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Star-Ledger Report on Death in Police Custody Wins Broun

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 2:53pm
Janelle HartmanAugust 3, 2015NewsGuild-CWA   Calling it a “stunning expose” on a death in police custody, the panel judging 2014 entries in NewsGuild-CWA’s annual Heywood Broun awards has named Christopher Baxter’s “A Death Turns Into a Mystery” the top winner.   Baxter, of NJ Advance Media/Newark Star-Ledger, spent five months on the investigation, which was published as an eight-page special section. Online, it appeared as an interactive multimedia presentation that included a first-of-its-kind database on every arrest-related death in New Jersey during the past decade.   When Baxter began his project, very little had been revealed about the death of Kenwin Garcia. Unlike more recent cases of police-involved deaths, there were no dashboard or body cam videos, no reliable witnesses, not even records of 911 calls.   But using all the tools of investigative reporting, including 18 public records requests, Baxter discovered that police had repeatedly slammed Garcia to the ground and that he may have suffocated while being restrained. Reaction to the story was swift, with lawmakers introducing bills requiring independent investigations of officer-involved deaths. Police also have increased training on dealing with the mentally ill.   “In probing the mysterious death of Kenwin Garcia, the Newark Star-Ledger demonstrated the best of public affairs journalism,” judge Jacqui Banaszynski said. “It took on power on behalf of the powerless, was dogged in its pursuit of information that the police wanted to shield, and laid out a case that is as credible as it is incredible. Given the disturbing rash of police-involved deaths, the timing was perfect, and should add to a painful and necessary discussion about the divides in our society.”   The Guild will present the Broun award and a $5,000 check to Baxter at a ceremony Oct. 7.   The Pulitzer-winning Banaszynski, who currently holds the Knight Chair in Editing at the Missouri School of Journalism, was joined on the judging panel by 2015 Pulitzer winner Adam Zyglis, editorial cartoonist for the Buffalo News, and former New York Daily News reporter Michael Allen, now a senior writer/editor at the Communications Workers of America. Retired Guild Secretary-Treasurer Carol Rothman served as chair.   Judges reviewed more than 80 entries this year, describing “impressive work that highlighted major injustices, challenged corruption, provided compelling insights into some of the most troubling issues in society, and worked to bring about meaningful change.”   Two other entries were chosen for Awards of Substantial Distinction, with include a $1,000 prize.   "Child Protection Failures in Minnesota" by Brandon Stahl of the Star Tribune "checked all the boxes with great storytelling, underdog quality and statewide impact," the judges said in a statement. Using the image and story of Eric Dean, "the boy they couldn't save," Stahl moved hundreds of readers, the governor and lawmakers to make Minnesota a safer place for children.   Stahl's stories revealed the state's softer philosophy of family engagement and a futile accountability system of child mortality reviews that sometimes proved disastrous. The series included an interactive online database that memorialized the 56 children who died since 2005 despite being involved in the child protection system.   The second award of distinction goes to the reporting team of Lisa Song and David Hasemeyer, of Inside Climate News, Jim Morris of The Center for Public Integrity, and Greg Gilderman of The Weather Channel, for “Big Oil, Bad Air.” Combining extensive data analysis with powerful human narratives and vivid graphics and photographs, it revealed the complex and challenging situation of fracking in South Texas. The package included 42 stories, three mini-documentaries, and animation to illustrate how "bad air" can escape from fracking facilities.   The project gave voice to people who felt their health complaints were being ignored, forced state and federal officials to respond to questions about air testing, and highlighted cutting-edge scientific research.   The judges also gave a special honorable mention to "Instead of Therapy, Violence and Chaos," by David Jackson, Gary Marx and Duaa Eldeib of the Chicago Tribune. Their thorough reporting through first-person accounts of hundreds of mostly African-American Illinois wards revealed assaults and rapes, and the failure of authorities to act. Associate Managing Editor George Papajohn said in nominating the project, "Even before the third day of this five-part series, officials across the state were taking immediate steps to protect wards housed in the state's 50 facilities and begin a systematic overhaul of Illinois' mental health programs in ways that could better the lives of thousands of children."   The judges said the high quality of journalism they reviewed proves that, “For all the bemoaning of the state of the press, there is some amazing work being done."     -30-

NLRB Cites State J-R for Surveillance of Guild Members

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 1:43pm
Jeff GordonAugust 3, 2015United Media Guild

Finding that the State Journal-Register unlawfully surveilled union members during an informal demonstration, the National Labor Relations Board has upheld Unfair Labor Practice charges filed by the United Media Guild against the paper and Gatehouse Media. The NLRB also found that the company was "creating an atmosphere of surveillance in the workplace."

Exit, Stage Left: David Remnick on Jon Stewart's Legacy

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 11:16am
David RemnickAugust 3, 2015The New Yorker

Four nights a week for sixteen years, Jon Stewart, the host and impresario of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” has taken to the air to expose our civic bizarreries. He has been heroic and persistent. Blasted into orbit by a trumped-up (if you will) impeachment and a stolen Presidential election, and then rocketing through the war in Iraq and right up to the current electoral circus, with its commodious clown car teeming with would-be Commanders-in-Chief, Stewart has lasered away the layers of hypocrisy in politics and in the media. On any given night, a quick montage of absurdist video clips culled from cable or network news followed by Stewart’s vaudeville reactions can be ten times as deflating to the self-regard of the powerful as any solemn editorial—and twice as illuminating as the purportedly non-fake news that provides his fuel.

Bay News Rising: Student Journalists Revive Labor Reporting

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 9:08am
Carl HallAugust 3, 2015Pacific Media Workers Guild

Student journalists in the Pacific Media Workers Guild’s Bay News Rising summer program in social justice reporting have unleashed some amazing work. Erasmo Martinez looked at a hidden population in San Francisco — displaced people forced to live in their vehicles — and also covered an action by newly unionized cab drivers against the runaway Uberization of their industry. Elisabetta Silvestro offered an appreciation of independent bookstores, which actually appear to be gaining ground despite all the worrisome trends of Amazonian hegemony. Michaela Payne wrote a piece about an Oakland coffee roastery and its innovative, profit-sharing business model. “They learn a lot in school, but our emphasis on hard-hitting, but objective, labor reporting and stories about working people isn’t typically found in other programs,” says veteran journalist and Guild Freelancers chair Bill Synder. Photo by Emilia Rosales.

Featured Title: Bay News Rising: Student Journalists Revive Labor Beat

Criticism of Nail Salon Expose Brings a Strong Times Defense

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 1:16pm
Margaret Sullivan, Public EditorJuly 30, 2015The New York Times

In a week in which The Times has garnered some valid criticism, it also came under heavy attack from the august New York Review of Books. It published a blog post by a former Times reporter, Richard Bernstein, criticizing last spring’s reporting project, “Unvarnished,” which vividly laid out the poor working conditions and illegally low pay of nail salon workers in New York. Mr. Bernstein makes some points worth considering, but they are minor ones that do not mar the overall quality of the project. The Times’s response (which acknowledges some of those points) was persuasive. As James Warren, a former Chicago Tribune managing editor, wrote on Poynter.org about the complaint-and-response, “this may not be a very close call.”

Lunzer on Guardian Vote: 'A Big Day for the News Industry'

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 3:58pm
StaffJuly 29, 2015NewsGuild-CWA  Writers and staff members of The Guardian US announced today they have voted to join The NewsGuild-CWA in a 45-0 vote, held through an expedited election agreed to by The Guardian’s management and staff. The announcement is the latest in a series of organizing victories for digital news reporters.   “This is a big day not only for the writers and staff members at The Guardian US but for the news industry as a whole. Digital media is growing up, and it’s time our digital reporters received the same benefits and protections as their print media colleagues,” said Bernard Lunzer, President of The NewsGuild-CWA.   “The News Media Guild is pleased that the editorial staff of The Guardian US chose our union to represent them,” said News Media Guild President Martha Waggoner, the TNG-CWA local where The Guardian US staffers will join. “The Guardian has a history of great reporting that continues today. It’s a publication with a grand tradition of unionism that now includes its U.S. writers.”   The Guardian US writers and management released a joint statement announcing the vote to unionize:   We are proud to announce that the editorial staff of Guardian US have voted unanimously in favor of collective representation under the auspices of the News Media Guild, following a ballot which was conducted independently by the American Arbitration Association. The union has been voluntarily recognized by Guardian News & Media LLC following the result of that ballot.
  We would like to thank the News Media Guild and the Communications  Workers of America for their invaluable help, advice and support. Furthermore, we greatly appreciate the support shown by our unionized editorial colleagues in the UK and Australia, where the Guardian has a strong history of working in partnership with its unions.
  We are also grateful to the leadership shown by the Guardian US editor, Lee Glendinning, who immediately welcomed our initiative to seek collective representation. Our discussions with Guardian management have been conducted in a constructive manner and we're confident we can all achieve our stated goal - a long-term, sustainable future for the Guardian and its quality journalism.

Guardian US Staff Votes Unanimously to Join News Media Guild

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 3:51pm
Michael CalderoneJuly 29, 2015Huffington Post

The staff of the Guardian US voted unanimously Wednesday to unionize under the the Guild's wire service local, the News Media Guild. In a statement, Guardian staff said, "We would like to thank the News Media Guild and the Communications Workers of America for their invaluable help, advice and support. Furthermore, we greatly appreciate the support shown by our unionized editorial colleagues in the UK and Australia, where the Guardian has a strong history of working in partnership with its unions." The new union members also thanked their US editor, Lee Glendinning, "who immediately welcomed our initiative to seek collective representation. Our discussions with Guardian management have been conducted in a constructive manner and we're confident we can all achieve our stated goal - a long-term, sustainable future for the Guardian and its quality journalism."

Featured Title: In Unanimous Vote, Guardian US Staff Joins News Media Guild

The Decisions Behind the New York Magazine's Cosby Cover

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 9:43am
Al TompkinsJuly 29, 2015Poynter

When New York Magazine began planning its stunning cover of 35 women who accuse Bill Cosby of assault 30 women had come forward. Now, six months later the number is 46. The magazine had to navigate a range of ethical, journalistic and design challenges. For instance, is it fair to publicly accuse a person when he/she has not been charged? How would the magazine portray the women in still photographs? Even subtle decisions such as lighting, makeup and framing can affect reader impressions. Lauren Starke, New York Magazine director of public relations, answered a range of questions.

After Arab Spring, Journalism Briefly Flowered, Then Withered

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 11:35am
StaffJuly 27, 2015The Washington Post

The Arab Spring was supposed to usher in an era of greater political inclusion and freedom, including press freedom. Instead, in every country but Tunisia, it has led to the opposite: the near-disappearance of independent news and opinion, especially about governments and their security forces, The Washington Post reports in its second installment of "Controlling the Story," an ongoing series examining the human cost of reporting news around the world. "Four years after the revolt was swiftly crushed in Bahrain, independent journalists here can no longer safely take a notebook or camera to cover the continuing, if smaller, protests. They cannot safely write critically about elections, document discrimination against the majority Shiite population or report about the journalists and political activists still sitting in prison."

Service Award Winner Embodies the Best of Labor, Guild Ideals

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 3:40pm
StaffJuly 22, 2015Pacific Media Workers Guild

Guild Service Award winner Rebecca Rosen Lum, at head of table, teaches journalism students in the Pacific Media Workers Guild program, Bay News Rising. Photo by student Ekevara Kitpowsong.

Rebecca Rosen Lum of the Pacific Media Workers Guild is the latest winner of the Guild’s prestigious Charles B. Dale Service Award. Although she wasn’t able to pick up the award in person at the CWA Convention, local leaders delivered it to her. “I couldn’t have been more stunned – or more thrilled – to win this award,” she said. What follows is the local’s nomination, explaining why she is so deserving.

Rebecca’s service to the Guild started with a fist-pump in the summer of 2007 when she heard that her workplace, the Contra Costa Times, was the subject of a Guild organizing drive. Don Lattin, a religion writer and former Guild member at the San Francisco Chronicle, had just published a book, which Rebecca was writing about for a review in the CoCo Times.   At the end of the interview, Don mentioned to Rebecca that he understood an organizing effort was under way. Rebecca’s enthusiastic response was duly conveyed to the organizing committee and led to her being recruited as one of the committee’s first working members.   She never wavered in her support for her fellow workers, even when she was “laid off” by the CoCo Times owners shortly after the workers won recognition and formed the Guild’s BANG-East Bay unit.   Rebecca had been a staff writer who covered religion, politics, and general assignment beats.  She won many awards in her career and was nominated for a Pulitzer for her reporting on SROs.   Rebecca stayed engaged with the Guild and helped to establish the very first Guild Freelancers unit.  She was awarded a grant from the Berger Marks Foundation to help set up the unit.  She was a major force behind the “Arianna, Can you spare a dime?” campaign protesting the oppression of contributors whose work was used by Huffington Post in exchange for “exposure.”    HuffPo was acquired by AOL for millions of dollars, none of which was shared with the writers who helped to make it so popular. Rebecca and others set up a Facebook campaign with a petition drive in support of freelancers who contributed to HuffPo. Guild activists campaigned outside the HuffPo Bay Area offices as part of an overall project to draw attention to the use and abuse of freelancers. Appropriately embarrassed, HuffPo management responded with an agreement to engage with the freelancers.   Rebecca went on to help build the Guild Freelancers unit  --  now more than 100 strong --   that serves members with benefits that include media credentials, low-cost vision and dental plans, training programs and other services for the growing number of  media workers who no longer work in traditional newsrooms.  She remained chair of the unit until her election as local president.   In 2012, Rebecca joined forces with Kat Anderson, now the local’s administrative officer, to found Bay News Rising – the Guild’s first mentorship/training program for college journalism students. That program (now in its fourth summer) has exposed more than 40 students to labor reporting, matching them with Guild members as mentors and editing their work to prepare it for publication. Most importantly, these students are taught that there is value for their work and they should not work for free. Rebecca has been integral to the success of Bay News Rising, is a consummate mentor and editor herself, and has never waivered in her support of the mission of Guild Freelancers.   In 2013, Rebecca was elected president of the local as part of a “Unity” slate of leaders that were committed to the continued vitality and solidarity of Local 39521. As a leader, Rebecca has always been true to her reporter’s nature – she listens carefully, weighs all sides, asks the tough questions, and produces excellent efforts/work product.  This local continues to be productive and vital in the fast-paced, high-tech Bay Area environment, and Rebecca – as well as other freelance leaders – has been an instigator of constant training, innovation and outreach.   Rebecca recently chose to step down from her duties as local president.  As she battles Parkinson’s disease, her spirit and her support for her fellow media workers have never diminished. She continues her work as a mainstay of Guild Freelancers.   Rebecca’s work and life embody the best of organized labor and the ideals of The News Guild/CWA. Certainly, she has sacrificed much to help buoy this union – from a beloved reporting job to her own health. 

WashPost Petitions U.N. To Help Free Rezaian from Iran

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 10:21am
Joby WarrickJuly 22, 2015The Washington Post

The Washington Post appealed to the United Nations on Wednesday to help secure the release of jailed reporter Jason Rezaian, accusing the Iranian government of flagrant human-rights violations in a year of “arbitrary and unlawful” detention of the veteran journalist, company officials said. A petition filed before the U.N. Human Rights Council sought to increase the international pressure on the Iranian government over its treatment of Rezaian, whose 365 days in prison far surpass the record for any Western journalist held by the Islamic Republic.

Four International Journalists Reported Missing in Syria

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 9:41am
StaffJuly 22, 2015Committee to Protect Journalists

At least four international journalists have been reported missing in northern Syria in two separate incidents in the past month, in the latest indication of the profound dangers of reporting from inside the war-torn country. "The disappearance of these four journalists underscores that Syria remains an extremely risky place for the press," said CPJ's Middle East Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour from Washington D.C. "The media are at the mercy of all sides in the conflict, which have consistently shown not only a disregard for civilians' rights but a willingness to use journalists for their own deadly purposes."

Who's Making Money -- and Who Isn't -- in Local Online News

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 3:30pm
Joshua BentonJuly 21, 2015Nieman Lab

Michele’s List is an invaluable compilation of the most promising local online-native news sites trying to make a go of it in this disrupted age. Compiled by Michele McLellan, the list’s admissions criteria are that a site is “progressing on three fronts — content, engagement and revenue.”

Why the Laura Poitras FOIA Case is Bigger Than You Think

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 10:11am
Jack MurthaJuly 21, 2015Columbia Journalism Review

When the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras filed a complaint under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against three US government agencies last week, most media outlets ran stories on the details that built her argument, overlooking the issue of public records. After all, who could resist the story of a bitter and burned federal government hounding a journalist who appeared to have crossed some unspoken line? More than 50 times between 2006 and 2012, her lawsuit alleges, security forces targeted the journalist for intense rounds of detention and questioning. Government officials had, at one point, even confiscated her laptop, cellphone, and notebooks. t’s an important story with profound implications for the press. Yet lost in the narrative was the legal spine of her case, a second threat to journalism in this country: the worrisome way the federal government handles FOIA requests.

Post Editor Says Rezaian Trial 'Might Finally Be Nearing End'

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 2:17pm
Martin BaronJuly 20, 2015The Washington Post

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron issued a statement today on the trial of Post correspondent Jason Rezaian in Tehran: "After nearly two months of slow-motion judicial process, there are indications from Tehran that the closed-door trial of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian might finally be nearing its end... The charges that Jason faces, including espionage, are grave; they also could not be more ludicrous. Any fair outcome would clear Jason of these manufactured charges so that he can be released and reunited with his family.”

Point Park Drops Legal Challenge to Faculty Guild Unit

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 1:17pm
Eleanor ChuteJuly 20, 2015Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After 11 years, Point Park University has finally dropped all legal challenges to faculty representation by the Pittsburgh Guild. A news release today from the university stated, "The current administration at Point Park does not wish to spend any resources on a potentially costly legal battle with its full-time faculty. Therefore, the university will recognize the right of the full-time faculty to form a union and begin collective bargaining accordingly.“ Said Pittsburgh Guild President Michael A. Fuoco: "We are happy the will of the Point Park faculty is being recognized by the administration and look forward to negotiating a first-ever full-time faculty contract that is fair and equitable to all parties."

Featured Title: Pittsburgh's Point Park Drops Legal Challenge to Faculty Unit

Philly Guild Files Grievance Over Company's Dress Code

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 9:15am
Joel MathisJuly 20, 2015PhillyMag.com

Two weeks after ratifying a new contract with the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, the Philadelphia Guild has filed a grievance against the company over a dress code. "We believe that institution of such a code, without discussion and without the grandfathering in of employees of who have repeatedly violated the alleged code for decades, would be a change in work rules that was not negotiated," Bill Ross, the Guild's executive director, said in a memorandum to members. "We believe such a move would be a mandatory subject of bargaining."

Vice's Leopold a Wizard at Prying Secrets from the Government

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 9:06am
Ravi Somaiya July 20, 2015The New York Times

When the reporter Jason Leopold gets ready to take on the United States government, he psychs himself up by listening to the heavy metal bands Slayer and Pantera. Mr. Leopold describes himself as “a pretty rageful guy.” He argued recently with staff members at his son’s preschool because he objected to their references to “Indians” and they objected to his wearing family-unfriendly punk rock T-shirts to school meetings. Mr. Leopold, 45, who works for Vice News, reserves most of his aggression for dealing with the government. He has revealed about 20,000 pages of government documents, some of them the basis for explosive news stories. “Every time I have a FOIA I think nobody has come across, he seems to already have a piece of it,” said Adam Goldman, who reports on terrorism and national security for The Washington Post.

Newsonomics: When News Companies Aren't Built to Last

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 9:22am
Ken DoctorJuly 17, 2015Nieman Lab

Brutal. Sad. Depressing. Those were among the more common adjectives I got in response to last week’s column, “Newsonomics: Do newspaper companies have a strategy beyond milking papers for profit?” as I described the follow-on impact of Digital First Media’s failed May sale to Apollo Global Management. The column struck a midsummer chord, and it was as depressing to write as to read.

Washington Post Tests New 'Knowledge Map' Feature

Thu, 07/16/2015 - 3:30pm
StaffJuly 16, 2015The Washington Post

Today, The Post began testing a new feature called Knowledge Map, which can be seen in “Why the Islamic State leaves tech companies torn between free speech and security”. Knowledge Map gives readers an easier way to catch up on ongoing stories by quickly and seamlessly providing relevant background, additional information or answers to frequently asked questions, when the reader wants it. “We wanted to experiment with providing background information as a user reads a story to help bring context to a complicated topic, and we designed Knowledge Map to work in a way that would not interrupt the reading experience,” said Sarah Sampsel, director of digital strategy at The Post. “Knowledge Map makes reading the news a more personalized experience, giving readers access to additional information as they need or want it.”