Oct 29, 2011

Second freelancer loses pubcasting job over link to Occupy Wall Street movement

A freelance web producer for The Takeaway, a co-production of WNYC Radio and Public Radio International, has been fired for her reported participation in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Caitlin E. Curran wrote a first-person piece Friday (Oct. 28) on the Gawker website detailing what happened during an Oct. 15 protest in Times Square, and her subsequent termination. Curran's plan was to have her boyfriend hold a sign, and she would observe reactions to its message and post reports on her personal Twitter account. When her boyfriend "developed sign-holding fatigue" Curran wrote on Gawker, she "took over momentarily." A photographer snapped a photo of her holding the sign, and posted it to Twitter.

"I thought all of this could be fodder for an interesting segment on The Takeaway," Curran wrote. She pitched the idea to producers in an e-mail. "The next day, The Takeaway's general manager fired me over the phone, effective immediately. He was inconsolably angry, and said that I had violated every ethic of journalism, and that this should be a 'teaching moment' for me in my career as a journalist."

Jennifer Houlihan, spokesperson for WNYC, provided this response to the Atlantic Wire blog:

"Caitlin Curran was a freelance news producer for The Takeaway, a morning news program co-produced by WNYC and Public Radio International (PRI). In that capacity she was expected to observe the general standards of journalistic practice and more specifically WNYC's editorial guidelines which require that editorial employees be free of any conflict that might compromise the work of the show overall. The Takeaway has covered the Occupy Wall Street story since its beginning through active reporting on the protests and the positive and negative responses to those events. When Ms. Curran made the decision to participate in the protest and make herself part of the story, she violated our editorial standards. At that time the program made the decision to no longer use her services as part of the production team."

Curran's firing comes in the wake of Lisa Simeone's Oct. 19 termination from Sound Print for the freelancer's role as spokesperson for “October 2011,” an anti-war group aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement. NPR also subsequently dropped distribution of World of Opera, which Simeone hosts.

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