Dear colleagues, friends and supporters,
I was humbled and honored to be among nine journalists, all formerly on the staff of the Santa Barbara News-Press, given a National Ethics in Journalism Award several months ago by the Society of Professional Journalists.
The SPJ, after an independent investigation of the extraordinary events in Santa Barbara, awarded the honor to a group of us who felt forced to leave the paper last summer because of concerns over the ethics of management decisions involving news coverage. Our group, the SPJ citation said, "opted to risk their livelihoods rather than remain in a position where they felt their journalistic ethics and professional credibility were being violated."
Amid the ongoing exodus of dozens of professional journalists from the News-Press, the paper’s owner has filed a flurry of legal threats, claims and lawsuits against people who dared to speak out or report about what was happening in the newsroom.
In response, a group of prominent local attorneys formed the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights, to help level the playing field for journalists who found themselves bludgeoned by legal attacks by Ampersand Publishing, owned by billionaire Wendy McCaw.
I am one of those journalists, now facing a $25 million arbitration claim filed by the company.
Colleagues and friends put together a web site - http://www.jerryrobertsandfriends.org - to help the Alliance help me and other journalists fight back.
Please take a few minutes to review the events at the paper by reading the stories on this site. And then please make a donation to the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights, in defense of the values, standards and ethics of public interest journalism.
Thanks for your consideration.
Local blogs have been covering this story -Hope you can help him out. He's a great guy, a fine journalist and a dang good moderator of a continuing education course I'm attending, "As the World Turns: The Games People Play."
(photo from the Santa Barbara Independent)