And you think you worked in a sweatshop?

It’s an old saw that most newspaper people complain about long hours, low pay, lack of love from the public and overbearing editors who think they know what the story ought to be more than the reporters.

A brief description of job conditions from a lawsuit against the China Daily News might make those complainers think twice:

Reporters testified in the case that they were forced to work six days a week at 12-hour shifts that could extend to 17 hours at times with no breaks for meals. Supervisors altered time cards to make it appear that no overtime was worked. Reporters were also given quotas of stories to come up with, according to the lawsuit.

More than 200 reporters, ad salespeople, delivery drivers, secretaries, and production workers ultimately joined the class-action lawsuit that was first filed in 2004. The group contended they were owed overtime pay dating back to 2000.

According to a story at Editor & Publisher, “[t]he Chinese Daily News has been slapped with a $5.2 million fine by a federal court in Los Angeles for operating a journalistic sweatshop.” [emphasis added]

According to E&P, one former Daily News worker told The New York Times:

Reporters were required to produce five stories a day, Ms. Wang said, which meant they had to race between news conferences and interviews for hours without a break. Production workers and packers did the same indoors, spending hours before presses and stackers. Quotas for advertising salespeople were unreasonably high, she said, and drivers were forced to navigate rush-hour traffic with long lists of delivery addresses strewn across the sprawling city.

That’s kind of how I remember my 20 years in the newsroom. Maybe I should sue my old paper.

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