Evan Yeats is our newest staffer at WBNG who joined us in March 2021. Originally from Iowa, Evan has lived in DC since 2008. His first union membership was at AFSCME, working as an overnight police dispatcher while in college. After a stint as an award-winning radio reporter in Eastern Iowa, he became a labor communicator, organizer and representative and worked as the Communications Director for a team that won the first-ever contract for civilian municipal workers in Houston, Texas. He worked at the United Food and Commercial Workers since 2008 where he worked on campaigns for bargaining, organizing and workplace safety that helped tens of thousands of retail, food manufacturing and meatpacking workers find their voice at work. At the UFCW, he was a long-time WBNG leader including winning Unit Officer of the Year (2012) and leading the unit to the Unit of the Year (2013) at the WBNG Front Page awards. Prior to coming to WBNG, he was consulting on bargaining for news workers in California, Hawaii and Florida. He lives in Takoma, DC with his wife and three children.
Yesterday’s violence at the US Capitol building was a direct attack on our democracy and our democratic institutions, carried out by armed insurrectionists wielding symbols of hate, and encouraged by the sitting President of the United States. Before being allowed to peacefully leave the building, the terrorists scribbled a message on one of the building’s doors: “Murder the media.”
This event was the culmination of four years of dangerous rhetoric, rooted in white supremacy, that has spread lies and disinformation to advance an anti-democratic agenda. Our union is incredibly proud of the brave and diligent work of our members who were on the ground at the Capitol building yesterday, some of whom faced intimidation, harassment, and vandalism at the hands of the insurrectionists as they stood their ground to make sure that the nation was honestly and accurately informed about what was taking place.
The Washington-Baltimore News Guild strongly condemns the attempted coup and the violent intimidation and threats to our members and journalists everywhere. Never has the need for a free press been more necessary than in moments like these. The News Guild will always fight to defend the rights of working people everywhere. We will never stop working to make sure our newsrooms, non-profits, and unions reflect the diversity and inclusivity that is so desperately needed to lead this country to a better future.
WHEREAS: Police unions do not act in solidarity with the broader labor movement and;
WHEREAS: Police unions have resisted efforts of police reform, including alienating their own members who become whistleblowers and;
WHEREAS: Amid the current uprisings against police brutality police unions have become a clear target of police power and;
WHEREAS: In order to fully live up to the idea that Black Lives Matter and supporting the CWA’s Executive Board’s statement that “There is no in-between. There is no neutral option. The only real way to dismantle racism and build the working-class power we seek is for every worker to take on the struggle for justice for Black people in this country as their own and to embrace the actions that “an injury to one is an injury to all” demands of us”
THEREFORE: We the Executive Board of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, Local 32035 call upon the AFL-CIO to disaffiliate the International Union of Police Associations from the Federation and direct its constituent State Labor Federations, Area Labor Federations, and Central Labor Councils to do the same.
ADDITIONALLY: We call upon the Communications Workers of America to separate itself from its 3,245 Law Enforcement and Correctional Officer members.
ROANOKE, Va. — Journalists of The Roanoke Times and Laker Weekly are united in denouncing The Roanoke Times’ recent news coverage of a wrongful termination suit brought against the newspaper by a former human resources worker who alleged a current newsroom manager sexually harassed her and others.
The Roanoke Times coverage of the lawsuit, which was settled on May 27, did not live up to the newspaper’s longstanding ethical guidelines for reporting about ourselves. Two weeks ago, members of the Timesland News Guild’s executive committee met with the paper’s regional editor to express concern over the allegations and disappointment with how the lawsuit’s filing and settlement were covered in the paper. The company has violated the trust of our readers and damaged the credibility of this institution and everyone who works here. The regional editor:
Broke precedent by delaying coverage of the lawsuit after it had been made public, taking 20 days from the lawsuit’s discovery by a court reporter until publishing a story;
Forbade a reporter assigned to the story from seeking comment from pertinent sources, an editorial decision that was made based on advice from a company lawyer (a partner at the same law firm that was defending the company in court);
Removed from a draft story all details enumerating the sexual harassment allegations and claims of company inaction and retaliation, in a meritless claim that the sexual misconduct allegations were not relevant to the lawsuit;
Mandated the placement of the story at the bottom of the business page and headline wording that made no mention of sexual misconduct or wrongful termination in an extraordinary instance of editorial overreach;
Directed staff to delete Twitter and Facebook posts that promoted the story of the lawsuit’s filing, hiding the story from potentially thousands of additional readers.
These editorial decisions further erode the trust of readers in an age of rising suspicion about the reliability of news coverage. The journalists of The Roanoke Times want our readers to know that we reject these editing decisions and continue to fight for the highest journalistic standards in all our coverage. We are deeply disappointed that some of the newspaper’s leadership does not share our commitment to full and fair coverage of our company.
On June 15, the guild’s executive committee, representing about 50 journalists and staff, sent a letter to management calling for the company to commission a thorough and independent investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations described in the lawsuit. The company responded and insisted it had “followed the guidelines of our policy and conducted a full and thorough investigation.” It did not provide, as requested, a detailed copy of the company’s complaint procedures, nor respond to a request for an independent and transparent investigation of the sexual harassment allegations.
Given the manner in which The Roanoke Times handled news coverage of this lawsuit, we question the thoroughness and credibility of the company’s investigation into the claims.
We publicly call on Lee Enterprises to commission an independent, transparent investigation into these allegations and to share an unredacted report of the findings with all newsroom employees. Nothing less will ensure workplace safety.
### About The Roanoke Times: Serving Roanoke and Southwest Virginia since its founding in 1886 by M.H. Claytor, The Roanoke Times publishes a daily print and online newspaper to about 30,000 print subscribers and more than 40,000 daily digital readers. Widely recognized for hard-hitting investigative stories on subprime lending, urban renewal, segregation, poverty, immigration and government corruption, the paper has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist three times. In the mid-2000s, The Roanoke Times was ranked as the best-read newspaper of its size in the country, according to market research firm Scarborough. It remains the largest professional news outlet in Southwest Virginia, employing roughly 50 journalists.
### About The NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America: The NewsGuild-CWA represents more than 24,000 journalists and other media workers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, including The Charlottesville Daily Progress, The Virginian-Pilot, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune.