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Clear it with SidneyHow our blog got its name >

Notes on journalism for the common good
by Lindsay Beyerstein

How our blog got its name

Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”

Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.

It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.

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L.A. Times Duo Wins Sidney For Exposing Brutal System That Puts Perfect Mexican Produce on U.S. Tables

Richard Marosi and Don Bartletti win the January Sidney Award for “Product of Mexico,” a multi-media package for the LA Times documenting the brutal labor practices on Mexican farms that produce fruits and vegetables for major U.S. retailers, including WalMart.

The story is the product of an 18-month investigation that took the reporters to 9 Mexican states. Marosi’s words and Bartletti’s images tell the stories of the workers who travel hundreds of miles to work on farms that grow produce for export.Continue reading...

Sidney's Picks: America's Dirtiest Cops; Who's Driving This Train?

The Best of the Week's News Continue reading...

Kentucky's Jail-Less Jailers Get Paid to Do Nothing

Kentucky has 41 counties with no county jail, but the state constitution requires all counties to have an elected county jailer. So, 41 county jailers get paid, often handsomely, to do nothing. The highest earner among them pulls down $69,000 a year, but she has no office, no schedule, and no official duties of any kind.

These counties are some of the poorest in the state, but they collectively spend about $2 million dollars a year on salaries for jailers-without-porforlio and their deputies. Continue reading...

Happy New Year, Hillmanistas!

2015 will be a great year for socially conscious journalism. 

Remember to get your Hillman Prize entries in. The deadline for the Canadian Hillman Prize is Jan 9 and the deadline for all other Hillman Prizes is Jan 30.

Fracking and Contract Killing in North Dakota

A gripping tale of greed, fracking, deregulation, and murder in North Dakota brought to us by Deborah Sontag and and Brent McDonald of the New York Times.


Sidney's Picks: Harry Potter & Hunger Games Fuel the Fight for $15

The Best of the Week's NewsContinue reading...

Last of the "Murrow Boys" Dies at 97

Richard C. Hottelet, a war correspondent who covered the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge for CBS, has died at the age of 97.Continue reading...

Tennessee Criminalizes Drug Use During Pregnancy, Tragedies Ensue

One of the first women arrested under Tennessee's new law that criminalizes women who give birth to babies with drugs in their systems took her own life last month, Rosa Goldensohn and Rachael Levy report in the Nation:Continue reading...

Sidney's Picks: Black Lives Matter

The Best of the Week's NewsContinue reading...

Greg Palast Wins December Sidney for Exposing Biased Database Threatening Millions of POC Votes

Greg Palast wins the December Sidney Award for “Jim Crow Returns,” and “Challenging Crosscheck,” a two-part Al Jazeera America exposé that shows how millions of innocent people were flagged as suspected vote fraudsters just because they have the same first and last name as someone in another state.Continue reading...


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