WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Non-Compete Contracts Stifle Journalists

Jun 20, 2017

A recent commentary in the Columbia Journalism Review calls non-compete contracts "a silent scourge creeping around newsrooms."  The author argues such contracts might help corporate executives but do absolutely nothing for the reporters who are required to sign them.

Shop Talk’s Rich Egger said corporate bosses generally seem to support free markets, yet non-compete contracts contradict that way of thinking – they limit reporters’ freedom to move.

But he also said companies might spend a great deal promoting their talent and don’t want another station in their market to steal away someone after making such an investment.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said a non-compete might be okay for highly paid TV news anchors who are considered the face of the station’s newscasts.  But she said some stations require low paid, entry-level reporters to sign non-compete clauses.  She thinks that’s unfair to someone trying to move up in the industry. 

Crighton said she’s known some people who’ve left the industry because non-compete contracts prevented them from moving on to better opportunities.

Panelist Will Buss said news organization should provide better salaries and benefits if they want to hold onto their talent. He believes non-competes hurt the industry by benefiting corporations and thwarting good journalism. 

He also feels non-compete clauses potentially discourage talented people from entering the journalism field.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.