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Underlying Rights

LAT Columnist Questions NFL Female Referee Sideshow

Away from the glorious glare of the London Summer Olympics, one of this week’s other big sports stories is the scheduled appearance on the San Diego Chargers field tomorrow night of the first-ever female NFL game referee. Her name is Shannon Eastin and such has been the media interest that a conference call was held with reporters on Tuesday.

Sam Farmer, NFL beat writer for the LA Times, leads off his take with a great first sentence – ‘Shannon Eastin is an accidental pioneer.’ – and follows with solid arguments. He thinks it was a mistake, with regular officials locked out since June because of a labor dispute, for the league to thrust her into the interim feminist spotlight:

The mystery: Why would the NFL want to create a sideshow in the middle of this labor mess instead of waiting to do it the right way? There is no need to draw additional attention to the stand-ins, most of whom are lacking big-time football experience…

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Anonymous Blogger VFX Soldier Finally Does an Interview

Several major media outlets have been chasing after an interview with the anonymous author of the entertainment industry blog VFX Soldier. In the end, the proponent of unionizing visual effects workers and doing away with international production subsidies chose to give one to Bob Oedy, lead organizer with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Oedy says that if people within the film and TV industry knew who VFX Soldier was, they’d be “blown away.” The blogger chooses to remain anonymous to avoid being blackballed and told Oedy his biggest media moment came earlier this spring:

“The topic that garnered the most response were my posts dedicated to recent statements made to investors by Digital Domain CEO John Textor. In candid recordings he told investors that he hoped to open schools where the government would give him grants and [VFX] students would pay him tuition so they could work on some of the projects they intend to make money off of. What caused the most outrage was when he declared, ‘Free labor is better than cheap labor.’”

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New TV Ad by Anti-Sex Trafficking Activists Calls For Closure of Backpage.com Sex Ads

Village Voice Media, the parent company of LA Weekly, continues to be targeted by activists fighting against child sex trafficking. The source of the controversy is the adult services ads on the VVM-owned classified advertising website Backpage.com. Despite numerous documented cases of pimps using the site to sell sex with trafficked women and children, VVM has resisted calls to shut down the highly profitable section.

With the advertisement below, sponsored by social service organization FAIR Girls, activists hope to increase public pressure on VVM to remove prostitution ads from Backpage.com. The ad, which will first air this Sunday on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, encourages viewers to visit the FAIR Girls website, where they can sign a petition urging VVM to shut down the adult services section on Backpage.com.

Suspended Colorado Newspaper Reporter Walks Away from Reinstatement

A crazy end to a crazy story.

Yesterday evening, not long after doing a brief Skype interview with LA-based What’s Trending host Shira Lazar about his recent suspension without pay from the Colorado Springs Gazette, reporter Barrett Tryon tweeted that his job had been reinstated. And… that he was no longer interested in resuming employment with the paper, after being suspended for linking on Facebook to an LA Times article about a change in his outlet’s ownership.

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Freedom Communications’ Absurd Social Media Policy Might Just Be Illegal

Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Barrett Tryon has been receiving grief from his employers for posting an LA Times story on his personal Facebook page. According to Carmen Boles, content director of the Gazette, the Facebook post violated the social media policy of Freedom Co. Tryon refused to remove the post. He tells Jim Romenesko he’s meeting with his employers  at 11:30 this morning to discuss the issue, and that he expects to be fired.

Beyond the absurdity of attempted censorship by a newspaper, traditionally an institution that promotes free speech, is the issue of employee rights. A story on Poynter notes that these kinds of overreaching attempts by employers to place restrictions on worker’s social media have drawn the ire of the National Labor Relations Board:

In at least six recent cases, according to a memo from the general counsel, the independent federal agency that investigates unfair labor practices has found provisions of employer social media policies to be unlawful.

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OC Journo Crashes Church of Scientology Event

Two notable things occurred this weekend when OC Weekly blogger Josh Dulaney decided to check out the opening of a new Church of Scientology facility in downtown Santa Ana – without the benefit of an official media invite.

Firstly, after he was denied entrance, the Church took advantage of the opportunity to beef up their local reporter intel:

I was told that a representative would speak with me, which turned out to be their thinly disguised effort to finally put a photo of me on their files. While I spoke with a lady who didn’t want her name in the story, a portly f*ck-of-a-man decided to stand several feet away and snap photos of the most handsome reporter in Santa Ana. I smoked my cigarette and stared directly into the lens.

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APTRA Salutes One of the Country’s First Openly Gay TV Reporters

At this weekend’s Associated Press Television and Radio Association (APTRA) awards gala in Pasadena, the 2012 Stan Chambers Award for Extraordinary Achievement will be presented to retired TV reporter Hank Plante.

One of the first openly gay TV journalists in the country, Plante blazed a trail in more than a half-dozen markets. As political editor for San Francisco’s CBS affiliate Channel 5, where he retired in the spring of 2010, he made a penultimate splash in the fall of 2009 with his interview of Gavin Newsom. At the end of the conversation, the mayor uttered his “off the record” disgust.

Plante continues to contribute to examiner.com, the Desert Sun and calbuzz.com. In this great career highlights reel, he poses at one point as a Secret Service agent escorting a Nancy Reagan lookalike down Rodeo Drive:

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Celebrating the Journalism Accomplishments of Jeanne Cordova

To mark the arrival of her newest memoir When We Were Outlaws, storied lesbian writer and activist Jeanne Cordova chatted with Windy City Times reporter Sarah Toce about some of the book’s highlights. What a long and remarkable life’s journey it has been.

On the journalism front, it all started in 1971 with the launch of groundbreaking LA magazine The Lesbian Tide. Most of the time, the publication was powered by donated, like-minded labor. During this time, Cordova also became the human-rights editor at progressive newspaper the LA Free Press:

“I was first hired as The Freep’s token ‘Chicana, feminist, lesbian’ columnist. My weekly essays became know as ‘that dyke column’ by the largely straight readership, but it got people listening to my voice as I covered the [1973] Battle of the Sexes, the famous tennis match between female (and closeted lesbian) tennis player Billie Jean King and male tennis star, Charlie Riggs,” said Cordova.

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60 Minutes to Feature Story on Kentucky Journos Targeted for Death by Local Sheriff

This weekend’s 60 Minutes looks like it’s going to be a good one. Byron Pitts reports on the story of  20-year-old Times-Tribune reporter Adam Sulfridge, who was forced to arm himself while working his beat after receiving death threats from the corrupt Sheriff Lawrence Hodge. His editor was packing too.

DEA Faces PR Nightmare After Leaving UCSD Student in Cell For 5 Days Without Food, Water

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency almost killed a UC San Diego college student by abandoning him in a prison cell for 5 days without food or water.

Daniel Chong was imprisoned on April 21 when DEA agents raided the home of a friend he was visiting. Chong was detained for questioning but not arrested, not charged with a crime, and should have been released. Instead, agents locked him in a cell and forgot all about him.

Chong was forced to drink his own urine to survive. There were no restroom facilities in the 5-by-10-foot cell, but oddly enough, there was methamphetamine, which agents admit was left there accidentally. Chong descended into psychosis, eating glass from his own broken eyeglasses. When he was finally discovered, he was suffering severe dehydration, a perforated esophagus and kidney failure.

The DEA only issued an apology to Chong today, two full days after the press began reporting on the incident, and a week after he was discovered near death in his cell.

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