NBC News staff seek unionising following the handling of sexual misconduct claims by the news arm of America’s National Broadcasting Company.
“NBC welcome this dialogue from within our digital organization and we will address this request quickly, and will keep you updated every step of the way.” – NBC News Group Chris Berend in a letter to staff
Following several stateside news items referring to ‘internal conflicts’ within NBC concerning NBC News’ management and their handling of sexual misconduct allegations, the editorial staff of NBC News Digital announced via a letter on Wednesday, October 30th, that they were ‘unionizing with NewsGuild of New York.’
The Hollywood Reporter state that ‘around 75 percent of the editorial staff of nbcnews.com, today.com, StayTuned, Left Field, msnbc.com, and NBC News Now voted to join NewsGuild.’
The issues follow internal distaste over the handling of reports about Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and several accusations of sexual misconduct as well as former NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer who departed the breakfast show following sexual alligations in the workplace.
“Recent weeks have highlighted serious questions as to how NBC News has handled incidents of sexual misconduct in the workplace as well as the opaque processes and procedures for reporting on and exposing powerful predators… These open questions undermine the newsroom’s credibility as journalists,” – NBC News staff statement.
In a similar accusation to the BBC’s Newsnight over Jimmy Savile – the corporation news bosses were alleged to have pulled an investigation into the Beebs one time huge star – former MSNBC presenter and NBC News reporter Ronan Farrow revealed that he allegedly was blocked from running a report on Harvey Weinstein on the network. Farrow took the revelations to The New Yorker. The Hollywood Reporter note ‘According to Farrow, Weinstein leveraged information The National Enquirer had amassed on Lauer’s misconduct to kill the burgeoning story at NBC.’
The news site continues that Farrow also uncovered previous misconduct reports and settlements within the NBC organisation relating to Lauer’s alleged misconduct. It continues that these findings are at odds with NBC News’ top brass claiming they were unaware of any misconduct alligations against their former morning news anchor prior to November 2017.
“NBC News denies that it was ever threatened with information on Lauer by The National Enquirer and that it knew beforehand about Lauer’s alleged behavior.” – The Hollywood Reporter
In the news staff letter they note that ‘For nearly a century, the National Broadcasting Company has played an important role in shaping the media landscape.’ adding ‘NBC News has built a devoted television audience, and our digital newsroom has expanded that relationship with high-impact original reporting, exclusive stories, and ground-breaking video journalism.’ And while the item notes that ‘We love working at NBC News Digital.’ they go on to state that ‘no organization is perfect, and there are serious issues that keep the company from being as great as it can be.’
They continue that ‘Recent weeks have highlighted serious questions as to how NBC News has handled incidents of sexual misconduct in the workplace as well as the opaque processes and procedures for reporting on and exposing powerful predators.’ and ‘NBC News repeatedly refused calls for an independent review on both counts despite numerous such requests from staff. This lack of transparency and NBC News’ troubling trend of passing on stories which investigate the powerful ultimately harm our credibility as journalists.’
The letter continues that it hopes they can ‘address the issues’ by working with the management. ‘Forming a union will afford us a collective voice in decisions that will benefit the entire company, providing much-needed transparency and ensuring a safer workplace.’
“The company boasts of diversity in hiring, but falls short of the inclusive culture that retains and promotes a truly diverse newsroom. We have seen a steady exodus of women and people of color in recent years, which limits our perspective and lessens the quality of our journalism… NBC News has mishandled serious incidents of sexual misconduct and racism without the transparency and sensitivity such issues require.” – NBC News Staff letter