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DECEMBER 15, 1998   1:28 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Essential Action
John Richard or Donna Colvin, 202-387-8030
 
Fired Reporters, University Professor to Receive Civic Courage Award
 
WASHINGTON - December 15 - The following was released today by Essential Information:

Veteran investigative TV reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, and academic independence advocate Professor David F. Noble will be presented the annual Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage by The Shafeek Nader Trust on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

The Callaway award recognizes individuals who take a public stance to advance truth and justice, at some personal risk.

Hired by the Fox network affiliate Florida TV station WTVT in November 1996 to direct its "news investigative unit," Akre and Wilson, a husband-wife team, were fired by the station about a year later for refusing to broadcast an inaccurate and deceptive version of their story on synthetic hormones in Florida's milk supply. In response Akre and Wilson filed a lawsuit charging (1) that WTVT violated its license from the Federal Communications Commission by insisting the reporters intentionally falsify information in their series on the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a Monsanto (NYSE: MTC) product; and (2) that WTVT violated Florida's "whistleblower" law. The case is especially revealing of the pressures brought by a powerful corporation, Monsanto in this case, on a news organization. The story is compelling and available because Akre and Wilson refused to be cowed and instead fought back, informing the public about what transpires behind the news desk.

For more than 20 years, Professor David F. Noble of York University in Toronto, Canada, has blown the whistle on the insidious corporate take-over of the university. As researcher, advocate, strategist and organizer, Noble has focused a laser-like beam on the hijacking of higher education in North America. His trenchant analyses have covered the contracts and collaborative arrangements between universities and business, which turn scientific knowledge into a commodity and researchers into corporate academics, and more recently he has highlighted the universities as "digital diploma mills" where on-line courses are mandated by an administration's policy that would sideline professors and abandon students to the computer as content provider, severing them from the university's educational mission. His has been a singular voice in seeking to fight the commercialization of higher education and to protect one of society's most precious assets, an independent intellectual capacity to engage the serious issues of our day. In an ever more specialized world, Noble's perspective as a social historian offers a valuable contextual framework for assessing the precarious condition of contemporary universities.

The awards will be presented on Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 5 p.m. at the Carnegie Institution Building at 1530 P Street, N.W.,Washington, D.C. Following each award the recipients will speak briefly about their work.

The Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest administers the Joe A. Callaway award, established by Callaway to recognize individuals in any area of endeavor who, with integrity and at some personal risk, take a public stance to advance truth and justice, and who challenged prevailing conditions in pursuit of the common good. Toward this end, Callaway endowed the Trust with a special fund for an annual award honoring citizens for their civic courage.

The Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest was created to extend the civic values of the late Shafeek Nader, community advocate and founder of the Northwestern Connecticut Community College. A tax-exempt organization, the Trust has the task of advancing the ability of citizens to participate and shape the quality of democracy in their community.

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