Pacifica Myths and Realities | The Nation


Pacifica Myths and Realities

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MYTH: Local Advisory Boards are fighting to democratize the Pacifica National Board.

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Reality: The National Board of Pacifica is no more or less than democratic than the average non-profit board. However, the Local Advisory Board (LAB) is completely self-selecting and not in anyway accountable to the individual stations. In the case of KPFK, the current LAB has been hijacked by a small group of anti-Pacifica zealots who have hand-picked board members to support their extremely costly lawsuits against the network. On several occasions in recent years, an overwhelming majority of KPFK staff have formally demanded that the leadership of the Local Advisory Board resign and give way to individuals more interested in supporting KPFK than in suing Pacifica. The Local Board leaders have intransigently refused. Of all the bodies that make up Pacifica--staff, volunteers, unions, management, listeners and boards--the so-called Local Advisory Board is the only body that has zero accountability and no real responsibility. And sadly, the current KPFK LAB leadership focuses narrowly on fueling recent conflict and makes no contribution to the ongoing work of the station.

MYTH: Pacifica and KPFK have committed various acts of censorship.

Reality: This is a lie. In the political turmoil around Pacifica over the last two years, there have been a handful of incidents in which individual programmers have irresponsibly diverted air time from programming air their personal grievances, to make one-sided accusations about personnel matters, or to agitate listeners to join factions to protest such matters. Many, many people contribute and work behind the scenes at Pacifica. For the few who have access to a mic, to misuse the mic for these matters is an abuse of the privilege of being on the air. And it's unfair to all sides involved in such disputes. In these different cases, programmers have suffered various sanctions--most commonly their comments on these issues have been taken from the air. Again, these are measures that are absolutely necessary in defending the rights of the personnel under discussion and in no way or manner constitute any form of political or journalistic censorship.

At KPFK, there's a strong consensus for enforcing "the dirty laundry rule", but despite what you may have read elsewhere, no one--we repeat not one single person--has been fired or "banned" in recent history for simply violating that policy.

MYTH: The current "dissident campaign" is aimed at making the programming and management of Pacifica and KPFK more progressive.

Reality: The main objectives of the current political campaign against Pacifica are two fold: to ratchet-up the various awsuits against the network and to enforce an economic boycott against the 5 stations. These are, in effect, twin goals as the various lawsuits have already cost Pacifica hundreds of thousands of dollars. Whatever one's view of the Pacifica National Board, they serve as unpaid volunteers and economic starvation of the stations can only have two effects: 1) to force the layoff of unionized staff members and programming budget cuts and 2) to encourage whatever commercial forces there might be anywhere in the network. The reduction of listener-support can only give aid and comfort to those who would argue for "alternative" forms of financing. Virtually every other public radio station in the country has long ago accepted corporate underwriting as a means to survive.

MYTH: Pacifica is engaged in "union busting", workers are being mistreated, and there is a "strike" against Pacifica National News (PNN).

Reality: Pacifica--unlike almost any other community radio stations in America--has unionized staff, and despite our modest salaries, offers the most generous benefits and progressive worker protections to be found anywhere. These false charges are not being made by the unions, but by a handful of anti-Pacifica activists who intentionally seek to distort and dis-inform. Pacifica National News staff, like the staff at KPFK, are members of AFTRA and there is no contract dispute of any kind, nor has there been any strike. Some non-union stringers (freelancers who contributed occasional stories to PNN) claim to be "on strike" against Pacifica and have attacked unionized staff members and the majority of other PNN contributors as "scabs" for not joining their ideologically-driven boycott of PNN. But these stringers do not seek union representation, only editorial control over the work of others. This gross mis-use of the rhetoric of union struggle--to mislead people and promote their own narrow agenda--is an insult to the hard-won gains of the labor movement. AFTRA and other unions at Pacifica have issued strong statements against these non-union tactics.

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