Saturday, June 25, 2005

Fox News Destroyed Reporters of Bovine Growth Hormone

Journalists, Not Activists
By Liane Casten
In These Times

If any more proof was needed that we live in an upside-down world, the saga of TV news reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Akre serves as the definitive case study.

Husband and wife, Wilson and Akre are exhausted emotionally and financially, but also relieved. Their eight-year struggle--known to many from the 2004 documentary, The Corporation--with WTVT, a Tampa, Fla. Fox affiliate, has come to an end. After two major court cases, and more angst than any two reporters should have to endure, Wilson and Akre settled their case by FedExing nearly $200,000 to the network giant in May. They lost their appeal, having unsuccessfully fought a large corporation with very deep pockets.

It began when Fox fired the reporters in 1997, after they tried to air a story about the bovine growth hormone, rBGH. The report exposed its widespread use by U.S. dairy farmers, despite studies linking rGBH consumption to prostate and breast cancer. Monsanto, the producer of rBGH, threatened a lawsuit and demanded the elimination of significant, verifiable information from the story. Eventually, WTVT caved, despite Wilson and Akre's efforts to rewrite the story more than 70 times to redress the complaints.

The couple sued Fox under Florida's Whistle Blower's Act. In a jury trial, Akre and Wilson were awarded $425,000. (The reporters knew not to spend it too soon.) In 2001, they were awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for their outstanding reporting.

In an appeal, however, Fox argued that the FCC policy against distortion of news did not qualify as "law," and that therefore Akre and Wilson were not protected under the Florida act, which only protects those reporting an employer's violation of a "law, rule or regulation." The court accepted this argument, ruling for WTVT.

More appalling than the reversal were the five major media outlets that filed briefs of amici curiae in support of Fox's position. . . .

{see rest of the story at link above}


At 9:31 AM, Blogger Maugham Malraux said...

THis shit just breaks my heart. Keep publishing. Fuck.


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