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Jury Convicts Former CIA Officer Believed to Be Risen Source

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 4:16pm
Matt ZapotoskyJanuary 26, 2015The Washington Post

A former CIA officer involved in a highly secretive operation to give faulty nuclear plans to Iran was convicted Monday of giving classified information about his work to a New York Times reporter and author. Jeffrey Sterling, 47, of O’Fallon, Mo., was convicted of nine counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and other related charges for leaking materials that prosecutors said put lives at risk and compromised one of the U.S. government’s few mechanisms to deter Iran’s nuclear aspirations. He stared expressionless at jurors as the verdict was read and hugged his sobbing wife afterward. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema allowed Sterling to remain free on bond until his April 24 sentencing. Sterling was first accused in 2010 of giving classified information to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen for his 2006 book, “State of War.” Prosecutors alleged — and jurors apparently agreed — that Sterling was trying to get revenge on the CIA when he talked to Risen about an operation meant to deter Iran’s nuclear program.

Cerberus, Apollo Hedge Funds Bidding for Digital First Media

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 3:21pm
Ken DoctorJanuary 26, 2015Capital New York

The Guild's Digital First Media members may soon be under new management, as two major hedge funds bid for the company. "After one cost-cutting private equity company has spent close to half a decade wielding the knife at Digital First Media, how many new 'efficiencies' might a second P.E. buyer find?" asks analyst Ken Doctor, reporting that two big private equity companies are participating in the penultimate rounds of bidding for D.F.M.’s papers. Cerberus Capital Management, with $25 billion in assets under management, and Apollo Global Management, with $164 billion A.U.M., both eye what would be the single largest sale of newspaper assets in recent history. DFM is among the five largest newspaper companies by revenue in the U.S. Importantly, both firms would bid for the whole company. That’s been a prime goal of D.F.M., and its controlling shareholder, Alden Global Capital, since the board decided about a year ago to ready DFM for the market."

NY Guild Asks Arbitrator to Review Layoffs at New York Times

Sun, 01/25/2015 - 5:15pm
Erik WempleJanuary 25, 2015The Washington Post

The New York Guild has sent a letter to The New York Times signaling its intent to arbitrate a recent round of layoffs. “We’re asking to have the arbitrator evaluate the layoffs…and whether it was in compliance with the contract or not,” Guild President Bill O’Meara said. Last fall, the Times announced that it would be offering buyouts to newsroom staffers in an effort to trim the head count by about 100. If the buyouts didn’t reach the numeric goal, the Times threatened layoffs. According to O’Meara, 57 people took the buyout, forcing the paper’s hand on layoffs. Twenty-one staffers got pushed out, and the Guild believes about a dozen of those layoffs didn't meet terms of the Guild contract or the arbitrator's conditions.

Featured Title: New York Guild Asks Arbitrator to Evaluate Layoffs at NY Times

The U.S. Newspaper Industry's $1.4 Billion Money Hole

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 12:03pm
Ken DoctorJanuary 23, 2015Newsonomics

Ken Doctor, the news business analyst who gave Guild conference delegates an overview of the industry's dollar-and-cents past, present and future, asks this question in his latest "Newsonomics" post: "How close is the industry as a whole to reversing its long slump?" After laying out a detailed analysis, his conclusion isn't encouraging, or surprising. "The industry, as a whole, is far away from getting to any new stability." But he notes exceptions, including the Guild-represented New York Times. Photo: Doctor speaking at Guild conference Jan. 15.

Cleveland's Top Cop Talks to '60 Minutes' But Not Local Press

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 11:40am
Cory ShafferJanuary 23, 2015Northeast Ohio Media Group

The leader of the city's embattled police department agreed to a sit-down interview after two months of controversy, including the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and a blistering Justice Department report. But rather than answer questions from local media armed with a better understanding of the issues plaguing the department, Chief Calvin Williams and city officials hosted 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker. Williams has answered questions locally at press conferences, but has avoided one-on-one interviews.

Guild Establishes 'Larry Cohen Movement-Building Award'

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 12:35pm
Janelle HartmanJanuary 22, 2015NewsGuild-CWA


A standing ovation for CWA President Larry Cohen in Orlando.


An award named for CWA President Larry Cohen in honor of his tireless movement-building efforts will be presented to a Guild member or local staffer every other year at TNG-CWA conferences.


The Guild, meeting in Orlando last week, surprised Cohen with the news at the end of a fiery speech that brought delegates to their feet.


Cohen is on a mission, one he plans to continue when he retirees from CWA in June, to building a movement of unions and organizations with different agendas but similar social justice values. He argues fervently that a large-scale people's movement is the only way to take back political power from billionaires and multinational corporations.


“We wanted to honor Larry for the enormous amount of time, energy and passion he has put into this pursuit,” Guild President Bernie Lunzer said. “We also want to encourage our members and locals to expand their movement-building efforts.”


The “Larry Cohen Movement-Building Award” will recognize Guild members or local staff members who who do the most to build coalitions of activists. More specific details about the award still need to be hammered out.


For journalists in the Guild whose jobs demand strict objectivity, reaching out to community leaders and activist groups can be tricky. But not all Guild members are under those pressures.


“Some of our members need to refrain from direct political action because of a conflict of interest, real or perceived,” Lunzer said. “But to different degrees, we believe everyone in the Guild can play a role in strengthening the pursuit of justice. Let’s never forget that freedom of association is enshrined in the First Amendment, just like free speech and a free press.”

In his speech, Cohen made the connection between movement-building and journalism.


“It is our turn,” he said. “We need to build a democracy movement. We need to connect it to inequality. Good journalism. Good information. This is so important as we try to show our communities what a fair-economy looks like. Journalism helps us connect the dots.”


Guild Delegates Vote for Historic Name Change, Elect Officers

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 12:38pm
Janelle HartmanJanuary 21, 2015NewsGuild-CWA  TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer was re-elected to a third term last week, but he won’t be known as president of The Newspaper Guild-CWA.   He’s now the president of The NewsGuild-CWA, a name that conference delegates agreed was better suited for the changing news industry and the diversity of Guild  units.   The new name isn’t exactly a 21st-century innovation. Lunzer purchased the domain name in 1995 — when only 14 percent of Americans had internet access — and expected Guild members would approve it then.   In a column published in The Guild Reporter several weeks before the Orlando meeting Jan. 15-18, Lunzer explained:    “I was convinced that local Guild leaders would vote to drop ‘paper’ from our name. I was wrong. Delegates had strong and passionate feelings about ‘newspapers’ almost as if bracing against the tidal wave of change headed toward their industry and careers. Twenty years later, it is past time. It is inevitable. We are media. We are content producers. Ink may be in our blood but it is no longer essential to our survival.”   While some delegates argued against the name change, it ultimately passed overwhelmingly.   In addition to re-electing Lunzer,  delegates re-elected TNG-CWA International Chair Martha Waggoner (far left) to a second term and elected staff representative Marion Needham (left) as executive vice president. The EVP title is new, but it is the same job previously known as secretary-treasurer.   Another highlight of the conference was a thunderous speech from CWA President Larry Cohen, who touched on everything from the importance of journalism to income inequality to the dangers of the pending TPP trade deal.   Cohen received standing ovations at the beginning and end of his Jan. 15 remarks, in which he praised the Guild for being a vital part of CWA and for fighting for First Amendment principles that matter to all Americans.   “This notion of democracy, a key part of it is journalism — the ability to investigate and write stories,” Cohen said. “What happens to journalism and to everyone in this room matters to our democracies and to our communities.”

Chicago Reader Staff Vote Unanimously to Join Chicago Guild

Sat, 01/17/2015 - 9:48am
Michael MinerJanuary 17, 2015Chicago Reader

Reader editorial employees voted 19-0 Friday to unionize as the Reader unit of the Chicago Newspaper Guild. The new unit will now elect officers and select a bargaining team to negotiate a contract with Wrapports LLC, owner of the Reader and the Sun-Times. Over the years, the idea of joining a union was raised occasionally at the 43-year-old Reader without gaining any traction. Serious discussions among the staff began after the paper was purchased by Wrapports in 2012 and moved from the building it once owned at 11 E. Illinois into the Sun-Times Media suite at 350 N. Orleans. Some of the Sun-Times editorial employees they share space with already belong to the Newspaper Guild. "We appreciate that staff exercised their right to vote and acknowledge the decision," Wrapports CEO Tim Knight wrote in a statement.

Featured Title: Chicago Reader Staff Vote 19-0 to Join Chicago Guild

Busy Sector Conference Energizes Guild Delegates in Orlando

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 1:20pm
Janelle HartmanJanuary 16, 2015NewsGuild-CWA

Guild delegates give retiring CWA President Larry Cohen a standing ovation.



A thunderous speech from CWA President Larry Cohen, a meticulous by-the-numbers look at the news industry, past, present and future, and success stories from locals were among the first-day highlights of the Guild conference underway in Orlando.


Cohen, who is retiring in June, received standing ovations Thursday at the beginning and end of his remarks, in which he praised the Guild for being a vital part of CWA and for fighting for First Amendment principles that matter to all Americans.


“This notion of democracy, a key part of it is journalism — the ability to investigate and write stories,” Cohen said. “What happens to journalism and to everyone in this room matters to our democracies and to our communities.”


About the Guild’s role in CWA, Cohen said that in looking from the dais to the audience, “I see a huge chunk of the leadership of our union.” He specifically thanked CWA board members and New York Guild President Bill O’Meara for his long and valuable service to the union’s Defense Fund Oversight Committee.


In typically impassioned form, Cohen went on to discuss jobs, wages, fair trade and how vast income inequality is toxic to democracy. He discussed his movement-building mission and how creating a broad coalition of like-minded organizations — unions, social justice activists, the faith community, environmentalists and others — is the only way to build a force powerful enough to overcome the influence of corporations and billionaires on American politics.


Honoring Cohen’s commitment to movement-building, a pursuit he will continue beyond CWA, the Guild announced that it is creating the “Larry Cohen Movement-Building Award.” It will be awarded every two years at sector conferences to members or local staff who do the most to strengthen the Guild's ties to the larger struggle for social and economic justice.


Starting the conference on an upbeat note , Guild members from Sheboygan, the St. Louis-based United Media Guild and Pittsburgh shared stories of struggles that led to success.


Sheboygan President Janet Weyandt and Detroit Administrative Officer Lou Grieco discussed beating back a decertification attempt at the small-but-growing Wisconsin local. Weyandt thanked the international Guild and the Detroit local for freeing Grieco to help with the campaign. In the end, the people behind the attempt swayed no one else to their side.


In the vein of movement-building, UMG President Jeff Gordon described how Gatehouse units in his local and other locals as far away as New England were banding together to fight for raises, job security and other aspects of a fair contract.


Pittsburgh 1st Vice President Ed Blazino told delegates how the local had finally won a contract after more than eight years without raises. Overwhelmingly ratified, the contract is the first since 2006 without concessions. Blazino noted that bosses balked at first when the local wanted to serve pies in the newsroom — a campaign statement about getting “our piece of the pie” — but changed their minds when members said they’d serve it on the sidewalk outside.


Guild International Chair Martha Waggoner also spoke of successes, telling delegates that “We in the union and in the greater progressive movement have had plenty to lift our spirits recently.” She noted CWA’s major organizing victory, bringing into the union14,000 American Airlines agents, mostly located in southern states. And several recent National Labor Relations Board rulings have been favorable for unions, such as affirming the right of workers to use employer email to discuss workplace issues and organizing.


The successes helped balance a day that largely focused on the media industry’s troubles and changes and the workers caught in the middle.


TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer stressed that it is journalists themselves who must save journalism.


“It is our job – those of us who care about media, journalism, reliable information – it is for us to force choices that are both sustainable and sufficient, “Lunzer said. “I’ve said this many times – no one else will do it. The purveyors of the craft must protect it. It’s why guilds were formed. And, we are a modern Guild – fighting to sustain a craft in a world that has declared information is free.


“Yes – we support free speech,” he continued. “We love the web – many of our organizations were some of the very first to have web sites. Opinions aplenty, and a place to shout at the world. But good, old-fashioned sourced-journalism, researched, fact-checked, edited – there is no replacement for that.”


CWA Canada Director Martin O’Hanlon said 2014 was another year of damaging cuts affecting members, with the Halifax Chronicle Herald and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) the hardest hit.


“In Halifax, a proud and vibrant newsroom was stunned and battered by deep cuts that came with no warning, empathy or delicacy,” O’Hanlon said. “At the CBC, we are losing hundreds of colleagues and unless we get a government that will provide adequate funding, the survival of our public broadcaster is in doubt.”


But members, by joining the fight and bringing citizens on board, can change that. “As we begin 2015, I remain confident that things will improve, but we can’t just sit back and hope,” he said. “We must stand up for jobs and journalism, and we must build a movement for social and economic justice. After all, if we don’t, who will?”


Both the gloom and the hope from Thursday’s speakers was reflected in the afternoon presentation by analyst and “Newsonomics” columnist Ken Doctor, whose number-crunching offered good and bad news.


On the one hand, to no one’s surprise, print is on a “permanent downward spiral.” Newspapers, which failed spectacularly to react effectively to the digital revolution, are valued at 5 to 10 percent of what they could have sold for a decade earlier. New owners determined to cut costs, and job, have brought costs down about 25 percent, while profits go up. Meanwhile, “reader credibility takes a hit,” Doctor said.


The better news is that new web-based models for news gathering and reporting are putting 60 to 70 percent of their budgets into content. For most newspapers, the percentage is closer to 12.5. New models spend about 15 percent for sals, 5 percent for audience analysis and about 5 percent for management.


“Look how different that is from any kind of legacy publishing company,” Doctor said. The strategy is “how do I create as much content as I can at as low a cost as possible?”


Doctor stressed that “mobile,” via smartphones and tablets, is rapidly becoming the primary way that most people access content online. “The age of mobile majority is upon us,” he said. Right now, about 55 percent of time online is via desktop, 30 percent on smartphones and 15 percent on laptops. Within five years, however, he said desktop use will have fallen to 25 percent.


At the same time, hours online will soar. In the TV-age of 1975, Americans spent 16 hours a week in front of a screen. Teenagers today average 70 hours of screen time weekly. By 2018, the average for everyone will be 55 hours a week. Newspapers and all new news models have to understand that and be on board to survive.


Thursday night was capped with a banquet, but a half hour beforehand, Guild members crowded into a small conference room to listen to Cohen and other speakers on CWA’s monthly Town Hall phone call (pictured below).


Announcing he was live from Orlando and surrounded by Guild members, the room exploded in applause and cheers that were heard by listeners from coast to coast.


Find more pictures on the Guild's Facebook page.




FBI Director Criticizes NY Times for Anonymous al Qaida Quote

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 1:03pm
Michael SchmidtJanuary 16, 2015The New York Times

FBI Director James Comey sharply criticized The New York Times on Thursday for anonymously quoting a member of a terrorist group in an article about the deadly attacks last week in France. The article, which ran on the front page on Thursday, quoted a member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who addressed the timing of the attacks. The Qaeda member said that although the operations were executed by one man who had ties to the Qaeda group and another who had ties to the Islamic State, the coordination was a result of their friendship — not of common planning between the groups. “Your decision to grant anonymity to a spokesperson for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula so he could clarify the role of his group in assassinating innocents, including a wounded police officer, and distinguish it from the assassination of other innocents in Paris in the name of another group of terrorists, is both mystifying and disgusting,” Mr. Comey said in a letter to The Times.

Charlie Hebdo-Style Satire Has Long History in France

Mon, 01/12/2015 - 10:27am
Adam GopnikJanuary 12, 2015The New Yorker

The staff of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, massacred in an act that shocked the world last week, were not the gentle daily satirists of American editorial cartooning. Nor were they anything like the ironic observers and comedians of manners most often to be found in our own beloved stable here at The New Yorker. They worked instead in a peculiarly French and savage tradition, forged in a long nineteenth-century guerrilla war between republicans and the Church and the monarchy. There are satirical magazines and “name” cartoonists in London and other European capitals, particularly Brussels, but they tend to be artier in touch and more media-centric in concern. Charlie Hebdo was—will be again, let us hope—a satirical journal of a kind these days found in France almost alone. Not at all meta or ironic, like The Onion, or a place for political gossip, like the Paris weekly Le Canard Enchaîné or London’s Private Eye, it kept alive the nineteenth-century style of direct, high-spirited, and extremely outrageous caricature

Q&A: Steve Greenhouse on End of a Era for Labor Reporting

Mon, 01/12/2015 - 10:09am
Elias IsquithJanuary 12, 2015Salon

Salon talks with Steve Greenhouse, the New York Times labor reporter (and Guild member) who has taken a buyout from the paper. "Because Greenhouse was one of the most influential and respected labor reporters left in traditional media, and because his buyout came during an era when organized labor is in worse shape than it’s been in perhaps as much as a century, Salon decided recently to speak with him over the phone about his decision to step down, his plans for the future, the ways the American workplace has changed in the past generation, and what he expects from the media on workplace and labor issues in the future."

Featured Title: Greenhouse Expects Labor Beat to Continue at New York Times

How the World's Newspapers Reacted to Charlie Hebdo Attack

Thu, 01/08/2015 - 11:06am
StaffJanuary 8, 2015BuzzFeed

Buzzfeed posts a collection of some of the most powerful front pages from around the world today in response to Wednesday's terror attack in France at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people, including journalists, editorial cartoonists and a policeman, were killed.

Featured Title: Powerful Front Pages Tell Story of Paris Terror Attack

Maine Judge Admits Mistake; Rescinds Media Gag Order

Wed, 01/07/2015 - 2:21pm
Scott DolanJanuary 7, 2015Portland Press Herald

A Portland, Maine, judge who was criticized by First Amendment experts for restricting media coverage of an attorney’s domestic assault case on Monday re-opened the proceeding Wednesday and admitted he made a mistake. Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz appeared in a courtroom in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland before a crowd of about 35 people, mostly members of the media and curious lawyers, as he issued an apology. “It’s certainly very clear that this particular order was not lawful and I should not have issued it,” Moskowitz said. “That order is now rescinded.”

Terrorists Kill 12 in Attack on French Satirical Magazine

Wed, 01/07/2015 - 9:51am
Into Landauro & Noemie BisserbeJanuary 7, 2015Wall Street Journal

Armed men Wednesday stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine targeted in the past for its cartoons on Islam, leaving 12 people dead. Those killed include Jean Cabut, a graphic artist known to readers by his pen name Cabu, and Stéphane Charbonnier, the magazine’s editor in chief known by his pseudonym Charb. A police officer was also killed as the gunmen escaped. Four other people are "between life and death," French President François Hollande told the media. He said several terrorist attacks have been prevented in recent weeks. “We knew we were under threat, like other countries in the world,” he said. “We are under threat because we are a country of freedom and because we are a country of freedom we ward off threats and will punish aggressors.” Global support for the magazine and free speech is exploding over social media, with many people posting "Je Suis Charlie," "I am Charlie."

Featured Title: Global Outrage as Terrorists Kill French Magazine Workers

Media Critic Reider: Stop Adding 'Gate' to Every Public Flap

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 12:20pm
Rem RiederJanuary 6, 2015USA Today

Ever since a certain third-rate burglary in Washington, D.C., nearly 42 years ago, a tail "gate" "has been the fate of every scandal, near scandal, faux scandal, flap, brouhaha, kerfuffle, hubbub and conturbation that comes along. It gets the gate. Or, rather, the -gate. And it's got to stop. Now,," writes USA Today's Rem Rieder." It's not cute. It's not cool. It's not clever. I will give it knee-jerk. And lazy. And oh, so predictable. And really, really annoying. But there is a more serious reason to show gate to the gate. By awarding the suffix to everything from serious government misconduct to the exposure of Janet Jackson's breast during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII (surely you remember Nipplegate), you create a false equivalency that ends up trivializing everything."

NewsBios Site Supplies PR Agencies with Journalist 'Dossiers'

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 9:39am
Chris IpJanuary 6, 2015Columbia Journalism Review

"When you must know what is NOT in their official bios - get their NewsBios™." So says the website providing personal information about journalists to PR agencies and anyone willing to pay at least $200 for the service. CJR reports that the company provides “reputation insurance” to PR agencies and corporations preparing for interviews. It compiles dossiers on journalists by scouring obituaries, social media, real-estate records, and past stories. "The rub is in a disclaimer: NewsBios doesn’t verify the information found online," CJR reports. So it asked three journalists to factcheck excerpts from their files. Dyan Machan of Barron's tells CJR, “I found the stuff pretty weird and only partially true."

Risen Takes the Stand in Federal Court but Gives Up Nothing

Mon, 01/05/2015 - 6:26pm
Matt ApuzzoJanuary 5, 2015The New York Times

New York Times reporter James Rise took the witness stand in federal court Monday and refused to answer any questions that could help the Justice Department home in on his confidential sources. In tense, sometimes confrontational testimony, Risen declared in the pretrial hearing that he would not say anything that could help prosecutors in their case against a former C.I.A. officer who is set to go on trial soon on charges of providing classified information for Risen's 2006 book “State of War.” Risen, a New York Guild member who was honored by the international Guild last year (pictured), has been challenging a subpoena in the case for years, but this was his first appearance in court.  Risen fought the subpoena to the Supreme Court and lost, but said he would still not reveal his sources. “I am not going to provide the government with information that they seem to want to use to create a mosaic to prove or disprove certain facts,” he said.

Featured Title: Risen Takes the Stand But Still Won't Reveal Sources to Feds

Musicians Increasingly Restricting Concert Photography

Mon, 01/05/2015 - 10:28am
Chuck YarboroughJanuary 5, 2015The Plain Dealer

Cleveland Plain Dealer pop music reporter Chuck Yarborough, a member of the Northeast Ohio Guild, doesn't think musicians have valid reasons for increasingly restricting professional and amateur photography at concerts. "If we're allowed to shoot at all – Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars are among the big names who refuse to allow media pros to photograph their concerts – it's usually limited to one, two or three songs, and way too often from the soundboard. Now before you go thinking, "That's your problem,'' let me point out something: There's a structure on the shores of Lake Erie that houses some pretty amazing photographs. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has stage shots of everyone from Chuck Berry to the Beatles and more. Those pictures, black-and-white and grainy, are the visual history of rock 'n' roll, and in their way are as important as the scratchy old 45s of Elvis, the Beach Boys and Patti Page. Few of those images came from "the first three songs,'' or were taken from the back of the arenas or concert halls. Some of the most famous are from right ON the stage, even."

Judge: Harsh TripAdvisor Post Protected by Oregon Shield Law

Wed, 12/31/2014 - 2:01pm
Aimee GreenDecember 31, 2014The Oregonian

A Lincoln City hotel lost its fight to hold an anonymous person liable for a scathing review on TripAdvisor.com that its owners worried was driving away business. A Multnomah County Circuit judge said he would not compel the travel website to hand over the name of the commenter because -- just like traditional news organizations, such as newspapers and TV stations -- TripAdvisor is protected under Oregon’s media shield law. Judge Christopher Marshall’s October ruling effectively killed the Ashley Inn’s $74,500 defamation lawsuit against TripAdvisor reviewer, “12Kelly,” who among other things, wrote that the 75-unit inn’s “rooms are nasty.” Because the Ashley Inn had no specific person to sue, the case was dismissed earlier this month.