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Student Paper Blasts Cal State Fullerton Over Transparency

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 12:07pm
Editorial BoardApril 24, 2015Daily Titan

In a front-page editorial Thursday, the Daily Titan of Cal State Fullerton blasts the administration for "a shameful track record of delaying and denying inquiries from Daily Titan reporters" Strategic Communications, the department that oversees media relations, has kept the university so tight-lipped that a great deal of information important to the interests of the CSUF’s students, faculty, staff and parents has gone unpublished. CSUF media relations officials block the Daily Titan’s access to administrators and require reporters to submit all questions through email, denying requests for in-person or phone interviews. When a response is received, sometimes more than a month later, the information it contains is often watered-down, filtered and written by a media relations officer. “It’s a terrible practice that signals an organization that is hiding something,” Frank LoMonte, the executive director of the Student Press Law Center, a nonprofit legal assistance agency that advocates for student First Amendment rights said. “It shows a lack of transparency, a lack of accountability and is also an indicator that the institution has much bigger problems.”

Why the PR Industry is Sucking Up Pulitzer Winners

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 11:55am
Jim TankersleyApril 24, 2015The Washington Post

The number of news reporters in the Washington, D.C., area nearly doubled over the last decade, from 1,450 to 2,760. In Los Angeles it grew by 20 percent. In New York City, it basically stayed flat. Outside of those cities, in that same timeframe, one out of every four reporting jobs vanished – 12,000 jobs in total, according to the Labor Department. Meanwhile, in the parts of the country that aren’t Washington or New York or L.A., nearly 20,000 new jobs sprung up in public relations, a 13 percent increase. These are signs of the collapse of the business model for regional news outlets and of the forces pulling on journalists outside a few insulated cities. They are the reasons why, when it came to light this week that two new winners of the Pulitzer Prize had left their medium-sized newspapers for careers in PR, no one should have been surprised.

Washington Post Guild to Publisher: Give Us a Fair Contract!

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 2:32pm
Janelle HartmanApril 23, 2015NewsGuild-CWA

With rallies, news releases, three “Colleagues Speak Out” videos and a petition signed by nearly 500 Guild members and other Washington Post employees, the Post unit of the Washington-Baltimore Guild is turning up the heat on owner Jeff Bezos and his management team as workers fight for a fair contract with wage increases and a secure pension.

At lunchtime Thursday, after gathering outside the Post building to read some of the names on the petitions, a group of about 25 staffers marched inside the Post's Washington, D.C., headquarters and upstairs to the publisher’s office to deliver the signatures. The petitions stress that a fair contract includes "a reasonable wage increase" -- better than the 1.5 percent a year the Post is offering in a two-year contract.

A fair contract also includes, "a fair pension, one that covers everyone, young and old, newcomers and veterans, including future hires." Workers said, "We expect a contract that reflects The Post's good fortune in having an overfunded pension -- not a contract that offers only freezes and feeble benefit formulas."

Further, a fair contract, "includes health-care benefits for part-timers." Currently, eight part-timers, people who work at least 15 but fewer than 30 hours a week, are on the Post plan, and Guild leaders say the annual cost to cover all of them is just $35,000. As one of the workers said at a recent bargaining session, “I am dumbfounded that the Post would try to abolish my health insurance after 18 years of service."

“The Post is not just a brand or a building," the petition states. "It is not just a business venture. It is an integral part of the civic life of Washington, and its loyal workers are a community. We say to the publisher: Keep your eyes focused here, on your loyal employees who work hard to uphold the great name and legacy of this outstanding news organization."

Buffalo Guild's Adam Zyglis on Pulitzer, Work and Fairness

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 11:06am
StaffApril 23, 2015Buffalo Newspaper Guild

Hats off to the Buffalo Newspaper Guild and member Adam Zyglis, the Buffalo News editorial cartoonist who, so deservedly, just won the Pulitzer Prize. The local has produced a 4-minute video featuring Adam as he talks about his work and the fight for a fair contract with raises -- which he and his colleagues haven't seen for more than five years. "It definitely sends an indirect message to the newsroom that we don't value you as much as you should," Zyglis said of The News' five-year wage freeze. "For The Buffalo News brand and for the morale of the newsroom, I think paying the journalists fairly is essential and it should be a given."

Featured Title: Meet Buffalo's Adam Zyglis, Pulitzer-Winning Cartoonist

Ear at Door, AP Reporter Reveals Secret Florida House Meeting

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 12:38pm
James L RosicaApril 22, 2015The Tampa Tribune

AP reporter and Guild member Gary Fineout wasn't taking "no" for an answer Tuesday, when members of the Florida House Republican caucus held a private meeting Tuesday without public or press access, and some wouldn’t even confirm the nature of what would be discussed. Fineout planted his ear against the closed door of the meeting room and occasionally called out snippets of conversation he could overhear to a band of other reporters hovering in the hallway. The conversation inside confirmed the meeting was about the current health care funding disagreement. That’s the issue dividing the Legislature’s two chambers and holding up work on the 2015-16 state budget. At one point, Fineout was confronted by a deputy of the House Sergeant at Arms, who told him, “You can’t do that.” That man and another House security officer were quickly intercepted by Kathy Mears, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli’s chief of staff, who told them their presence was appreciated – but not needed. Fineout, a veteran reporter at Florida’s statehouse, continued listening at the door.

Author of Newsweek Anti-Wind Power Piece has Koch Ties

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 11:30am
Erik WempleApril 22, 2015The Washington Post

On April 11, Newsweek ran an opinion piece by Randy Simmons titled, “What’s the True Cost of Wind Power?” Citing a bundle of figures, Simmons concludes, “The high costs of federal subsidies and state mandates for wind power have not paid off for the American public.” The piece didn't reveal, not until Newsweek added a disclosure note, that Simmons has "about his ties to some key players in the U.S. energy sector. For instance, between 2008 and 2013, Simmons served as the Charles G. Koch Professor of Political Economy from 2008 to 2013, in what he terms a “fixed-term professorship.” And Simmons currently supervises a program known at Utah State University as the “Koch Scholars” program, which runs on an annual grant from the Charles Koch Foundation."

Why Journalists (At Least Sometimes) Should be Activists

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 10:51am
Dan GillmorApril 21, 2015DanGillmor.com

Dan Gillmor, a professor at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, formerly a newspaper reporter and columnist, says, "I’m here to suggest to you today that all journalists need to think of themselves as activists in the world we now live in." He defines activism, and journalism, in several ways, pointing out that in "many parts of this world, doing real journalism is activism—because truth telling in some societies is an act designed to bring about change. I’m humbled by the people who risk their freedom, and sometimes their lives, to tell their fellow citizens and the rest of the world what is happening where they live." Here, though, the idea of activism "makes many traditional journalists uncomfortable. Why? Because we’re told, again and again, that one of journalism’s core values is objectivity and/or neutrality. But even those journalists who worship at the altar of objectivity should recognize that on at least some issues, they cannot possibly be objective. Or at least, they should not be. On some issues we have to take stands, even though those stands may put us at policy odds with the people and institutions we cover."

Featured Title: Why Journalists -- Sometimes, At Least -- Should Be Activists

Guild Members a Force to Be Reckoned With on Pulitzer Day

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 5:15pm
Janelle HartmanApril 20, 2015NewsGuild-CWA   Find the full list of Pulitzer winners at finalists at www.pulitzer.org.    Screen shot from Buffalo News homepage showing editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis, a Buffalo Guild member, being congratulated in the newsroom. Photo by Samantha Christmann.   THE now world-renowned photojournalists at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the gifted Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis and a New York Times reporter, Eric Lipton, who would have made Heywood Broun proud, are among the Guild winners who, as of Monday afternoon, are also Pulitzer Prize winners.   They are joined by scores of Guild members whose newsrooms won Pulitzers for their collective work in the areas of breaking news (The Seattle Times staff); investigative reporting (The Wall Street Journal staff); and international reporting (The New York Times staff).   In addition to the top awards, individual Guild members and Guild-represented staffs accounted for more than half of the finalists, two in each of the 14 Pulitzer categories.   “Once again, we are thrilled – but not at all surprised – to see that so many dedicated and talented Guild members have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize,” NewsGuild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said.   Lunzer said that hearing about the Pulitzer winners and having the privilege to give one of journalism’s other top honors, the Heywood Broun Award, named for the Guild’s founder, have become especially powerful moments in recent years.   “Our industry’s massive upheaval has cost thousands of jobs in journalism and hundreds of thousands of years of collective experience,” he said. “We may not have investigative journalism and other kinds of reporting in the quantity that we should have – how many vital stories aren’t being told? – but the Pulitzers, the Broun Award and other honors prove that first-rate, profoundly important journalism is still getting done.”   NewsGuild members and represented staffs won 2015 Pulitzers in these categories, as reported on the Pulitzer website, and in the order reported:   BREAKING NEWS REPORTING   The Seattle Times staff won “for its digital account of a landslide that killed 43 people and the impressive follow-up reporting that explored whether the calamity could have been avoided.”   INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING   The top award was a tie – between Guild members. Eric Lipton of The New York Times won for “reporting that showed how the influence of lobbyists can sway congressional leaders and state attorneys general, slanting justice toward the wealthy and connected.”   The Wall Street Journal staff won for “Medicare Unmasked,” a “pioneering project that gave Americans unprecedented access to previously confidential data on the motivations and practices of their health care providers.”   INTERNATIONAL REPORTING The New York Times Staff won for “courageous front-line reporting and vivid human stories on Ebola in Africa, engaging the public with the scope and details of the outbreak while holding authorities accountable.”   EDITORIAL CARTOONING   Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis won for “using strong images to connect with readers while conveying layers of meaning in a few words.”   BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch photography staff won for “powerful images of the despair and anger in Ferguson, MO, stunning photojournalism that served the community while informing the country.


A Primer for Ensuring that Earth Day Coverage Doesn't 'Suck'

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 10:29am
Anna ClarkApril 20, 2015Columbia Journalism Review

News outlets planning a historic perspective piece for the 45th anniversary of Earth Day should look not just for how the state of the environment has changed, suggests CJR, but how the environmentalists have changed. The old “follow the money” rule can be revelatory, as can candid interviews with Earth Day organizers about how and why they choose their organizing partners. What does it mean for Earth Day to be effective in any given community—and how has that definition evolved over time? Those question are at the root of any meaningful historic take on the day.

Miami Herald Reveals How CIA Killed Early Bay of Pigs Scoop

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 10:14am
Glenn GarvinApril 20, 2015The Miami Herald

It all started with some kids throwing firecrackers over a fence in Homestead, toward what appeared to be a migrant farmworkers' camp. The "immigrants" fired back, with .30-caliber machine guns. The men told police they were members of a Cuban counterrevolutionary army training to overthrow Castro. The cops weren't impressed, and two of the men were arrested for attempted murder. But the cases never materialized. And the Herald got curious. Reporter David Kraslow followed the bread crumbs and learned the truth. But his scoop didn't run. CIA Director Allen Dulles told Herald editors they would "seriously damage national security" if they published the story. Kraslow was disappointed, but not angry. “It was a tough call,” he says now. “Those guys — Beebe, Hills, Knight — were all great men and great bosses. It’s very hard to run a story when the director of the CIA tells you it will harm national security. I think the Herald was wrong, I think the Herald made a mistake, but it was a mistake born of good intentions.”

Newsonomics: Are Local Papers the Taxi Cabs of the Uber Age?

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 3:16pm
Ken DoctorApril 16, 2015Nieman Lab

Using Uber last month at Austin’s hyper-kinetic and taxi-impaired SXSW conference spoiled me. Twenty minutes separated my hotel from the action. Taxis? If you got through to a switchboard, operators offered a three-to-five-hour time frame for pickup. With Uber, so long as I deftly maneuvered around surge pricing, I could spot, Pac-Man–like, the potential convenient pickups on my iPhone. All the info I needed sat on the phone, making payment known and easy. The cars were in better shape; the seat belts even worked... How could Uber make so easy what taxis have made too hard? Given my near-pathological interest in the future of the news business, it got me thinking. Weren’t too many local news companies the taxi operators of news? They still talked (as I’ve heard in recent discussions on the buying and selling of newspaper properties) about “owning” a territory — despite the competition building around them. They still act largely with a monopoly mindset. Their points of consumer access haven’t kept up with what other companies now achieve. They still offer way too many hurdles to finding out news and information. They still make it harder to buy advertising than they should.

Latest CBC Cuts a 'Massive Upheaval' for Newsgathering

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 11:17am
StaffApril 16, 2015Canadian Media Guildad

CMG leaders are meeting with affected members across the country as CBC management implements its latest round of programming and job cuts and delivers redundancy notices. In total, 241 CMG positions are eliminated this time around in addition to the 1,300 jobs that have been cut at CBC/Radio-Canada just this year. "They are dismantling CBC/Radio-Canada without any regard for Canadians who have said clearly that the cuts to their public broadcaster in news, local programming, and culture must stop," CMG President Carmel Smyth said. "These cuts will have a devastating impact on local news coverage in communities across the country,"

Was Florida Paper Obligated to Reveal Pilot's Planned Stunt?

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 9:51am
Paul FarhiApril 16, 2015The Washington Post

If a reporter and his newspaper know in advance — months in advance, as it turns out — that a man intended to undertake a stunt that could sow panic in the nation’s capital, are they obligated to alert law-enforcement authorities? "We spent hours and hours talking about the ethics of this,” said Tampa Bay Times reproter Ben Montgomery, who first encountered gyrocopter pilot Doug Hughes when the postal worker called him at work and told him his plans. “Ultimately, we felt comfortable that he was on the authorities’ radar and that he was not homicidal or suicidal. He had his plan down to a T. Is it our job to call attention to it?” Actually, yes, say media ethicists. “A news organization should be extremely knowledgeable of the potential harm” a stunt like this could cause, said Edward Wasserman, dean of the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. “I really question their judgment. There is no end of the ways this could have gone wrong.”

Montana Paper Wins Open-Records Court Case Filed By City

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:48am
Corey HutchinsApril 15, 2015Columbia Journalism Review

CJR updates its January story about The Billings Gazette, which got a tip about potential mishandling of public money at a Montana landfill, followed up by filing a public records request—and found itself sued by the city. Suing a newspaper simply for asking questions was a notable legal maneuver, but it was also in some sense a nuanced one. The city’s argument leaned on a constitutional provision in Montana that affords citizens a right to privacy. The city argued that releasing the records to The Gazette might expose it to lawsuits from employees who argued the disclosure violated their privacy rights. In their lawsuit, city officials asked a state judge to determine which records the city should release. Long story short, the judge didn’t buy the city’s argument.

Iran Limits Access to Lawyer for Imprisoned Post Reporter

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 10:40am
Carol MorelloApril 14, 2015The Washington Post

The family of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who has been imprisoned in Iran for almost nine months, says he has had only one brief, cursory visit with his lawyer in advance of his upcoming trial. The exact charges that Rezaian, 39, faces have not been publicly disclosed by the court. But the semi-official Fars news agency has reported that Rezaian, the Post’s bureau chief in Tehran, is accused of espionage related to the alleged passing economic and industrial information to Americans at a time when Iran is staggering after years of international sanctions. Post Executive Editor Marty Baron called the allegations “absurd,” and denounced what he said is Rezaian’s “unacceptable lack of access to legal counsel.” Photo; Rezaian and his wife, who was also jailed but has been released on bail.

How the Triangle Fire Helped Francis Perkins Find Her Calling

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 10:33am
David BrooksApril 14, 2015The Atlantic

Francis Perkins, U.S. secretary of labor under FDR and the first woman cabinet member, was an upper-crust, old-money do-gooder, but in the most conventional sense -- up until the day she witnessed the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, in 1913. In an article adapted from columnist David Brooks' new book, "The Road to Character," Brooks writes that, "The fire and its aftershocks left a deep mark on Perkins. Up until that point she had lobbied for worker rights and on behalf of the poor, but she had been on a conventional trajectory, toward a conventional marriage, perhaps, and a life of genteel good works. After the fire, what had been a career turned into a vocation... The niceties of her class fell away. She became impatient with the way genteel progressives went about serving the poor. She became impatient with their prissiness, their desire to stay pure and above the fray. Perkins hardened. She threw herself into the rough and tumble of politics. She was willing to take morally hazardous action if it would prevent another catastrophe like the one that befell the women at the Triangle factory.. She pinioned herself to this cause for the rest of her life."

Actors Hate Reporters -- But Love Playing Them Onscreen

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 10:04am
Donna FreydkinApril 14, 2015USA Today

Most actors loathe stripping parts of themselves bare in those often-strained information exchanges known as interviews. Yet they relish playing reporters on TV and in films. The more ethically challenged, the better. "I loved playing an actual journalist, someone who knows her stuff and has done her research. It's an incredible job," says Gabrielle Union. "I like those pointed questions. It's fun to get to people's cores." But Union says it's also "exhausting" and eye-opening to be on the receiving end of questions that can lead to stories that aren't representative of the truth. "No matter what you say, it will be turned into a story," she says. "It's easier to deal with the backlash of your silence."

Small Indiana City Still Served by Two Daily Newspapers

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 12:05pm
Kevin WilliamsApril 13, 2015Al Jazeera

Many major cities are having difficulty holding on to one viable daily newspaper. Places such as Oakland, Calif; Birmingham, Ala.; and New Orleans have all seen their dailies disappear over the past few years, as news-hungry readers ditch print for phones or tablets in increasing numbers. Industry prognosticators have all but written the eulogy for print. But some towns are delaying the funeral while hanging onto to not just one, but two daily papers. And it’s not in the places you might think. Trenton, New Jersey, still has two dailies, as does Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, tucked away in the Keystone State’s coal country. But perhaps nowhere is finding two battling papers more startling than Crawfordsville, Indiana, population approximately 15,000.

Lunzer to Indiana Prosecutor: Rescind Reporter's Subpoena

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 3:37pm
Bernie Lunzer, PresidentApril 10, 2015NewsGuild-CWA

NewsGuild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer sent the letter below to the Elkhart County, Indiana, prosecutor's office this afternoon, in support of reporter Emily Pfund and her newspaper, The Elkhart Truth. The prosecutor's office is attempting to subpoena Pfund's testimony, as well as notes and any recordings, in connection with her interview of a jail inmate who says his statement in a murder case was taken under duress while he was suffering from a concussion and broken nose.

  April 10, 2015   Curtis T. Hill, Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Becker, Chief Deputy Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Elkhart County 301 S. Main St., Suite 100 Elkhart, IN  46516                                                                                                                         Dear Mr. Hill and Ms. Becker,   On behalf of the 25,000 members of The NewsGuild-CWA, the union, until recently known as The Newspaper Guild-CWA, that has been representing professional journalists since 1933, I am writing to condemn your reckless, unconstitutional and shameful misconduct toward Elkhart Truth reporter Emily Pfund.   We call on you to rescind immediately your subpoena for Ms. Pfund’s testimony and her notes and other materials stemming from an interview with an inmate who accuses authorities of interrogating him under duress while needing medical care for a concussion and broken nose.   If you are genuinely concerned about the abuse-of-power allegations that Ms. Pfund’s interview raised, you can follow up with inmate Freddie Rhodes, with the police officers involved, and with the medical personnel who treated Mr. Rhodes’ injuries.

Instead, your pursuit of Ms. Pfund suggests a chilling attempt to punish her and the newspaper for publishing Mr. Rhodes’ charges, and to silence further such reporting. And it is not just the journalists’ First Amendment rights that are at stake. Your community has a fundamental right to know what its elected and appointed officials are doing, as well as the right and responsibility to hold those officials accountable. 

If you continue this ill-advised pursuit, expect to feel the combined weight upon you of the nation’s journalists, media organizations and free press activists.   Sincerely,         Bernie Lunzer, President The NewsGuild-CWA 501 Third St. NW Washington DC  20001


Paper Fires Photojournalist Who Complained About Office Mold

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 10:36am
Tyler HaydenApril 10, 2015Santa Barbara Independent

For some, the Santa Barbara News-Press has been a scary place to work during the last 10 years. Under the ownership of Wendy McCaw and a relentless stream of firings, quittings, and union-busting, its once-active newsroom has mostly been whittled down to a skeleton crew of interns and greenhorns. And last March, the paper fired one of its last remaining veterans, who is now suing the paper for wrongful termination. Mike Eliason claims he was dismissed because he filed a complaint with Cal/OSHA over unhealthy working conditions at the paper’s De la Guerra Plaza offices. The lawsuit says there has been little to no upkeep at the historic building since McCaw’s company, Ampersand Publishing, bought it in 2000. As a result, the suit states, it has deteriorated into a crumbly, musty mess of water damage, mold, and bad ventilation.