FOR "COURAGE IN JOURNALISM"

ALLIANCE FOR DEMOCRACY AWARD

CITES AKRE AND WILSON

By STEVE WILSON

BOULDER, Colo (April 30, 1999) Former Fox investigative reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson have received a special award for Courage in Journalism from the Alliance for Democracy meeting here at its third annual convention.

The Alliance is a grassroots citizens activist group composed of members from throughout the country and founded by Ronnie Dugger of Boston. Representatives from virtually every state attended the group’s annual conference.

The award was presented to the journalists before an enthusiastic group of supporters who filled an auditorium on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder. The awardees provided the group with an update on their whistleblower lawsuit against Fox television and their subsequent efforts to expose how Fox attempted to cover up their investigation into Monsanto’s synthetic Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH).

This reporter and Akre, co-plaintiffs in the suit, filed their whistleblower action against Fox-owned WTVT in Tampa last April. The suit charges that both journalists were fired for refusing orders to lie and distort news reports about BGH in wake of pressure Monsanto exerted on Fox News chief Roger Ailes, and for the reporters’ threats to blow the whistle to the Federal Communications Commission which licenses the station.

After two unsuccessful attempt to have the case thrown out of court without a trial, Fox has hired the Washington lawfirm Williams & Connolly to defend the claim. With at least 13 lawyers on the Fox defense team, the media company has twice stalled the start of the trial which is now due to begin October 11 in state court in Tampa.

"You couldn’t ask for better supporters and we appreciate the award and each and every one of them," Akre said after the ceremony that concluded with a toast of rBGH-free chocolate milk.

The fired journalists used the occasion to announce the formation of a Citizens Fund For The Right To Know, a legal aid fund established to support the case against Fox. While both reporters remain unemployed in their field, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox organization is said to have spent $1 million to defend itself so far.

Following impromptu remarks by the award recipients, an Alliance organizer passed a hat through the audience into which supporters deposited hundreds of dollars as an initial gift to the Fund.

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