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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/6/10

The Folly of Exclusivity

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I recently left KPFA-FM (Pacifica Radio) after eleven and a half years when I was told that, due to the need to make budget cuts, my hours as a news tech and general board op were to be cut from an already inadequate 11 hours a week (no benefits) to an unsustainable six. But I did not go quietly. I made a parting speech to the Pacifica National Board, which happened to be meeting in Berkeley two weeks later, in which I raised some pointed questions as to why this "progressive" radio station could no longer afford to keep me at what were barely quarter time hours.

I published the speech on my Facebook page and several other web sites. During the succeeding weeks, I further developed my thoughts into a longer essay that was published in Atlantic Free Press. Then, via Facebook, I discovered that the leftist magazine In These Times had an online blog for labor stories and it paid. (The other sites did not pay). I sent in the article, expressing hope that here would be some coin available, given the current situation. I heard back from an interested editor within 5 minutes. He said "this delves into one of the big dirty little secrets about progressive media, and I'm interested in running it, with coin involved."

Unfortunately, he was about to leave for a week's vacation, so he could not discuss the matter further, but he asked me to get back to him on Friday, August 20th. Later that day, it occurred to me that I should send another email telling the editor, as a matter of professional courtesy, that my commentary had been published by Atlantic Free Press and might be published by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, a Canadian website. CRG had published a long article by former Pacifica Executive Director Greg Guma, and he had quoted me, which had prompted me to respond. I had made a few minor changes in essay Guma had quoted from, so ITT had "the latest and best version". (CRG never did publish my response to Guma).

When I contacted ITT again on August 25, I got the following reply. "Given that the whole thing is available here: I'm not so interested in it anymore, although the lower section is very interesting, and rarely said within the 'progressive' world. Please do keep Working In These Times (and ITT in general) in mind for future pitches, though."

In other words, he was saying that regardless of the interest level or importance of the information, if he couldn't get it first, he didn't want it at all. Furious at this editor's shortsightedness, I immediately sent my rejoinder: "Just my opinion here, but I think everyone's emphasis on wanting to be the first and have exclusivity means that important stories and issues don't get the attention they need because they don't get repeated enough to engage the public mind. Advertisers say that things need to be repeated at least six times to get it into public consciousness.

Plus the fact that not everyone who reads Atlantic Free Press reads me (they had 353 writers when last I looked). And not all ITT readers read AFP. How do we raise public consciousness about an issue if we only mention it in one place? That is not how the Right gets its message across."

I never got a reply.

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Kellia is a freelance journalist in Oakland, CA who left the Pacifica Radio Network in July, 2010 after 11+ years in the KPFA news department and over 10 years with Free Speech Radio News. She is now in the odd position of needing a paid job while (more...)
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