Laboring on the Labor Beat: Unions and 21st Century Journalism banner with stack of newspapers in background.

Laboring on the Labor Beat: Unions and 21st Century Journalism

May 2, 2024 9:00am-7:00pm
  • Rutgers University
  • 35 Seminary Pl, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Audience Open to the Public

Join MIC and Rutgers University for a conference on the current state of labor journalism at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary.


About the Event

On the heels of the pandemic, the US has witnessed one of the most vibrant and militant phases of labor organizing in the last 50 years. New unionizing campaigns at companies like Amazon and Starbucks have sprung up amid a massive uptick in strikes across the country from UPS workers and airline pilots, to academic workers and both actors and writers in the film industry. This cycle of labor militancy is crowned by the UAW’s successful “stand-up strike” in the fall of 2023, which is redefining the auto industry and could be a launchpad for rebuilding the power of the labor movement.

This new movement of workplace militancy demands a labor press that keeps pace. Over recent decades however, many outlets all but abandoned the labor and workplace beat, and labor reporting is either covered by independent journalists or on the fringes of many of the newspapers of record.  At this MIC-sponsored symposium, we will explore the way this wave of worker militancy has been covered and strategies for rebuilding the labor beat.


9am: Breakfast

10am: Labor Beat - Past and Present

Moderated by Chenjerai Kumanyika.

  • Jon Bekken, Professor of Communication at Albright College
  • Kim Kelly, Labor Columnist at Teen Vogue and author of  Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor
  • Hamilton Nolan, Labor Journalist for In These Times and The Guardian
  • Alex N Press, Staff Writer at Jacobin 

12pm: Lunch

1pm: AI Labor and the Future of Journalism

Moderated by John Pavlik.

  • Susan DeCarava, President of The NewsGuild of New York
  • Michelle Miller, Director of Innovation for the Center for Labor and a Just Economy at Harvard University
  • Caitlin Petre, Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information

3pm: Reviving the Labor Beat

Moderated by Sarah Jaffe.

  • Alex Han, Executive Director of In These Times
  • Amir Khafagy, Award-winning Journalist and Report for America Corps Member at Documented
  • Alissa Quart, Executive Director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project
  • David Roth, Journalist and Editor for Defector
  • Todd Wolfson, Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information and Co-Director of the MIC Center

5:30pm: Keynote by Christopher Keyser

7pm: Reception

Christopher Keyser headshot

About the Speaker

For more than twenty-five years, Christopher Keyser has been the creator, showrunner, and executive producer of numerous television series. He began, in 1994, by creating (along with his partner, Amy Lippman), the show Party of Five, which ran for six years on Fox and won, among other honors, the Golden Globe for Best Television Series Drama and the Humanitas Prize.

From 2011-2015, Mr. Keyser served as President of the Writers Guild of America, West. He also served as Co-Chair of the 2023 WGA Negotiating Committee.


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