rn> San Francisco: protests against media monopolies


Richard Moore

Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2000 12:03:07 -0500
To: •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••
From: Mark Douglas Whitaker <•••@••.•••>
Subject: [FAIR-L] ACTION ALERT: SAN FRANCISCO: Chronicle Gives Short
  Shrift to NAB Protests (fwd), and press pass confiscation by NAB
Mime-Version: 1.0

                    Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
               Media analysis, critiques and news reports

San Francisco Chronicle Gives Short Shrift to NAB Protests

October 2, 2000

In what amounts to a news blackout, the September 21 - 23
demonstrations at the National Association of Broadcasters
(NAB) convention in San Francisco received no coverage in
any major mainstream press or broadcast outlets outside the
Bay Area.

Given that the protests were meant to spotlight the
undemocratic activities of the NAB and of corporate media in
general, the lack of coverage is deplorable but perhaps not
a surprise. What's more remarkable is that even the city's
major hometown paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, ran no
news stories focusing on the demonstrations.

The Chronicle's coverage consisted of one news article
detailing the arrest of three National Lawyers Guild
representatives who were attempting to gain access to jailed
protesters (9/23/00) and one item reporting (incorrectly, as
it turns out) that all charges against the nine arrested
protesters had been dropped (9/26/00). Before the protests,
the paper also ran an op-ed addressing the local impact of
the NAB's lobbying (9/18/00).

While the opinion piece was welcome, the Chronicle's news
pages have devoted only half a sentence to activists'
political concerns (9/23/00), noting that the arrests had
occurred while protesters were attempting "to call attention
to what they contend is government sanctioning of
monopolization of the airwaves."

In contrast, San Francisco's alternative weekly, the Bay
Guardian, featured extensive coverage of the NAB protests
and the issues behind them. The San Francisco Examiner's
coverage was less in-depth, but still outpaced the
Chronicle's, with three news articles about the issues
behind the protests (9/20/00, 9/21/00, 9/24/00), one noting
the four earliest arrests (9/22/00) and one examining the
NAB's revocation of the press credentials held by Bay
Guardian reporter Steve Rhodes and other independent
journalists (9/26/00).

***The NAB's expulsion of Rhodes and other independent media
from the Moscone Center, the site of the convention, is
itself newsworthy and should alarm journalists everywhere. 
A credentialed reporter for the Bay Guardian, Rhodes had his
press credentials seized while he was photographing four
activists who had locked themselves together in the Moscone
Center entranceway.***

When Rhodes requested an explanation, the NAB's Jack Knebel
told him "You are part of the problem." "I told him again
that I was a reporter for the Bay Guardian," writes Rhodes,
"and he repeated that I was part of the problem." Police
escorted him out of the building under threat of arrest.

An NAB PR official has since apologized for the incident, as
has San Francisco Police Chief Fred Lau. The Society of
Professional Journalists has spoken out strongly against the
NAB's actions (Bay Guardian, 9/27/00), noting that when a
group "whose members control the vast majority of broadcast
news outlets nationwide considers working journalists to be
part of the problem, then the American media has reached a
sad and scary state of affairs indeed." But no mainstream
media other than the San Francisco Examiner have covered the
NAB's decision to ban selected members of the press.

Another underreported story is the fate of those activists
arrested during the demonstrations. FAIR's September 26
update on the protests reported that all charges against the
demonstrators had been dropped; unfortunately, that
information was based on false statements made by the San
Francisco district attorney's office to the Lawyers Guild.

In fact, the DA is pressing misdemeanor vandalism charges
against two activists arrested during the September 22
demonstration outside the building housing Clear Channel
radio stations KYLD and KMEL. The glass pane of a door to
the station was cracked-- it is unclear by whom-- during a
confrontation in which KYLD "Doghouse" morning show crew
members Dan "Elvis" Lay and Joseph "Big Joe" Lopez shoved
and verbally abused demonstrators, apparently broadcasting
the incident on their morning radio show.  (See FAIR's
September 26 Activism Update.) Lopez and one other crew
member have recently been charged by police for another,
unrelated "prank." Charges are not being pressed, however,
against Lay and Lopez for their actions during the Clear
Channel protests.

The Chronicle has not followed up or corrected its September
26 story, "City Drops Charges Against NAB Protesters."

ACTION: Please contact the San Francisco Chronicle and ask
why its news coverage ignored the substance of the media
democracy protests against the NAB. You might also urge them
to follow up continuing stories emerging from the protests,
such as the NAB's press credentials policy and the DA's
prosecution of the activists arrested at Clear Channel.

Matthew Wilson, Executive Editor
San Francisco Chronicle
Phone: 415-777-1111
Fax: 415-896-1107

As always, please remember that your comments are taken more
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For more information on the NAB and the protests, see FAIR's
NAB resources: http://www.fair.org/nab.html

For more details on the incident at KYLD, see FAIR's open
letter to Clear Channel:

For non-corporate coverage of the protests, visit the San
Francisco Independent Media Center:

For Steve Rhodes' full account of his expulsion from the
Moscone Center, see:


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