November 2013 | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

November 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving Cornucopia



[Photo credit: Brent Nashville, Creative Commons.]

Infant Blood Tests Delayed, Treatments Denied

You don’t remember this, but if you were born in the United States in the last half-century, you probably had blood drawn to screen for dozens of rare genetic disorders. When these tests pick up treatable illnesses, prompt action can prevent early death or lifelong disability. The newborn screening program saves about 12,000 babies every year. Unfortunately, as the Milwaukee Journal Sential discovered, over 100,000 tests a year are processed late, and the consequences can be deadly. 


[Photo credit: Keaggy, Creative Commons.]

The Racist Roots of "Knockout Game" Trend Pieces

A sensible antidote to the latest round of racially-tinged “knockout game” hysteria. 


[Photo credit: Eva-Lotta Lam, Creative Commons.]

#Sidney's Picks: Border Patrol Freezers & Child Labor Deaths

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Mariya Strauss profiles kids who died at work after the Labor Department squelched proposed child labor rules that would have kept them out of dangerous farm jobs.

Ohio Walmarts Host Food Drives for Their Own Employees

Two Ohio Walmarts are hosting food drives for their own associates this holiday season. “A lot of associates can’t even afford to buy a small turkey,” Ricki Hahn, a seven-year employee of Wal-Mart, told the local Fox News station that broke the story. That’s not surprising considering that more than half of all Walmart employees make less than $25,000 a year, according to the company’s CEO, a wage that would make a family of four eligible for food stamps. The food drives have ignited controversy over Walmart’s poverty wages ahead of Black Friday, which has become a flashpoint for labor unrest at Walmart stores in recent years. The employee group OUR WALMART is keeping the pressure on. The National Labor Relations Board recently handed Walmart employees a major victory, ruling that the retailer cannot retaliate against workers for protesting Walmart’s poverty wages. 

Texas Doctor Peddles Unproven Cancer Treatment

Check out USA Today’s expose of Stanislaw Burzynski, a Houston cancer doctor who claims he can cure cancer with compounds isolated from human urine. Burzynski is under investigation by the FDA and the Texas Medical Board for peddling (piddling?) unproven remedies and failing to report serious side effects. 


[Photo credit: TobyM, Creative Commons.]

2014 Hillman Prizes: Call for Entries Now Open

The call for entries for the 2014 Hillman Prizes is now open. The Hillman Prizes recognize outstanding achievements in socially conscious journalism in the following categories: 

1. Book (bound volumes and ebooks)

2. Newspaper Journalism (story or series/in print or online) 

3. Magazine Journalism (story or series/in print or online) 

4. Broadcast Journalism (story or series/at least 20 minutes in total package length) Open to television, web TV, radio, podcast, and documentary film.

5. Web Journalism (publication/story or series/multimedia media project) Open to blogs, computer-assisted reporting, new investigative tools, mapping, crowd sourcing, and other multimedia media projects. Entries should feature both text and visual components.

6. Opinion & Analysis Journalism (any medium) Includes all types of advocacy, opinion, commentary and analysis, normally short-form and/or frequent, regardless of medium. Open to newspaper and magazine columnists, TV and radio presenters, podcasters, blogs, and bloggers.

7. The Canadian Hillman Prize. Awarded for outstanding journalism published in a Canadian media outlet. 

All applications must be received by Jan 31, 2014, except applications for the Canadian Hillman Prize, which are due Jan 9, 2014. 

The prize is a $5000 honorarium and travel to New York City to receive the award.

Full application details here

Introducing Hillman's Newest Judge: Ta-Nehisi Coates

It is my great pleasure to welcome the Sidney Hillman Foundation’s newest judge, Ta-Nehisi Coates. This fall, Coates joined the distinguished panel of judges who adjudicate our monthly Sidney Awards and our annual Hillman Prizes. 

Ta-Nehisi is a senior editor at The Atlantic, a celebrated blogger, a memoirist, and a 2012 Hillman Prize-winner. His fellow Hillman judge Rick Hertzberg describes him as “one of the most elegant and sharp observers of race in America, [an] upholder of universal values, a brave and compassionate writer who challenges his readers to transcend narrow self-definitions and focus on shared humanity.”

We could not be happier or more proud to have Ta-Nehisi on our team. 

#Sidney's Picks: Idaho Faith Healers Kill Kids

The Best of the Week’s News

  • A faith-healing sect in Idaho is killing children by withholding medicine for treatable infections.


"The Fall of the House of Moon"

Everything you ever wanted to know about the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, his eccentric heirs, and the sex rituals of the Unification Church. Did I mention that Moon was crowned king of the universe in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in a ceremony attended by at least a dozen lawmakers? 


[Photo: Rev. Moon, his clan, and some dude in the front row, by wiki.editor, Creative Commons.]