Letters protest media boycott of book events

WGBH affiliate says "Cape Wind - the book" is biased, will not cover events
The first letter is from Ed Manificto of Chatham, the others follow below.

Mr. Henry Becton                                                                                           17 May 2007
President WGBH,
125 Western Ave.
Boston, MA 02134

CC: WCAI and to all local media as a public letter

Yesterday I attended the book signing event for Wendy Williams' "Cape Wind": at the Wequassett Inn in Harwich. It was a wonderful event with good open discussion.

I asked if the book was being discussed with the authors on local radio. To my astonishment I learned that the independent book store sponsoring the event had called our local "public" radio station (WCAI) and asked if they would air a discussion with the authors and tell listeners of the event being presented by his book store as they typically do. I was told that when Jack Noyes of Cabbage and Kings in Chatham spoke to Elizabeth White at the station (about getting publicity on air about the event) she responded "no" because she felt the book was biased.(Obviously, her opinion or that of her bosses at the station or the parent WGBH) this thought was echoed by Georgia McDonald of the station. Inkwell Books of Falmouth had a similar experience in talking to the station.

Our democracy is seriously compromised when the "public" radio station will not recognize a local author with a discussion of a book on such an important local topic. I can only assume that this is part of the effort of the influential opponents to meaningful alternative energy production to suppress the book or maybe just the fact that David Koch (brother of the active and wealthy project opponent) is on the WGBH board. Whatever the motivation, it says a lot about who WCAI really is and what "public" it represents.

I will encourage all those that I know to be skeptical of whatever this station produces locally. A station that purports to represent all the public and does not, should not be supported financially or otherwise by the "public".

While disappointed and angered by this affront to legitimate public media, independent local bookstores and American democracy, I am encouraged that the book is already preparing for its second printing, an indication that the real public cannot be suppressed by power or government.

This biased control of the media on Cape Cod is part of an on - going pattern. When, after a two year study, the League of Women Voters of Cape Cod Area reached consensus to support the wind farm project, the Cape Cod Times printed the opposite results. They later corrected the position after vociferous complaints from the League and after columns appeared in the Providence Journal taking the paper to task. In addition, when the fascinating story regarding the NY based Community Counseling Service surfaced on the "capecodtoday" website and the Boston Globe as major story; the paper refused to print it.

That our local public radio is complicit in this effort to make the project go away in the interest of the fossil fuel industry and a perceived view by a few, is a horrible commentary on the management and hypocrisy of something called "local public radio".

Ed Mangiafico, 912 Main St., Chatham, MA 508-945-3746 email

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Letter from Hansjoerg Stern of Brewster

May 18, 2007
Mr. Henry Becton President WGBH,
125 Western Ave. Boston, MA 02134

Dear Sir: It has come to my attention that your station WCAI allegedly is refusing to discuss a locally authored book on the proposed wind farm at Horseshoe Shoals, because of its bias. May I ask you since when Public Radio has instigated a policy of discrimination against issues that may be biased?

Why should I view or listen to WGBH if it did not present me with controversial, i.e. biased information? How many times have I heard NPR reporters grill or question public personalities? Why not this author? I have been a supporter of Public Radio for the better part of four decades and find this attitude totally repugnant.

My wife and I were key members of the founding team of NPR station WHQR in Wilmington, NC with the expectation that the station would deal with controversial public issues. I currently support both WGBH and the local Cape and Islands stations. May I have your early response to these allegations so that I may accordingly review my support of your stations. 

Hansjoerg Stern, PE 167 Bog Pond Road Brewster, MA 02631 email.
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Third letter from Richard Barlett

To Mr. Henry Becton, President WGBH,

I was shocked to read on Cape Cod Today that public TV and radio  are no longer public. I refer to WGBH's refusal to comment on a book  of great interest to many of your supporters. My wife and I have been  charter donors to you. My history with WGBH goes back to ancient  times.

I gave a 32 program series on art sponsored by the MFA back  when WGBH was broadcasting from an MIT building long since burned down.

If you don't give this excellent book, "Cape Wind" proper  recognition on both TV and radio you will have lost us forever. That  is how strongly we feel about this issue. I would expect that many of  Clean Power Now's 6,000 plus members would be similarly inclined.

We are  not speaking for that organization, but we are enthusiastic members.

Why would WGBH want to risk a black eye just to please a Koch?

Dick and Carmen Bartlett,  Cotuit
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Fourth letter from Kathryn Kleekamp

At the Wequessat Inn book signing event for Wendy Williams, who is the author along with Robert Whitcomb, of the new book Cape Wind, Ms. Williams strongly emphasized their book was not “for or against the proposed wind farm project for Nantucket Sound” but was the authors’ attempt to “present fact based information” on which members of the public might arrive at their own decision concerning the merits of the project.

I was dismayed to learn that the independent book store, “Cabbages and Kings,” in Chatham, was refused public service announcements about the event by our local “public” radio station WCAI (Cape and Islands Public Radio.)  Is this possibly because the brother of the main project opponent, William Koch is on the WGBH Board that is the parent organization of WCAI?

As a supporter of public radio and a daily listener, I am disappointed and angered by this decision of WCAI, not to make the public aware of the event.  Every citizen has a right to know about an event that will educate and foster an intelligent decision about a project that impacts those living on Cape Cod and the Islands.

Kathryn Kleekamp
Founding  board member of Cape Clean Air, Sandwich

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Letter from William Griswald, Centerville

Dear Mr. Becton:

My wife and I have been WGBH members for the past 20 years. This letter explains why we will not be renewing our membership this year.

On May 16th, at a buffet reception held in Harwich, the author Wendy Williams spoke about her new book Cape Wind .This event was announced in advance in several of the print media here on Cape Cod (see enclosure). The event itself was well attended. The audience included people on both sides of the Cape Wind issue.

As I understand it, your affiliate WCAI was approached and asked to announce this event on air in advance of the reception. The reply from WCAI was to the effect that they felt the book was too controversial. I find this reply, and specifically the justification given, to be an eggregious departure from professional journalism standards.

To be sure, the Cape Wind proposal is the subject of active discussion here on Cape Cod. Recent studies show that 50% of Cape Cod Residents oppose the project, while 50% of Cape Cod residents support the project.

The job of the news media is to present both sides, fairly and equally. If the book Cape Wind is controversial, that is all the more reason why it should be discussed.To exclude one side because their point of view is seen as being too controversial places WCAI and WGBH in the unenviable position of being a biased news source

As our local NPR station, WCAI should be in the business of presenting both sides of major issues like Cape Wind. Accepting anything less makes WGBH a part of the problem, instead of a part of the solution.
 
William E. Griswold, Centerville

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