Why I’m Supporting SaveKPFA in KPFA’s Board Election

Written by Guest Contributor. Posted in Labor, Media, Opinion, Politics

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Published on November 19, 2012 with 72 Comments

By Brian Edwards-Tiekert, guest editorial

November 19, 2012

This month, KPFA is going through what will probably prove to be one of the most important elections of its 10-year experiment with democracy. I’m supporting the candidates listed at www.savekpfa.org, along with many other endorsers, because what’s at stake is the survival of KPFA as we know it.

Right now, KPFA is slowly recovering from a near-mortal blow. When Pacifica purged The Morning Show two years ago, it removed KPFA’s biggest fundraiser from the air. To compensate, the station had to increase the amount of days it spends in fund drives by 30%–a sure recipe for dropping listenership and diminishing pledge totals.

Then, Pacifica racked up hundreds of thousands in legal fees—some from the country’s most notoriously anti-union law firm, Jackson Lewis—and stuck KPFA with most of the bills.

Thanks to heroic fundraising efforts by KPFA’s staff, the generosity of KPFA listeners who kept donating, some of them under protest, and to a fortuitous bequest gift, we’ve made it this far—barely.

And, against the odds, we’ve started to re-build.

Thanks to our union, several of us won reinstatement after Pacifica’s purge. With support from local management, we launched UpFront—KPFA’s new 7:AM program. Since day one, we’ve been the station’s top fundraiser—and thanks to the boost in morning fundraising, KPFA’s fund drives are now raising more money per day, and ending sooner. Meanwhile:

  • ·A SaveKPFA campaign forced Pacifica to ditch Jackson Lewis—which should prevent further inflated legal bills.
  • ·Another SaveKPFA campaign fended off a move by Pacifica management to impose another disastrous round of cuts on KPFA.
  • ·Now, the Pacifica National Board has apparently seen the light—they decided to let go of the two executives who carried out the Morning Show purge in the first place.

KPFA is still extremely fragile, but we are headed in the right direction. And that is largely thanks to the fact that we’ve had SaveKPFA boardmembers supporting us every step of the way.

The dividing line on KPFA’s board is this: austerity vs. growth.

On the growth side: SaveKPFA thinks the way to build KPFA is by building great programs that attract large audiences so there are more people to give come pledge drive. We already know what success looks like: KPFA’s two newest daily programs, Letters and Politics and UpFront, are also its two largest fundraisers, bringing in far more than they cost to produce. Together, those two hours account for over a third of KPFA’s fundraising. Building on those successes with more cutting-edge programming is the key to strengthening KPFA.

As for austerity: this year, its champions are calling themselves “United for Community Radio.” Of course, they never use the word “austerity” – but rest assured, when you hear them call for “financial responsibility” and “supporting unpaid staff”, it translates to firing KPFA’s unionized programmers and parceling out the airtime to their allies. Some of them are philosophically opposed to paying people to produce daily shows–they’d rather KPFA sound like a volunteer-run local-access cable station. Others have axes to grind with specific programmers on KPFA’s payroll, and use the station’s finances as a pretext – which is how The Morning Show got targeted, despite the fact that it was the station’s biggest fundraiser.

Their incumbents have had two years to prove exactly what they stand for. When our union protested impending cuts, they came to counter-protest. When Pacifica fired the entire staff of The Morning Show, they supported it (at least one of them, it turned out, had been pushing behind closed doors to have Pacifica cut us).  When Pacifica hired the nation’s most notorious union-busting law firm to fight us, they publicly defended it. When KPFA’s local management proposed a balanced, no-cuts budget, they boycotted a meeting to block its passage – even though KPFA was running a surplus.

Does that mean everyone running on their ticket supports more of the same? Not necessarily. There are a lot of new faces in the election this year, and they don’t all necessarily understand what they’ve signed up for. But the first thing they’ll do once they’re on KPFA’s Local Board is vote to send their slate-mates to the Pacifica National Board, where the real power lies. And those slate-mates will make their worst decisions behind closed doors in Executive Session meetings, where there’s very little accountability.

Again, the record speaks for itself: For four years, the “United for Community Radio” (UCR, ICR) precursor slates have been in a majority coalition on the Pacifica National Board. They, and the executives they’ve installed, have left Pacifica a hollowed-out wreck: with millions in unpaid bills, corporate law firms baying at the door, a finance office now incapable of handling even simple payroll transactions, workers’ own contributions to their retirement accounts undeposited (for several months now), donor checks meant for KPFA intercepted and kept away from the station for months.

Now is the chance to turn things around: Next year’s boards will choose a new manager and program director for KPFA, as well as a new Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for Pacifica. It’s a chance to put the entire Pacifica network on the right track – if SaveKPFA scores a solid win.

KPFA elections have low turnout, and tend to be decided by relatively small margins, which means every vote counts a lot. Please spread the word to KPFA members to vote for the candidates listed at savekpfa.org. And if you’re a voter yourself, return your ballot now so you don’t forget.

For the first election ever, Pacifica is not allowing any in-person ballot drop-offs—you have to mail your ballot.  That ballot has to arrive at the ballot-counting location in New York by December 11. It will be competing with holiday mail traffic to get there, so send it now.

Brian Edwards-Tiekert is co-host of KPFA’s UpFront, which airs weekday mornings at 7:AM. He’s served two terms as a worker-elected representative on the KPFA Local Station Board.


Comments for Why I’m Supporting SaveKPFA in KPFA’s Board Election are now closed.

  1. I’m sure Luke Thomas prints personal emails he receives as op-eds in the Fog City Journal without notifying the author all the time. Quite an astounding claim there. Not to mention the assertion that personal endorsement notes sent by the chair of the KPFA Local Board were ghostwritten for her by a member of the staff and that she spent time changing a dozen words and then sending it out under her own name as if she’d written it. Not sure the so-called professional contingent at Save KPFA has much standing to criticize the failings of the mainstream media when busy with amateurish hijinks like this. 

    • A journalist doesn’t print private emails as op-eds. Are you nuts?

  2. Here’s the response I received from Brian:

    Hi Luke, 
    This appears to be a slightly-modified
    version of a mass email I sent out on November 13th, which was the basis
    of the the essay submitted for FCJ.

    I had
    given Margy Wilkinson, and several other people, blanket permission to
    copy and modify my own writing when composing endorsement letters of
    their own. She says she did send out a personal mailing, but never
    submitted anything for publication in the Berkeley Daily Planet. How
    this wound up there over her byline is a mystery to both of us.


  3. What the comments refer to below was an error by an editor at the Berkeley Daily Planet,
    who took a personal email and “published” it without permission. She has
    since taken it down at the request of the sender.

    Don’t people at Pacifica have better things to do that make up stories? Really, get a life!  The Pacifica network has real problems. Making up shit like this seems to be an intentional diversion from actually solving those problems.

    For the record, here’s what Margy Wilkinson has said about it.


    Recently I sent a letter of endorsement for the SaveKPFA slate to a
    personal email list. My letter was based on a similar letter by Brian
    Edwards-Tiekert, which I copied from and modified with his permission.
    One of the people on my personal list works at The Berkeley Daily
    Planet, and published the letter, attributed to me, without my knowledge
    or permission. I asked her to take it down, as it was never intended
    for publication as an article.


  4. At least you finally got so far as “a wrong action”. Nuff said. 

  5. “Mistake” is defined in the dictionary as 1] “a misunderstanding of the meaning or implication of something; 2] a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgement, inadequate knowledge, or inattention.” That describes the error in printing up an endorsement letter shared between acquaintances as an op ed over the wrong author.

    I fear that the incensed cries of plagiarism here, are nothing so innocent as a mistake. Political propaganda, certainly– it reveals a great deal more about the posters than the accused.

  6. From the ombudsman at the San Antonio Express News. Fairly cogent expression of standard publication rules for opinion pievces. The Ombudsman
    Plagiarism strikes E-N opinion pagesIn case you missed it, the Express-News commentary section was victimized by alleged plagiarism Sunday, for which its editor apologized on the Editorial Page on Tuesday. This was the first sign here of a potential Pandora’s Box of journalism evils in a day when virtually anyone can publish virtually anything.In a “Comment” published on Page 4H of the Feb. 11 Views section, under the byline of Charles Slaughter, who billed himself as a San Antonio businessman, the newspaper published “Why are the spoiled brats so unhappy?”The commentary concluded with a statement that, “this generation will be known as the ‘greediest and most ungrateful generation.’“A far cry,” the bombastic Slaughter wrote, “from the proud Americans of the greatest generation, who left us an untarnished legacy.”That sounds a bit hypocritical when you consider that some of the author’s words, including the above, were exactly those that appeared last Nov. 20 on a conservative Web site, World Net Daily, that were written by columnist Craig R. Smith.An apology to readers Tuesday, included at the end of the Letters to the Editor section under a headline, “Editor’s note,” said:“The commentary published Sunday does not meet the Express-News standards for attribution. We regret the incident.”For the record, lifting another writer’s words is a cardinal sin of journalism. It’s a cardinal sin even if you’re not a full-time journalist, such as people who submit letters to the editor and other opinion pieces.Express-News writers who plagiarize other writers’ work typically are summarily fired. In an era when nearly anyone can publish nearly anything — on blogs, personal Web sites and the traditional ways — newspapers and media Web sites must be ever vigilant against plagiarism.In this case, several regular readers familiar with Craig R. Smith’s column and World Net Daily alerted the Express-News to the curious similarities. We appreciate those readers. So in a way, the process worked. Too bad it was after the fact.

  7. Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the “wrongful appropriation,” “close imitation,” or “purloining and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions,” and the representation of them as one’s own original work. The 18th century new morals have been institutionalized and enforced prominently in the sectors of academia and journalism, where plagiarism is now considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics, subject to sanctions like expulsion and other severe career damage.

  8. KPFA member/voters are asked in this piece to send in their ballots now.  I ask you to WAIT  until you can hear the candidate debates on KPFA this coming Sunday, 11/25, Monday, 11/26, and Tuesday, 11/27, after which they will be archived.

    And for another perspective: votecommunityradio.org  Get the full picture before voting, an opinion piece responding to this one by another guest contributor has been submitted and should be published shortly.

  9. Copying is stealing
    Copyright law is surprisingly simple in most cases involving text. The writer (or in some cases, the publisher) owns the text he or she wrote. If you did not write it, then you do not own it. If you do not own it, you cannot use it in a way that fails to give credit to the owner.
    It’s sort of like renting a car. You would be lying if you told someone that you owned the car. Of course you are able to use the car, but it is not yours.
    A journalist is expected to provide clear and true attribution for all sources, including copied text. It does not matter if you copied it from the Internet or from a newswire service. It is not yours. Don’t pretend it is.
    Journalism educators realize that some students say, “What’s the big deal? It’s only a homework assignment.” We are trying to train you for realjobs in journalism. If you violate the ethics of journalism on the job, you could be fired.
    It’s neither ethical nor acceptable for you to steal other people’s text in your homework assignments.

  10. Here’s how Bulldog relayed this,

       I have a small newsletter that goes to under 200 addressees and funnels down to around 2,000 if the pieces are interesting.    Generally I restrict myself to my own opinions but when I catch something I think my readers (mostly writers and editors) might like, I pass it on.

    Here’s how I described this thread from Fog City …


    Go Niners!


  11. So much for that aspect of ‘free speech’ that entitles me to my opinion– as a private person, representing only myself.

    • Tracy Rosenberg and her slate have been for years using silly claims to confuse readers, from signing their messages with phony names (as practically this whole comment thread is signed), to buying up websites of their opponents in an attempt to redirect traffic, and then offering to resell those sites back to their opponents. 

      For them to go nuclear over an endorsement piece – something that was purposefully meant to be shared – just shows how little they have to say about the real issues. Instead, they engage in race-baiting or other diversions.  

      99% of KPFA’s listeners have tuned them out, and you should too.  Don’t waste energy on them. 

      • Why aren’t you signing your own name then, all of it, George?   I know several Georges.  And I keep signing my name, perhaps foolishly.

  12. Ms. Gowen. (who is one of the Save KPFA candidates running for the board). I am afraid you only demonstrate your total unfitness for the board of a major media outlet with your comment. You appear to be totally unaware of professional writing standards, the ethics of journalism, the laws of copyright and the nature of plagiarism. Your and Dennis’s attempts to blame. sequentially, the editor of the Berkeley Daily Planet and then the editor of the Fog City Journal for Wilkinson and Edwards-Tiekert’s embarrassing and unprofessional conduct, are absurd. 

  13. The “Tea Party” is not the only little group brewing up small-scale tempests. Given that the first objection in these comments was to the attribution-style of THIS publication’s not making it clear who was the author of the piece– I conclude that some of the commenters will create a controversy out of anything that comes to hand: it’s why they get out of bed in the morning. And it’s a great deflection from the content of what’s being said.

    I would bet that every news story– written from the same POV– citing the facts of an event, could come up with a 60% similarity. It’s when you get Rove vs. Jill Stein that there’s no agreement as to what occurred.

    So “observer” is– Becky O’Malley’s … boss? handler? “biggest fan”?

    • The odds of every news story written with the same POV coming up with a 60% word for word match are so low as to be low as to be unworthy of discussion.  

      A fifteen percent match would most likely get a journalism student in trouble, but here are standards cited on Interpret Reports and many similar sites:  

      Matching Scores Sentence matching scores are the percentage probability that two sentences have the same meaning.This number can also be interpreted as the reciprocal to the probability that these two sentences are similar by chance. For example, a score of 90 percent means that there is a 90 percent probability that these two sentences are the same and a 10 percent probability that they are similar by chance and not because the submitted paper includes content from the existing source (whether or not it is appropriately attributed).Overall score is an indicator of what percentage of the submitted paper matches existing sources. This score is a warning indicator only and papers should be reviewed to see if the matches are properly attributed.Scores below 15 percent: These papers typically include some quotes and a few common phrases or blocks of text that match other documents. These papers typically do not require further analysis, as there is no evidence of the possibility of plagiarism in these papers.
       Scores between 15 percent and 40 percent: These papers include extensive quoted or paraphrased material or they may include plagiarism. These papers should be reviewed to determine if the matching content is properly attributed.
       Scores over 40 percent: There is a very high probability that text in this paper was copied from other sources. These papers include quoted or paraphrased text in excess and should be reviewed for plagiarism.http://kb.blackboard.com/display/SAFE/Interpret+Reports

      •  Ah, but, Ann– this is an op ed piece, not a news story. Plagiarism is violating the copyright of the author of something, is it not. If something is co-created and the authors willingly share, is that correctly called ‘plagiarism’? I’m not a lawyer, nor a journalist, nor running for an editorial position. I’m just a ordinary person trying to make sense of the overheated alternate reality that is Berkeley politics.

        • I should have said “piece of writing.”  That is all I meant.  Said “news story” because news was on my mind.  I will go back and edit the comment but here is my acknowledgment that it makes no difference.  News, op-ed, term paper . . . the probability standards are the same.

          • What the comments above refer to was an error by an editor at the Berkeley Daily Planet, who took a personal email and “published” it without permission. She has since taken it down at the request of the sender. Don’t people at Pacifica have better things to do that make up
            stories?  Really, get a life!  The Pacifica network has real problems.
            Making up shit like this seems to be an intentional diversion from
            actually solving those problems.

            For the record, here’s what Margy Wilkinson has said about it.


            Recently I sent a letter of endorsement for the SaveKPFA slate to a
            personal email list. My letter was based on a similar letter by Brian
            Edwards-Tiekert, which I copied from and modified with his permission. One of the people on my personal list works at The Berkeley Daily Planet, and published the letter, attributed to me, without my knowledge or permission. I asked her to take it down, as it was never intended for publication as an article.


            • Dennis, no one made anything up.  Several things happened.  On November 9th, the Berkeley Daily Planet published an op-ed with KPFA Local Station Board Margy Wilkinson’s byline.  Ten days later on November 19th, Fog City Journal published essentially the same op-ed, with a 59% word for word matching rate tested on websites used by  teachers, editors, and anyone else who has reason to test the authenticity of a publication.  

              Those are facts.  They are not made up.  The basic ability to distinguish between fact and fiction is essential to good writing of any sort, including editorial writing.

              Margy Wilkinson and Brian Edwards-Tiekert have now offered the same explanation. 

  14. What they call closing the barn door after the horse has left the stable. Either Ms. Wilkinson, the chair of the KPFA LSB, is contending that she borrowed the text of Edwards-Tiekert’s op-ed and published it under her own name after changing a small percentage of the words or Edwards-Tiekert  re-purposed Ms. Wilkinson’s op-ed and signed his own name to it. Either way, not good. 

  15. Emailed by Becky O’Malley, Editor of the Berkeley Daily Planet at 12:21 am 

    Becky O’Malley12:21 AM (1 hour ago)The op-ed to which you refer has been deleted per Ms. Wilkinson’s request.

  16. Before you go around charging plagerism, maybe you should find out if dirty tricks were at play – a much more likely scenario, given the Berkeley Daily Planet, which barely qualifies as a newspaper. For years, they printed anything that landed in their mailboxes – press releases, ads, letters — often without even asking the author.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that where the case here.

  17. An email has been sent to Mr. Edwards-Tiekert asking him to respond to the questions being raised about this op-ed.

  18. Brian Edwards-Tiekert didn’t actually write this op-ed article. He plagiarized it. The same content was printed last week in the Berkeley Daily Planet with the claim current KPFA board chair Margy Wilkinson authored it. Almost word for word identical. I have no idea which one of them wrote it or if some 3rd person is the actual author. Not professional. http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2012-11-09/article/40501?headline=KPFA-Local-Station-Board-Election—-Please-vote-for-SaveKPFA–By-Margy-Wilkinson-Chair-KPFA-Local-Station-Board

  19. Here is the link to the 11-09-12 issue of the BDP.

    There are two commentaries on the KPFA election.

  20. Brian’s piece looks like a word-for-word copy of Margy Wilkinson’s comments in the 11-09-12 issue of the Berkeley Daily Planet.