Clear It with Sidney | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Clear It with Sidney

Massive International Diploma Scam Exposed

Photo credit: 

Ser g/o, Creative Commons.

As this year’s graduates are celebrating their hard-earned degrees, the New York Times has exposed a massive faux diploma scam shipping pseudo-sheepskins to slackers worldwide. 

“Newford University” presents itself to the internet as an institution of higher learning, but closer examination reveals it to be an educational Potemkin Village, a front for academic fraud:

Yet on closer examination, this picture shimmers like a mirage. The news reports are fabricated. The professors are paid actors. The university campuses exist only as stock photos on computer servers. The degrees have no true accreditation. [NYT]

A Pakistani software firm called Axact is raking in tens of millions of dollars for bogus degrees. For a price, the customer can even get a degree “authenticated” by a fake U.S. official, even an ersatz Secretary of State. 

Sidney’s Picks: Triumphant Farmworkers, Freeloading Billionaires, and False Memories

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Wonderlane, Creative Commons

The Best of the Week’s News

  • When pioneering feminist psychologist Sandy Bem developed Alzheimer’s Disease, she decided to end her life on her own terms.
  • When Matthew Teague’s wife was dying of cancer, his best friend moved in to help out, and became part of the family.

Sidney’s Picks: Watch the 2015 Hillman Prize Speeches

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Watch Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative deliver his unforgettable acceptance speech for the inaugural George “Citizen” Barrett Award for Public Interest Law.
  • Watch Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker accept his Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism.
  • All the speeches from Tuesday’s Hillman Prize ceremony will be available soon on this site. You can also subscribe to Hillman’s YouTube Channel to keep up with all our video programming. 

Scenes from the 2015 Hillman Prizes

Photo credit: 

Photo by Clark Jones. 

The 65th-Annual Hillman Prizes were a night to remember. In this image Bryan Stevenson, Founder of the Equal Justice Institute, gives an unforgettable acceptance speech for the inaugural George Barrett Award for Public Interest Law.  

Check out the beautiful photographs of our winners, judges, officials, and guests, celebrating excellence in socially conscious journalism at the Times Center on Tuesday night. We are still adding images to the archive. Check back later to see even more. 

Many thanks to our photographers, Clark Jones and Dave Sanders.

Help us make our album as complete as possible, please tag yourself and your friends in these images. 

Remembering Citizen Barrett

Photo credit: 

Vanderbilt Magazine.

On Tuesday night, the Sidney Hillman Foundation will present the first annual George “Citizen” Barrett Award for Public Service Law to Bryan Stevenson for his tireless efforts to secure justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. 

The award is named after George Barrett, a crusading Nashville civil rights attorney, who died last year at the age of 86. As we prepare to honor his legacy, let’s look back an an obituary written by Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. She describes Barrett’s contributions to civil rights law, his dogged committment to the First Amendment, and his infectious joy in public service. 


Sidney's Picks: Six Baltimore Cops Charged in Freddie Gray's Death

Photo credit: 

Good Morning Baltimore,” by Colin Gallagher, 2012. 

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Six Baltimore cops charged in death of Freddie Gray.
  • Hillman Judge Ta-Nehisi Coates: The violence in Baltimore didn’t start with the riots.

Children's Place Agrees to Pay $2 Million to Rana Plaza Survivors Fund

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JeepersMedia, Creative Commons.

The Children’s Place, a retailer whose goods were being made in the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh at the time of its 2013 collapse, has agreed to pay $2 million to a fund to help survivors of the catastrophe. The deal was brokered by Workers United SEIU.

The labor organization Workers United SEIU reached an agreement with The Children’s Place last Thursday, the day before the second anniversary of the disaster that killed more than 1,100 garment workers in the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As a result of that agreement, protests planned at Children’s Place stores for last Friday were canceled. The activist groups plan to continue to press other U.S. retailers, including J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart, for contributions.

Activists hope to raise a total of $30 million for the survivors fund. 

Sidney’s Picks: Cirque du Soleil is a Death Trap & Sex Offender Registries are a Joke

Photo credit: 

Focka, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News

US Senate Cafeteria Worker Has No Place to Call Home

Photo credit: 

jsnsndr, Creative Commons.

Charles Gladden works in the cafeteria at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, but he has not had a fixed address for 5 years. Instead of going home at night, the 63-year-old diabetic grandfather sleeps in the McPherson Square Metro Station, near the White House.

Gladden recently took part in a one-day strike to draw attention to the fact that the U.S. government is the single biggest indirect creator of jobs that do not pay a living wage. 

Sidney-Winning Domestic Violence Exposé Goes on to Win Pulitzer Prize

Photo credit: 

Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes, and Natalie Caula Hauff of the Post and Courier.

In September 2014, Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes, and Natalie Caula Haff won the Sidney Award for “Til Death do Us Part,” a fearless, masterfully reported investigation into the domestic homicide crisis in South Carolina.

Read our Backstory Interview about the making of this landmark series 

Today, “Til Death” went on to win the gold medal for Public Service, the most prestigious of all the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism

Our warmest congratulations to Doug, Glenn, Jennifer, and Natalie. We knew they were destined for big things!