Two More Reporters Have Their Constitutional Rights Violated

19th October 200411:03 am

October 19, 2004

Salon.com carries news today of another disciplinary action taken against reporters who dared exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech and freedom of association.

The latest case involves the suspension of reporters Chuck Laszewski and Rick Linsk of the Knight Ridder-owned St. Paul Pioneer Press who attended, on their own time, the recent “Vote for Change” concert at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul.

I’ve blogged about this chilling and increasingly common big media management practice before.

Suspensions and firings of this sort do more than just deprive an entire class of workers of their most basic rights. They also deprive our society of the robust debate and participation that distinguishes a free society from a totalitarian one.

If the boss of a media business can suspend or fire an employee for attending a political concert on their own time, how safe is your job?

Here is an excerpt from the Salon story:

The St. Paul Pioneer Press suspended investigative reporters Chuck Laszewski and Rick Linsk for three days each after they attended the Oct. 5 “Vote for Change” concert by Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M. and other artists at Xcel Energy Center.

The Newspaper Guild is contesting the unpaid suspensions.

Pioneer Press Editor Vicki Gowler wrote in a Sept. 27 memo to staff that the paper’s ethics policy bars them from activities that would conflict with their employment, including “concerts that are held as political fundraisers.” Several other newspapers had issued similar warnings to reporters.”

To learn more about my objections to this line of reasoning click here.

In the meantime, will the last working person with their freedoms left intact please remember to turn out the lights on our democracy?

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