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PNN strike | Free Speech Radio News!
PNN Strikers Respond to Yasko 6-6-01

From:Eileen Sutton


Pacifica management tries in vain to discredit the strike against PNN and Free Speech Radio News. Below, Pacifica's putative national program director, Steve Yasko, writes to a Houston FSRN listener, who recently wrote the daily cast a substantial check. A few weeks back, this same listener gave the strikers $200 a day every time PNN signed off with their silly "we are a real union." Yasko's letter to our Houston benefactor follows the strikers' letter below.

Interesting that Yasko thinks stories on Iraq sanctions are breaking news...so much for the new PNN.

Eileen Sutton
Banned WBAI News Reporter
Pacifica Reporters Against Censorship
***Hear the cast at www.fsrn.org


Dear Mr. Yasko, Excuse the delay in replying; we've been very busy producing a daily newscast that now airs on 33 stations, almost all of them Pacifica affiliates.

Your claims below are more of the same cob-webbed propaganda that Pacifica management has been manufacturing since our strike began. Our response to these claims was posted long ago at http://www.savepacifica.net/strike/rebuttal_pacifica.html. Listed at that site as well are the dozens of labor unions -- including numerous AFL-CIO regional labor councils and national unions -- which support our strike against Pacifica Network News, along with the long list of progressives who've signed a statement of support.

A union is not the only body through which a strike can be called, and in fact, the majority of contributors to PNN did strike the network in January, 2000. We do, and have always, represented the contingent labor pool of the network -- freelancers with no union representation and no work protections whatsoever. We are not even allowed to join AFTRA, the union for Pacifica national whose close relationship with management is obvious.

If you and your bosses were truly concerned with the "value" of organized labor, perhaps Pacifica would not have spent thousands of dollars on union-busting consultants who have helped management move through the network busting its own unions -- most recently at WBAI in New York.

As for the new reporters you've been able to recruit, many of them are hired through Feature Story News, a corporate news service that has no relationship to progressive communities. (See our analysis at http://www.savepacifica.net/strike/fsn.html.) These reporters, in combination with the mediocre commentaries of people like Saul Landau and the truly talentless Bob Hennelley, now make up a newscast that has rightfully become the laughingstock of the "Progressive Community in America," as you term it.

Your colleague Don Rush continues to write letters to stringers who now file for Free Speech Radio News and who refuse to file for PNN. If the strike was a figment of everyone's imagination, as Pacifica management would have the entire country believe, it's unlikely that close to 80 progressive reporters nationally and internationally, along with hundreds of progressives of every stripe in this country, would still refuse to work for, or speak to, PNN.

We struck shortly after Pacifica fired former news director Dan Coughlin for running a short story on an affiliate boycott, and then pushed out PNN anchor Verna Avery-Brown. Recent direct censorship of local news at WBAI by interim manager Utrice Leid, along with the continued harassment of Amy Goodman, to which you've personally contributed, are simply the continuation of the rampant censorship which has engulfed this network as the political purge from above continues.

Even Pacifica's own affiliates have organized days of protest against the censorship in the network. And more to the point, well over half of Pacifica's 50-odd affiliates (and counting) have taken a position on the diminished quality of PNN, by canceling it and running the strikers' newscast, Free Speech Radio News, in its place this month.

Let's be frank, Mr. Yakso. PNN runs the "real union" tag because it is clearly on the defensive. Why else would you need to "clarify" anything?

Pacifica Reporters Against Censorship


[Yasko responding to Houston listener, Dan]

Could provide some contact information so that I might explain PNN's use of the union statement more fully?

In brief:

1. PNN is indeed produced by a real union and we are quite proud of our relationship with AFTRA. A core Pacifica value is the benefit organized labor has brought to America. We all should be celebrating the promotion of AFTRA and this core value on our airwaves.

2. There is no strike against Pacifica Network News or our other national programming or stations. Some folks who claim to be regular contributors to PNN say they will no longer contribute based on events that are now two years old. There is no censorship at Pacifica National Progamming.

3. Each time I am presented with a list of names of folks who are allegedly boycotting PNN, I run it through our finance office to determine how many times and when they last contributed to PNN so I can contact them. For example, the last such list presented to me had 30 names on it. Of that 30 only six people had ever filed for PNN and none of them had contributed in the year prior to the events in Berkeley. Frankly, these folks don't seem to have much of an investment in their association with Pacifica.

4. In the last 10 months, over 50 new reporters have become contributors to PNN. These folks come from a wide range of progressive and minority media outlets. We continue to receive calls of interest from journalists from around the world who wish to join us in promoting our mission.

So I guess you can see there is no work action against our program. The tag is not a taunt or designed to affect anyone elses program or work situation. The collective bargining unit of Pacifica National Programming feels the need to claryify the successful relationship they have with our contibutors and management. This is primarly why the tag is run on a regular basis.

I am sorry you do not feel what we are putting on the air is of value to you. I can tell you it is a valuable service to our listeners based on the many emails, phone calls and letters we recieve complenting us on our fair, objective and insightfull coverage of the issues important to the Progressive Community in America.

You are free to contribute your money anywhere you like. I hope that you will be listening in the next week or two when we be airing a very important three part series on the effect of the US sanctions against Iraq. It's a facinating story about how these sanctions are making Iraq's drinking water unsafe and the heartbreaking and developmental effect on a generation of children. The series will also be feature a first ever broadcast encounter between a female US veteran of the Gulf War and an Iraqi mother who lost two sons and had a third whose body is permanently embedded with scraps of metal from US bombs. The forgiveness of the mother to the veteran is quite remarkable. I hope you will listen and find room in your heart for this very important story.

Best Wishes
Steve Yasko
National Program Director
Pacifica Foundation

------- End of forwarded message -------

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