Former Fox 13 Reporters Win Courage Award For

Work On Story Which Cost Them Their Jobs

Former Fox Reporters Win Courage Award For

Work On Story Which Cost Them Their Jobs

  WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 16, 1998) – Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, the two former Fox Television reporters fired at network's Tampa station late last year, have been honored again for their courage in taking a stand that resulted in their firing.

The Joe A. Calloway Award for Civic Courage was presented to the two at a ceremony in Washington Wednesday (December 16). The award is given by the Shafeek Nader Trust For The Community Interest, a group named for the brother of consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

The award stems from the reporters' work on an investigative series which documented the widespread use of a drug called Posilac, a controversial bovine growth hormone linked to cancer. Just before the reports were to air, Monsanto exerted pressure on the chairman of Fox News and the stories were pulled. The journalists say they were eventually ordered to lie on the air and slant the story to avoid trouble from the big chemical company. In a whistleblower lawsuit filed last Spring, Akre and Wilson say they were ultimately fired for refusing those directives.

The award cites the two for their "determination, stamina and personal courage" as well as their moral compass and stubborn adherence to ethical principles in an era of conglomerate, prepackaged journalism.

The Calloway award—named for the Broadway actor whose philanthropy is well known in theater circles—comes on the heels of another important award to Akre and Wilson, the Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Award presented to the two last October.

Officials at the Fox station were so incensed over the honor from other journalists that the station's Vice President of News and at least one reporter demanded SPJ rescind the award. The organization, which represents more than 13,000 professional journalists across the country, has refused to do so.

"As we continue to press our lawsuit, it is encouraging and humbling to receive such honors, " said recipient Akre.

"It is especially gratifying to be honored by an organization supported by one of my heroes, Ralph Nader, someone who knows so much about standing up for what is right, even when it is not the most popular thing to do."

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