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FSRN update


Dear WBAI Producers, LAB Members, Colleagues and Friends:

It started as an act of protest. Over forty reporters from around the world went on strike against the former Pacifica Network News in January of 2000 to confront rampant censorship in the network. The PNN strike was a critical component of the Save-Pacifica battle. So too, the reporters' strike cast--Free Speech Radio News (FSRN).

FSRN is now the country's only half-hour, daily, progressive news program featuring breaking stories domestic and international. The cast is heard on all five Pacifica stations, on over fifty affiliate community stations, in 120 countries on short wave and via the Internet.

When first striking, the reporters formed Pacifica Reporters against Censorship (PRAC), now a non-profit organization. PRAC is decentralized. We are writing by-laws, and we have a steering committee that any member of PRAC may join. Our small paid staff includes producer Aaron Glantz and anchor Deepa Fernandes (both in New York), headlines editor Randi Zimmerman (Florida) and technical producer Jade Paget Seekins (Berkeley). Close to two hundred reporters from every continent except Antarctica provide content. All reporters are paid. After a year of negotiation with several unions, we expect PRAC to be affiliated shortly.

When new Pacifica management took over this year, the former PNN was disbanded for financial reasons. Management negotiated an agreement with AFTRA, the union representing the PNN workers. This agreement forbids Pacifica national's compensation and involvement with any news program for eighteen months.

FSRN has always raised its own funds. Currently FSRN gets no financial support from Pacifica national, but the cast goes up on the KU satellite. Berkeley station KPFA has been generously providing emergency funding for the last few months, and FSRN is about to launch an aggressive fund drive with the help of two part-time fundraising and outreach coordinators. We'll be circulating a resolution at the June iPNB meeting to all five station managers and listener groups in order to firm up long-term financial support for the cast. WBAI now generously provides FSRN with office space, two computers, studio time and use of the phones. WBAI also allows FSRN to keep its fund-raising tag.

Deepa Fernandes has started a pilot training program for young reporters of color. Both our steering committee and our reporter pool reflect substantial diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, race, class and sexual orientation. We are always seeking to further diversify our production, and we invite your suggestions to strengthen outreach. We also work collaboratively with both the WBAI local news department and the staff of Democracy Now! to insure the best coverage of progressive issues. Most importantly, we welcome all story pitches from producers and reporters and we'd love to work with you.

To learn more, hear the cast or make a contribution, go to: http://www.fsrn.org. To contact Aaron, Deepa or Eileen Sutton (outreach for New York), please call 212-209-2812. We welcome your ideas and your involvement. Truly independent, this newscast exists for us all.

Yours in solidarity,
The FSRN Steering Committee
June 2002

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