May 6, 2010

Democracy Now! sues over 2008 arrests

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and two of her producers filed a federal lawsuit over their arrests during the 2008 Republican National Convention. The journalists were among some 40 reporters arrested as they covered street protests outside the convention hall in St. Paul, Minn., and they allege that authorities violated their First Amendment rights to gather news independently. They also seek compensatory and punitive monetary damages for medical expenses and lost equipment, according to the Associated Press. Defendants in Goodman vs. St. Paul include the cities and police departments of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Ramsey County Sheriff and unidentified Secret Service personnel. “We shouldn’t have to get a record to put things on the record," Goodman said. "This is not only a violation of freedom of the press but a violation of the public’s right to know. When journalists are arrested, that has a chilling effect on the functioning of a democratic society.” The Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel De Leon & Nestor and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, are representing the Democracy Now! team in the suit.

WNET Lincoln Center Studio gets $15 million contribution

In an email to employees, WNET today announced a $15 million gift for its new Lincoln Center Studio, which will be named for donors James S. and Merryl H. Tisch. James Tisch, president and CEO of Loews, is the chairman of's Board of Trustees. This is the largest individual contribution in WNET's nearly 50-year history. "When we decided to invest in the new studio, one of our main goals was to bring in a major philanthropic partner to help us leverage these studios to our best advantage as leaders in public television programming," WNET President Neal Shapiro told staffers.

APTS grant center provides stations with help in finding funding

The APTS Grant Center website (password protected) is now up and running, provides funding opportunities and resources to help public broadcasting stations find and apply for grants, according to a statement from the Association for Public Television Stations. There are monthly APTS Grant Center conference calls and webcasts, and lists of personnel in funding agencies. The CPB-funded center is partnering with the Development Exchange Incorporated (DEI) on the foundation and radio components, providing profiles on national, local and regional foundations identified as potential station funders.

Powerful public broadcasting supporter retiring from House

Democratic Rep. David Obey, a longtime pubcasting champion and chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is leaving Congress after this term. The Capital Times in his home state of Wisconsin called him Congress's "most powerful populist." In 2005, Obey co-sponsored an amendment to restore the $400 million CPB appropriation for the next year that that the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee wanted cut (Current, June 27, 2005). The previous month, he had joined fellow Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan to complain about CPB Board Chair Kenneth Tomlinson's probe of alleged liberal bias in pubcasting (Current, May 16, 2005), saying, "the law says the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is supposed to keep its cotton-picking nose out of programming and out of politics.” In his announcement yesterday that he will not seek reelection, Obey said: "I am, frankly, weary of having to beg on a daily basis that both parties recognize that we do no favor for the country if we neglect to make the long-term investments in education, science, health, and energy that are necessary to modernize our economy and decline to raise the revenue needed to pay for those crucial investments. I do not want to be in a position as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of producing and defending lowest common denominator legislation that is inadequate to that task and, given the mood of the country, that is what I would have to do if I stayed."