wgaeast.org.