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As you see, I could go on and on. This isn't even a comprehensive list. I just want you to know what's out there. Ignorance is not bliss.

MAB: Thanks, Joan! I know that you have published a significant number of articles on whistleblowers, and that your body of work was a major part of the reason that OpEdNews received the 2013 Pillar Award for Community Activism and Journalism at the National Whistleblowers Conference last July. Can you give us a little background on the importance of whistleblowers and an independent free press?

JB: Democracy can barely exist and certainly can't flourish without a free and independent press. We're definitely heading in the wrong direction: with greater consolidation of the press comes a narrower and more corporate perspective. In California, Clear Channel, the largest station owner in the country, will shut down progressive radio talk shows in LA and San Francisco as of the first of the year, leaving these large populations with only a right-wing perspective on the public airwaves.  And this is a nationwide trend.

Nelson Mandela had it right: "A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens."


by Nelson Mandela image by MerylAnn Butler for Opednews

Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do. That's why I often interview journalists operating outside the mainstream, to spotlight what they're covering and how they're thinking. The alternative press is often the only source for news items that Big Business, and often the government, prefers to keep hidden, so that is a double whammy.

I have always admired whistleblowers. They see wrongdoing and stick their necks out in order to do the right thing. Because they're insiders, they are often our only chance to get a glimpse behind the screen of secrecy. In many cases, instead of being lauded as heroes, they pay a tremendous price for exercising their conscience. They are castigated, marginalized, often fired and then tied up in legal fights which drain their energy and resources.  The press generally does not give them their due; whistleblowers are often painted as the wrongdoers and the real bad guys skate away, untouched.

A few examples of my whistleblower coverage:

Corporate whistleblowers:

Investigative Journalist Katherine Eban Exposes Massive Fraud at Generic Lipitor Manufacturer . 5/26/2013

Talking with Former Health Insurance Executive Wendell Potter , 10/18/2009

Federal whistleblowers:
Former Federal Air Marshal On Air Safety And Lack Of Viable Whistleblower Protection Robert MacLean, 10/22/2011
Whistleblowing former Federal Air Marshal Spencer Pickard on Air Safety , 1/13/2011

Election whistleblowers
"Fooled Again" Series: Exclusive Interview with "Diebold Whistleblower" Steve Heller , 8/26/2007

Medical whistleblowers:
Exposing Huge Hidden Profits of A Non-Profit Hospital , 9/7/2009

Judicial whistleblowers:

More Collateral Damage from the Siegelman Case -- Talking with DOJ Whistleblower, Tamarah Grimes 10/8/2009

MAB:  Thanks for your coverage of whistleblowers, Joan, it's essential to our democracy. The founding mothers and fathers would be proud!  I know you also love to do interviews that have a specifically positive message. Can you tell us more about that?

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http://www.merylannbutler.com

Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing for over 25 years. She studied art with Harold Ransom Stevenson in Sea Cliff NY for seven years before opening her own art school. Stevenson had (more...)
 

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Thanks, Meryl Ann!  You made the process as p... by Joan Brunwasser on Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 8:34:50 PM
Thanks Joan, it was fun to interview you!... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 8:58:15 PM
Great interview Meryl Ann. Joan, it's been an... by Rob Kall on Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 10:21:23 PM
Thanks, Rob! 😄... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 11:18:55 PM
Wow!  A million views, and just 2 years shy o... by Scott Baker on Friday, Dec 13, 2013 at 1:49:06 AM
The inspiration, information, and intuition of you... by Cynthia Piano on Friday, Dec 13, 2013 at 9:35:18 AM
Great interview with a great gal by a great gal! &... by Sheila Samples on Friday, Dec 13, 2013 at 10:47:49 AM
In the words of my favorite writer, "Yeah, what sh... by Mary Pitt on Friday, Dec 13, 2013 at 10:03:33 PM
Joni, you're the BEST! One million views is amazin... by Linda Milazzo on Friday, Dec 13, 2013 at 10:49:29 AM
Congrats Joan. I'm happy to have made your acquain... by Robert De Filippis on Friday, Dec 13, 2013 at 11:45:07 AM
Congratulations to both interviewer and interviewe... by Marta Steele on Friday, Dec 13, 2013 at 2:34:37 PM
I second that. Two inspiring "conduits to the... by Daniel Geery on Friday, Dec 13, 2013 at 5:36:30 PM
Thank you Scott, Cynthia, Sheila, Linda, and Mar... by Meryl Ann Butler on Friday, Dec 13, 2013 at 3:23:45 PM
My favorite Joan B piece was Bob Fitrakis on ... by Gustav Wynn on Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 at 10:36:19 AM
Yes, wonderful to hear about history before my mod... by Robert S. Becker on Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 at 12:25:04 PM
Joan, thanks so very much for the important work y... by Judy Swindler on Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 at 1:50:30 PM