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Former Newsweek Reporter Recalls 4 Months in Iranian Jail

5 hours 27 min ago
Maziar BahariJuly 28, 2014The Washington Post

Last week, Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi and two photojournalists were arrested in Iran. Officials haven’t explained why a dozen armed men raided Rezaian’s home; they haven’t offered up very much information at all. But I have a good sense of what Rezaian and his colleagues may be going through. The same thing happened to me. At Evin (prison), I was at their mercy. I was accused of being a spy for different agencies — the CIA, Mossad, MI6 and Newsweek. They interrogated me, then put me into solitary confinement. On the walls, other prisoners had scribbled messages: “My God, have mercy on me;” “My God, I repent;” and “Please help me, God.”

Guild Takes Action Against El Diario's Nonunion Hiring Spree

9 hours 5 min ago
StaffJuly 28, 2014The Newspaper Guild of New York

Six weeks after illegally firing eight NY Guild members, the Spanish-language newspaper El Diario has gone on a nonunion hiring spree, leading the Guild to seek a court order to force the paper to reinstate the workers. "At the time of the layoffs, management claimed it was 'forced' to make the cuts due to a 'challenging business environment.' Since then, however, the company has hired at least eight new employees (and possibly more) in nonunion capacities, even though they are doing Guild-represented work, including the work of the employees who were fired," the NY Guild reports. Photo: Rally outside ImpreMedia, which owns El Diario, after the June 13 layoffs.

'News of the World' Had Only 1 Rule: Get the Story at Any Cost

9 hours 14 min ago
Nick DaviesJuly 28, 2014The Guardian

In 2005, Andy Coulson was the award-winning editor of the News of the World, presiding over a culture of ruthless exploitation. In the second extract from his new book Hack Attack, Nick Davies examines a world where there was only one rule – get the story at any cost. "There was no room for doubt or conscience. Human feelings did not come into it. The News of the World was exposing bad people – all in the public interest. Privacy did not come into it. Privacy was for paedophiles, as the former feature writer, Paul McMullan, used to say. There was no escape. If a public figure admitted to using cocaine or enjoying sex, they had sacrificed their right to privacy. If a public figure refused to admit to using cocaine and enjoying sex, they were misleading the public, so they had no right to privacy in the first place. The News of the World might keep its own behaviour private. But that was different. The important thing was to get the story."

Poynter Explores Maine Guild Member's 29-Part Series

9 hours 55 min ago
Kristen HareJuly 28, 2014Poynter

The whole thing started with a question — what was happening with the Passamaquoddy in Maine? Sources had reached out to Colin Woodard, a reporter (and Guild member) with the Portland Press Herald, about rule of law problems on the Passamaquoddy reservation. There was no constitution and no way to hold elected officials accountable. There was corruption. Woodard wanted to know where those problems began. “And I eventually found myself in the early 1960s in a Maine that I did not recognize and one that was shocking and frankly horrifying,” Woodard said. He discovered the brutal murder of an Indian man; a young, progressive attorney from out of town; a tribal chief who wanted justice. The dominos started falling. They led back to the present. The story was an amazing one, Woodard said, “and one that said so much about how we are.” He has told that story in small chapters with striking photography from photojournalist Gabe Souza every day since the end of June with “Unsettled: Triumph and Tragedy in Maine’s Indian Country.”

Wichita Reporters Get Rare Access to Koch Brothers

10 hours 8 min ago
Deron LeeJuly 28, 2014Columbia Journalism Review

If you want to score a sit-down with the Kochs, it helps to work in Wichita. With that access, the Eagle offers a portrayal of the Kochs that’s different than the one you probably know—a counterpoint to the sometimes overheated critical coverage of the Kochs in other outlets. But the articles walk a fine line between discussing the Kochs’ PR objectives and advancing them—and sometimes come down on the wrong side, especially when the story inevitably turns to politics. Given the public interest in the Kochs’ political activity, and their recalcitrance about speaking to the press, it’s hard not to see this as a missed opportunity.

Journalists Get Runaround from Non-Responsive EPA

10 hours 49 min ago
Lisa Song & Jim MorrisJuly 28, 2014Inside Climate News

Journalists covering air pollution caused by fracking in South Texas say their experience dealing with the EPA has become all too common. Instead of granting on-the-record interviews, "EPA press officers have told us to put our questions in writing, an increasingly common response from federal agencies under the Obama administration. The process usually goes like this: A journalist calls the press office to schedule an interview but instead is told to submit written questions. Once these are in, a press officer gets answers from scientists or other officials and then crafts a written response. In most cases, nobody involved in the process—not even the EPA press officers—will agree to be quoted by name." The article chronicles three months of attempts to get EPA experts to talk.

Afghan Police Officer Convicted, Sentenced to Death in Killing of AP Photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 2:20pm
Associated PressJuly 24, 2014Huffington Post

A Kabul court announced Wednesday that the Afghan police officer charged with killing Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran AP correspondent Kathy Gannon has been convicted and sentenced to death. It was the first court hearing in the case and, under Afghan law, the verdict and sentence are subject to several stages of review. Six judges at the Kabul District Court found former Afghan police unit commander Naqibullah guilty of murder and treason over the attack in the southeastern city of Khost that targeted the international journalists as they prepared to cover the first round of the country's presidential election.

For White House Interviews, It's Never Just One-on-One

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:03am
Paul FarhiJuly 24, 2014The Washington Post

When NBC News White House reporter Chuck Todd conducts background interviews with government officials these days, he and his source usually aren’t the only ones in the room or on the call. Typically, there’s a third party: A representative of the White House’s press staff monitors the conversation. Sometimes, the press monitor interjects to clarify a point the official makes. Other times, he or she remains silent. Each time, however, “it feels like having a third wheel on a date,” Todd says. “It’s like having a chaperon.” He adds, “There’s so much precaution now in the way people in power interact with the press.” The press-minder phenomenon isn’t limited to the White House. Reporters who cover other parts of official Washington, such as Capitol Hill, can usually count on encountering an official escort, turning a one-on-one interview into a one-on-two.

Media Investors Buy Guild-Represented Providence Journal

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 2:00pm
StaffJuly 23, 2014Providence Journal

Dallas-based A.H. Belo Corporation, which has owned The Providence Journal for 17 years, announced late Tuesday afternoon that it agreed to sell the newspaper operation to New Media Investment Group Inc., parent company of GateHouse Media, for $46 million. Providence Guild President John Hill said the local needs more information than it's gotten so far. "The announcement pretty much confirmed the rumors that we'd been hearing over the past few weeks. We're obviously following this closely but unless and until the sale is concluded, and we know the terms, particularly how they will affect our members, there isn't a lot to say."

Smiles All Around as Chicago Guild Helps Women in Need

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 1:58pm
Women's CommitteeJuly 23, 2014Chicago Newspaper Guild

The Chicago Newspaper Guild Women’s Committee held its second, hugely successful, community event this month, with a “beauty night” at the St. Mary of Providence Home in Chicago. The charitable facility is home to many women in need of developmental training.


Between 35 and 40 eager participants were treated to make-up application, facials, manicures, massages and hair styling July 10 by a half-dozen Guild members.


“We all felt our hearts warming as the ladies laughed and smiled,” said Grace Catania, chair of the Chicago Guild’s interpreters’ unit. “I think the biggest giggles happened at Beth Kramer’s table. Beth did hand, back, and shoulder massages, and engaged the women in delightful conversation.”


In April, the Women’s Committee held its first event at the Home, an evening of games and refreshments.


The latest event was all about the morale boost that comes from feeling and looking good.


A makeshift hair salon was Martha Freites’ station. “Straightening, curling, up-dos – you name it; Martha transformed the ladies and put many smiles on faces,” Catania said.


Emilia Cartegena served as facialist. “She made the women glow by applying scrubs and masques,” Catania said. “We were amazed at how peaceful a simple facial made the ladies.”


Sylvia Valenzuela and her daughter, Mia, were in charge of applying makeup. They helped the ladies choose colors for eye shadow, lipstick, and blush and taught them how to apply it for best results.


The event was organized by Grace Doyle, who provided the manicures. “She was so busy that she needed additional pairs of hands to catch up with her line of clients,” said Catania, who was in charge of refreshments, photos and filling in when lines were long at someone’s station.


The Home provided space and supplies, but the Women’s Committee could use donations – and extra pairs of hands -- for future events.


Catania said St. Mary’s of Providence asked if the committee would help out with show makeup for the Home’s fall production of “The Wizard of Oz.”


“We will be looking for supply donations and more Women’s Committee members to help out,” she said. “The event will be in September or October. Watch for the announcement!”


AP Members Protest Nationwide as Talks Hit One Year

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:10am
Martha WaggonerJuly 22, 2014News Media Guild

Marking the one-year anniversary of difficult contract talks with The Associated Press, staffers covered by the News Media Guild are participating in multiple protests today. The Guild has pushed for affordable health care and job security during a year of bargaining that began July 22, 2013, while the company continues to demand major concessions. Bargaining is scheduled for today and Wednesday, July 22-23. Protest highlights include a four-day byline strike, "Happy Anniversary" cards being signed by members and sent to bosses and AP management, a lunchtime rally outside AP's NYC headquarters and lots of social media action. Photo: Chicago AP staffers blow out candles on a cupcake to mark the not-so-happy anniversary.

Albany Fights Firing of Ad Sales Employee, Guild Activist

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 3:02pm
LeadershipJuly 21, 2014Albany Newspaper Guild


Ignoring an outpouring of support from her colleagues, the Times Union on Friday fired one of its best and brightest employees, Lindsay Connors, by sending her a letter at home on her day off telling her not to return.


The company ignored a petition from her colleagues, testimony from top sales staff, posters of support on co-workers’ desks, and numerous objections to unfair standards that targeted her alone.


Albany President Tim O’Brien said the union is calling for her immediate reinstatement.


The firing comes as Connors has a charge pending with the state Human Rights Commission over alleged inappropriate comments by a company vice president.


Connors also riled the company by shedding light on actions in advertising: a team of ad sales people branded “terrorists” in a sales competition; staff told to dance for bosses as part of another competition, and, just last week, the Times Union outsourcing ad design work without negotiation.


Connors is a strong Guild member who helped raise awareness about workplace bullying and, with three colleagues, including O’Brien, led a workshop on the subject at the Guild’s multi-council meeting in April. At that meeting, she received the union’s top honor, the Guild Service Award for her hard work on behalf the Guild. (Click here for story.)


“Publisher George Hearst has shredded his credibility with the advertising staff,” O’Brien said. “When employees came to him to discuss how badly employees are being treated, he did nothing.”


A single mother of four, Connors has faced grossly unfair standards since returning from maternity leave last year, For instance, the company expected her to call a potential advertiser every seven minutes without being given a call list. She was told to set up appointments for other salespeople with no guarantee that she’d get any credit for a sale. Multiple times, sales closed, the company was paid, the salesperson got credit and commissions, but Connors got nothing.


Audaciously, the company disciplined her for not hitting the sales goals it had imposed on her -- rules not a single other employee faced. When the Guild asked what the average length of time is for closing a sale, the company said it had no idea -- it didn’t track that information for anyone but Connors.


“No one among Lindsay’s peers believes the company’s fraudulent claims that Lindsay is anything but a stellar employee,” O’Brien said. “She can hold her head up high. The truth is known to all her colleagues and many friends here.”



Free Press Takes University to Court over Transparency

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:01am
Jonathan PetersJuly 21, 2014Columbia Journalism Review

Investment commitments and funding of more than $120 million, a property purchase for $12.8 million, construction of a new biological sciences building—all unanimously approved by the University of Michigan Board of Regents without public deliberation or discussion. Those allegations, among others, are at the heart of a lawsuit filed last week by the Guild-represented Detroit Free Press and the Lansing State Journal, in the Michigan Court of Claims. The papers are suing the Regents under the state Open Meetings Act and the state constitution, which both guarantee in different ways public access to government meetings.

Kara Swisher: Tech's Most Feared and Well-Liked Journalist

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 10:32am
Benjamin WallaceJuly 21, 2014New York Magazine

The technology journalist Kara Swisher likes to call herself Sherlock Homo, but on a spring evening in Austin, where she’d come for the SXSW Interactive conference, she wasn’t following any particular trail of clues. Padding through the crowd on the second floor of Perry’s Steakhouse, where a venture-capital firm and a money-management firm were throwing a party, she’d chatted briefly with Steve Case, founder of AOL, who greeted her with the wary intimacy one might show a pit bull of uncertain loyalty. So begins New York magazine's sprawling profile of Swisher, a former Guild member at The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. 

Ellsberg Billboards Around DC Urge Whistleblowing

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:57am
StaffJuly 21, 2014Institute for Public Accuracy

Pushing for whistleblowing in the nation’s capital, the new organization ExposeFacts, part of the Institute for Public Accuracy, has funded 13 billboards near Capitol Hill, the Justice Department, the White House, the Government Accountability Office, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, a popular bookstore at Dupont Circle and other prominent locations. The six-foot billboards display a message from Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: “Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait until a new war has started, don’t wait until thousands more have died, before you tell the truth with documents that reveal lies or crimes or internal projections of costs and dangers. You might save a war’s worth of lives.” Expose Facts bills itself as "For Whistleblowing, Journalism and Democracy. Learn more at www.exposefacts.org.

Transparency Measure Backed By Guild on Oakland Ballot

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:35am
Richard KneeJuly 21, 2014Pacific Media Workers Guild

hanks partly to the Pacific Media Workers Guild’s efforts, a city charter amendment aimed at improving transparency in local government and politics will go before Oakland voters in November. The amendment to give Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission broader authority, more staffing and greater independence and strengthen whistleblower protections has the support of the PMWG, other journalists’ groups, current and former commissioners and scores of good-government advocates. Oakland’s eight-member City Council voted 7-0 on July 15 to put the amendment on the ballot after hearing from about two dozen activists, including a PMWG representative, who all supported the measure. The PMWG, acting on a recommendation from its Legislative and Political Committee, voted to back the amendment at a joint meeting of the Local’s Executive Committee, Representative Assembly and general membership on June 21. Photo: Oakland City Council.

GateHouse Targets Rockford/Freeport Photojournalists

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 1:51pm
Jeff GordonJuly 17, 2014United Media Guild

The two surviving photographers at the Rockford Register Star and Freeport Journal-Standard are under siege. During the latest round of bargaining for a first contract at these newspapers, the company submitted a proposal that would allow it to outsource photography. The papers already make extensive use of freelancers. This proposal would allow the company to eliminate the remaining staff positions. Jeff Gordon, president of the St. Louis-based United Media Guild writes, "This is not an idle GateHouse threat. After the Dow Jones Local Media Group came under GateHouse Media control, that chain’s flagship newspaper, the Middletown Times Herald-Record, laid off all four of its photographers so it could exclusively use freelancers."

Snowden: Urgent for Journalists, Others to Upgrade Security

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 1:44pm
Comments Made During 7-Hour Interview with The Guardian​​

Alan Rusbridger & Ewen MacAskillJuly 17, 2014The Guardian

In an exhaustive interview with The Guardian, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden urged lawyers, journalists, doctors, accountants, priests and others with a duty to protect confidentiality to upgrade security in the wake of the spy surveillance revelations. "What last year's revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted communications on the internet are no longer safe. Any communications should be encrypted by default," he said. Among many other subjects discussed, Snowden said he could live with being sent to Gitmo, but if tried for leaking top-secret documents he wants a trial by jury, not judge; he vehemently denied being a Russian spy; and he described an NSA culture in which nude photographs of people under surveillance are passed around among employees.

Hartford Courant: Delivering the News Since Colonial Times

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:23am
PR NewswireJuly 17, 2014Providence Journal

Nearly 12 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, another important and historic work was printed -- the very first edition of what is today The Hartford Courant. The nation's oldest continuously published newspaper is marking its 250th anniversary with a yearlong celebration of the moments that have shaped the state, nation and readers' lives, from before the American Revolution to today. Among fun historical facts about the paper, George Washington placed an ad in the Courant to lease part of his Mount Vernon land. Thomas Jefferson sued paper for libel -- and lost. And Mark Twain tried to buy stock in the Courant but his offer was turned down.

Journalists Injured, Arrested Amid Iraq Violence in Past Week

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 9:20am
StaffJuly 17, 2014Committee to Protect Journalists

At least two journalists were wounded, another arrested, and a newspaper office raided in the past week in Iraq amid heightened political uncertainty and violence, according to news reports and local press freedom groups. "Times of crisis put journalists at greater risk, but it is exactly at these times that the work of journalists is crucial," said CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. The wounded journalists were on assignment for the U.S.-funded Arabic TV station Al-Hurra; one of them may be an AP cameraman but AP hasn't confirmed that.