Fort Worth strikers are losing the media war

Fort Worth strikers are losing the media war


norman lebrecht

September 14, 2016

The Star-Telegram newspaper, whose president is a symphony board, has turned against the musicians who have gone on strike over wage cuts. First the paper ran a hostile editorial.

Now it presents a strongly slanted selection of readers’ letters.


I support the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s efforts to reduce costs.

Even after the proposed cuts, musicians in the FWSO will still be making more money than Fort Worth schoolteachers and much more than police.

There is no shortage of qualified musicians who would love to have the jobs that the current musicians have rejected. The FWSO cannot stay in business and meet the musicians’ demands.

I encourage the symphony to start auditioning replacements right away in order to minimize the number of concerts that will have to be canceled this season.

Read more here.
fort worth Symphony protest 005


  • Gary says:

    It’s Texas, what do you expect.

  • Fred Waters says:

    Those are certainly not the readers comments showing up for me, at least on the website version of the article. Support seems to be overwhelmingly in favor of the musicians. And considering the publisher and president of the FW-Star sits on the board of the FWSO, a conflict of interest is pretty clear and easily exposed.

    • Max Grimm says:

      It’s a segment called “Letters to the Editor” and is under a different link than the actual article. Norman tried linking to it (the clickable link just above the picture in the thread starter) but the URL is incorrect.
      Here’s the correct link:

    • V.Lind says:

      Letter to the Editor are handled as editorial copy and are selected (usually, in a principled newsroom, proportionately to the percentages for one argument or the other when it is a two-sided issue such as this). Most papers state that they may be edited for length and other reasons.

      Online comments are moderated in good papers, and the terms are set out: any alteration or omission of a contribution is usually for stated reasons, such as bad language, racist attacks, other abusive behaviours. If an issue attracts extreme comments for the most part, comments may be shut down altogether ahead of the usual close date. But without explicit abuse, they are usually left alone so may well be more reflective of what the greater part of the readership believes.

      In each case, we are talking about the percentage of readers who would take the time to formulate, articulate and send a response.

  • Barry says:

    Say what you want about Texas, but in Fort Worth we just raised $1 million in three months for our opera company. Yes, that’s Texas. And we have the Dallas and Houston Symphony orchestras, each doing very well and well supported and I believe better attended than many major orchestras I’ve seen.

    Never the less, there are certainly trolls who write into the paper and will by natural reflex take the management side of a labor/management dispute. Living in the area, being a subscriber and attending the concerts for a decade or more all I can say is that this is a tragic situation. The players want to be paid like it’s 2010 again — it’s not. Management has been unable or unwilling to unleash a campaign to raise money for the orchestra, relying upon a few rich local companies. There’s a feeling that management is not really trying to raise the money because it’s easier to put it back on the players and has a longer more positive benefit to the bottom line. There’s a $750,000 budget gap which most Texans could plug in a New York second. But management says the best they can do is “split” with the players and raise $350,000.

    The players have taken the brunt of the economic downturn in their last contract. Everyone took it on the chin back then — things were not that good anywhere in terms of the arts. Now, things are different but the management has been timid in reaching out to new sources. And yes the players are insistent on clawing their way back to 2010 levels.

    If the players are guilty of thinking it’s 2010 (and wanting to be paid like it) management is certainly guilty of acting like it’s 2008 and the local economy is in a depression.

    What the players object to is that management doesn’t seem to have much of a plan. What management object to is that the players (who gave last time in a big way) want it all back now in this negotiation.

    There are other issues that management/labor cannot solve — like the cost of insurance (as much as 40% of the base pay of a section player for family coverage.) That’s a particularly American problem, one we thought we had solved with ObamaCare (remember when health insurance was promised to be really, really cheap?)

    Management (and the players) have been doing some stuff right. Single ticket sales and subscription sales are up. It’s a great product without defaulting to programs of “audience favorites”.

    But don’t blame Texas for this problem.

  • Blogstress Emily Hogstad today addressed this extraordinary conflict of interest at the Star-Telegram (the publisher and president sitting on the board of a striking orchestra and not disclosing such in his editorial)

  • Another arts blogger with Minnesota Orchestra perspective, Scott Chamberlain, noted the huge problem with Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra labor relations and media.

  • Nick says:

    In any “us versus them” campaign, you have to gain the upper hand in the PR campaign. The musicians must have known the newsman was on the Board and should have anticipated – and therefore have had plans drawn up to counter – his actions. They have to be proactive and as rarely a possible reactive.

  • waitandsee says:

    I’m not certain a few grumpy letters to the editor won (or lost) a labor battle.

  • Doug says:

    Perhaps management could follow the lead of Ford Motor Company and move the orchestra to MEXICO where the wages are lower and productivity is higher. Right, NWO followers? We’re all just “citizens of the world” after all.

    “It used to be that cars were made in Flint and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico. Now, you can’t drink the water in Flint and cars are made in Mexico.”