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Report: Every 26 Hours, a journalist in Mexico is Attacked

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 2:32pm
Brianna LeeMarch 27, 2015International Business Times

Every 26 hours, a journalist in Mexico gets attacked, according to statistics released this week by a London-based rights organization. That figure is part of a lengthier report detailing intimidations, assaults and killings of media workers in Mexico, which have increased by 80 percent under the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, the group found. The study, compiled by Article 19, an organization dedicated to the promotion of free expression around the world, recorded 656 attacks against journalists in the past two years – 330 in 2013 and 326 in 2015. Last year, there were 142 physical attacks against journalists, along with 53 cases of intimidation or pressure and 45 arbitrary detentions, according to the report. Six journalists also were killed in 2014 while doing their jobs.

Cohen: Leaked Investor Chapter of TPP Worse Than Imagined

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 10:34pm
Larry CohenMarch 26, 2015President, CWA

CWA President Larry Cohen issued a statement today on leaked text from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal tthat reveals a giveaway to corporate special interests. "The 56 pages of the Investor chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are worse than imagined and must be a wake-up call for our nation," Cohen said. "Everything we read and learn makes 'fast track' authority unimaginable. It's secrecy on top of secrecy... CWA will redouble our efforts to participate in the broadest coalition ever to defeat 'fast track' and the TPP. Our jobs, our living standards, our safety, our environment, our national sovereignty and our very democracy are on the line. We will stand up and fight back for as long as it takes."

Near-Monopoly Looms for Canada's English-Language Papers

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:46pm
StaffMarch 26, 2015CWA Canada

CWA Canada, the country's only all-media union, remains "hopeful but troubled" in the wake of Wednesday's decision by the Competition Bureau approving the Postmedia deal to buy Sun Media's English-language newspapers. "We hope this means Postmedia will put more money into quality journalism, especially at Sun Media where journalism has been on life support under Quebecor," CWA Canada President Martin O'Hanlon said. "But we're troubled by the concentration of ownership, with Postmedia now holding a near monopoly on English-language newspapers across most of Canada." "It's hard to see how such control by one corporation can be good for the public, journalism or democracy." Photo: The Canadian Journalism Project.

Sportswriters Pushed Out of Good Seats at NCAA Tourney

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:34pm
Ed ShermanMarch 26, 2015Poynter

When Tyler Hansbrough led North Carolina to the national title in 2009, Dana O’Neil left her seat on the floor and climbed a few rows into the stands to talk to his family. The access allowed the ESPN.com reporter to get a quote from Hansbrough’s father, Gene, on how it was the culmination of a dream for his son. O’Neil cited that anecdote when she told NCAA officials why it is important for reporters to have courtside seating during the men’s basketball tournament. “It allowed me to tell a much more compelling story,” O’Neil said. “If you put me in [a far-away press box], I’m not going to have that kind of access. I won’t be able to write that story.” O’Neil, now the president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, is on the frontlines of a difficult struggle. She and USBWA are trying to protect the premium reporting positions for the NCAA tournament.

Albany Members Share the Pain of 7.5 Years With No Raises

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 8:28am
StaffMarch 26, 2015Albany Guild

Check out the growing number of signs with personal messages from Guild members at the Albany Times Union, where our members have gone seven and a half years without raises. Pictures are being posted on the local's Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Three Things to Know About Latest U.S. House FOIA Bill

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 1:51pm
Benjamin MullinMarch 25, 2015Poynter

A bill that would make significant changes to the Freedom of Information Act got a lift this morning when it was approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This legislation represents the biggest amendment to America’s federal open records act since 2007 and comes months after a similar proposal failed to clear Congress near the end of last year.

Thai Leader Tells Reporters He Has the Power to Execute Them

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 11:59am
StaffMarch 25, 2015Reuters

Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha lashed out at journalists on Wednesday, saying he would "probably just execute" those who did "not report the truth", in the latest outburst aimed at Thailand's media. Last month Prayuth said he had the power to shut down news outlets. On Wednesday, he took an even harsher line. "We'll probably just execute them," said Prayuth, without a trace of a smile, when asked by reporters how the government would deal with those that do not adhere to the official line.

Facebook Wants to Take Publishers Out of the Content Stream

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 11:52am
Ravi Somaiya, Mike Isaac and Vindu GoelMarch 25, 2015The NY Times

With 1.4 billion users, Facebook has become a vital source of traffic for publishers looking to reach an increasingly fragmented audience glued to smartphones. In recent months, Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook rather than making users tap a link to go to an external site. Such a plan would represent a leap of faith for news organizations accustomed to keeping their readers within their own ecosystems, as well as accumulating valuable data on them. Facebook intends to begin testing the new format in the next several months, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The initial partners are expected to be The New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic.

AP Team Tracked Supply Chain of Slave-Caught Fish to U.S.

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 11:47am
StaffMarch 25, 2015Associated Press

A year-long investigation into forced labor and trafficking in Southeast Asia's fishing industry led an Associated Press team to Benjina, a small town that straddles two islands in the far reaches of eastern Indonesia. There, journalists interviewed more than 40 current and former slaves, many of whom said they had been forced to work on boats overseen by Thai captains under extremely brutal conditions. They were paid little or nothing at all, and some were out to sea for months or years at a time. The AP also found a locked cell with eight slaves inside, and handed a video camera to a dockworker, himself a former slave, to take close-up footage. Under the cover of darkness, the AP team used a small wooden boat to approach a trawler with slaves who yelled to them, pleading for help to go home. The AP team watched the slave-caught fish being loaded onto a refrigerated cargo ship bound for Thailand, tracked its journey and ultimately established a chain showing that some of the fish was exported to the United States.

U.S., Syria Reportedly in Talks to Free Journalist Austin Tice

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 11:05am
Hannah AllamMarch 25, 2015McClatchyDC

A French newspaper reports that U.S. officials are negotiating with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government for the release of journalist Austin Tice, who vanished more than 2 1/2 years ago while reporting in Syria. Paris-based Le Figaro, citing an unnamed European diplomat, says that negotiations on the fate of Tice began weeks ago and that “an emissary representing the U.S. government” had visited the imprisoned journalist. The Assad government has never admitted publicly to holding Tice, a onetime Marine Corps captain and law school student who contributed to McClatchy, the Washington Post and other news organizations from Syria’s war zone before disappearing in mid-August 2012.

Memorial Service for David Bird Allows Community to Mourn

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 10:52am
Lorie GreenspanMarch 25, 2015NJ Hills Echoes-Sentinel

Wall Street Journal reporter and Guild member David Bird, whose body was found last week 14 months after he went missing during a walk in his neighborhood, is being remembered not only by friends and colleagues, but by his larger community. Boy Scoot Troopmaster Jim Caparoso had known Bird through the Scouts for years, saying he "was always involved and active and really loved the program, as a way to make young boys into leaders." He added that, "You could tell he was a reporter. He had great stories." Bird's Guild local, IAPE-CWA, has donated genorously to the Bird Family Trust and has matched donations from other locals. The Wall Street Journal announced Monday that it is also donating $10,000. Journal Editor-in-Chief noted called Bird a "widely respected reporter" and noted how he and his wife, Nancy, became advocates for organ donations after David received a liver transplant 10 years ago.

Victory! ASL Video Interpreters Ratify First Contract at Purple

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 12:40pm
StaffMarch 24, 2015Pacific Media Workers Guild

With only a single "no" vote among four call centers represented by NewsGuild-CWA, American Sign Language interpreters who work via video link at Purple Communications have ratified a first contract. The ratification votes were held Monday, March 16, in Oakland, Wednesday in San Diego, Thursday in Arizona and Monday in Denver. The uncounted ballots from the first three were placed in secure envelopes with a unit member’s signature across the seal. Each center’s sealed votes, plus the Denver ballots, were counted separately this evening by members of the Denver unit. Martin Yost, a San Diego video interpreter who is now working as an ASLIU representative agrees. “This is not just a big win for us,” he said. “It’s a big win for our profession. We will keep growing stronger because employees at other centers and even other companies will see that they needn’t fear organizing and fighting for better working conditions.”

Featured Title: Sign Language Interpreters Ratify First Contract at Purple

As ASL Interpreters Vote 'A Nation of Interpreters is Watching'

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 2:04pm
Janelle HartmanMarch 18, 2015NewsGuild-CWA    ASL interpreters at Purple Communication's San Diego office during a one-day strike staged at all four NewsGuild-CWA-represented locations.     As American Sign Language interpreters in three states cast ballots on a tentative contract between now and Monday, “a nation of interpreters is watching,” Martin Yost says.   Yost is national vice chair and one of the lead negotiators for the Pacific Media Workers Guild-CWA unit at Purple Communications, representing 170 ASL interpreters at four video relay service (VRS) offices in San Diego, Oakland, Phoenix and Denver.   The proposed contract is the culmination of work since the ASL interpreters voted to join the union after a lightning-fast organizing campaign in the fall of 2012.   In cubicles with video screens, ASL interpreters take one call after another for hours, assisting with everything from conversations with family and friends to making doctors' appointments, checking on prescriptions, taking part in work-related conference calls – “whatever a person needs to use the telephone for,” Yost says.   Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, VRS companies such as Purple bill the federal government for interpreting services. Yost, a career ASL interpreter, says the reimbursement rate has dropped to about $5 a minute, from a high of $7 a minute when he started doing VRS eight years ago.   Several years after that, the company unilaterally increased its employees’ workload beyond long-accepted ASL standards. Next, management slashed wages dramatically for six weeks, followed by a permanent 5 percent reduction.   Purple had been caught charging the federal government for calls that didn’t meet guidelines for reimbursement under the Americans with Disability Act. The company picked workers’ pockets to repay the government $20 million.   There’d been chatter about organizing a union during those trying times. But it came to a rapid boil on Sept. 12, 2012, the day of the “infamous Fran memo,” Yost says.   From trying to butter up workers – “you guys are great,” Yost describes -- the memo deteriorated into talk of focus groups and performance metrics and how they had to be adjusted for Purple to stay competitive.   That meant the workload requirement was going up again, with no input from workers. “The company is run by people far removed from what interpreting involves,” Yost says. “They dictate what you do and how you do it, but they know nothing about it.”   Yost explains that the American Sign Language standards, set decades ago by pioneers in the field and reaffirmed by studies, call for interpreters to work for approximately 20 minutes, then have 20 minutes to rest. Beyond that, eye strain, repetitive motion injury and mental fatigue become problems – for the interpreter and the client.   “Interpreting is a complex cognitive exercise,” Yost says. When interpreters work beyond 15 to 20 minutes, “All kinds of studies show that the error rates go up, and go up dramatically.” He notes, for instance, that when ASL interpreters are assigned to court, they work in pairs so that each person can have rest breaks.   The ideal standard, balancing effectiveness with efficiency for VRS, is to have intepreters logged in 70 percent of the time. Purple had already raised log-in time to 75 percent when the 2012 memo announced that it was being increased to 80 percent for daytime “core” hours and to 85 percent for non-core hours.   “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Yost says. Barely two months later, workers at six Purple call centers were voting on NewsGuild-CWA representation. Four of the call centers voted “yes.” Of the two that didn’t, one came within two ballots of victory.   Yost expects that those units, not to mention workers at other, large VRS centers around the country, are keeping an eye out for the ratification vote, which will be counted Monday after the final votes are cast in Denver.   “This is literally just scratching the surface,” he says. “This could turn into something huge.”   The tentative agreement doesn’t roll back the 80-percent log-in rate or increase wages. Purple wouldn’t budge on those issues, Yost says. But as a first step, he says the contract is a big victory. Never again can Purple make changes in key work rules without negotiating with its employees.   “It gives us a collective voice,” he says. “We were effectively silenced before. Now we aren’t. And it has just-cause. They can’t arbitrarily discipline people. Employees can file a grievance and can take it all the way to arbitration.”   Further, Yost says he can’t overstate the power of being part of CWA, the nation’s largest telecommunications union.   “CWA can get us a seat at the table with the FCC,” Yost says. “We’ve met with them several times. It’s the first time that video interpreters have had that opportunity, and because of it, the FCC is realizing that our working conditions are to the detriment of the consumers.”

Apollo Reportedly in the Lead to Buy Digital First Media

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 11:49am
Greg Roumeliotis and Liana B. BakerMarch 18, 2015Reuters

Buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC is in advanced talks to acquire most of the assets of Digital First Media, publisher of the (Guild-represented) Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News, for around $400 million, according to people familiar with the matter. The potential deal illustrates private equity's interest in the newspaper industry. Even though newspaper readership is declining, buyout firms say they believe they can squeeze out a profit through cost cuts and new digital offerings. Apollo has so far prevailed over rival Cerberus Capital Management LP in the auction for Digital First Media, the people said. 

What Did James Risen's Seven-Year Legal Battle Accomplish?

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 1:45pm
Sarah EllisonMarch 17, 2015Vanity Fair

For seven years, New York Times reporter, and Guild member, James Risen lived under the threat of jail for refusing to reveal a confidential source. When the government backed off, some saw a victory for freedom of the press. But, suggests Vanitiy Fair, Risen’s fight shows how little that concept means in post-9/11 America. "Until recently, the government and the press relied on a kind of tacit agreement in which the government largely stayed away from reporters’ records, information, and testimony. In exchange, reporters negotiated with the government when dealing with stories of a sensitive national-security nature... So why, then, are journalists such as Risen landing so often in the Justice Department’s crosshairs? Part of the explanation, as noted above, may be the sheer volume of leaking that has occurred. But there are other reasons. First, going after reporters is no longer taboo."

Former Hostage Terry Anderson on Journalists' Kidnappings

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 11:36am
Terry A. AndersonMarch 17, 2015News Media Guild

Former AP reporter Terry Anderson, who was abducted in Beirut after a tennis game in 1985 and held hostage for nearly seven years, talks about how common kidnapping journalists has become, especially in the Middle East. While yellow ribbons were tied to tree nationwide for him, "Today, when more than 90 journalists have been taken captive in Syria, many by the self-proclaimed “Islamic State,” both demonstrations and editorials are few, mostly involving the families of the prisoners. With the repeated spectacle of televised brutal murders by these medieval-minded fanatics, the anger and outrage is muted. The public seems to be exhausted by the many horrors of recent years. While governments in Europe have paid ransom to gain the release of some of their citizens, the U.S. government has stood stolidly on its long-held policy of 'No negotiations, no ransom.'" While agreeing with the policy in principle, Anderson says it has become "too often an excuse for avoiding difficult decisions." Meanwhile hostages' families are "deeply angered by the government’s refusal to share information or address the problems."

Featured Title: Former Hostage Anderson On Today's Kidnapped Journalists

Column: World Passing By U.S. When It Comes to FOIA Laws

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 10:15am
David CuillierMarch 17, 2015Aiken Standard

David Cuillier's column doesn't tell us how well FOIA laws work in other countries. But the director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism says the elements of some nations' freedom of information laws, and how the principles are taught, appear to go far beyond what is happening today in the United States. Here, Cuillier writes, "setbacks in the past 10 years include more exemptions, fees, delays and sophisticated spin tactics by government officials to thwart access. Meanwhile, amazing things have been happening all around us in the world, and in many ways other countries have outpaced the United States. Since 2005, the world has seen 45 countries adopt FOIA laws, for a total of 103 nations. The most recent adoptee was Mozambique in December. Nations with FOIA laws now include Russia, China, Uganda, Tunisia, Afghanistan and Rwanda. Many of their laws are much stronger than U.S. FOIA."

Journalism in the Age of the Accidental News Junkie

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 9:56am
Derek ThompsonMarch 17, 2015The Atlantic

There have always been purely passive news consumers, who might hear bits and pieces of current affairs as they scan the radio. Today, however, there might be something very much like an “accidental news junkie”—somebody who doesn’t particularly care about the news, but spends so much time on Facebook and Twitter that he develops a soft-focus expertise in current affairs without having to spend much time reading newspapers, visiting homepages, or otherwise investigating the news stories that periodically pop up on his News Feed.

Sunshine? White House Office to Delete Its FOIA Regulations

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 9:05am
Gregory KorteMarch 17, 2015USA Today

Just in time for Sunshine Week, the White House is removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, making official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office. The White House said the cleanup of FOIA regulations is consistent with court rulings that hold that the office is not subject to the transparency law. The office handles, among other things, White House record-keeping duties like the archiving of e-mails. But the timing of the move raised eyebrows among transparency advocates, coming on National Freedom of Information Day and during a national debate over the preservation of Obama administration records.

Newsonomics: Single-Copy Newspaper Sales are Collapsing

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 3:43pm
Ken DoctorMarch 13, 2015Nieman Lab

Single-copy newspaper sales are virtually disappearing, and Newsonomics' Ken Doctor says it's a self-inflicted wound. While digital readership is s key soaring, it's not the only reason. Pricing is also a problem, Doctor says. Nearly half of all U.S. dailies charge $1 for a weekday paper. "We have to ask how long an industry can offer less and less and charge more and more," Doctor says. "What’s happened in newspaper pricing is that too many publishers have doubled their prices while halving the size, and quality, of their products. I can’t think — nominations invited — of other industries that have done that with longer-term success. It’s like selling a 20-ounce bottle of Coke for a buck — and then three years later hawking a 10-ounce bottle for two dollars."