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Telander's Note, a Column, and now SF Editor Bronstein Weighs In

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dave Kindred, Sep 15, 2006.

  1. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    I'm posting this for Rick. And I'm totally on-board. I'll be on the courthouse steps in San Francisco.

    Dear fellow sports people--
    The date, time and place for the protest by those of us who cherish freedom of the press and deplore the idea that Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams may have to go to jail is now set:

    Date: Thursday, Sept. 21

    Place: Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
    450 Golden Gate Avenue
    San Francisco, California 94102

    Time: 1:30 PM (Pacific)

    The hearing which Mark and Lance must attend begins at 2:30 and likely will last until 4:30. Getting there an hour or so early allows us to assemble on the steps and show our solidarity. I hope as many of you as possible can make it. I know how long a trip it is for so many of you, and I know you all have jobs. If you can't make it, that is understood. But all are welcome and wanted. And needed.

    I don't think I need to express again the importance of this issue--the columns and notes you have been writing nationwide show that you understand the essential danger in this subpoena and the jeopardy it puts our profession in. It is important for you to know that Mark and Lance have done nothing illlegal. But if they are forced to reveal their sources for this non-national security case, the entire profession of journalism is in grievous trouble. And, oof course, the real-world fact is these two hard-working, law-abiding, award-winning sportswriters may have to go to jail for a principle they believe in. If they do go to jail, a part of all of us goes with them.

    This time and date is as firm as it can be. The judge would not allow the men to postpone it for family matters, for instance. I'm sorry the Sept 6 Shield Bill hearing, which we had hoped to attend, in Wash DC was cancelled. But that was done by Congress, not the law.

    Again, please pass this info on to all in our profession. And if you have not written a column about this issue, consider doing so. We'll all be looking for airline miles to use and floors to sleep on, so if anybody knows somebody who knows somebody (as we say here in Chicago), spread the word.

    I'm working on T-shirts that say, ``Mark & Lance Do Not Stand Alone,'' and ``Sportswriters For Freedom Of The Press,'' and ``Thomas Jefferson Would Cry Foul.'' Plus, there's a free dinner afterward.

    So think of this as being like the Super Bowl. Only with us as the wedge-busters.

    Hope to see you on the 21st!
    Rick Telander
    Senior Sports Columnist
    Chicago Sun-Times
    Dear sports people--Just to clear up something I may have misstated or been unclear about--on Sept. 21 at the courthouse Fainaru-Wada and Williams are likely to be TOLD by the judge what their fate will be, if they lose their appeal. They will not be going off to jail right then. That would come later--maybe much later-- after further legal wrangling.
    It's an important detail, but irrelevant in the fight. Nothing has changed.

    See you in San Francisco (in spirit or person) on Sept 21!
    PPS...A note from the reporters' lawyer....

    I'm not sure if anyone wants to send a letter to the judge, but here's his
    address in case they do.

    The Hon. Jeffrey S. White
    United States District Court
    Northern District of California
    450 Golden Gate Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    Courtroom Q, 17th Floor
    re: In Re: Grand Jury Subpoenas to Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams;
    Case #CR06-90225MISC JSW

    Also, I've confirmed with Eve that Mark, Lance, Phil and Eve will arrive
    between 2 p.m. and 2:10 p.m., and they will be able to speak before going
    in. And, in case it doesn't go without saying, anyone is welcome in the
    courtroom during the hearing.
  2. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press

    That has to be sticky-worthy.
  3. beefncheddar

    beefncheddar Guest

    Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press

    Any chance we could sticky it to all the boards, or would that be overkill?
  4. Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press

    I can't make it in person, but I will be there in spirit.
  5. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press

    Maybe poor stringers like me could send burlap sacks filled with letters announcing our full belief that Mark and Lance are, in fact, Santa and Mrs. Claus.
  6. Bear

    Bear New Member

    Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press

    For those that can't be there physically, is there anything we can do from afar?
  7. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press

    You can write about it. You can explain to people why it matters. It's not about the Chronicle's It's about the press as an independent institution. The makers of this country's Constitution believed a free press, uncensored by government officials, was essential to citizens who needed knowledge and information to govern themselves. Anything that erodes that freedom erodes democracy. That's what's going on when the government starts jailing reporters for doing work that's supposed to be protected by the Constitution. The issue larger than the Chronicle reporters is this: Congress is about to debate a federal shield law -- shield laws protect reporters from governmental intrusion -- that would protect reporters in all states. Journalists need to remind Congress and the public of the need for such a law. That's why I'm going to San Francisco.
  8. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press (With Update)

    This is part of a mass e-mailing from Telander:
    Here's my Sunday column on the Fainaru-Wada/Williams situation. I hope it helps.

    Ray McNulty
    Sports Columnist
    Scripps Treasure Coast (Fla.) Newspapers

    The hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the federal courthouse in San Francisco, where two of the great investigative reporters of their generation will be given a choice.¶

    Give up your sources.¶
    Tell a grand jury who leaked to you damaging testimony from the grand jury investigating the BALCO case.¶
    Spit on the First Amendment.¶
    Or go to jail.¶
    Which means Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, the San Francisco Chronicle writers whose tough journalism and relentless pursuit of the truth are the only reasons Major League Baseball and the Congress of the United States finally got serious about steroids, have no choice at all.¶

    They’re not going to break their promises. They’re not going to reveal their sources. They’re not going to give the U.S. attorney what he wants, just because they’re being threatened with jail.¶

    And, really, they can’t.¶
    They’re reporters.¶
    They understand the importance of a free press and the need for confidential sources. They know the stories they’re writing are serving a public good, that their fearless journalism has shed light on a problem that had been ignored for far too long. They know what they’re doing is right, even if a bad law says it’s wrong.¶

    So, unless their sources release them from their confidentiality agreement — or unless Congress acts quickly and passes a much-needed federal law to shield reporters from being required to turn over their notes to the government — Fainaru-Wada and Williams probably will go jail.¶

    And if that happens, the nation will have been weakened — because putting these reporters in jail for refusing to divulge their sources, even though no one’s personal safety is endangered and there are no national security concerns, would put a sizable dent in our precious First Amendment.¶

    A free and vigorous press is essential to a free society.¶
    Woodward and Bernstein used confidential sources to expose the Watergate scandal that brought down a presidency.¶

    Similarly, Fainaru-Wada and Williams used confidential sources to expose steroid use in baseball, prompting Congressional intervention that ultimately forced the players union to submit to the commissioner’s call for stricter testing and harsher penalties.¶

    Time will tell whether they will bring down baseball’s most notorious cheats. But because of their brilliant reporting, based on leaked grand-jury testimony, we learned that some major-league stars, such as Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, used steroids.¶

    More compelling, though, is the fallout from their work.¶
    BALCO’s Victor Conte went to prison, albeit for much too short a stay. Greg Anderson, Bonds’ trainer, went back to jail after refusing again to tell the truth about his buddy. Mark McGwire, once a baseball giant, now looks like a very small man. And while Bonds continues to chase Hank Aaron’s record of 755 home runs, America continues to look the other way.¶

    On a grander scale, Fainaru-Wada and Williams put steroids in the headlines and made them part of the national conversation. They kept digging. They refused to back down. They would not go away.¶

    They were out front on the most important sports story in years, ahead of MLB and Congress and every other newspaper in the land. They helped baseball adhere to a State-of-the-Union mandate from President Bush, who said he wanted steroids out of sports. They’ve made us all aware of the dangers.¶

    For that, Fainaru-Wada and Williams should be praised and admired, even celebrated, maybe rewarded with a Pulitzer Prize.¶

    Instead, they’ll probably go to jail. 
    -ray.mcnulty@scripps.com 
  9. OnTheRiver

    OnTheRiver Active Member

    Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press (With Update & a Column!)

    Nice work by Ray.
  10. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press (With Update & a Column!)

    Wow. Ray hits it on the head. Excellent perspective. I'm not sure I could add a single word. The federal shield law is long overdue. Hopefully, it's on the way. Can anyone comment on the status of this?

    If a Congressional vote isn't immenent, we certainly need to ensure that this issue becomes a key element of the political dialogue of the next two years. Unfortunately, this often means staying strong with the message even while most of the public plays Tetris on cell phones. Just remember that one story does not a national fervor create. If you're picking up the gauntlet on this, the journalism community is behind you. But they're going to come to depend upon you to bring home the bacon. It's a great responsibility, and it's one that requires a tenacious approach. Where would we be if MLK had caved a blister on the Million Man March?

    Therefore, you can't put down the torch until there's light at the end of this tunnel. And when there is light, it's going to be a significant victory for the First Amendment, democracy and the free press. Journalists such as Ray will change the face of not only our industry, but our country. There's no award that can acknowledge that sort of accomplishment. It's monumental, just as the Statue of Liberty stands not for a person, but for an ideal. A portion of that message is that this country welcomes those yearning to breathe free. Lets hope that our government's judicial, legislative and executive branches don't cut off the oxygen.

    If they do, then this, my friends, is a war worth fighting.

    I guess maybe I did have a word or two to add. I think I speak for thousands of journalists when I say that, collectively, our fingers are crossed.
  11. OTD

    OTD Well-Known Member

    Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press (With Update & a Column!)

    Ray, if you see this, nice job. Thanks.

    If I make it to Vero next spring, the beers are on me.
  12. Re: A Rick Telander Note on Freedom of the Press (With Update & a Column!)

    I agree.
    However, if you were the target of a Grand Jury, and prosecutors leaked what they had because they thought their case was weak, you might see some ambivalence here.
    You have to decide if you're going to be a tool, as well as a shill. Neither is pretty.
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