As I’ve said before … I am fiercely loyal to those who have treated me with respect. I have always stood by my friends in times of need, I have donated without question to organizations that benefit the greater good, and I will be a loyal fanboy to my favorite teams and athletic endeavors.
By that same token – if you have ever wronged me, if you have ever hurt me, if you have ever denigrated me or demeaned my faith or my beliefs or my anything … then don’t come back to me and ask me to help support your projects.
Case in point. Yesterday, this appeared on my Facebook feed.
Apparently the Newspaper Guild has been battling the Times Union’s parent company, The Hearst Corporation, in terms of jobs, job security, wages, layoffs, forced retirement and whatnot.
I thought to myself … you know, maybe I should go to this. Maybe I should show support to an organization that helped me showcase my writings and photography on a daily weblog for nearly eight years.
And then I thought of things.
I thought of how, when I started out as a blogger, I ran afoul of the condescending eye of TU social media strategist Kristi Gustafson Barlette, who treated me with disdain and disgust at nearly every turn. Whether it was her micromanaged “suggestions” about how I shouldn’t write about trivia or I shouldn’t serialize fiction in a blog, or that I reveal too much in my blog, or that my blog should only be about 300 words a day because that’s how much time state workers have to read the TU portal before they have to go back to work … yeah, that’s Kristi. Essentially she’s the reason I’m glad Facebook and Twitter have blocking features.
Even as recently as 2016, when someone asked Kristi about where to find good photographers that specialize in black and white photography, she recommended several different photographers, and her readers suggested others. One person suggested me. Kristi had a fit, saying that I don’t work for the Times Union, I don’t have a Times Union e-mail account, and that if anybody wanted to get in touch with me, they could do so through Facebook. Wow. Nice to know that the TU supports community bloggers – considering that we were writing for the TU for no compensation, no remuneration, no nothing anyway.
But Kristi’s not the only reason why I left the TU’s blog portal in 2017 with a sour taste in my mouth.
There were times when the TU put together their own trivia team and played in charity tournaments. I was also part of a competing charity trivia team, and at the time the TU’s rank and file were involved in more union salary negotiations – and many of the TU’s employees were posting stories on social media about how they were struggling to make ends meet on the salaries they drew.
Feeling a need to show some sort of camaraderie with those members of the Newspaper Guild, I walked over to the TU’s trivia team that day – and after some good-natured ribbing between us about who was the better trivia team – I mentioned that I was definitely in support of the Newspaper Guild’s efforts.
“So do you have a subscription?” one of the reporters asked me.
“No,” I replied. “If I need a newspaper, I’ll buy one at the gas station.”
“Then you’re really not supporting us,” he said. “You need to get a full subscription, because that money helps us survive. And you should also get a TU-plus account so you can read those same articles online.”
Wow. You’re already getting free content that draws plenty of valuable online clickthroughs, and that’s not enough for you? I should note that the Trinity Alliance team WON the workplace trivia charity event that year, so yeah there’s that.
Then things got worse. I found some of my blog headlines were altered without my permission. Some of the text in my blog was changed without my consent. And after a clearly obvious April Fool’s Day post, my blog was locked down and I was forced out of my blog.
I’ve written about that before. The whole idea that I could blog on the TU portal and be seen by thousands, or I could write on an independent portal and be read by both my friends. Well, there is that difference between being a professional and an amateur … and the first part of “amateur,” “amat,” is Latin for “to love,” and I’ve been quite happy on my own portal.
Of course, that didn’t stop the TU from cold-calling me to try to sell me a newspaper subscription, even after I told them not to call me. Or their current tactic of spam-mailing me to get me to subscribe. Or the heavy-handed and tone-deaf way they treated other bloggers who tried to tell their #metoo stories of survival. Yeah, nothing says “support your local blogger” like shutting down their account because they had the courage to tell their truth.
I get it. All I was to them was a “reader blogger,” a condescending portmanteau of “I can read and I can blog.” Blah. I was a content generator for them and nothing more.
So yeah, the Albany Newspaper Guild can do whatever it wants. It can raise all the awareness it wants. God bless them. If the rank and file get raises or health coverage or whatever they’re asking for, then all the power to them.
Just don’t expect me to march with them any more. Sorry.