Radio & Television News Association

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Senate moves to create utterly secret agency

WASHINGTON, November 18 (SPJ) -- A bill moving quickly in the Senate would create the first-ever federal agency totally exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

This means that, in the absence of a ruling by the head of the agency that the release of information would pose no threat to national security, every document created by BARDA every working group (the bill also categorically exempts BARDA from the Federal Advisory Committee Act), all of its activities, its relationships with industry, its advisory boards would not be subject to disclosure through FOIA.

S. 1873 appropriates $1 billion in 2006 alone from Project Bioshield to fund BARDA and no one, save for the agency, will provide accountability.Then, in a sweeping departure from constitutional norms, the bill seeks to forestall any judicial scrutiny whatsoever."Such a determination shall not be subject to judicial review," the bill adds.

SPJ Comment: While S 1873 is intended to protect public health and safety, it guts the public safety benefit that flows from citizen participation in government. The key to public health is the public, which cannot avoid transmission of epidemic or pandemic disease unless it has knowledge of the disease, and understanding of how to treat it.

Members of the public cannot identify and stop bioterrorists unless they are made aware of the bioterrorists' potential existence. Major epidemics throughout history have shown that government secrecy does more to spread disease than prevent it. One lesson of the Great Influenza of 1918, the worst flu epidemic of all time, was that its rapid spread was due, in part, to government censorship of news coverage regarding this disease.

The new agency would help spur private industry to develop and manufacture medical countermeasures for bioterrorism agents and natural outbreaks such as a possible avian flu pandemic. But the bill also makes oversight and accountability of much of America's biodefense efforts nearly impossible.

"Suspicions on the part of nations about the intent of each other's biodefense activities can lead to an arms race in biological weapons," wrote Alan Pearson, director of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation's Program on Biological and Chemical Weapons, and Lynn Klotz, a senior fellow at the center, in a joint statement.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Assignment Editors: Need your input...

Assignment Editors: Is this unusual? Is the LAPD trying to improve its media relations dept?

This is the first time under Bratton I have seen them actually tell the news desks where the command post is without us having to call. We'd like your input. Please tell us your thoughts by using the comment function at the bottom of this message.

Here's what the LAPD sent out:

Advisory, Alvarado OIS, URGENT CNS Network Advisory
Eds: Police are investigating an apparent officer-involved shooting at 835 S. Alvarado St. near McArthur Park, says Kevin Maiberger of the LAPD's Media Relations Section. The Los Angeles police officer was responding to a call about a neighbor dispute when the 25-year-old man was shot in the chest at 2:22 p.m., he said.
Media can park on the street outside the yellow tape or park at the northeast corner of Eighth and Alvarado streets and walk east on Alvarado, Maiberger says. Lt. Paul Vernon is on scene. Map page 594, C-3.
CNS-11-17-2005 16:04

Thursday, November 10, 2005


DISNEYABC CEO Robert Iger is prepared to sign off on the sale of the network's ABC radio network and ABC radio stations, top sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

Negotiations between DISNEY and three major suitors have intensified in recent weeks; contenders were asked by bankers representing ABC to meet via phone to discuss their final questions.

Final bids are due this week, a top source says, with DISNEY then having a 15 day window to accept an offer.MOREA sale of ABC RADIO, with the network's sensational constellation of 60+ stations, including WABC in New York, the nation's top-rated talkstation; WLS in Chicago; KGO and KSFO in San Francisco; WBAP in Dallas; influential WMAL in DC; WJR in Detroit, and others, is expected to rock and roil the radio industry.

EMMIS, ENTERCOM and CUMULUS MEDIA each have their hat in the bidding, sources say. One company is said be approaching Iger's asking price. MOREA deal would not include Radio Disney or ESPN radio; it will be a "reverse Morris Trust" transaction, where DISNEY shareholders will hold half of the newly merged radio company.

"This is the biggest shakeup at radio stations in a generation," a top source directly involved in the action said Thursday. "I think we will know around Thanksgiving if it's happening this round," said a second well-placed insider.

Stay tuned for more developments....