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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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Clear It With Sidney

Wed, Feb 18, 2015

Hillman Prize- and Sidney Award-winner Steven Greenhouse talks to Micah Uetricht of In These Times about his celebrated career as a labor reporter, his retirement from the New York Times, and future of the labor beat.

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Hillman Prize- and Sidney Award-winner Steven Greenhouse talks to Micah Uetricht of In These Times about his celebrated career as a labor reporter, his retirement from the New York Times, and future of the labor beat.

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Mon, Feb 16, 2015

Sidney Hillman Judge Ta-Nehisi Coates has won a 2014 George Polk Award for his magnificent Atlantic cover story, "The Case for Reparations."

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Sidney Hillman Judge Ta-Nehisi Coates has won a 2014 George Polk Award for his magnificent Atlantic cover story, "The Case for Reparations."

Till Death Do Us Parta ground-breaking series on domestic violence by the Post and Courier of Charleston, won a Sidney Award in September of 2014 and a Polk Award last night.

Past Sidney-winner John Carlos Frey and our friends at the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute also took home a Polk Award last night:  

The award for television reporting went to Marisa Venegas and Solly Granatstein, executive producers, and John Carlos Frey, correspondent, for a joint production by the Investigative Fund, the Weather Channel, Telemundo and Efran Films titled “Muriendo por Cruzar (Dying to Cross),” on the plight of migrants in the Texas desert. [NYT]

The Polk Awards honor special achievements in journalism. They are named after CBS correspondent James Polk who was murdered while covering a civil war in Greece in 1948. The judges place a premium on rigorous investigation and real-world results. 

Congratulations to all the winners! 

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Fri, Feb 13, 2015

The Best of the Week's News

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The Best of the Week's News

  • More than half of all migrant labor camps in Florida received an "unsatisfactory" rating from the Department of Health, according to a major investigation by Watchdog Sarasota. 
  • The Nation releases a new eBook on Bill DeBlasio and inequality by Eric Alterman.
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Thu, Feb 12, 2015

The Voice of OC has a three-part series on the domestic violence crisis facing Santa Ana, California.

Santa Ana has the highest rate of domestic violence of any major city in the state. The Santa Ana police recieve domestic violence calls at an annual rate of 9.1/1000 residents. That's almost double the rate for Los Angeles.  

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The Voice of OC has a three-part series on the domestic violence crisis facing Santa Ana, California.

Santa Ana has the highest rate of domestic violence of any major city in the state. The Santa Ana police recieve domestic violence calls at an annual rate of 9.1/1000 residents. That's almost double the rate for Los Angeles.  

Santa Ana is a diverse city that is home to many immigrants. Activists note that victims whose immigration status is uncertain are often reluctant to report domestic violence out of fear of deportation. 

The Orange County Family Justice Center offers multiple services to domestic violence. Victims can get help with legal issues, social services, and counselling, all under the same roof. The center is at the forefront of a movement to meet the needs of DV survivors in a more comprehensive way. 

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Wed, Feb 11, 2015

R.G. Dunlop and Jacob Ryan of Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting win the February Sidney Award for exposing an outrageous system of patronage with their story “Only in Kentucky: Jailers Without Jails.”

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R.G. Dunlop and Jacob Ryan of Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting win the February Sidney Award for exposing an outrageous system of patronage with their story “Only in Kentucky: Jailers Without Jails.”

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 hansomely, to do little or 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.

Read our Backstory interview with R.G. Dunlop about the reporting that went into this remarkable story and the impact that the coverage is having on Kentucky politics. 

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Fri, Feb 6, 2015

The Best of the Week's News

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The Best of the Week's News

  • Credible fear: Tens of thousands of families flee violence in Central America, languish in U.S. detention.
  • Salute a sanitation worker: Only .2% of the DNA in the New York City subway is human.
  • On Tuesday, Feb 10, join director Marc Levin for a sneak preview of his new documentary, Freeway: Crack in The System, at the IFC Center in New York.
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Tue, Feb 3, 2015

Amanda Hess took home a 2015 National Magazine Award last night for "Why Women Aren't Welcome on The Internet," a deeply personal and deeply-reported account of the threats that female journalists encounter online and the powerlessness of law enforcement to stop them.

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Amanda Hess took home a 2015 National Magazine Award last night for "Why Women Aren't Welcome on The Internet," a deeply personal and deeply-reported account of the threats that female journalists encounter online and the powerlessness of law enforcement to stop them.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation recognized Hess's piece with the October 2014 Sidney Award. Here's our Backstory interview with Hess about the making of her award-winning story. 

The Sidneys have been a bellweather for National Magazine Awards before. Steve Brill won a March 2013 Sidney Award for "Bitter Pill," which went on to win a National Magazine Award in 2014. 

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Fri, Jan 30, 2015

The Best of the Week's News

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The Best of the Week's News

  • "Almost every day, I slip food to one of my students," a Colorado teacher writes.
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Wed, Jan 28, 2015

In "Midnight Three & Six," a New York Times Op/Doc short film, Joe Callander brings us an intimate look at a family's 24/7 struggle to keep a pre-teen with volatile Type 1 diabetes alive. Grace has already lost four friends her age to this rare and deadly variant of diabetes. 

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In "Midnight Three & Six," a New York Times Op/Doc short film, Joe Callander brings us an intimate look at a family's 24/7 struggle to keep a pre-teen with volatile Type 1 diabetes alive. Grace has already lost four friends her age to this rare and deadly variant of diabetes. 

Grace's blood sugar is so unstable that her parents sometimes have to measure it every hour, or even every fifteen minutes. If her sugar drops too low, she will go into convulsions and possibly a coma. Typically, Grace's mom and dad take turns checking her blood sugar through the night, at midnight, three, and six am. Hence the title of the documentary. Her mom lives in fear that her daughter will die in her sleep if she sleeps through her alarm. 

 

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Mon, Jan 26, 2015

A journalist who investigated the death of a prosecutor investigating a 1994 bombing of a Jewish center has fled the country for Israel. The journalist, Damián Pachter, says that he was being persued by Argentine intelligence agents and feared for his safety.

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A journalist who investigated the death of a prosecutor investigating a 1994 bombing of a Jewish center has fled the country for Israel. The journalist, Damián Pachter, says that he was being persued by Argentine intelligence agents and feared for his safety.

The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, was found dead the night before he was scheduled to testify about the the bombing, which he alleged was perpetrated by Hezbollah and covered up by the Argentinian government. Nisman alleged that the Argentina colluded with Iran to cover up the bombing as part of a deal in which Iran would supply oil to Argentina.

Bizarrely, the twitter feed of the Argentine Presidential Palace (@CasaRosadaAR) published purported details of Pachter's flight to Israel.

Jorge Capitanich, Argentina’s cabinet chief, defended the publication of Mr. Pachter’s movements on the Twitter account of the presidential palace. At a news conference on Monday morning, he said, “If a journalist says that he feels threatened, it’s important to publish his whereabouts.” [NYT]

The government answered Pachter's coverage with an even more bizarre counter-conspiracy theory:

In a letter this week, [President] Kirchner also wrote that Mr. Nisman had, unknowingly, been fed false information by Mr. Stiusso to sully the government as part of a plot that would end with his death. “The true operation against the government was the death of the prosecutor after accusing the president,” she wrote. [NYT]

So, the government is saying that there was plot to murder the prosecutor and make it look like a suicide, but the government didn't do it. They say the government was framed by an ousted former spy who wanted to make the administration look bad.

By tweeting a journalist's flight details, the Kirchner administration is making itself look bad. 

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