Friday, 14 May 2010

Staff survey

A Sun Media staffer writes:

"TSF, can you do a posting asking how many Sun employees use their own laptop, Blackberry, cellphone etc.?

"Our boss seems to think we should be using our own equipment as he wants 'constant' Twitters and web page updates while out on assignment. I asked if we get compensated for it (insurance, damage, stolen, etc.) and all I got was a blank stare and a response. 'NO.'

"Why should I use my own equipment - my laptop is not cheap - and pay my own cell rates, etc. and not get compensated? Who else in this company does this?

"All we hear is 'web first' and get the news online first, yet they don't give us the tools to do so."

Over to TSF readers. Are you using your own phones, laptops and other tools of the trade and if so, are you being compensated?

Post a comment or e-mail TSF.


  1. Yes, I use my laptop and my cellphone. Compensation? Pah! You have to be kidding me.
    I've complained before and received 'the look' then told they'll "look into it," which basically means they have absolutely no intention of doing anything.
    A friend of mine works at another newspaper. He has two Blackberry smartphones, both paid for by corporate. Of course, he's one of the new 'regional managers' and is, consequently, run ragged. He has no idea why he has two phones, but his monthly bill is in excess of $400.

  2. I'm provided with a company phone where I am, but it's not set to do e-mail or updates to Twitter - they're concerned about the cost.
    I also use my own photo gear. They don't have enough gear to go around. I am not compensated in any way for the use of my gear. Maybe I shouldn't use my gear. That way if I miss something I can always say there was no gear around. Then maybe they'll get more gear - ok, so I am dreaming on the last part.

  3. That kind of stuff is covered in the language of most of the union contracts I've seen. The company either provides the equipment or has an agreed-upon compensation for use of an employee's own personal property (similar to the mileage allowance for using your own car on assignment). A lot of photogs, for example, prefer their own cameras over something out of a company pool.
    Jim Slotek
    Toronto Sun Unit
    Local 87-M

  4. Of the editorial staff I know at three weeklies (including mine) - almost all have their own camera gear (which we use and then keep the copyright of the great shots) and all have cellphones or Blackberrys - but no one is compensated for the use of this equipment. Then again, none of the weeklies I know of in the region is committed to this web-first policy that has been pushed on the dailies. Our office does have a laptop though, which came via a now-closed paper, because it was the computer the editor used since they didn't give him a desktop to use.

  5. But what if you're not in a unionized workplace? Why should I be expected to use my own cellphone, laptop and pay for the costs of calls, etc?

    The minute amount we get for gas for using our own cars is a joke as well.

  6. I believe at the urban dailies (the Suns), all reporters have a BlackBerry and a video camera which takes stills as well. Those that need laptops, like city hall reporter, have them. It's hard to believe that the papers that have unions would have no language on compensation.

  7. The grass isn't always greener on the other side either. I've worked for two other companies in the last four years and neither of them provided camera (I prefer it this way) or cell phone. Check with your tax man on being able to write a portion of these expenses off. It's worth more in the end than getting compensated from the company.

  8. Jim

    You assume that all of us work in a union environment. Unfortunately, some of us that comment on here are in non-union environments. And while former owners of the chain used to compensate, somewhat, for the use of personal gear, Quebecor doesn't.
    Mileage is a joke with this company, too.
    Ah well, at least I have a job.

  9. In our newsroom, they cancelled the company cars, cancelled the company cellphones, recalled the taxi chits but continued to pay the managers for their leased vehcles and bought them all Blackberries. I know this, because every time I get a message from them, it says "Sent from my Blackberry.'

  10. Do not use your own gear, your just feeding their greed and they come to expect it. Tell them you don't own a laptop or cellphone. Sun Media is such a disgrace, not only as a paper, but also when it comes to caring for and taking care of it's employees. It brings this video to mind and you can replace what he's saying with photographer if needed.

    I work at a non union shop, but I do get gear and a phone thank god. I don't get paid enough to pay for any of my own gear. I get paid 60% less than the Canwest staff across the street and most of them are making around $100,000 a year and they get a $5000 gear allowance plus mileage. Who would you want to work for?

  11. That's all fine and dandy, but have you seen the state of Canwest recently? I think two happy workers at $65K per annum, plus moderate expenses is much better for a company than one staffer getting $120K and a $5K gear bonus.
    Or in QMI's case, three staffers making $40K and have them use their own stuff for free. Win-win!

  12. There are so many Sun Media people who work at smaller shops who believe they should be making as much money as a CanWest employee. You have a choice. Many have already made it. If you get up every morning hating your job, believing you are being underpaid and mistreated, then you are the fool for staying.

  13. I agree with the last poster. Reading this blog makes me wonder how some of you get through your day. Complaining gets you nowhere. Move on, so your co-workers won't have to listen to you complain and infect the office with your negativity. It's your choice to stay. Everyone knows before he or she enters the journalism industry that the pay is going to be crap.

  14. Oh come on, there ain't too many Canwest reporters/photogs- or any editorial employees - pulling down $100,000.

  15. Mileage, cellphones, BlackBerrys, camera gear, laptops and such are all part of the cost of doing business for a company. If you use your own gear for inadequate or no compensation, you are literaly subsidizing their corporate bottom line and filling PKP's pockets from your own empty pockets. And I mean literally - not figuratively or sort of subsidizing - it's literally money from your pocket to their profit line. But you can take solace in knowing that you are contributing to shareholder value and paying for manager perks (car allowances, BlackBerrys, sports tickets, high salaries, bonuses and the like).

  16. The ones I know and talk to on a daily basis at Canwest are making between $80,000 and $100,000.

    I would be happy making a living wage like the unionized Suns. I'm not asking for $100,000, I'm asking for a wage I can live off of with out having to do work on the side to get by. I work for a large daily Sun paper and deserve to get paid a decent wage.

    It's just a matter of time before everyone leaves the Sun, none of the good ones stay, they get fed up with the crap and move on. Then the Sun hires more students with zero experience and try to brainwash them while paying them peanuts.

    I wouldn't say anyone is a fool for staying, they are just stuck until they find something better. I just want to work for a paper and company I can be proud of. I don't like it when I have some ask who are you with? and when I tell them they cringe and say, "I read that once". This happens more often than not. I don't see any websites called or or what does that tell you?

    Management refuses to listen to the public opinion because it might mean changing the product to something good which none of them know how to do. I plan on moving on, believe me it's just a matter of time before the opportunity presents itself and I will never look back.

  17. Own car, own camera, own cell. Mileage hasn't changed in a few years isn't expected to. No idea what small fraction of a repair bill the camera reimbursment would actually cover. Taxes don't return enough to cover costs. Work uses my cell like it's theirs. No compensation but the ad people all have blackberries. fyi, people at Star aren't happy either, but is anyone in media?

  18. It's easy enough to criticize those who are 'trapped' working for Sun Media outposts. I'm sure we'd all love to move along to something better if there was anything better out there that was interested in hiring those of us who have spent years in the industry and now find ourselves at dead end jobs using our own gear and receiving a piddling amount of mileage. Wages are a joke and I'm sure once the economy improves there will be a mass exodus from this company, but guess what? The company won't care anyway.