Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fear and Favor in the Newsroom


In the public's eye, reporters will do anything for a story. FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM takes viewers behind the scenes to shatter this myth. Narrated by Studs Terkel, FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM shows for the first time on film how ownership of the press by a small corporate elite constricts the free flow of ideas and information upon which our democracy depends.

In FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM, journalists, including four Pulitzer Prize winners, from The New York Times, NBC, PBS and other respected news organizations reveal how they have been censored, squelched or fired for aggressively reporting on the wealthy and the powerful. The one-hour program also presents senior news executives, including the former Vice Chairman of The New York Times and the President of NBC News, who defend the work of their news organizations.

After seeing the hidden wreckage of spiked stories, damaged careers and firings unearthed in FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM, the notion of freedom of the press takes on a whole new meaning. As former New York Times reporter Frances Cerra tells viewers, "I came to understand that freedom of the press is only guaranteed when you own the press. This is something I learned from The New York Times."


Pulitzer winner Sydney Schanberg explains how The New York Times canceled his column for chastising the press for ignoring a major scandal involving real estate developers and much of New York's political elite.

Pulitzer Prize winners Wendell Rawls, Jr. and Bill Dedman, both previously with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, recount how respected executive editor Bill Kovach resigned from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after its owners, Cox Enterprises, objected to aggressive reporting on issues such as racist bank lending practices and an alleged bribery scheme involving Atlanta-based Coca Cola.

Emmy Award winner, Jon Alpert shows the footage of civilian carnage in Iraq during the Gulf War which he succeeded in smuggling out of Iraq -- only to have the President of NBC News personally cancel Alpert's report and summarily fire him as well.

Polk Prize Award winner Frances Cerra tells how The New York Times spiked her expose revealing that the Shoreham nuclear power plant was a financial catastrophe because, her editor told her, it could hurt the price of the nuclear plant owner's stock. When she complained, Cerra was pulled from her beat.

Other interviewees include Lowell Bergman, Producer for CBS' 60 Minutes; Sydney Gruson, former Vice-Chairman of The New York Times; Ben Bagdikian, author of MEDIA MONOPOLY and former editor at the Washington Post; Peter Graumann, former reporter for PBS' McNeil-Lehrer News-hour; Jay Smith, Vice-President Cox Enterprises; former Wall Street Journal Reporter, Jonathan Kwitney; Lawrence Grossman, former NBC News President; Richard Cohen, former producer at CBS News; Ralph Nader; Joel Beinin, Professor of History, Stanford University; Eugene Carroll, Vice-Admiral, U.S. Navy, retired, with the Center for Defense Information; and nuclear engineer Robert Pollard with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM was produced by Northwest Passage Productions in association with KTEH, San Jose Public Television.


"FEAR & FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM is a superb documentary that details the chilling and cancerous implications of corporate control of the news media. The documentary shows in clear detail how censorship and subtle self-censorship takes place in the real world of U.S. daily newspapers and broadcast news studios. This program should be required viewing for all working journalists, all students of journalism and communication, and all citizens concerned about the prospects for democracy in the United States."
Robert McChesney
Professor in the Institute of Communications
Research at University of Illinois and
author of "Rich Media, Poor Democracy"

"This powerful documentary provides a lucid, compelling examination of some of the principle sources of the corruption of American journalism."
James W. Carey
Professor of Journalism
Columbia University

"FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM is a courageous, important and, sadly, all too rare exploration of the ways that corporate interests are increasingly hindering and undermining the freedom of the press. That this documentary contains so much previously unreported evidence of that undermining is telling in itself. This is the story the corporate media won't report, which is why it is so important that FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM get the airing it deserves."
Susan Faludi
author "Backlash"
Pulitzer prize winner
former Wall Street Journal reporter

"FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM is a guided tour of what's wrong with mainstream news in the monopoly era--explained by those on the inside, including courageous journalists who've been censored, squelched or fired because of their honest reporting. This documentary shines a bright light on media outlets and monied interests that suppress the news, and their victims: not just the muzzled journalists, but the millions of Americans who don't get the full story." Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR, author of "Through the Media Looking Glass"

"FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM is a hard-hitting factual expose of corporate influence on the freedom of the press in the United States. It is an important statement on the threat to our First Amendment rights and should be widely viewed and discussed." Peter Phillips, Director of Project Censored

"A marvelously revealing show & tell about how media censorship really works in America. The testimony comes from some of the ablest print and broadcast journalists around, though it's no accident that virtually all of them have now left the business, thanks in no small part to the very (censored) reporting described in this fine, fierce documentary." Mark Hertsgaard, author, "On Bended Knee"

"Strong stuff but all too true. FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM...speaks hard truths about self-censorship in the press." Hodding Carter

"Veteran Chicago journalist Studs Terkel is the perfect narrator for this populist critique of the influence of big business on the print and broadcast media. FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM is a wake-up call to the media that journalism has to be more than its bottom line." - Joe Atkins, Professor,
Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Mississippi

"A tough, gutsy documentary...FEAR AND FAVOR IN THE NEWSROOM is a vital and nicely structured work of televised media criticism, which is rare and difficult to do." Village Voice

"A landmark documentary...the film has already gained an almost cultlike following among some of the most respected names in journalism." San Francisco Bay Guardian

"In its muckraking, cage-rattling way, the documentary does punch home a valid point. Journalism is too precious to be entrusted to self-interested amateurs." San Francisco Chronicle

Northwest Passage Productions is a non-profit organization dedicated to the production and distribution of educational films and videos. This website was funded by a grant from the Lyn and Norman Lear Foundation. Website design by moCreate.


Northwest Passage Productions
117 E. Louisa St., PMB #391
Seattle, WA 98102
(800) 848-3023
(206) 568-7746
voice and fax