News Workshop Preserves Lost Era of Press Protecting the Public

Charles Lewis

American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop this week premiered an impressive documentary illustrating observations about journalism by 26 of the most distinguished United States reporters and editors of the past half century. The Workshop’s executive editor, Charles Lewis, right, presented excerpts of the film, Investigating Power, at the National Press Club in the nation’s capital on April 26. He then led a panel discussion with three of the featured journalists. Bill Kovach, Barry Sussman and Dana Priest brought vast experience, concern and wisdom to their comments.

William KovachBut the broader public, not just journalists, must get more involved in addressing the issues. That's because the public faces loss of America's quality of life—and sometimes life itself – by lack of informed scrutiny of decision-makers. “When the press fails to report what Congress does,” said Kovach, at left, a former New York Times Washington Bureau chief and co-founder of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, "the whole system collapses.”

These problems for the public occur also because of an unaccountable Executive Branch, court system – and media. Two of our Justice Integrity Project columns this week, by coincidence, have illustrated such problems. The first, BP, CIA, Edwards Cases Raise Selective Prosecution Questions, summarized government and business scandals involving public health, civil rights and the criminal justice system. National Ridenhour Awards Honor Truth-Tellers, Patriots portrayed those who overcame great obstacles to warn about dangers in the Afghanistan war, massive fraud in home mortgage documents and serious, long-term health dangers for Marines and their families in North Carolina.

Scandals this week also illustrate gross shortcomings by three of the nation’s most influential media companies -- News Corp., the Washington Post and the Tribune Companies. The gist is that media chiefs were apparently caught fleecing or deceiving the public, sometimes with the help of their allies in government. That's in contrast to the media's supposed role of reporting the news, with income from circulation and advertising. Here's what happened:

At News Corp., founder Rupert Murdoch denied involvement in illegal wiretapping of celebrities, politicians and other news subjects and political blackmail or cover-up. But Harold Evans, his most illustrious former employee, ridiculed Murdoch’s denials as obvious lies. Evans, a former Murdoch editor voted in 1999 by peers as his nation's “Journalist of the Century,” debunked Murdoch in a Guardian column, excerpted below.
At the Washington Post, CEO Donald Graham downplayed the significance of membership in the right-wing lobbying group ALEC by the Post’s financially dominant subsidiary, Kaplan. Kaplan typically provides 60% of Post revenue compared to just 4% from newspaper circulation, according to quarterly reports. Kaplan and other for-profit education services companies are under multiple federal investigations on suspicions of bilking students and taxpayers. A news report here said Kaplan was among companies that joined ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), which fights regulatory oversight.
At the Tribune Companies flagship Chicago Tribune, management is out-sourcing some of its local reporting to a firm that reportedly pays work-from-home reporters rates as low as $2 and $4 per story, depending on the time commitment. As indicated in an appendix below, Tribune management is so concerned about appearances that the local reporters get a bonus of $50 if they report to management reporters from other news organizations who inquire about the new system of coverage.

The latter situation might seem like a comedy skit idea for Saturday Night Live, though perhaps too implausible. But even the tale of the $2 per story reporters comes with a serious context for the public:

Kevin MartinA politically and ideologically driven Federal Communications Commission majority in 2007 enabled the Tribune’s bankruptcy and pillaging of journalist careers and pension funds by waiving FCC rules so that Republican real estate tycoon Sam Zell could buy the nationwide chain. Republican Chairman Kevin Martin, left, earned his job by such tasks as chairing the 2000 Florida vote recount for the Bush-Cheney campaign. His wife was a high-ranking communications strategist in the Bush-Cheney White House. Kevin Martin rammed the pro-Zell ruling through the Commission with scant media or other public attention. Democratic Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein correctly predicted disaster for the public.

I have tracked these developments for years, in part because I worked 14 years as a reporter for the Hartford Courant Tribune subsidiary in Connecticut. Nearly all my onetime colleagues by now have retired, been forced out or accepted buy-outs. That was even before the current Zell buyout/layoff that threatens more jobs this spring. All of this seems vastly more dire for the public than seemed possible even to me in 1987 when I published, Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America’s Oldest Newspaper, tracking such trends. FCC Commissioner Copps, who retired in December, kept a copy of the book on his office copy table along with one by his former boss, Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC), or in a bookshelf that I observed in my occasional visits to his office on communications issues during the past decade.

More generally, the American University (AU) film, Investigating Power, and program run by Lewis are at the forefront of a movement to provide non-profit or web-distributed reporting. This replaces part of the gap left by the decline of traditional newspapers and broadcasters. Lewis has been a national investigative journalist for more than 30 years, including as a CBS 60 Minutes producer. A best-selling author, he founded four nonprofits in Washington, including the Center for Public Integrity. 

The American University (AU) School of Communication Workshop is funded by both foundations and individuals. It is based on the following concepts devised by Lewis and his AU colleagues, and which are widely shared elsewhere these days by experienced journalists:

At this critical juncture in the history of American journalism, as the news media and the nature and extent of original reporting itself undergo a very difficult transformation, we must reflect on the inherent, incalculable value of original, independent reporting in our nation and in the world. Facts are and must be the coin of the realm in a democracy, for government “of the people, by the people and for the people,” to quote President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, requires and assumes to some extent an informed citizenry….

However, the number of full-time, independent reporters has been drastically decreasing. Since 1992 we have lost approximately one-third of the nation’s newspaper reporters and editors in the United States, from 60,000 editorial employees to about 40,000 in 2009.

The documentary Investigating Power may be seen on the AU website, with more interview subjects to come. The film illustrates what its creators call key “Moments of Truth” from the past half century involving: McCarthyism, Civil Rights, Vietnam War, Watergate, Corporate Power and 9/11.

Kovach, a former editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in his native South, described at last week's forum the challenges he and his staff faced. The civil rights struggle brought the threat of violence and libel, as well as other opposition. The Pentagon Papers scoop brought with it potential criminal liability for journalists because the secret material undercut official rationales for the Vietnam War.

Barry SussmanSussman was the Washington Post’s main editor for its Watergate coverage, and is still at the forefront of providing insights needed for government accountability. As part of that, he recently wrote of the Lewis film, "Investigative reporter and innovator Chuck Lewis taped interviews with journalists who played a role in some of the biggest stories of the past 60 years – national ‘moments of truth,’ as Lewis calls them. The result, Investigating Power, is a tribute to good reporting and a reminder of how powerful the press can be when it does what is supposed to do."

At this week's forum, Sussman also debunked still-percolating speculation that the Post stumbled onto its Watergate coverage largely by good fortune, or was reliant on “Deep Throat,” the FBI’s No. 2 official, Mark Felt. Sussman recalled that Felt, a source developed by reporter Bob Woodward, was extremely helpful. But Sussman noted that the Post had 10 reporters and editors working on the story and published 201 staff-written stories in the six months after the burglary. Sussman currently edits Nieman Watchdog, a web-based resources for journalists funded through Harvard University to assist in-depth reporting. I wrote several pieces for it on topics overlapping with our Justice Integrity Project’s scrutiny of several law enforcement cases.

Florence GravesFlorence Graves is another of the AU film’s subjects who has gone on to lead a non-profit publishing center after a distinguished career in traditional print media. She is the founder and director of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University after a distinguished career elsewhere. It included important stories she broke as editor of Common Cause magazine and at the Washington Post. I am a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute who greatly admires its positive impact under her leadership. Several of its fellows have recently published well-received books or won major national awards.

Kovach and others in the audience at the April 26 forum were in a position to sketch important long-term trends. For example, Kovach said civil rights reporting in the 1960s -- and indeed much of modern investigative reporting -- could not have been accomplished without a 1964 Supreme Court ruling, New York Times v. Sullivan, that found First Amendment protections in reporting previously vulnerable to tight and at at times ruinously unfair restrictions under state libel law.

 

Dana PriestWashington Post national security correspondent Dana Priest, at left, is co-author of Top Secret America on the identity of major defense/security contractors. She is a two-time Pulitzer winner whose stories with Anne Hull include an expose of mistreatment of wounded veterans and such sensitive matters secret CIA prisons and torture. She described the difficulties that she faces in obtaining meaningful comment of new information from authorities, whether under Democratic or Republican administrations.   

"The strength we had," Kovach said of reporters who fought secrecy in such 1970s matters as the Pentagon Papers, "largely derived from public support that largely disappeared after 9/11," he said. The problem, he and other speakers suggested, is also that none of the major news organizes have enough income in the Internet-era -- or even a clear potential for sufficient income -- to undertake the kind of reporting necessary.

Summing Up

To mention these reporting concerns is not to overlook the gross journalistic abuses in previous eras. My weekly public affairs radio show recently hosted Amanda Smith, author of Newspaper Titan: The Informous Life and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson. It reports mind-boggling machinations by the Patterson and her relatives as they published three of the nation's leading newspapers for many years in Washington, Chicago and New York City during the last century.

Press organizations also reflected narrow-minded prejudices of their times. The National Press Club, for example, sponsored last week's film premier but barred broadcasters from becoming members untiRobert Ames Aldenl 1948, blacks until 1955 and women until 1971. The club's leading advocate for the admission of women in the 1960s was Robert Ames Alden, at right, a Washington Post editor for 49 years. He is a former Press Club president who attended the forum last week to see what other old hands had to say about today's issues. He tracks them also as a director of the Justice Integrity Project.

Mindful of this history, good and bad, let's reflect on a column Charles Lewis wrote this week, Reporting: Fundamental necessity to democracy. Lewis concludes, as do many other experts, that news coverage andprotections for the public are getting much worse than the public realizes.  Lewis excerpted parts of his column below to repeat at this week's forum.

As we all know too well, the number of full time, independent reporters has been drastically decreasing. According to Len Downie and Michael Schudson in their 2009 CJR report, “The Reconstruction of American Journalism,” we lost approximately a third of the nation’s newspaper reporters and editors in the United States between 1992 and 2009, from 60,000 editorial employees to about 40,000.

Meanwhile, between 1980 and 2010, the number of public relations specialists and managers doubled, from roughly 45,000 to 90,000, according to Robert McChesney and John Nichols in their 2010 book, The Death and Life of American Journalism: “Even as journalism shrinks, the ‘news’ will still exist” they wrote. “It will increasingly be provided by tens of thousands of well-paid and skilled PR specialists ready and determined to explain the world to the citizenry, in a manner that suits their corporate and government employers.”

That poses a question that reporters themselves can't answer, especially if they're busy getting "no comments" from officials, writing stories for as little as $4 an article or needing a job in the public relations industry. The question is whether those in the public are happy with the new civic culture in which decision-makers are largely unapproachable and unaccountable?

To explore better ideas, I urge you to review the historic and entertaining interview segments in Investigating Power. Share with others your reaction in Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere.

Also, I'm thrilled to report that the filmmaker Lewis will respond to audience questions on my noon radio show, Washington Update, live next Thursday. He is scheduled for the featured first segment for the show at noon (EDT).Tune in live here to listen to the interview live nationwide. Better yet, join the discussion with your questions and comments. Phone toll-free at (866) 685-7469 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. us. The stakes are high. Ideas are needed.

 


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Related News Coverage of Media

Washington Update: On May 3, longtime author and investigative reporter Charles Lewis discussed his new documentary film, Investigating Power. It portrayed 26 of the nation's top investigative reporters covering sensitive issues the past half century. To listen, click here.

Investigating Power Documentary / American University

American University / Investigative Reporting Workshop, Reporting: Fundamental necessity to democracy, Charles Lewis, April 25, 2012. The Pulitzer season is a time for inspiration and reflection. Inspiration because those and other awards each year remind us of how important public service reporting is, and that American news outlets—even those struggling financially—continue to do it....The prize season is also a time for reflection upon less inspiring trends. From 1985 to 2012, the number of entries for the Pulitzer in the Gold Medal public service category (The New York Times won in this category in 1972 for the Pentagon Papers, and The Washington Post won in 1973 for Watergate) dropped 42 percent, from 122 to 71; explanatory journalism entries decreased by 40 percent, from 181 to 109; and the investigative reporting category had a decrease of 30 percent, from 103 entries to 72. This is surely a result of journalism’s declining newsrooms.

Nieman Watchdog, A tribute to reporting national 'moments of truth,' Charles Lewis, April 23, 2012. In 2005, I began conducting research on my sixth book, The Future of Truth: Power, the News Media and the Public’s Right to Know. Piqued by how easily the national news media had been misled in the post-9/11 period by the Bush administration in the lead-up to the Iraq War, my researchers and I at the Fund for Independence in Journalism, a nonprofit legal defense and endowment support organization I co-founded and led, prepared a 380,000-word, Boolean-searchable chronology called Iraq: The War Card. It included every Iraq-related national security-related utterance by eight top officials for two calendar years after 9/11, juxtaposed against the more than 50 books, commission and other government reports published between 2003 and 2008 illuminating what was actually known inside the U.S. government, versus what was said publicly. We found that in the two years following September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials had made at least 935 false statements about the national security threat posed by Iraq.

Investigative Reporting Workshop / American University, A second look: The new Journalism Ecosystem, Charles Lewis, Brittney Butts, Kate Musselwhite, Nov. 30, 2011. The recent momentum of the new nonprofit journalism phenomenon is continuing despite the difficult U.S. economy, according to an analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop's iLab. A year after publishing our initial new journalism ecosystem story, searchable database and national map, we have revisited each of the original 60 nonprofit news publishers profiled, and we have included 15 additional journalistic nonprofits, most of them recently created organizations.

Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism

Brandeis Now, What is Florence Graves doing NOW? Staff Report, Jan. 23, 2009. She talks about the benefits of learning investigative journalism skills and her hopes for the future as the media struggles in a slumping economy.


Tribune Companies

Poynter Institute, Miner: Journatic offered to pay employees not to talk to reporters, Andrew Beaujon, April 24, 2012. On Monday the Chicago Tribune announced it would soon work with Journatic, a local “media content provider,” to produce its TribLocal network. Michael Miner looks into how Journatic pays writers ($4 for stories that take about 20 minutes to write, $2 for stories that should take around 10 minutes) and quotes an email from Journatic Executive Editor Peter Behle that offers an even better way for Journatic employees to get paid: “Reporters will be sniffing around—and they are not authorized to talk with anyone about Journatic under any circumstances. Better yet, if you receive a reporter inquiry and tell us about it (without responding), we’ll pay you a $50 bonus.” Journatic estimates the average hourly rate it pays its writers to be $12/hour. Narcing out a media reporter pays better than four hours of work.

Chicago Reader, Tribune Company does deal with Journatic, Michael Miner, April 24, 2012. The Tribune Company announced Monday it's turning over TribLocal to Journatic—which the Tribune describes as a "Chicago-based media content provider" that "aggregates data." Not just Chicago-based, it's Tribune Tower-based, and Journatic's approach to journalism is to turn it into piecework done at home.

Hartford Courant Alumni Association and Refugee Camp, Scary Buy-Out Offers, Paul Stern, April 23, 2012. More fear and loathing in the Courant newsroom. Buy-out packages are being offered to many of the newsroom employees, reportedly one week for every year served. If enough people accept the deal, there will be no layoffs, they are being told — but no one is really sure how many people will qualify as “enough.” This all will reportedly play out in about two weeks’ time — a period of misery for a workplace that has been dispirited by this kind of uncertainty before. Even those who expect to survive (and who can really know?) are worried what kind of job they will have left when the reshuffling and blood-letting is over. One wonders if this isn’t in preparation for the emergence from bankruptcy, when who knows what will happen to whom. My condolences to those who must endure this process.

Updated: Hartford Courant Alumni Association and Refugee Camp, Journatic No Favourite, Paul Stern, April 30, 2012. One of our fellow alumni (who prefers to remain anonymous because he is looking for a journalism job that pays a decent wage) has done a little homework on Journatic, the outfit that is taking over local news production from the Chicago Tribune staff writers, who are being laid off. Here’s part of what he has to say:  “I have a very strong suspicion that this Journatic outfit will be taking over the duties of folks who are going to be leaving the Courant after this latest round of cuts. The timing of the buyout coming the same day as the Trib’s deal with Journatic was made public is too coincidental." [Click link above for more.]

News Corporation / Rupert Murdoch

Updated: Huffiongton Post, Rupert Murdoch 'Not A Fit Person' To Run Major Company, Phone Hacking Report Says, Jack Mirkinson, May 1, 2012. A parliamentary committee has judged that Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to run a major international company such as News Corp. due to his handling of the phone hacking scandal. The verdict, from the Culture, Media and Sport committee in the House of Commons, is an unexpectedly damning one. Committee members made clear on Tuesday that it was not a unanimous one, setting up a political fight when the entire House votes on some of its findings. The committee wrote that Murdoch "turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications," and concluded that he "is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."

Washington Post, Rupert Murdoch denies receiving favors from British government officials, Karla Adam, April 25, 2012. A confident and combative Rupert Murdoch testified Wednesday at a press ethics inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice, where he emphatically denied suggestions he had ever asked for or received government favors for his media empire. During his four-hour appearance before the panel, the News Corp. chief did, however, acknowledge close contacts with several high-ranking officials. Rupert Murdoch defended his 50-year career in the media before a judge-led inquiry in London Wednesday, while in parliament, UK government officials defended the way they've conducted relations with the Murdoch empire. Rupert Murdoch’s empire: Rupert Murdoch’s media empire took a small hit July 13 when News Corp. announced that it would drop its bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting. Here’s a look at the rest of the media mogul’s business ventures over the years.  Murdoch is arguably the most highly anticipated of the 266 witnesses to have appeared before the Leveson Inquiry, which Prime Minister David Cameron set up in July amid a phone-hacking scandal at one of the media titan’s tabloids. And his testimony did not disappoint, offering concrete details about his ties with politicians during his long tenure at the center of British life. There was the time in 2008, for instance, when Cameron, then the opposition leader, was flown by Murdoch’s son-in-law to a Greek island, where he joined Murdoch for drinks on a yacht.  Asked whether such behavior was normal, Murdoch said that politicians of all stripes “go out of their way to impress people in the press,” adding: “That’s part of the democratic process. . . . That’s the game.” Asked about the phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure last year of his News of the World, a paper he bought more than 40 years ago, Murdoch said that illegally intercepting voice mails and using private investigators were marks of “lazy” journalism.

Harold EvansGuardian (United Kingdom), Rupert Murdoch: myth, memory and imagination; The version of history told by Rupert Murdoch at the Leveson inquiry bears no relation to what actually happened, Harold Evans, April 25, 2012. Rupert Murdoch has apparently lost a great deal of his power of memory, but nature has compensated by endowing him with a vivid imagination. He can surely deploy his new gift in the service of Fox movies. There is the great scene he pitched to Lord Justice Leveson on Wednesday morning where the editor of the Times enters left, closes the door behind him and begs: "Look, tell me what you want to say, what do you want me to say, and it need not leave this room and I'll say it." And our hero proprietor, so famously fastidious about such matters, has to tell Uriah Heep: "That is not my job."  And thus, children, was how Mr. Murdoch honoured the promises of editorial independence that enabled him to avoid the Monopolies and Mergers Commission over his bid for Times Newspapers in 1981. As the editor in question, I am not able to compete with Murdoch in fabrication – he has had a lifetime of experience – but I do happen to have retained my memory of the year editing the Times, made notes, kept documents and even had the effrontery to write a whole bestselling book about it in 1983, called Good Times, Bad Times. It has gone unchallenged for 30 years in its detailed account of precisely how Murdoch did break all five of the crucial pledges, did press for adopting his rightwing views, did want to know why we reported the Treasury statistics that the recession continued when the government had previously said it had ended.

Washington Post, Rupert Murdoch testifies on media empire, ties to British elite, Karla Adam, April 25, 2012. Media titan Rupert Murdoch appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Wednesday for that is expected to be his most extensive public grilling, part of an inquiry of press standards set up by the British prime minister. Wearing a black suit and bright blue tie, Murdoch began by saying he welcomed the “opportunity” to speak because he wanted to put “certain myths to bed.”  Murdoch is the chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp., the world’s second-largest media conglomerate, whose U.S. companies include Fox Television, Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. He is scheduled to be in the witness box all day Wednesday, spilling over to Thursday if necessary – and to be questioned intensely about his links to Britain’s political elite. As part of his testimony, Murdoch submitted a lengthy witness statement detailing his biography, business interests and the creation of his media empire. Murdoch, 81, has been at the center of British life since he bought the News of the World tabloid more than 40 years ago. He closed the paper last summer after revelations that its journalists had hacked into mobile phones of celebrities, politicians and murder victims in order to pursue stories.

Kaplan / Washington Post / For-Profit Schools and Testing

Republic Report, Exclusive: Washington Post’s Kaplan and Other For-Profit Colleges Joined ALEC, Controversial Special Interest Lobby, David Halperin, April 26, 2012. Republic Report has learned that the Washington Post Company’s Kaplan for-profit college division, was, last year, a member of the controversial business advocacy group the American Legislative Exchange Council. Other major for-profit education companies also joined ALEC. Republic Report has obtained a July 2011 document showing Kaplan Higher Education and other for-profits as members of ALEC’s Education Task Force. This morning, in an email message to Republic Report, Mark Harrad, Vice President of Communications at Kaplan, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Company that includes Kaplan Higher Education, wrote, “A unit of Kaplan was a member of ALEC for a one year period, which ended in August 2011.”

For-profit colleges are the ultimate special interest. Many receive around 90 percent of their revenue from federal financial aid, more than $30 billion a year, and many charge students sky-high prices. In recent years, it has been fully documented that a large number of these schools have high dropouts rates and dismal job placement, and many have been caught engaging in highly coercive and deceptive recruiting practices. Yet when the bad actions of these predatory schools got publicly exposed, the schools simply used the enormous resources they’ve amassed to hire expensive lobbyists and consultants, and to make campaign contributions to politicians, in order to avoid accountability and keep taxpayer dollars pouring into their coffers. Are you surprised to learn that these subprime schools joined the now-discredited ALEC, the secretive group that connects corporate special interests with campaign contribution-hungry state legislators in order to dominate lawmaking at the state level? No, you probably aren’t surprised. Much of the action on for-profit colleges takes place at the federal level, where the money comes from, but states are increasingly taking an interest in protecting their residents from predatory practices – through accreditation of schools, investigations of fraud, and other oversight. So for-profit colleges have come to ALEC to seek influence at the state level.

Republic Report has obtained a list of members of the ALEC Education Task Force as of July 2011, and it includes some of the largest players in the for-profit college industry:
•    Washington Post Company-owned Kaplan, which is under investigation by at least four state Attorneys General, where 68 percent of college students drop out before graduating (the worst overall dropout rate of the top ten recipients of post-9/11 G.I. bill benefits), and whose previous CEO received a $76 million compensation package when he left.
•    Bridgepoint Education, which is under investigation by at least six state Attorneys General, and which in 2009 spent more than $2000 per student on recruiting and only $700 per student on instruction. Of every 100 associate degree students who enrolled in Bridgepoint in 2008-09, 84 had dropped out by September 2010.

These affiliations between for-profit colleges and ALEC raise some serious questions. Donald Graham, CEO of the Washington Post Company, lobbied hard against an Obama Administration rule to hold Kaplan and other colleges accountable if their programs left the vast majority of students with insurmountable debt from student loans. The argument that Graham stressed, again and again, was that the proposed rule would harm low-income students. It was never clear how a rule that channeled federal aid toward education programs that actually helped students get training and jobs, and away from programs that ruined their lives, would harm low-income people. But now we know that Kaplan was part of ALEC, which advanced model laws on Stand Your Ground, the provision that could influence the outcome of George Zimmerman’s criminal case for the killing of Trayvon Martin, and on Voter ID, which makes it harder for low-income people, people of color, young people, the elderly, and the disabled to vote. Why did the Washington Post Company, whose CEO proclaimed that Kaplan was committed to aiding the disadvantaged, support through Kaplan an organization that was doing these things?  And why hasn’t the Post disclosed in its coverage of ALEC that its Kaplan division was recently an ALEC member?

 

Press Organizations

Paul DicksonPaul Dickson and Bill VeeckNational Press Club, NPC's own 'Mr. Baseball' Paul Dickson hits home run at Book Rap, Joseph Luchok, April 25, 2012. National Press Club member Paul Dickson, left, spoke about his new book, Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick, to a very appreciative audience at the Press Club on April 24. Like Veeck, he is doing everything he can with his clothes on to sell the book, Dickson said.

This is Dickson's first biography and writing it was very different from other types of books because getting too far into the person can destroy the person, he said. Veeck is a fascinating person and Dickson had to deconstruct him to write about him, he added. Veeck was a master of innovation and a fountain of ideas, some of which worked and some of which failed, Dickson said.

Although best known for promotions like giving away livestock, Disco Demolition Night, or having a nylon give-away night right after World War I, when nylons were scarce, Veeck also made lasting impact on baseball. Veeck integrated the American League when he signed Larry Doby. He was asked by the National League to prepare the West Coast for baseball. His work was a key element enabling the National League to place teams in Los Angeles and San Francisco before the American League could get teams to the coast.

Reader note: Paul Dickson, author of more than 60 books, has agreed to appear on the Washington Update radio show soon.