Supreme Court Ruling Supports Whistleblowers and the News Groups That Report Their Stories

U.S. Supreme Court Building, 2014
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Media, Whistleblowers Both Win in Supreme Court Ruling

"Were media lawyers asleep at the wheel when a major whistleblower case came through the Supreme Court this term?Kimberly Chow wrote Monday for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "While all eyes were turned on Jim Risen and efforts to revise Justice Department policies on when it subpoenas reporters, were we missing the potential for a major precedent affecting sources?

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"At first glance, the ruling in January in favor of federal air marshal Robert MacLean, who leaked information to an MSNBC reporter, looks unremarkable, and it received little attention from the media [lawyers] at a time when the focus was on Risen.

"The crux of the Court's decision was that a Transportation Security Administration ban on the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive security information was a regulation, not a law. But the broader holding — that agencies can't just pass regulations that insulate themselves from whistleblowing — is much more striking. In reinforcing the federal protections given to whistleblowers, the Court recognized the valuable role whistleblowers play in holding the government accountable. By extension, the news media that [report] on their disclosures also scored a victory.

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"Hogan Lovells partner Neal Katyal, who represented MacLean on a pro bono basis, called the decision 'very significant protection for whistleblowers.' But he also pointed to the key ways in which it advances public interest journalism.

" 'The MacLean decision recognizes that the media can and does play an important role in uncovering government corruption, abuse, and, frankly, inanity,' said Katyal, a former acting U.S. Solicitor General. 'This is a first-rate example of how the media helped get Robert MacLean's message out and potentially stop a catastrophic decision to remove air marshals at a time of high terrorist threat.' . . ."

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Standing Ovation for Dori J. Maynard

Oakland Memorial Service Pauses for "Maynard Moment"

By William J. Drummond

Not many funerals end with a standing ovation. Dori J. Maynard's did.

Her friend and former colleague Perry Lang had just read the benediction, and he asked the approximately 200 mourners to give a standing ovation in tribute to a "life well lived." And they rose to the occasion.

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Maynard, 56, president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, in Oakland, Calif., died Feb. 24 of complications from lung cancer. Dori Maynard had carried on the fight for diversity in the news media, a cause that had been pioneered by her father and her stepmother, Nancy Hicks Maynard, both of whom predeceased her.

"She and the Maynard family will always be with us," said Felix Gutierrez, a professor of journalism and communication at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and longtime friend of the Maynards. Gutierrez called upon the mourners gathered Monday at Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes, to pause for a "Maynard moment":

"If you've been touched, taught, or read or heard of something they said, think about it. There should not be a newsroom in this country that would not remember a Maynard name."

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Gutierrez said that after Dori Maynard became president of MIJE in 2001, she was not content to let the institute rest on its laurels.

"She built on that foundation," he said. "From IJE training of people of color, to IJE training of everybody, telling editors and news people, yes, we can learn what you do and we’ve done that, now you need to listen to us."

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The Maynard Institute was known by the acronym "IJE" before it was renamed for Robert C. Maynard after Maynard's death in 1994.

Through the Fault Lines project, the IJE went into newsrooms and to classrooms, training journalists how better to cover their communities. "With her wit and persuasiveness, she could deliver the message in a way you would not forget," Gutierrez said.

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Based on the work of Robert C. Maynard, who believed that the fault lines of race, class, gender, generation and geography are the most enduring forces shaping lives, experiences and social tension, Fault Lines teaches an appreciation for the ways in which those lines shape our perception of ourselves, others and events around us.

Martin G. Reynolds, another MIJE board member, recalled how tenaciously Dori Maynard stayed involved in Institute affairs despite her deteriorating health. "She died as she had lived," he said. She kept tabs on an MIJE conference call only hours before her death, he said.  

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"Personally, I don't know what I will do without her and I know many people feel the same way. She was special to all of us. The work of the institute must go on. And it will go on."

Dori Maynard's mother, Liz Rosen, rejected any suggestion that her daughter was "fearless." "This is a big point," Rosen said. "Dori wasn't fearless, meaning somebody who was not scared by anything. But she was brave. She was very brave. She was willing to do things that might scare her to death. If she thought they were worth doing, she would do them with courage and with grace."

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Rosen added, "Her voice is silent now, far too early, but it can be heard now through those who not only admired her but who are willing to carry on her work in ways both large and small."

A planned livestream of the service was plagued by technical difficulties. However, Maynard staff member Roberto Delgado sent word via the livestream site that "We apologize for the technical problems with the feed. We will have a recording available and we'll announce when the recording will be posted on the site."

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An East Coast memorial service is planned for an undermined date in Washington.

Besides her mother, Dori Maynard is survived by her brothers David and Alex Maynard, sister Sara-Ann Rosen and a wide extended family.

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Tamerra Griffin, BuzzFeed: Newsroom Diversity Advocate Dori Maynard Dies At 56 

Emil Guillermo, NBCBLK: Journalist Dori Maynard, Newsroom Diversity Champion, Remembered

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Doug Oakley, Bay Area News Group: Oakland: Dori Maynard, Maynard Institute president, remembered

Soul of the South Lays Off News Employees, Plans to Regroup

The Soul of the South network, which launched nearly two years ago pledging an unprecedented five hours of daily news programming, has laid off about 12 news employees and curtailed all original news production.

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Overall, the network has lost about 85 percent of its 47 or 48 employees, network CEO Doug McHenry told Journal-isms by telephone on Monday from the network's home base in Little Rock, Ark.

Employees were last paid on Feb. 15, he said. The network lacked money to pay those laid off after that. McHenry said the employees are eligible for unemployment benefits.

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McHenry, who came to the recently renamed SSN network as a successful Hollywood producer and then the network's president of entertainment, said the network ran into "terrible headwinds," including a failure to get past such gatekeepers as Comcast Corp. to find a berth on cable.

"Most of the African American networks . . . accepted by Comcast are all entertainment," McHenry said. SSN operated on the digital subchannels on broadcast television, but "cable is the one that gives the advertisers the level of comfort. It's a necessity to survive," he said. The network also had "difficulty" with DirecTV, he added.

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Moreover, the growth in African American-oriented entertainment channels has bid up prices for such previously low-cost staples as "Sanford and Son."

McHenry became CEO in midyear. He said the network shares the blame for its predicament by not having had the resources to launch properly. It had "management that was not only confused but didn't have the best interests (of the network) at heart," he said. "The company in many ways had a good vision, but didn't have the resources to really execute it. It's contrary to the way a start-up should work.

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"It takes a minimum of $50 million to launch a national network," McHenry added. "They had less than $6 million throughout their entire history."

Television entrepreneur Byron Allen has filed a $20 billion racial discrimination lawsuit against Comcast and Time Warner CableMeg James reported Feb. 23 in the Los Angeles Times.

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"Allen, who is African-American, owns the Los Angeles television production and distribution company Entertainment Studios, which includes such digital channels as Justice Central, Cars.TV and Comedy.TV.

"The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, contends that Allen's company has been thwarted in his attempts to secure distribution for its small networks on cable systems owned by Comcast and Time Warner Cable."

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James also wrote, " '100% African American-owned media has been shut out by Comcast,' the lawsuit alleges. 'Of the approximately $11 billion in channel carriage fees that Comcast pays to license television channels each year, less than $3 million is paid to 100% African American-owned media.'

McHenry is the producer of films including "New Jack City" and "House Party" and TV shows including "Malcolm & Eddie." He said the difference between his concerns and Allen's is that his network puts forth news programming. "I think it's criminal when you're an African American network and have no African American health" programs, McHenry said. Such programming would find an audience, he said.

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James' story continued, "As part of an 2011 agreement with the federal government, the Philadelphia company agreed to launch several channels backed by minorities, including the Aspire channel led by former basketball great Magic Johnson, the Revolt channel with music mogul Sean 'Diddy' Combs and El Rey network with director Robert Rodriguez.

" 'We are proud of our outstanding record supporting and fostering diverse programming, including programming from African American owned and controlled cable channels,' Comcast said Monday in its statement.

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" 'We currently carry more than 100 networks geared toward diverse audiences, including multiple networks owned or controlled by minorities,' Comcast said. . . ."

McHenry said the network has settled four of five lawsuits regarding finances. In the outstanding case, "A Chicago television station has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the owners of Soul of the South and its related entities breached a contract to lease broadcasting time for the network's programming," Sean Beherec reported on Feb. 18 for Arkansas Business. The station said SSN owes $1.89 million under the terms of the contract. SSN says the terms of the contract cited by the station are not the terms it agreed to.

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McHenry said the network plans to regroup, consolidating operations in Little Rock, where SSN has received substantial government and private support, and in Washington, where its "D.C. Breakdown" public affairs program has been on hiatus for four months.

SSN sought a market with a good channel position, the ability to be on cable as well as over the air, engaging programming and a position among the top 10 markets with African American populations.

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It will focus on WMDE-TV, a full-power station in Seaford, Del., which is actually considered part of the Baltimore market.

The CEO said he planned to revive "D.C. Breakdown" and, for the time being, continue with news produced by the Arise and INN networks. "We still have at least two hours of news a day; before, we had three and a half and four."

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He also said, "I want to provide a killer prime-time lineup.

"I will not give up and turn it into another music network. I'm here for the vision, too," he said.

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4 Black Journalists Take Sun-Times Buyouts

Black journalists Brian Jackson, Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, Francine Knowles and Monifa Thomas are among 15 editorial employees of the Chicago Sun-Times leaving the newspaper after accepting voluntary buyouts, Robert Feder reported Friday for his Chicago media blog.

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"All 15 are represented by the Chicago Newspaper Guild, which was formally notified that the buyouts had been approved," Feder wrote. "All will be gone from the Sun-Times newsroom by Monday.

"In an agreement negotiated with the union, Guild members who resigned were offered up to 20 weeks of severance pay. It is not known whether the buyouts will be sufficient to avoid layoffs in order to reach management’s budget goal for the year. . . ."

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Samuels Gibbs joined the Sun-Times in October 2013 to write about arts and culture after service as senior editor at Chicago-based Ebony magazine. She also worked at the St. Petersburg Times, now Tampa Bay Times, and the Boston Globe.

"At age 30, Thomas was a health and medicine reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times," Jay Shefsky and Taurean Small wrote in introducing a Q-and-A with Thomas Dec. 29 for Chicago public television station WTTW. "Not long after she sailed through a complete physical, Monifa had a stroke. She was paralyzed on her right side and had great difficulty speaking. We revisit the story of her recovery and return to the health and medicine beat."

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Jackson, a photojournalist, was with the Sun-Times News Group for 32 years and worked at the Chicago Daily Defender from 1981 to 1986, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Knowles, a religion and general assignment reporter, was a business reporter at the Sun-Times for 19 years, according to her LinkedIn profile. With three Sun-Times journalists, she shared the 2011 Chicago Journalists Association's Sarah Brown Boyden Award for Business News for stories on the impact of the recession. [Updated March 3]

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Why Was Valerie Jarrett There? "Because I Love April"

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, was among those who packed the house Saturday at Washington's Politics & Prose Bookstore to hear April D. Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, discuss her new book, "The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America."

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Asked why she decided to come, Jarrett told Journal-isms, "Because I love April. It's that simple." They embraced and posed for photos together.

Gwen Ifill of PBS asked Ryan whether she feels lonely when she is the only reporter asking questions about African American issues. "I know what people are thinking," Ryan replied, saying she can feel eyes rolling, "and I'm not worried about it. I like being isolated. It helped me write this book."

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The book, published Feb. 15, is already in its second printing, "which means there are around 10,000 books in the system," Diane S. Nine, an agent working with Ryan, told Journal-isms by email.

Also present were current and past White House reporters and retired Adm. Steve Rochon, eighth chief usher of the White House and the first African American to hold the post. He was portrayed in the 2013 film "Lee Daniels' The Butler."

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"Land of Positivity" Behind in Debts to Magazines

"Barbados is a land of positivity: golden sunsets, gorgeous coastlines and glorious weather sure to lift the spirit & soul," according to the full-page ad on the back cover of Heart & Soul magazine's February/March issue.

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But the Caribbean nation's tourist agency is behind in paying U.S. publications for ads like that.

"The BTA has not paid an ad bill in 6 mos.," Wil Adkins, managing director of Oasis Capital Partners, messaged Journal-isms, adding that his magazine couldn't be the only one. "In our case it is $33K" owed. Adkins works with the business side of Heart & Soul, which itself has been the subject of a dispute with writers over unpaid compensation.

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William "Billy" Griffith, CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc., messaged Journal-isms Sunday from the Caribbean island, "BTMI is a six-month-old company that has inherited commitments from its predecessor which will be honoured."

Short Takes

"ABC News correspondents Cecilia Vega and Tom Llamas have been named anchors of 'World News Tonight' Saturday and Sunday, respectively, jobs they settled into several months ago when David Muir moved to the weekday editions," Chris Ariens reported Monday for TVNewser.

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"In 'Every Day I Fight,' ESPN anchor Stuart Scott's posthumous memoir, his voice is as distinctive and memorable as it ever was on-air," Sherryl Connelly reported Sunday for the Daily News in New York. "But this time the much-loved sportscaster's play-by-play is a narration of his seven-year battle with cancer that ended with his death Jan. 4. Written with Larry Platt, the memoir is both the story of a brash young man who took heat for being first to bring a hip-hop vibe to sports broadcasting and that of a 49-year-old father whose devotion to his two daughters only deepened throughout his illness. . . ."

"The race beat does not ghettoize race coverage," Jamil Smith wrote Sunday for the New Republic. "It embeds it in the body of the publication and makes it an essential part of its mission. Those who report on race can also instruct their colleagues on how to integrate a nuanced and educated understanding of race into every narrative. Someday, perhaps, racial coverage in this country will reach a point where it is autonomously intersectional, and these kinds of checks and balances can fade away. But we aren't there yet."

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"A hundred years ago — on March 3, 1915, to be exact — as war consumed Europe, and the United States tried to steer clear of entanglements, some of the best minds and most passionate social-justice advocates had one goal: to stop the opening of D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation at the Liberty Theater in New York City’s Times Square," E.R. Shipp wrote Sunday for The Root. The black press was part of the opposition. "Charlotta Bass, editor of the West Coast's oldest black newspaper, the California Eagle, had sounded the alarm some days before in a telegram to NAACP headquarters, warning about a hideous film that was wowing white filmgoers in Los Angeles despite efforts to have it banned . . .," Shipp wrote.

"The relationship between the president and the press is more distant than it has been in a half century," Susan Milligan wrote for the March/April issue of Columbia Journalism Review. "An exhaustive study of every official exchange Obama had with the press corps in 2014, supplemented by a review of daily press briefings and interviews with more than a dozen current and former correspondents and White House press secretaries, reveals a White House determined to conceal its workings from the press, and by extension, the public. The research, paid for by a fund established in memory of former White House correspondent Helen Thomas, makes clear that the media most responsible for covering the president and his inner sanctum are given little insight into how decisions are made or who influences those decisions, whether from inside or outside the White House. . . ."

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Wayne J. Dawkins, an associate professor at Hampton University's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, has been named the ninth winner of the Dean's Medal for Public Service at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. "He has been one of Columbia’s most active alumni, cofounding the Black Alumni Network in 1980, which publishes a monthly newsletter and hosts a breakfast for Columbia alums and prospective students each year," a Columbia announcement said.

Referring to a program on Fox News Channel, Evan McMurry reported Monday for Mediaite that "On Monday Outnumbered co-host Andrea Tantaros reiterated her claim from last week that President Barack Obama's actions toward Israel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed a latent anti-Semitism. . . ."

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"The SNCC Legacy Project (SLP) in collaboration with Duke University has launched a new web site that has gone live this morning," Charles Cobb Jr., journalist and former field secretary with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, messaged Journal-isms on Monday. "Reporters as well as historians and students should find it very useful. There is nothing like it that has been done by any civil rights organization on the web. It pilots activist-academic collaboration."

Reporter "Kevin Torres no longer works at Denver NBC affiliate KUSA," Kevin Eck reported Monday for TV Spy. Eck also wrote, "Denver Post TV critic Joanne Ostrow tweeted out speculation there was more to Torres' departure than he let on. '@9News won’t comment on sudden firing of Kevin Torres. Something about a traffic altercation…' . . ."

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"I hear this a lot from people on social media: [Fox News host Bill] 'O'Reilly is an entertainer, not a journalist!' " Jay Rosen wrote Monday on his PressThink blog. "I know what they mean. They're not wrong. But I think it is more correct to say that O'Reilly is a performance artist. The medium is television. The genre is 'resentment news.' . . ."

Mitzi Miller, who is leaving Ebony magazine, where she is editor-in-chief, to pursue her Hollywood dreams, "explains that a liver transplant at age 23 had a forever impact on the way she makes decisions, Akeya Dickson reported Saturday for The Root. " 'It really shaped the way I maneuver through the world. While it's one of those things I wouldn't wish on [my] worst enemy, it made me really aware of my mortality. 'I didn't have to wake up today,' she continues. 'You hear it from older people and you're like, "OK, church lady, here you go," but it's really true, it's really a blessing. It's almost disrespectful to not take opportunities to challenge myself and make the most of this life, and to just be willing to move on when it's time. Most of us know when it's time for something to give, but we ignore that voice, chasing safety.' . . ." 

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Despite newsroom defections over a "noticeable turn to the right" at Washington's WJLA-TV since it was bought by Sinclair Broadcasting last year, in the words of the Washington Post's Paul Farhi, veteran anchor Maureen Bunyan, a co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists and the International Women's Media Foundation, has signed a "multi-year" deal with WJLA, DCRTV.com reported on Friday.

In Bangladesh, "A radical Islamist has been arrested over the murder of an American blogger who was hacked to death in a machete attack, Jamie Campbell reported Monday for the Independent in Britain. "Farabi Shafiur Rahman was detained by Bangladeshi authorities over the murder of an atheist American-Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy last week. . . ."

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"An inquiry in Rwanda has urged its government to take criminal action against the BBC over a documentary about the country's genocide," Dugald Baird reported Monday for Britain's Guardian newspaper. Baird also wrote, "Rwanda's Untold Story, broadcast on BBC2 on 1 October 2014, sparked controversy by suggesting President Paul Kagame may have had a hand in shooting down his predecessor’s plane, a crash that triggered the mass killings. . . ."

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