FCC testimony on media ownership: Karen Weill

Thank you. Hi, my name is Karen Weill. I am from Bellingham, Washington. In 1985, I had been a reporter for approximately eleven years. I want to tell you why I was fired. I was fired because -- as the editor for a local paper -- I had run a headline that said that there were some junior high students who had been caught with marijuana. The primary person who had been caught was the son of our biggest advertiser. He called my publisher and said that if we did not run a retraction and an apology he was going to pull his advertising. And I was fired because I refused.

This is what media consolidation leads to. In Bellingham, there is not one local TV station, as Susan mentioned earlier. There is only one local radio […] station and it is completely conservative talk radio except for one hour out of every 24. There is one hour of a “liberal” talk show host who is supposed to be balancing the other 23 hours of conservative radio. The Bellingham Herald is our only local daily paper.

They have not covered three major news stories recently. First thing was that the Bellingham City Council passed a ‘troops-out resolution,’ there was not one word in the paper about that. We have had eight arrests of peace activists in Congressman Rick Larsen’s office because they are protesting his refusal to sign the ‘Declaration of Peace Pledge’… not one word in our Bellingham Herald. They also refuse to cover the primary results that we had in our local town and county, and the editor refuses to meet with any of us to talk about why his policies somehow allow him not to cover these kinds of stories. I thank you very much for coming. I really appreciate this opportunity to talk. Thank you.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey