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Striking newsroom workers launch bigger and better Local Xpress

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Striking Chronicle Herald newsroom workers this morning announced a bigger and even better Local Xpress.

Local Xpress is the free local news website maintained by the members of the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU), who have been walking the picket line for a long four months.

The news site will now offer not just local news, but also national news, weather, business news, event listings, commentary, columns and (free) obituaries, reporters were told at a press conference in the NSGEU office in Burnside. .

The news site will also feature ads. A media kit on the site states that Local Xpress currently attracts a respectable 185,000 monthly page views.

“If and when we get a deal we will shut down the publication,” said Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, the HTU’s national union.  “That’s our goal, to get the journalists back where they belong.”

“But meanwhile this publication will thrive. We are confident that it will outperform the Herald, and it is a great showcase for our fine journalists and columnists,” O’Hanlon said.

The current Chronicle Herald, staffed by scab journalists, offers mostly revamped government news releases, Canadian Press coverage, and fluff.  Oh,and the odd embarrassing story containing unproven allegations about refugees thrown in for good measure.

During the press conference O’Hanlon mentioned that the union will meet with representatives of Conciliation Services, a section within the provincial Department of Labour and Advanced Education. He did not know whether Chronicle Herald management is doing the same.

The expansion of the news site indicates that the union is getting ready for a potentially very lengthy strike.

Meanwhile the union’s actions are being felt, O’Hanlon told the Nova Scotia Advocate.

“Their ads are way down. We go out every week and ask advertisers to withdraw. We’ve had success, most recently in Cape Breton, “Every week we will chip away at their business until they agree to come back to the table,” O’Hanlon said.  

“It’s a game we don’t want to play. We just want to get back to work,” he added.

Members of the provincial NDP caucus were at the press conference in full force, as was Gary Burrill, the NDP leader elected earlier this year.

The party is paying a considerable price in terms of exposure for their principled refusal to talk to scab journalists working at the Herald, Burrill told the Nova Scotia Advocate.

“When you start thinking about a probable by-election in the near future, and a general election not very far away, then we are certainly paying the price. But this is a core matter of right and wrong, and we are more than willing to do so,” said Burrill..

The Local Xpress has essentially been a labour of love for the striking workers. Now there is a Patreon page to allow the public to support their journalism. Donations and advertising revenue will go towards new video and camera gear. It will also help with expenses, up to now covered by the striking workers themselves.