Alledged Censorship Sparks Pacifica Foundation Strike

Gregory Wesley and Westyn Branch-Elliman contributed to this report.

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Nearly three-quarters of the correspondents of the Pacifica Foundation - the parent company of Berkeley's KPFA radio - began a strike yesterday in response to alleged censorship.

Strike leaders said they will not contribute to the network's daily national news programs for 90 days or until executives agree to end censorship practices and reinstate a fired news anchor.

"This is a strike about whether or not news people can make news decisions," said Aaron Glantz, one of the striking KPFA reporters. "There's enough examples of censorship to make it worth going on strike."

Many Pacifica affiliates nationwide are participating in the strike, Glantz said, including stations in Berkeley, New York, Houston and Los Angeles. Although the majority of correspondents for the network's national news programs refuse to cover stories, the stations are still broadcasting using "scabs," Glantz said.

At a rally in front of Pacifica's former headquarters, striking reporters said Pacifica recently fired a journalist when he broadcast a story about the boycott of a Pacifica affiliate.

Approximately 40 protesters gathered outside the former Pacifica Foundation headquarters on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The network recently moved its main office to Washington, D.C.

Reporters also spoke out against the departure of Vera Avery Brown, a network news anchor who quit in protest of the network's censorship and was not offered reinstatement.

"Pacifica seems to think that they can censor news if it reflects badly on them, or on any reporting of this crisis," said Aileen Alfandary, a station employee. "Pacifica should assert that accurate reporting not be punished."

Protesters also discussed other recent cases of business interests' compromising journalistic integrity, including an incident in which the Los Angeles Times shared advertising revenue with the subject of one of its special issues.

"If the L.A. Times is engaged in self-criticism, we can certainly expect Pacifica to," said Jo Ann Kawell, a station employee. "The way that this is parallel (to the Los Angeles Times incident) is that management are the ones who stepped in."

Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who has been active in protests against Pacifica, said he hoped the strike would spark policy changes at the network.

"It's one more in a string of efforts to try to restore accountability to Pacifica," Worthington said. "They've been hearing from their listeners and from KPFA employees, and now they're hearing from employees all over the world, that they shouldn't be restraining free speech."


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