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An Organized Work Force Is Part Of Growing Up: Gawker And The Case For Unionizing Digital Newsrooms

Revati Prasad

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Abstract In June 2015 Gawker Media became the first for-profit digital news organization to unionize its editorial workforce. True to their bombastic style, they did so publicly, publishing a post where staff commented on how they were going to vote regarding the union and why. This article examines the ensuing discussion to understand how this group of culture workers perceived their labor, and the value they sought not just from collective bargaining, but from doing so publicly. Gawker’s unionization was aimed not exclusively at Gawker, but spoke to a vision for the entire sector. Gawker staff were motivated to collective action by the precarity that besets digital media, while the publicness of the effort was aimed at their peer organizations. The public performance of unionism at Gawker may signal a shift in the discourse around collective bargaining among young creative workers as more digital outlets come to organize their workforce.